Just over a year and a half has passed since Jodi and I purchased our little slice of heaven/hell and some time since I last posted to this blog. A big reason for not writing sooner has been the work, work, work of our first growing season. A somewhat smaller reason is the confessional nature of a farm blogger who doesn’t quite know what he’s writing about yet and so* defaults to personal introspection and self- aggrandizing. Moi.
Writing is an absolutely FANTASTIC exercise of meditation and self-discovery, and I’ve been aching to continue for a long, long time, but fluff and glitz is not only irrelevant to someone looking to buy delicious, farm-fresh carrots (available at our various market stands), it’s also pretty unprofessional. See there? Already an entire opening of attentive reflection on the most important subject in the universe: me. Blast! Moving on.
Not quite. Now that we’ve got a season behind us, I’ll offer up the last observations of a city boy, crash-landing into rural life, before transitioning into a seamless belly-flop of farm stuff. On second thought, here’s an unfiltered mash up:
I fall a lot. Sometimes on ice. Sometimes in mud. The wind has knocked me over. Sometimes I get tangled in tall grass or slide on gravel. Sometimes a dog runs through my legs and I lose balance. I’ve tripped on my own feet; I’ve tripped over chickens, stumbled over hoop wires, and have been clotheslined by tree branches.
Country folk are stunningly self-sufficient. Many rural Canadians grow their own food, fix their own cars, and build their own houses. Coming out here has made me realize how helpless urban living truly makes the human animal, which lends itself to dependency on an expert someone else.
Plants smell like their fruit. What a joy it’s been to smell the rich fragrance of a watermelon or cucumber or tomato, not from the fruit but from the green plant itself. Love it.
Corn is a grass. And looks exactly like what you have growing in your front yard, except about 50 times the size.
Seed families look the same. Brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, and kale have seeds that look identical, as do seeds in the onion, nightshade (tomatoes/peppers), etc. families. Lettuce seed looks exactly like its wild cousin, the dandelion, and flowers are a whole other world of likenesses.
Strength. My hands are nearing Kryptonian levels of grip and I can pop up from a squat that had my precious butt sweeping the ground like J-Lo at the Superbowl.
No more hobbies. No time. *sob* The chaos of farming is a world of discovery on its own so at least there’s that.
Weeds and pests suck. I finally get the expression to be “in the weeds.” EVERYTHING wants to grow and eat and if you don’t pluck or squish, get ready to be disappointed. While I disagree with spraying pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers over things that you’re going to eat and on land with a fragile ecosystem, I finally get the appeal, too.
Kale lasts forever. It also doesn’t need water, mind weeds, pests, heat, or constant cuttings. You can also disparage it or tell it that you don’t love it, and it will always be there for you.
I love growing peppers. Their multitudes in size, shape, and color are a pleasure that I can’t quite articulate, but if you can, give ‘em a try.
I’ll never be without a garden again. ‘nuff said.
A ton of food can be produced for yourself. Really, if you have a backyard plant something in it. I think the food writer Michael Pollan wrote something to the effect of “lawns are nothing more than tyrannical agriculture.” It’s true. People waste tons of water and spend embarrassing amounts of money to keep their lawns green and trimmed, a holdout of the everyman’s desire for inclusion in palatial nobility. Unless you’re strolling about with a parasol and powdered wig, grow something. You will drown in what you produce and if you have friends doing the same, you can grow different things and trade. Do you know how easy it is to not just grow basil but to propagate it with cuttings? A moron could do it, and it’s so expensive at supermarkets. Save a looooot of money and do it yourself.
Abundance is overwhelming. We grew more than we could sell last year, which was a planning issue. I hope this season, to preserve more and process our excess into more sellable items that if we can’t unload, we’ll enjoy ourselves, give as gifts, or donate to food banks.
Splinters. Often. It seems I can’t wave hello, shake someone’s hand, or wash dishes without getting wood splinters all over my hands. It’s like constantly being smote by God. All I can do is throw my prickly hands up and accept that I’m a sinner.
We’re nothing without lettuce or carrots. As beginning farmers go, we really sucked. Luckily the easy stuff, and creative presentation, always made our little market stand appear like a smaller pile of shit than it actually was.
Wellness. I haven’t been sick in almost two years. True story.
That’s all I’ve got. I pledge to write more often and with content that enriches more than tickles . . . but I make no promises.
Fair Share Market Garden
Glenvale, New Brunswick
*It takes a heroic writer to line three conjunctions, yet/and/so, in a row and make it work (in case you weren’t appreciating my literary acrobatics).