Hello there lover of farming, nature, and flowery things. Its been too long. Forgive my writing rustiness.
Each farming season presents new challenges. Whereas last year was a trial by fire (read: heat and drought), this year is of water. My rain gear last summer was never worn. This year I wear it weekly, if not daily, and have found myself soaked to the skin despite it, multiple times. Soggy, grumpy farmers aside, the plants are pretty green and happy.
Accompanying said farming challenges are always personal challenges. This year: patience and stress from having to be patient. Wet, cold soils made for the latest start I have ever had while farming. Crops are now behind in growth by 2-4 weeks. And other than working efficiently, swiftly, and giving the plants all the care I can spare, there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Patience has never been my virtue, but rushing, carelessness, and burnout are not options for me anymore. So I do what I am best at: plod along, working with care and attention.
I am proud of how much better I am caring for the field and for myself this year. This is my first spring without back issues and the first time I've finally managed to cover crop my aisles properly and continue a foliar spray regime. Small but monumental in their own ways. I am also accepting more help and saying no more often.
One of the trickiest bits in farming is the Sisyphusian level of work. Weed a row--another rows weeds get bigger. Focus on planting annuals, the perennials get neglected. Email 10 people, receive 15 more.
The stress from the never-ending mountain of work comes out sometimes at at 3 am. I wake up and its like my brain clicks on and the never ending to do list turns on "oh-shit-forgot-to-direct-seed-more-ammi-need-to-get-back-to-that-bride-when-will-I-ever-find-time-to-mow-the-6-foot-tall-grass" and on and on along with farm failure lists.
This happened last week, the morning of a big work day I had planned. None of my usual tricks worked to get myself back to sleep. I laid in bed for a few hours, worrying and being mad at myself that my worrying was causing me to loose sleep. I thought about how tired my body was and whether I'd have enough energy for the day. That's when I had the following revelation:
Stress is the stupidest feeling because it accomplishes nothing. If anything, it prevents you from doing the things you need to be doing. Therefore, pardon my french, fuck stress.
Some people claim that stress can be motivating, helping spur them to some finishing line. Not me. Instead of pushing me forward, its like adding a ball and chain, slowing progress and making it more agonizing than it needs to be.
There are times when stress and anxiety are unavoidable. Illness, climate change, death, injustice, etc are all legitimate causes--mainly because of their uncontrollable nature. However, this is the every day stress of entrepreneurship and farming.
So instead of agonizing over the mountain of endless work, I ask myself, "what can I do in this moment to make this feel less overwhelming? How can I plan the next steps so I'm not carrying stress along with my already heavy workload that I've got to carry?"
I'll leave it there. Try it folks if you too feel like flipping the bird to stress. It helps.
For me, the summer is just beginning. This July, you can come tour the flower fields in all their weedy and bloomy glory. The Farmer + the Florist workshop series continues with a lovely night of food and art-making that I'm particularly excited for. Lastly, an extra special dahlia focused day in August. Check out the workshop page.
To quote a favourite podcast signs-offs: be easy.