As I watch the 20-inch snowdrifts outside my window (on April 16th), I think back over the past four months. I thought I'd be planting things in the ground by now -- that I'd be well on my way to becoming a farmer. But looking at all the fledgling plants in my guest room and on my parents porch -- and dining room -- I guess I am on my way.
Life is like that, isn't it? We plan and dream -- envisioning how we will carry out our perfect plans. Then life happens. Things don't go perfectly but that's okay. The set-backs and the lessons -- the unforeseen delays because of a record-breaking spring blizzard -- are part of the journey.
It sounds like a cliche. But the same lesson continues to present itself. I've never been the most patient person -- once I get an idea in my head, it has to come to life NOW. And farming sure isn't one of those things you can rush. It forces you to slow down, to do what you can and let go when things are out of your control.
Being forced to wait out the storm allowed me to take stock of what I have achieved in the past few months. In December, I had no idea what a "high tunnel" was. Or a "low tunnel". Or what "green manure" is, or cover crops. I didn't understand the significance of soil composition or open pollination. Azomite sounded like some kind of fossil and germination like a science experiment. Sometimes I wondered what the hell I was doing -- diving right into farming with no experience. I'd never gardened or successfully kept a plant alive. But somehow, this all feels right and something inside me keeps me moving forward.
So, I've taken every class and attended every conference I could. Read a million books on all aspects of farming -- from growing vegetables to raising animals. This is the time where I learn what I am capable of and enjoy. I realize I'm making a "rookie mistake" by growing A LOT of things, so many things that I need a spreadsheet to keep it all straight. But with each plant I start, I learn. I've learned that peppers are prolific and onions are fussy. Squash is hearty and strong and herbs are delicate and need tender care. Some love heat and light and others will grow no matter what. Tubers are things of wonder and leave you guessing until they slyly emerge from the soil. But it all comes down to this -- seeing a plant grow and thrive from what seems like a dead thing. A dormant seed. So full of potential. I can't help but obsessively check on my plants, to see how they're coming along. I've already had some failures but for every failure, there have been 10 successes. That's what it's all about.
I'm aware that I may have gotten in over my head. But there's only one way to find out.