The February Farm Dawdle

Here it is, February on our vegetable farm, and we have had a lovely December and January, enjoying the easier pace of this time of year.  But now it is February, and after February comes March, and March means the garden season has officially begun.

The season starts slowly, by firing up the propane heated greenhouse, and sowing flats of onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil, a cheerful and promising activity.  But the season definitely starts, and it won’t be long before we’re full steam ahead.

Yet February isn’t quite March, and the burning question is: how much does a February farmer push her or himself to accomplish?

There are some things we must do in the winter, such as feeding the horses, and carrying in the stove wood, and eating lots of root vegetables from the root cellar, but there’s a lot we don’t absolutely have to do.  Still, there’s that list of winter projects on the fridge, numbering not less than 52 items.

We could pick nearly anything any day off our list, and it would be a good project well done, but it doesn’t have the urgency of the garden season work: getting those flats watered before the seedlings give up life, or getting those transplants in the ground before they give up hope, or getting those carrots weeded before they give up the struggle.

Heck, in February, without that urgency, why not really luxuriate in having a cold, for example, and just lie on the couch with a blanket and a book and drink hot tea and blow your nose with leisure and abandon?

Or why not engage in the delightful activity of productive procrastination, ignoring your long list of winter projects entirely, and instead sort out twenty years of old valentines?  (It is February, after all.)

Or why not update your web listings, which actually is on the list, but update them by simultaneously checking out all the new horse drawn farm machinery that’s out there on the Web, or reading a few farmer blogs?

Or, gosh, we could revel in going to the eye doctor, the back doctor, the tooth doctor, and the all-over doctor in just one month, since it is the perfect time of the year to sit around in waiting rooms.  And we could also revel in actually being able to go to the eye doctor, the back doctor, the tooth doctor, and the all-over doctor, since we now have health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Another pleasant February occupation is playing with the new kitty, who was a kitten last summer and is still wont to race around the house at top speed, and then duck between the two layers of our winter keep-the-heat-in front door curtain, a perfect place for crazy kitties to hide.  When we poke the curtain high up, the invisible kitty leaps! attacks!  This is highly entertaining, as you can imagine.

Of course, it really would be good for us to cross a few more things off our winter list – it would make the farming season a little easier maybe, or then again, maybe not.  Once the season’s rolling, it’s rolling and rolling, and likely rolling all over a farmer’s hopeful lists and plans.

Maybe February really is the time to go visit your longtime pen pal, or knit that snood you’ve been meaning to for years, or glue that wind chime back together.  Maybe it is good to rest and dawdle a little when you still can rest and dawdle a little. 

Maybe it’s that very resting and dawdling that will make the season to come a little easier.  Let’s hope so, as our winter list sure is long . . . why, a farmer might need to rest just from reading the whole thing at one go.

Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News, Feb 19 – Feb 25, 2014