2014: The Craziest Year Yet...
PHEW!!! I can finally take a moment to breathe. As you can see, I haven't updated the farm blog since March which is a reflection of how absolutely nuts and amazing this year has been for me.
Let's recap briefly shall we!?
April. After getting back from a wonderful retreat in Dodgeville with fellow Earth workers, Travis and I moved into the tiny house. If you didn't know, we bought a 126 sq. ft. tiny house on wheels so we could live at the farm. Unfortunately, the electricity and plumbing were not finished... so for the first month we had no running water and very little electricity. So in addition to having to finish our house (Travis works full time as well as running our CrossFit gym but he helped a lot and as much as he could), I also started my transplants for Winterfell and worked full time managing for John at Equinox. Going from a slow paced life with sugaring in March and minimal seeding in the greenhouse to full-on-no-personal-time was rough, to be honest. But I knew this was coming, I just didn't think it would hit me so hard.
May. So much seeding in the greenhouse and transplanting outside! I threw out my crop plan and just got transplants in the ground when I had time as close to my schedule as possible. I also finished the plumbing and running water in the Tiny! Midway through the month, Travis and I started the Whole30 diet (think very strict paleo: meat, veg and very little fruit) which made cooking a higher priority than it had been.
June. Eat, farm, sleep, repeat! First CSA shares went out!!! I was very surprised to feel like I knew what I was doing- because of course I do... been doing CSA for several years now. It was just scary to be completely responsible for filling 23 CSA shares every week on my own! I will always remember my first CSA share: chives with blossoms, mint, bronze arrowhead lettuce mix, napa cabbage, curly kale, rhubarb, radishes and broccoli. I remember that day feeling like it was my birthday! So giddy inside! Later in the month we completed Whole30 and I somehow lost 15 pounds... probably not all related to the new diet we had but also the stress of farming that month.
July. Eat, farm, sleep, repeat! I always feel like June and July are the HARDEST months in the farming season: you are still transplanting like a mad-woman and yet now the big harvests are starting up like summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, etc. These crops require many hours every week just for harvesting (especially beans...!) and I struggled to find time for both while balancing all other jobs in my life. This month Travis and I realized that living in a tiny house is all well and good IF you have time for all the extra maintenance and upkeep required by that type of living situation. This is assuming that you work less because you don't have to make as much money to pay for your greatly reduced living situation expenses. This was not true for us: we moved in, worked more than we had living in our apartment and therefore, many tearful breakdowns occurred (all by me!). And in the middle of this, Travis and I put an offer forth on 12 acres south of Madison!
August. Here's an entry in my journal on the 10th that pretty much sums it up: "So glad it's August! Finally feel like I can breathe and relax a bit again. Just in time for wedding planning to kick into full gear. We are getting married in one month and two days!" Harvest season was officially here.
September. Travis and I got married on the 12th! It was 40 degrees and rainy (no matter that it was 70 degrees the week before and the week after...!) but it was AMAZING! Most amazing day of my life. My dream was to grow all the food for the wedding on my farm and I did it! Food, friends, family and the ceremony was so so so meaningful. I am very happy to have such an amazing and supportive husband.
October. This was a bittersweet month for me. My management position at Equinox was coming to a close, I was moving Winterfell and our life to new organic land south of Madison, my first CSA season was finishing up AND we sold the tiny house. Travis and I left for our honeymoon after blizt planting of garlic in the rain on our new rented land!
November. The first half of November we were in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana for our honeymoon. Enjoying the mountains, each other and great quantities of food and drink :) After we got back, everytime someone would ask us how our honeymoon was I replied by saying "it was weird... there was so much free time!" And it really was- that was the first time I had sat down and really relaxed since March... When we moved into the Tiny I was about 30% through the fifth Game of Thrones book and when I picked my Kindle back up on the honeymoon that number hadn't changed. After we got back, I started building my very own greenhouse!
December. Today! I write to you from our new recliner (that certainly would not have fit in the Tiny). The greenhouse has it's plastic on and I just need to finish the end walls and install the heater. I just got back from New York for the Young Farmers Conference which was enlightening and encouraging- to see so many young farmers like me in one place was nothing I had experienced before. I came home renewed for the 2015 season after meeting famous farmers that I look up to a lot: Eliot Coleman, Jean-Martin Fortier and other big names in the small-scale, sustainable farming movement. I also got to experience a goat necropsy, understood how to start persnickty small seeds in a course sand and milled sphagnum moss mix in the greenhouse and I learned how to gross $140,000 on 1.5 acres! December has brought so many new and exciting things. I decided on my new LOGO design! But by far my biggest and most exciting accomplishment this month is having Winterfell officially endorsed by FairShare CSA Coalition! This means my CSA members can get insurance rebates from their health insurance company and I can offer subsidized CSA shares through their Partner Shares Program.
Although this year was crazy busy, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to manage for John at Equinox as well as start my own small CSA. My goals for this coming 2015 season are to basically double in size and commit myself full to my own Winterfell CSA. I would like to host on-farm events and get my CSA members more involved with the farm. Though this is just the start of winter and the season of reflection, I have had time and the brain space to re-remembere why I farm: to help people reconnect with the Earth through their food. I definitely forgot that while I was busy, busy, busy trying to get all the things done so that I could be successful at farming in the first place.
I love working with the Earth so that we all can eat really really good food! I also love the connection that is re-ignited when I talk to people about how their food grows. There is something intrinsically grounding about knowing exactly who planted, cultivated, harvested, cleaned and packaged your purple potatoes. My goal for next season is to keep this in mind every day. Balance is needed for fulfillment and passion for a livelihood, especially when it's your own business and you are have every incentive to work too much and too hard while forgetting why you started in the first place.
Thanks to everyone for a great season! Much love, light and delicious food!