The Ever-Evolving Threads of Good Work Farm: Spring 2013 Written by maybe-frequent guest-not-ghost writer
Slowly, carefully, reluctantly yet assuredly, Spring has birthed itself out of Winter again. A season of awe and delight, of anticipation for the gifts to come, of new beginnings; Spring arrives into my farmer-body with a bit of force and some demands that the short and introspective days of winter had allowed me to forget—early still-cold mornings with creaky limbs and sore muscles, a back remembering how to bend over and transplant with dignity and how to move bulky piles of irrigation tubing with self-care. Spring is a season of Hurry Up And Wait: wait for the ground to dry out so the plowing and tilling can take place, hurry up and seed the onions, pot-up the tomatoes, transplant the first seedlings that are cold-hardy enough to survive the last potential frosty mornings of the year.
And of course, Spring offers those sweet, bitter, and savory flavors of V-E-G-E-T-A-B-L-E-S: sweet over-wintered spinach and pink radishes, bitter dandelion greens, savory spring onions. Growing disinterested with the California-grown wrapped-in-plastic peppers or the storage rutabagas and potatoes for the 53rd meal in a row?i The salvation of April is upon us. If you’ve been heading out to the bi-monthly Sunday Emmaus Market, you’ve noticed the influx of white hakurei salad turnips and spring greens that those early-bird farmers offer out of their hoop houses. Indulge in these Spring delicacies; prepare your palate for the fruits of Anton’s loving labor and Mother Earth’s ceaseless generosity—fruits which are, as we speak, performing the miracles of photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration in anticipation of the coming CSA season.
Right about now, you might be asking: Aside from a random stranger/farmer glorifying and honoring Spring, who is this unidentified writer and what brings her to write a Good Work Farm “blog post”? Valuable question, dear reader, worthy of exploration.
Anton and I met one June day in Western New York at a Draft Horse Workshop on the expansive hilltop farm of Northland Sheep Dairy; we spent our day learning about the process of introducing ourselves to a new horse, along with watching demonstrations on making hay with horses. Two young, single, wildly-attractive farmers—we exchanged a few words and glances, made note of our similarities (each of us co-running an 80-member CSA—I in the Hudson Valley, he in the Lehigh Valley, each of us committed to farming with draft power), and matched our gaits to one another’s so as to allow for continued conversation as we walked through the freshly-mowed pasture. Our meeting was dotted with farm-mantic interludes: I, lost in the enchantment of watching the teamster mow hay with horses (the dance, the cadence, the timing, the craft, of driving a team of horses Just So—too far to the left and the ground-driven sickle-bar mower will clog, too far to the right and you’ll miss a clump of grass, too slow and the mower won’t gain enough momentum and power), looked up to find an enchanted Anton watching my enchantment, and noticed the way he noticed me.
We stayed in touch. We typed emails and wrote pen-and-paper letters, asking one another about our families, our visions of fertility and compost management, our tactics for self-care in the height of the farming season; we offered one another Wendell Berry poetry to inspire; we asked probing questions, we offered honest answers, we found a time and place to reconnect.
We kept learning, exploring, asking, answering. We still are. Together, we are forming and reforming visions, birthing ourselves into agrarian revolutionaries, seeking land to care for, equines to call our partners, a community to give and receive nourishment to and from.
We spent the winter solidifying some of our ideals into goals: budget numbers and timelines, explorations of our strengths and weaknesses within the context of our farming-careers, a written statement exploring our farm and personal quality of life goals.
Farm-(Ro)Mance became Farm-(Re)Ality.
The romance of Spring offers us a further grounding for these goals, a furtherance of the reality to which we are daily committed. Spring offers an engagingly tactile experience of our strengths and weaknesses, a season to newly discover the daily practices necessary to achieve the quality of life we seek. We are so glad you’re here to join us. Stay tuned for the vegetables; they’ll be worth the wait.
In April showers, May flowers, and June snap peas,
Lisa (and Anton)
i unless you were smart, and lucky, enough to find a winter CSA to carry you through.