Winter and early spring are the most time affluent periods of our farming season. Hence, this is the time we take to do equipment—of all sorts including our bodies. We rest and sleep and vacate, all part of maintenance, yes, but also we head to the gym, do more cardio, reconnect with our social networks and families, and we work on what I like to call “side quests” like learning new skills or just pursuing hobbies that are completely related to farming.
Just like the oil changes, filter replacements, and grease that keeps our equipment going, the human maintenance is what keeps the farmers going. Our main season can get kind of intense (working 6+ days/week for 8-9 months) and unsustainable. So we do our best to balance it out in the three months of slower time that we take to do our own personal maintenance.
That slow times speeds up a bit next week as more of our crew returns to work again and the planting schedule really kicks into gear. But we’re ready. We’ll continue to do our best to keep some of our maintenance/side quest routines in order to ease back into full swing (I will continue to learn how to roll my kayak until I get it, for example), but we feel refreshed and ready to take on the new season.
The seasonality of this work is one of the things I’m most grateful for. I recognize that most people have a more sustainable schedule and have a bit of time for maintenance activities regularly, I have become accustomed to this yearly balancing routine and have come to prefer it. Knowing the break is coming in December keeps me going at full speed when our crops (and weeds) are growing the fastest and the most markets are up and running at full tilt.
A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to pay little attention to what others were doing and just focus on my little corner of the world. I don’t mean callously, but more like less judgmental. I can recall the exact moment. Why, I realized, was I spending energy worrying about what others were doing that I perceived as wrong? What good was that putting into the world? And what if my perception of wrong was, well, wrong? And even if my perception wasn’t wrong, why did I think that was my job to sort it out?
And so I quietly descended from my high horse😊 and turned inward to my little corner of the world. It’s harder to pay attention and thus, judge, from solid ground. Plus, not paying attention gave me more energy to work on my own, uh, manure, and work on doing the absolute best we can in our own lives and work.
I chose this path because of the wasted energy, the negativity, and because of my own sanity, but the unintended result of this is that the farm—where we spend so much of our time—has become more of a bastion, a shelter, a big ball of love. Seriously, the farmily has a giant beating heart that is pumping it’s love outward into the community, and the community pumps it back. People want to be here; I want to be here. This, I think, must be what they mean by “fulfilling work”. We feed families, yes, that is our mission, but we also feed our own souls by doing the work in such a warm symbiotic environment.