In May, my fellow and I begin to feel like the middle-aged farmers who live in a shoe, and have so many projects we don’t know what to do. We wave encouragingly to each other as we race from one task to the next.
Well, one farmer races.
That one farmer is direct sowing a second planting of beets and carrots; the other farmer, me, is happily weeding. I’ve got my favorite hoe, called a collinear hoe. It is light and long handled, with a narrow blade meant to skim under the surface of the soil, both breaking up any crust and disturbing any just geminated weeds.
I whistle; I love weeding, especially this May weeding, light, easy, and fast.
“But I don’t even see any weeds yet,” says my fast-forward farming fellow as he dashes by with the seeder. He seems a little doubtful about my choice of contemplative farming work this morning.
“I know,” I am pleased. “It’s the perfect time to weed!”
“It would be the perfect time to get the rest of the irrigation laid out, too, before everything gets too dry!” He speeds past with a roll of irrigation drip-tape, and a handful of headers.
“Yes!” I call after his retreating form, and go back to my weeding.
“It would be the perfect time to transplant this broccoli,” he says next, running by with a flat of plants, a measuring stick, and a trowel. “Before they get tired of being in the flats.”
“Yes!” I call after him. I smile beatifically at my hoe and my beautifully weeded spinach and kohlrabi, and weed some more. Soon enough, my fellow reappears.
“It would be the perfect time to cover the next planting of salad greens!” Now he’s dragging a big bag of row cover, trotting along, slowing down a notch. “Before they germinate, and the bugs find them.”
I smile and wave. I’m making great progress. I love weeding. I love May. I love farming.
On his next pass, my fellow is walking. He’s not carrying a thing. And he actually comes to a stop. “It would be the perfect time to finish building the new greenhouse, before the tomatoes are desperate to get into the beds,” he says.
“Yes!” I say.
There is a pause. He is actually standing still, watching me for a moment. “How’s it coming here? You think you’ re almost done?”
“Oh, pretty soon.”
“Aren’t you hungry yet?” he says plaintively. “It’s almost one o’clock.”
“You mean ‘It would be the perfect time to make lunch? before the farmers are desperate with hunger?”
My fellow gives me a friendly little poke. “Oh, you’re really funny. Let’s go make lunch.”
I have to admit I like this invitation better than some of the other offers that have come my way this morning. I’d be willing to stop weeding for some nice lunch.
“Don’t you love May?” I ask, on the way to the house. “We get to do a little bit of everything. A little planting, a little weeding, a little horse work, a little office work, a little greenhouse work, a little . . .”
My fellow looks askance at me. “Yeah,” he says, “you do the little bit of weeding, and I do the little bit of everything else.”
Now I give him a friendly little poke. “I love weeding,” I say. “Plus there’s so much possibility in May of getting everything done.” In May, we still labor under the illusion that we will accomplish everything, and that we will accomplish it wonderfully well, better than ever before. Now that’s a sustaining belief for a sustainable farmer.
“There’s no big disasters yet, either in May,” I add.
My fellow nods. “No, not yet. And today would be a perfect day to get up that new deer fencing, before the big deer disaster happens.”
“Yes!” I say. “I’m almost done weeding . . . ”
Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News, May 15 – May 21, 2013