Today is the first day of a new year. And while the world around us seems to pick up speed, we resolve to slow down. Not in actions or responsibilities, but in thought. To embrace the lessons that the last year has taught. For life itself is the greatest teacher, and it needs not prove its worth.
This past year has been one of many changes. For we went from a family that simply gardened to fill its own pantry and freezers to one that is a full-time growing for market farm. We learned there is a great difference in the two. What works and what didn’t. Realizing that there was no way there were enough hours in day to do as we dreamed, and both of us work off farm, my wife quit her job and came home. Not only to help on the farm but also to greater embrace her role as wife and mother to our two wonderful children.
It’s not easy, nor has it been. And we did not expect it to be. Our growing season was one of the wettest and coolest on record and we received a first hand education on how things often do not go as planned. Crops can fail just as easily as they can be bountiful. There is a joy to be experienced in seeing a simple plant, grown from seed, come to fruit and then delivered to market. That look of satisfaction and delight when a customer tastes something you’ve produced and they know it’s special. You know it too, just as you always have. But to hear it from a strangers lips as they ask lovingly how you grew such or would there be more is the greatest blessing there is as a farmer.
Sadly, there is also a dark side we discovered once we made our transition to farming for income. Crops fail. Bad weather. Dead livestock. That feeling of desperation as you stand at your back door and watch a torrential rainfall wash out a plant bed or even as we had, create gullies so deep in your field that even your tractor cannot go across. The helplessness of watching a beautiful row of plants, scald in the afternoon sun in a muddy field. The all-too-often horror of discovering one of your chickens has passed in the night, causes unknown.
Why do we do it? What could drive someone to put so much trust and hope into things they have so little control over?
Faith in what we are doing and what we are trying to build. Faith that comes from planting a seed and knowing it will bring forth. Faith that we are not alone in our efforts and the simple joy that comes from living a sustainable life. Faith in our creator in whom we know all things are delivered.
Yes, friends, if any lesson was learned over the past year it would be that we must have faith. For it is that and that alone that sustains the farmer. For he, like us, has faith that the next season will be greater. Crops will yield and his children will grow. Clothed with the wisdom gained from the past, you put on your boots and walk toward the field that is the future. That is why we are farmers. And that is the greatest lesson to be learned. Simply why.
Heirloom kidney beans harvested for seed. These will become next year’s crop.