It is a cool, bright morning today. The air is dry and warm, but not in a threatening, peak-of-summer kind of way. I feel lucky, living in a place where the day before July 4th can be gentle and enjoyable, after spending so many years in the intensely hot, humid southern US.
Life on even the humblest farm is busy. We've only been here at the new farm for 7 months, and it barely qualifies as a homestead, let alone a farm. But we do have chickens (who are still too young to lay), and we have begun the experiments that will tell us what grows well here, and what to abandon for now. On any other day, I would call my work "chores". But today, I decide, I can't bring myself to assign such a negative descriptor to the jobs that need doing. It's just too nice a day for negativity. Recent world events have left me feeling blessed and fortunate to be standing in the tall grass on my valley farm. I may have a day of labor ahead of me, but I'm not being shot at by a ball field lunatic, or listening to politically polarized nut jobs. I'm not in a neighborhood that's being shelled by their own government, killing people while they throw their tantrums.
Not all seeds that are planted on our farm even result in the smallest of seedlings. Countless times, we drop seeds into carefully tilled and amended rows of soil, only to be swallowed by the dirt, never to be seen again. Or, equally frustrating, a vigorous and lush row of weeds will emerge.
"Oh look," I sometimes say to my husband, "There's a nice healthy row of clover! Funny, I thought we planted lima beans there."
On this particular gorgeous morning, even the weeds look good to me. As I toil, I hear the rattle and clank of the Amish Shire horse teams working in the next field, gathering the hay that will feed them over the long, cold winter. A group of bullfrogs croak and grunt among the cattails at the edge of the pond. A gust of wind stirs the pointy leaves on a nearby willow tree and the red-winged blackbird perched at the top calls out in his delightfully bright, and enthusiastic song.
As the sun passes overhead, I finish my jobs and put away the tools. The reward for my work is a tour of the gardens: from the berries and herbs in the permanent enclosure, to the seasonal crops in the large, rotational bed. Large, yellow squash blossoms are fully open to the sun's rays, alive with our SweetBees doing their best to help us harvest lots of shiny, dark green zucchini. Cucumber vines are stretching out with their curling tendrils, trying to reach into neighboring rows of peas and tomatoes. There are big cukes, ready to harvest, and tiny baby cucumbers with their blossom crowns still attached. Berries decorate the raspberry bushes in shades of white, pink and bright red. Black raspberries dot the ends of tall canes, round and petite but packed with flavor. Perennial herbs erupt out of the ground, small and delicate, but robust growth is sure to guarantee plenty for winter storage.
There's a lot to do on any farm. Even the tiniest plots of land under cultivation demand nonstop attention and work. Perhaps even more than larger operations, because almost everything must be done by hand. The summer months are always busy, and my plate is full with farm work, family, and looming home renovations. It can be overwhelming at times, but on a peaceful, cool, and fresh day like today, anything seems possible. Looking out over my small but growing farm, bursting with beauty and goodness, I agree. My plate is full. And I am so grateful.