We are but infinitesimal blips in the grand scheme of things. We know that in principle, but living in our own skin can diminish that perspective. We find ourselves enveloped by a strange sense of self-importance which can lead to dramatic fist shaking cries of “why me?”.
But really we’re just components of compost. Literally is still, somehow, illegal, but figuratively. Each insect, arthropod, worm, bacteria, and mushroom quietly fills its roll in the breaking down of things without regard for the big picture of returning waste to nature to be reused.
I can’t help but assume we’re the same. Just plugging along here doing our little farming thing, contributing to a whole that we don’t fully understand. We fill a little tiny niche in our community, which fills an even tinier niche in the world, which fills an even tinier niche in the universe, and so on. I don’t need to understand the whole picture to feel comfortable filling my little niche in my little community. I’m perfectly content to know I’m a part of your world and you’re a part of mine, and that we somehow fit into a larger picture.
July and August are always the peak of busy in farm life for us and others like us. We’ve been going hard since May and are starting to feel the exhaustion of making our living in just 7 or 8 months. But we’re accustomed to this and just before we burn out we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This cycle is why we traditionally have taken the winter mostly off from active growing.
This year has been heavier though. I actually cracked a bit last week. Heartbreak on a global scale and worry over the health, both mental and physical, of my farmily who have been plagued with injury and illness, combined with a renewed worry over spreading a more virulent virus that hit too close to home when it killed my cousin’s husband, and zero time for the self-care that is needed to keep this ship from running aground. And I cracked just a little bit.
But then I read a fretful blog post from a distant farmer friend and realized that the weight of the world is pushing down on all of us. Check in on your friends and neighbors y’all. They may not be okay. Let’s take care of each other.
When it’s cold in the winter, and we are tucked safely indoors with the heat and the hot chocolate and the pretty Christmas lights, it’s easy to romanticize working on an organic farm. Isn’t it? I mean, even we do it. When we’re gazing at seed catalogues all misty-eyed, envisioning the perfect season with the perfect weather and everyone working hard in perfect harmony here in this beautiful valley.
Somehow the sweat never enters the romantic vision. Nor the back aches. Nor the exhaustion. It’s just human nature. Especially young human nature. Young people envision dirty smiling people posing for a group picture after accomplishing some great but difficult goal and it make our hearts sing. Yet somehow, the abusive sun and dripping sweat day after day after day remain evasive to our romantic montage.
Then we find ourselves deep in a North Carolina August haze with our muscles sore, our skin sunburned, sweat dripping into our eyes, and yet ANOTHER weed to pull and can’t remember how exactly we got here and wondering whether we should question our own sanity.
Or at least I think that’s what happens to some people. Despite the brutal sun and aching back (and feet and hips) and ALL those weeds we thought we would prevent in our romantic winter visions, I still love my job. But I’ve been around this rodeo before. Somewhere in the back of my mind, while sipping hot cider with my feet up in front of the wood stove, envisioning the perfect season blah blah blah, there’s the little cynic laughing and remembering the sometimes harsh reality that is running a farm. Even a lovely little organic farm set in a picturesque valley with a gurgling creek running through it.