Living out here in the country, you learn there’s a rhythm to be found in the natural world, and maybe, just maybe, a certain amount of balance in everything that goes on. This year, we had a deep winter, as we call it. Heaps of snow that came, and stayed, until even March. And then a heavy spring, nearly two weeks of rain that kept us from our plowing and planting. We were sweating it quite a bit, wondering if we’d get the first veggies in in time. For all the worrying, the sun eventually broke out, and gave us perfect growing weather, and everything’s catching up like the delay never happened. This first week of harvesting, I was washing bunch after bunch of great looking chard, kale, and other leafy things, amazed at how the whole cycle had played itself out, and thankful.
I like the idea because it brings me back to other days, cooped up in an “other” life as a college student. Intuitively, I knew the semesters were out of step with anything natural. “Fall” semester asked me to start in the cold, continue while it got colder, and finish in the deep cold. “Spring” made me start while it was still damn cold, and stay locked in four walls while the rest of the world burst out of its shell. Working on a farm is like holding a stethoscope to nature’s heart, you can feel every slowdown, every acceleration, and if you let yourself fall into its patterns everything just works better. You even work better. Winter means slow down, spring means to start things anew, summer is rush rush rush, and then fall, you wind down. If you get into this, you’ll feel yourself more akin to the rest of the world, its plants, animals and other living things, than akin to your electronic devices, TV shows, artificial work schedules, school schedules, and every other thing out of the rhythm.
I feel it most being here in Washington County, where “corn is king.” It’s almost all for silage for the dairy cows that dot the valleys and hillsides. The only other big “industry” here, not even an industry, is sheep and alpacas. Spring means calves, so fresh and new that their white hair is whiter than the milk they drink, the blacks and browns have not dulled or faded with dust, and they look like they were secretly painted with a new coat the night before. Lambs, with the freshest white and freshest black, actually look like cartoons more than anything. The corn that keeps the county humming has broken the surface, opened its newest set of leaves and looks ready to be “knee high by Fourth of July,” the goal of every farmer who wants a good crop. Something about driving to and from work, knowing you’re in step with a greater cycle, makes it all worth it. It’s time to grow, to change, develop, and produce something useful!