Bet you thought that I dropped off of the face of the earth there, for awhile.
I have lost a solid fifteen pounds.
Life has been a sweaty blur since the second week in July.
I had to get creative if I wanted a respectable table at market, due to the somewhat bizarre dynamic and allocation of space at my “farm”. That meant growing on four locations this year, not counting the commitment I made to Carriage House Farms, as a member of their work-share CSA (work there for 2-4 hours a week in exchange for food and a crash course in large-scale farming).
I’ve adjusted to “farmer time”: getting up close to dawn and getting as much done as possible outside before the day gets too hot. Maintaining hydration and blood sugar levels are important. I’m in tune with my body, and I have great respect for my physical limitations. Farming is a dangerous profession. There’s a reason that it is doubly tough for us to maintain health insurance – difficult to predict income, and very risky work conditions.
Harvesting for market is a race against the clock. I don’t have much opportunity to do anything beforehand, because I lack enough refrigerated storage. With shorter days, I am more discerning with what gets harvested when – paying close attention to what gets the best price versus the amount of labor required to get it to market. I’m getting very good at predicting (and influencing) my sales. My time spent managing mall stores and as an account executive is paying dividends now, since I am finally selling stuff I can get behind.
I’ve gained invaluable experience and I’ve realized that I know a whole lot more about this business than I thought I did – and there remains a mountain of knowledge that I continue to absorb. I found myself getting really frustrated with having so much to do in so many different places… without having that effort really pay off. My earnings weren’t anywhere near what I needed, and I live a pretty modest lifestyle. Once Labor Day passed, I decided this trajectory wasn’t working. Hopefully, that didn’t mean having to go back to some soulless desk job.
I let some of this frustration slip into conversation a few months ago while working out at Carriage House, with Richard and his Mom, Karen. There was a moment of silence, and then Richard asked if I wanted to work for/with them next year, managing the garden, as they were having difficulty keeping up with demand.
I was floored.
Carriage House is a magical place: a truly diversified century farm (been in the same family since 1855): there’s horse boarding (i.e., a stable source of organic fertilizer); a pure spring (so water is not an issue, as was the case for so many farms this year with the drought we’ve had); some conventional crop production (corn, soy & alfalfa), some large scale organically raised produce (acres of potatoes); larger scale organic production of small grains (open pollinated corn and soft red wheat) and other organic staple crops (black beans) are in development; Richard keeps bees – about 35 hives spread throughout the 300-odd acres (honey); then there is the “garden” (my domain next year): a 2 acre plot next to the farm house where all of the smaller-scale specialty produce is grown, primarily for local high end restaurants and my neighborhood Farmer’s Market. All of this found within the 275 loop.
I said yes.
My season in "the trenches" has paid off!