The sunrise was perfectly beautiful at 5:30 this morning. To the east, it was pink and peach and yellow. To the west, it was gray with patches of blue. I should have taken a picture. It is rare we get sunrises like that. It made me feel happy to live on the farm.
We’ve been trying to balance stress and exhaustion on the farm. Days are long (and getting longer by a minute or so each day), but the list of things to do does not get shorter. We’ve been so focused on harvesting and marketing that we are really, really behind on putting in all of our summer crops. I keep reminding myself–they will get in and we will have tomatoes and that first ripe and beautiful tomato will be so delicious and worth the worry!
While a lot of our crops, especially our greens, are doing so well, we did have a major loss on our overwintered onion and leek patch. We had planted over 3,000 walla walla onions in November last year and unfortunately, they aren’t sizing up, not growing and now they are bolting. Same with the leeks. They are located in a section of field that is much drier than the rest of the farm. As well, gophers took out a whole lot of them over the winter. We are considering pulling them all early and bunching them as small onions and baby leeks. We’ll give it another week or so and see if they size up at all. Could make a nice melon and squash patch over there…That’s the beauty of growing sixty different types of crops. If one fails for one reason or another, you have fifty-nine other vegetables to rely on. Diversity, diversity, diversity!
The other day the market manager for the Ashland market asked me, is it worth it? Is farming worth it? That is a question I’ve been asking myself quite a bit lately. There are so many positive things about organic farming. The list is long. I’ll save that for another post. But, it is very hard work and it takes a lot just to make a little bit of money. I think that is the hardest part. We’ve got all this passion for farming, we are committed to it and love the rhythms of it, but we’ve also poured thousands of dollars into it, taking the risk, hoping it will work financially and all you can do is work really hard, fourteen hours a day or more, to see if you can make it through the season on the other end–intact, sane and solvent. I teach farmers this every day. Farming is risky business. But, I guess I didn’t realize the truth of that statement until I got into it myself.
Katie from Oakhill Organics just wrote a great blog post about this very same thing. Check it out here.
So, we have been questioning the nature of our life as the business takes off and our family grows. We are pretty confident we can make it work. We are committed to making it work. We love it too much. And what else would we do?
We also recognize we are in our first year of real day-to-day farming, and so it is going to be challenging for the first few years, just like any new business.
It is important to remember that there are every day rewards.
1. We eat very well.
2. We grow really good food for lots of people. That’s rewarding.
3. Our farm is so beautiful and our neighbors so real, down home and compassionate.
4. We get to work together (for good and bad) and work from our home.
5. Our son gets to grow up on the farm — an experience that many children do not have anymore. He already knows how to sort turnips and crow like a rooster. You can’t say that about every one-year-old. That’s pretty special to me.