"What Farm?"

In July we farmers give up. 

We are inundated, with two greenhouses and five garden sections in full swing. Everything is flourishing, garden plants, garden weeds, garden pathways. 

Sometimes it seems like the tasks of all the seasons bulge themselves into this time of year.  We are preparing ground and planting, as in spring, but now for fall crops.  We are weeding, irrigating, and mowing, summer work.  We are harvesting, beginning to put food by, and putting in cover crops, as in autumn. 

We are not resting, however, as in winter!  The biodynamic farming fire held in the earth in wintertime is now thundering all around us, the energies of growth and life and change vibrating in the plants and rising up into the atmosphere  (Oh, the banging, crashing thunderstorms!)

Funny thing is, even with all this inundating, flourishing, bulging, and thundering, we feel more relaxed than in other seasons.  We don’t precisely give up; it’s more like we give over: give over to the fact that we can’t get everything done, no matter how long and hard and fast we work.

Now we are not worrying about all the other things we have to do; we are just in the pressing task of the moment. 

“What garden?” we say, in the house, when we’re deciding whether to start with the dirty dishes on the counter or the dirty dishes on the floor.  (It’s good to have a little variety in one’s dish-washing life.)

“What house?” we say in the garden, as we weed the carrots, the beets, the summer squash, the winter squash, four plantings of lettuce, the broccoli, the cabbage, the potatoes, the beans. . .

“What greenhouse?” we say, as we put up loose hay with and for our draft horses, bringing in the last load of the day at 9:30 at night.

“What hayfields?” we say in the greenhouse, as we prune and pick tomatoes, and string up sweet and hot and green peppers, and harvest basil and eggplant.

“What barn?” we say, as we set the have-a-heart traps, and trim and trim and trim under the electric fence, so that it won’t ground out and foil all our plans against marauding woodchuck and deer.

“What fence?” we say, in the barn, as we muck out the impressive amount of manure four 1200-pound horses can produce in a single day, as they enjoy their shady, cool, fly-free stalls.

And then there are the individual farmer tasks: “What hooves?” says the farmer who is tapping on her keyboard.  “What farming and sustainability column?” says the other farmer, who is trimming all sixteen of those 1200-pound horses’ hooves, which also grow more luxuriantly in spring and summer.

The final questions, of course, in July, are these two: “What swimming hole?” we say, as we are farming and farming. 

And, at last, since we are feeling so relaxed and in the sustainable farming moment: “What farm?” we ask, as we eat ripe juicy tomatoes, and delicious basil, and (locally made, of course) fresh mozzarella cheese at our 8:30 p.m. supper picnic at the swimming hole. 

Then we say it again, just for the pure summer fun of it: “What farm?”

Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News, Jul 10 – Jul 16, 2013