A little dusting of snow the other night and temps at 19 degrees this morning is a gentle reminder winter although mild, can do what she pleases at any time. The winter prep work of making sure animals have good shelter and safe from blowing winds is done, aside from a few little things like a small heater in the well house I think we can withstand almost anything. I'm cautious as I say this, cause I know how quickly things can turn around but we'll do our best. But for now dripping faucets seem to be doing the trick.
Fall/winter produce in the fields is done and now I'm working out of two greenhouses that are still green and flourishing, Kale, mizuna, boc choy, tatsoi, several variety of lettuces, chard, and there was spinach but I harvested the last of it last week. All this is for my winter CSA which so far I've been able to produce quite a bounty for them. It feels good to have things growing. I used to think I was tricking nature by growing in the winter. But then I started to realize there was no trickery involved. Growing produce no matter what time of year it is only utilizes resources that are there already. Light, warmth, soil temperature, soil nutrients. It feels like I'm just using the tools that I'm given. The spinach was so sweet. and the lettuce has wonderful color and texture because of the cold. I'm liking this little winter food paradise I have here.The pleasure I receive from eating a salad of red oak leaf, flashy trout romaine, green oak leaf, baby beet greens tossed in a light dressing of crushed garlic, a splash of balsamic, pinch of sea salt and a nice olive oil. Simple, elegant and gratifying on so many levels.
There has been times when I am so overwhelmed by the work of the farm I forget why I'm here in the first place. I loose sight of whats important. I move from one task to the next and the work seems to never end. In the restaurant I had prep lists. There was a sense of completion at the end of the day. Now it takes months and even years to see results. So I'm learning how to slow down. The work I put into the soil for the last several seasons have finally paid off this fall. It took three growing season to see the benefits. This is hard to wrap my head around. I'm used to expecting and requiring of myself and others immediate results. Pro-Active is a word I commonly used. Pro-Active isn't a word to me anymore its a way of life and the results from my Pro-activity are seen in ways I could never have imagined. Death rate of my animals, production of vegetables, my entire livelihood. Serious business, and if I'm not careful a real joy kill.
I've taken a bit of a break after Thanksgiving, Aside from the CSA I've really been doing a lot of resting, reading, writing and exploring. Taking time to remember why I made the choice to leave Seattle, my family, and my cushy life to live and eek out a living farming eight years ago. It was really because I loved food so much that I wanted to have the experience of growing it, knowing it on a level that I hadn't explored before, who knew It would turn out like this, who knew I would have a 40 member CSA in the middle of winter. I really didn't.
This life has caused me to really re-think how I look at economics, time and rest. My life now doesn't fit into the traditional model I was used to before. I realized after reading the book Contrary Farmer that if I was going to really enjoy this life I was going to have to accept a different way of looking at things, especially economics. In the book he talks about profit and that profit for folks in this line of work is happiness. Rather than money its a sense of peace, or joy or just plain feeling happy, that is profit. It makes sense but I had to sit with it for a while.What financial value is happiness worth? So my joy doesn't come from my ability to buy what I want it comes from being satisfied with what I have and making changes that I see fit for things that I really need. So I'm chewing on this idea. Chewing on identifying things that mean something to me.
Whats important to me? when I ask myself this question which I frequently do, my honest answer inevitably is "I want to LIVE". I want to be present through each day and each moment. I don't want to sleep through it or be distracted by fictional dialog in my head with someone I've had a disagreement with years ago or the fictional dialog of disagreements I might have in the future. I want to live without fear. I want to live passionately with compassion. That pretty much sums it up.
So I'm trying to throw out my normal expectations of immediate gratification/results I'm trying not to compare experiences or gauge my success based on now and the past. The things that I had and lost. The things I want and don't have. I'm building my life over now slowly, getting rid of old ways of thinking about things. Making time to live. chew slowly, to taste, to savor.