Farm News

Chore Time

Photo of Oregon White Oak sprouting

Come spring, our morning and evening chore routine grows from about thirty minutes to over an hour. In addition to the year round care of donkeys, sows and poultry, we find ourselves tasked with the tending of the newest members of the farm. Thousands of seedlings need watering, just-germinated pea tendrils and lettuce need covered to protect them from hungry rabbits. The clutches of chicks need small grit, a high protein snack and fresh refill of water in a cup that is just their size.

photo of a fuzzy caterpillar in the grassAs the bookends to our very-full work days, one might think this added chore detail is drudgery. (Of course, I too have at times wished for a magic supper-cooking genie.) But walking the field and visiting the barns at dawn or dusk has quite the opposite effect for me. Being alone and in service to this precious place is a grounding ritual for which I am grateful. This is the window of time I savor – for every step can bring me face to face with something extraordinary. In the milky light of the dawn or dusk, I am for once able to set down any concept of time and simply allow myself to soak up the fascinating, tender world right before my of hen and chicks in a bucket

That I am fortunate enough to bear witness to indelible moments that could not possibly be imagined or replicated, that come once and in a flash and then are gone again, is certainly one significant way I measure the richness of my life. I have my weary moments, but truly, it is hard to begrudge the extra time spent tending this magnificent place.

I farm because I love that one must pay attention, not day by day, but moment by moment. If you don’t, you’ll drown in the waves of rollicking seasonal change. I love that no living being here is in stasis, that the opportunity for metamorphosis is one footstep, one chicken coop door, one trough of clean water away. I love that no creature or plant is ruing past mistakes, lamenting their imperfect body, harboring old hurts or stockpiling expectations. In the presence of such industrious grace, almost effortlessly, I slip past the tightly guarded border of ego. All that matters seems to fall in place, all that does not falls away.

Someone once asked me why I don’t have wooden stakes with plant variety names at each bed in my field. To me, that’s like asking my family to wear name badges every day of the year. I farm because I love the intimacy of the work, the complexity and diversity of the relationships. I love the challenge of not knowing only by name, but by sight, sound, touch, and by a warm and growing association through familiarity hundreds and hundreds of plant and animal communities. There is nothing so powerful a bond as these shared experiences. In my case, this is the heart of my mission: good food, grown with love.