a day in the life
Thanks to highlights on Nourishing Days, SouleMama, and Beauty That Moves, my readership has doubled in the past week. I'm excited by this, but also anxious. I am a deeply flawed writer and demand a great deal of patience from my visitors! But if you can find something of interest or pleasure or thought in this bitty sliver of life, then I welcome you and say, as I always have to my small but consistent group of readers: thank you for being here.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about what my days are like right now. Here's an example from Saturday. I woke with the sun and made breakfast with a bazillion grams of fat and protein to prepare for the day ahead. I packed a lunch and snacks and a gallon of water and then we all piled into the car and made our way up the hill to Broke Ass Farm. (If you are wondering, this is not the official name. We do need one to certify for selling eggs, so it's in the works.)
Once we arrived at the farm we got to work and did not stop until the sun went down. We measured and cut salvaged wood for raised beds, then pounded the boards together, then hauled them up the hill. We double-dug several garden beds, and those words cannot possibly quantify the experience of double-digging the heaviest clay soil I've ever seen. I think we've landed in the one spot in all of Mendocino County with poor soil. The garden is on top of a hill so that probably contributes. Thus the raised beds.
When the boxes were built and carried up the hill and the beds were double-dug, we dug deep trenches to sink the boxes into the soil. Then we pounded the wood into the soil with a delightfully heavy instrument known as a maul. And then we broke up the soil dug out of the trenches with forks and stuffed that back on either side of the boxes and pounded stakes to stabilize the sides. And then finally, finally! it was time to fill the beds with soil collected from North American Organics in Redwood Valley (owned by the nicest people ever -- they let Jeremy take his load of soil even though they didn't take debit cards, and seemed so surprised when we returned to pay our debt they let us have another load for free).
And then I planted seeds. And then the chickens broke in and ate them. And then I spent an hour freaking out about the fence, the fence, the godforsaken fence! Meanwhile, Jeremy helped to wether a lamb. While I'm pulling my hair out he invariably finds something productive to do.
At some point in the process of building boxes the drill battery ran dry, so we set that to charge and then... did we eat lunch? Have a cuppa tea? Just relax in the sun for a while? Hells no! It was time to pull out the bee boxes. So that's what we did, setting aside twenty dozen eggs to do so. (Yeah, we really need that egg handler's license.)
The bee boxes were dusty, dirty, and sticky with propolis and wax, which needed to be dug out with a special scraper. This led to the pleasurable experience of sitting on the grass while Banjo and Midnight, the two milking cows, hovered nearby hoping to get a taste of honey.
Halfway through that job we got back to work on the garden beds and never did make it back to the bee boxes.
As the sun set Jeremy finally pulled me away from the garden, ignoring my protests that I needed to break up more soil and pound more stakes and-and-and... This time of year is marked by a special urgency. April is already late in the season to be developing a garden. I feel hopeless about it, in a way, because it looks so desolate at this point -- just a bunch of dirt clods and flat black soil. Is it ever going to be such a riot of life that I can hardly step foot inside the gate? Last year's garden is still fresh in my mind, and my little plants under lights are chugging along like the Little Engine, but right now it's just stress and pressure and hope.
So there you have it -- a wholly un-glamorous, exhausting, painful, joyful, stinky, sticky, frustrating, beautiful day on the farm.
Today the kids were very tired so I went out to the farm alone. I broke up a trench, sunk a garden bed, and filled it by myself, which involved carrying wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil back and forth over rocky, potholed dirt. This labor was strenuous but how could I complain? surrounded by the sounds of lowing cows, baa-ing sheep and goats, and the gentle bawk-bawks of my sweet hens, who still love to be right underfoot.
For a while I worked barefoot, wiggling my hot, sore feet in the soft grass and soil (prob'ly chickenshit is medicinal). Then I got the news that our box of bees was waiting in Santa Rosa (an hour away) rather than being delivered by a friend, so I drove home to collect Jeremy and the kids. Another adventure! A car full of bees! But we barely got ten miles south before our car broke down.
I can't wait to pay that thing off early so I can drive it out to the desert and torch it.
Y'know, this is the hardest work I've ever done in my life. My back is killing me. My feet are swollen and aching, my ass burns, I have a perpetual sunburn. My hands are covered in blisters and callouses and laced with splinters. And yet I am blessed, blessed to be doing this work. To choose this work. To love this work, at least for now!
I can't think of much that is as fruitful as this labor. I get to spend all day outside, under the glorious sun, with my hands in the soil and animals by my side. This is what I've wanted all my life. And maybe the circumstances are not exactly what I expected, but isn't that just the way.