Recently I came across a passage by the writer Wendell Berry in which he poses the question of why anyone would want to farm and his answer is:
"Love. They must do it for love." Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”
Day in and day out farming will drive you crazy; it will break your heart and repair it again over and over. You can spend a week planting tomatoes that don’t end up producing a good crop, or go out and weed a section of carrots only to discover that a groundhog came and ate it all in the night. Then there are times when you go to check a bed of carrots to find large fat and long roots below the surface, when a few rows of sweet potato digging leads to a few thousand pounds. Some days you just glide through your work, and most of the time you can look back and see what you accomplished.
I don’t know how many of you know the timeline of this season but I am going to share a bit of it with you. This winter after a few years of leasing land we purchased our farm here in Pittsville. We still had a CSA in Vermont which ran through April (we begin seeding things in our greenhouse in February). So as soon as possible Kevin and I took down our greenhouse, loaded it on a trailer and Kevin headed to Maryland leaving me to keep up with the winter CSA and wait for the ground to thaw so I could clean up the fields while he got to work taking a house and farm that had been sitting doing nothing and turning it into something again, bringing it back to life. And in the first week of April I made the final CSA delivery and then with an incredible amount of help from friends and family we moved the rest of the farm in a weekend.
We started right up and by mid April there were pigs, chickens and vegetables in the fields and with much anxiety we had some produce ready by the first of June. We have spent this season learning and growing a lot. The new and warmer climate of Maryland has offered up challenges and advantages. Mid-summer pest pressure was higher than we have ever seen, we also had a melon crop like never before (there is only one variety of watermelon that will ripen in the short New England summer). And now the long fall has led to all kinds of greens and lettuces’ continuing to grow and really thrive as the air has turned chillier and the bugs have slowed down. In many ways I feel as if I have been here forever and yet it has been less than 10 months.