This is the season where I just run out of gas, figuratively and sometimes literally. The one thing you never want to run out of is DIESEL. Nope. Never run a tractor out of DIESEL. Gas yes; Diesel no. But sometimes, I personally just run out of gas. I have been at this farming season for 7 months so far and there are a few more to go.
And this farm season has been hard. Wet early and well into June. Then DRY! The weather pattern has stressed some of the crops and blessed others. Great year for cucumbers and tomatoes; lettuces and spinach, marginal at best. Blackberries and raspberries were happy, as were the birds that descended on them like locusts. Farm years like this one require so much mental energy.
Twenty years ago, I made a choice to not farm with chemicals, to focus on soil health, biology and habitat. Which means that I have to work with nature. When the weather is too wet or too dry, the crops can get bug and disease pressures. But, if you are going to choose to not farm with chemicals/poisons, you are going to have “those” years that remind you how fragile the farming and the food system is.
But this is the time of year when local farmers have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We will be into peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers till the first frost and soon we will be harvesting our pears and plums. Potatoes and winter squash will be coming after that. And then we will start to put the farm to bed with cover crops of wheat, rye, oats and vetch to protect our soils and feed the biology.
As the days get shorter and Summer marches towards Fall, so does my outside work and I am grateful for that. Yes, life is returning to normal and I can get back on a schedule. Anybody else feel like you can’t wait for school to get out and you can’t wait for it to start? I know as a farmer, summer is just crazy. Your life is ordered around the day length and chores, but when school starts, life takes on a different rhythm.
It is a more peaceful rhythm like the “Resolve” at the end of a great symphony. Still very intricate, but as the seasons change from Spring to Summer to Fall, this farmer senses it is time to begin to hush the horns, percussions and, eventually, the winds and let the farm I partner with rest, rejuvenate and get ready for next season.
Farmer, Health Advocate