Farming for One

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It’s been a year since Brianne moved off to college and life on our little farm is different, decidedly different. The rhythm, the pace, the flow of the farm has changed drastically. No more are there 6 market lambs to feed every morning. Gone are the meat rabbits that kindled in spring, were shown in August and processed in September. And, there is no need to raise more than one batch of meat chickens or ducks. One is more than enough to last the whole year. The 6 laying hens provide plenty of eggs for omelets and scrambles; baking and breads, with some left over to share.

The garden beds are smaller too, arranged and planted to meet the needs of a single person household rather than a home with a busy child. There is no need to plant an entire bed of lettuce or spinach or beets or beans. A short row of each is plenty for table and fridge. The amount of food I preserve has lessened too. Rather than canning dozens of jars of produce, fruit or jam, a few will suffice.

The farm’s calendar has changed too. There are no colorful hi-lighted boxes to grab our attention and remind us of upcoming activities. There are no confirmation slips or auction flyers or shopping lists to tell us where we are going and what we need to buy. Our farm no longer revolves around school and livestock auctions; sheep shows and trips to the feed store. There is no need to set a planting calendar around trips away from the farm because the reasons for leaving no longer exist.

At first it was hard getting use to the “new” farm. Hard to come to terms with a morning routine that took only minutes and night time rituals that were finished long before the sun went down. I felt like I was missing something, that I had forgotten to do something and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I would stand in the garden looking around, checking off a mental list of chores completed like watering the beds, feeding the hens, picking ripe produce, staking a vine heavy with fruit. When you have time on your hands it can be unsettling, especially for someone who has spent so much time, so many years thinking months in advance, planning for events that were weeks off or outlining projects that were seasons away.

I had time on my hands and nothing to fill it. Or, so it seemed.

It took “time” to realize that life on our farm was not so terribly different after all. I still garden, just on a smaller scale. I still raise livestock, just in smaller batches. And, I still cook and bake and preserve, just in smaller portions. As time went on I realized one important thing that I never really thought of when my life was so scheduled, so deliberate. That is “time” is a precious gift, especially time to leisurely go about your life instead of rushing from place to place and chore to chore. I have time to sit in the coop and watch the girls scratch in the dirt. I have time to observe the nitty gritty life on my farm. From the red wigglers growing big and fat in the damp ground under the chicken’s water trough, to the blue jay that has build a nest of straw and twigs and twine in a far off protected corner of the barn. Time had given me these gifts.

And, now, I have time to spend with friends, to participate in community and to share with people who want to know about life on a farm. Now, I have time to read more, listen more and engage more. Time has made me a farm of one, a woman farming for one, but it hasn’t made me alone.

It’s time, folks. Time to take stock of how we spend our time. Time to make time for what is truly important. Time may change you and life may be different, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be good. Oh, so good.

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