Just about a year ago, when we got our first actual (intentional) animals on the farm, I wrote:
I know, I know, some day in the not too distant future, I’m going to be really frustrated with all this and curse myself for having taken on such an enormous project for which I am so unprepared. Today, however, is not that day.
Today, as the upper pastures have gone to seed, as we’ve got lovely-but-toxic buttercup blooming in our east hayland, today as the pigs have rooted up all the grass in the brush pasture but left the Canadian thistle untouched and blooming to take it over*, today as our tractor sits up on blocks waiting yet another week for yet another iteration through the dysfunctional Kioti supply chain**, today as we guzzle city water, waiting for yet another delay on starting the well that was supposed to get drilled in April***…
Today is not yet that day, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than I’ve been before. It’s not that there’s any great impending disaster, or any real setback that we’re not going to be able to fix next year, but it is a bit of a blow: I really thought I had a handle on things, and I was wrong.
Yeah, yeah, I know: we’ve come a long way from where we were last year. We’ll regroup this winter, get our act together by spring, and next year we’ll get it right. I hope.
But no, I shouldn’t have taken on this enormous project for which I am so unprepared. I know I always take on too much, and try to do too much myself. Especially when there are so many other things I’m supposed to be working on: my (actually important) work on Antarctic data acquisition is gathering cobwebs, my book promotion efforts are stalled, and my output of new writing of any kind is moribund. Let’s not even bring up my neglected wife and kids, eh?
Yesterday, out on my morning tromp, it was all just so overwhelming that I couldn’t keep it all in my head. Fortunately, unmowed pastures that have gone to seed are relatively soft, and I found myself flopped flat on my back, staring at wisps of pink cloud in the dawn sky. A pair of goldfinches quarreled, dogfighting in the cedars, and somewhere beyond them, one of the red tails squawked his tedious indignation at the fuss.
I consoled myself with the knowledge that yes, the earth abides, and one more season of uncut fields and fallen fences wasn’t going to make a difference in the long run. And that our mission – preserving this land as open space, for community benefit, in a way that honors its history as a family farm – will. We’ve pulled together a group of amazing people: Mark and Nancy, Logan, Lacey, Anna and Brian, the Wyeths, in addition to all the local farmers who are going out of their way to help us muddle our way forward.
I may yet curse our decision to dive into this overwhelming project – no, I’m sure I will. But not still quite yet.
* They’re Kunekunes which, according to the literature, graze instead of root, and love thistle. These Kunekunes have not, apparently, read the literature.
** You’re required to talk to the local dealer, who will contact the parts rep, who will contact the warehouse, who will eventually get back to the parts rep, who will email the dealer, who will email you. Each step in this iteration seems to take the better part of a day (if it’s not a weekend, holiday, evening, or coming up on their vacation), and you will most likely need at least a couple of iterations for anything you try to order.
*** No, just don’t ask. Really.