Tuesday, August 10, 2010

to pick a pepper

In this time of year, a large portion my work consists of harvesting. And like any activity that is done over and over again, especially on 100 degree days, can become somewhat monotonous. The tomato patch can stink if there are some rotten ones around, melons are fun to look at, but heavy to carry (i've dropped my fair share), and pulling up root crops can be backbreaking. However, there's one vegetable I don't think I'll ever get tired of picking: the pepper.

I first realized this about 2 weeks ago when Max Greisbach and I were picking peppers for our Thursday market. You know how there are some things you don't realize under someone flat out says it? Well this was the case in regards to the joy of picking peppers. Max pulled one with a good "POP" and commented, "it's so satisfying!" When I processed what he said and pulled my next pepper (this time with an especially good picking sound) I completely understood what he meant. This was amazing! Sure, maybe people aren't buying our peppers like crazy, but I might just grow an excess every year just to hear these wonderful sounds. And you see, it's not just the sounds, whether it's a 'crack' or a 'pop' or the especially rare 'crack-pop;' those are all great, but it's also how it feels in your hand and the look. The texture of a pepper, especially the bigger ones, are so smooth and firm. It weighs less than you would think by looking at it and the design of each pepper just a little different. So it's always a surprise when you stick your hand in that plant and pull out one of those guys. My favorite are the ones colored purple and green. I don't want to eat it, more just hold it, admire, and maybe toss it around like a ball. Now I've found myself delegating all pepper picking to myself so I can reap maximum enjoyment. Very selfish I know. Maybe I'll begin to share after I've had my fill...maybe.

So harvesting may not be the most fun week after week, but thank God for the pepper.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

thoughts during a thunderstorm

I hear loud booms of thunder in the distance. They are only some miles away. In the old stone basement, I turn off the lights and stand by the window to watch. As I open it, wind quickly rushes in and blows the house's own dust in my eyes. Now I can hear more clearly the storm's voice. The thunder roars if to declare its power over the land. Flashes light up the entire sky. And I'm lucky enough to have a front row seat.

Nothing is more relaxing than the sound of rain and thunder. I'm not in control, but a mere admirer of this great creation. I'm at peace.

I do wish the storm was over top of us, though. Our parched land and crops need a drink. I'm sure they are watching with me, hoping their thirst will be quenched.

But now the thunder strengthens its voice and I hope the storm heads our way. The wind grows stronger as it pushes through the trees. Now a few rain drops! A big crack of thunder! More rain drops!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

bumper crop

Had a MASSIVE harvest of greens and other spring crops today, including the first of the sugar snap peas. Plenty of chinese cabbage too. We are trying to set up and try out a makeshift stand at the farm this Saturday. Should be a beautiful day. Come and enjoy it here at the farm and get some fresh, local produce while you're here!

Tomorrow includes: thinning out the beets and carrots, preparing beds for watermelons and winter squash, mounding potatoes, making a few sales calls, setting up our compost pile, and hopefully planting sweet potatoes.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

catching up with photos

These should be in reverse order, doh.

From bottom to top: Measuring the field, Greg making initial passes in March, What (part of) it looks like now, Nice lettuce crop, Mobile Chicken coop


Sunday, May 9, 2010

later is greater

Having so much going on, it's easy to fall behind on some projects. One thing I've been wanting to do for about 10 days is get these tomatoes and cucurbites into the ground.

But, ZanderCast Inc. is calling for a freeze tonight and since these cold hating plants are still in flats, I can bring them inside for the night. yay!

plus on another exciting note, some of the earlier tomatoes are already blossoming. did someone say tomatoes in mid june?


Thursday, April 29, 2010

everything is new

In a card sent to me on Saint Patrick's Day by my Aunt, she reminded me that "with each sunrise, we start anew..."

I think this is very true and a gift indeed that can be often be missed if one does not take the time to ponder and meditate on it, stepping outside of busy, daily happenings and quieting oneself. Is this not the case with most beauties in this world, that they can be so easily passed by?

Even living on this farm, a large piece of beautifully set land, I frequently do not take the time to sit and awe at all that is around me, all the seemingly hidden intricacies. To go on a walk along the winding stream, to paint sunsets sitting with my canvass and brush on the high pasture, to stand next to a cow and watch it eat, or simply to lie in the grass if not for a few minutes and take it all in; but I can't say I've really done anything of this. I remember when I first arrived in February, the feeling I would get opening the door in the early morn and gazing upon the old barn coupled with an unworked field and old silo. It was something beautiful and new. Even more, it was to serve as a constant reminder to not forget where I am and how much of a privilege it is to be here. But, just as easily as that door was opened, so quickly did I forget what this was all about.

Since beginning this venture, it seems like each day is busier and often more strenuous than the last, that rest, both emotional and physical, have become expendable. The busy life certainly has contributed to my failure to soak it in, but I think it is primarily a result of self consummation. You see, in the colder months of this year, before a seed was in the ground, the first row was tilled, or before any of this had a name, we sat down to lay out a philosophy, set goals, and cast a vision of what this farm was to be. We set out with the goal of making this a profitable business, but more than anything that we and this place be used to benefit others, that those with whom we come in to contact be blessed in some way through what we were doing here, whether friends or strangers. It was not to be about us, but them.

But, April is almost over, and for the majority of these long days, this vision is the farthest thing from the front of my mind. Instead I'm thinking about what has to be done next, frustrated that there do not seem to be enough hours available in the day or worried if I'm even in the right place at this time in my life. Basically, it's all about myself. Maybe it's not the case for most people, but I can get so caught up in things that are not important and let that control me. This is what I mean by self consummation. When this happen, I can see (and often times it takes a while to see) all my attention on myself, my desires, my worries, my reputation. In this there is no hope. It is not how it should be, nor how it has to be. Has not the Lord, freed me from the burden of all the evil that is in me. Are we not called to live joyful lives as those released from bondage?

Therefore, let us all take joy in each day and remind ourselves of the great pleasure and privilege it is to do what we're doing at this point in our lives, to be put in this position to learn, mature, adventure, and perhaps most importantly be utilized to share this life with others. Let us not miss the beauty around us by getting caught up in ourselves. I know a battle exists, not only for me, but for everyone, between that which is good and free and the constraint of our nature. Fortunately the Lord uses us even in our weakness to bring Himself glory. In that, He will not fail. For the Sun is gracious and has risen that we may start anew.


Friday, April 23, 2010

A weeks-end reflection

Another week has come and gone. I’ve haven’t posted on the blog yet, but feel now would be as good of time as ever. Though I could list all the highlights of the day and post corresponding pictures, I choose rather to share a bit of how it feels to finish a week on the farm. A solemn mood settles in, like last night’s fog; mystically forming but not quite settling. Just as it came though, it will pass, yielding the splendor of the backdrop it only temporarily veils.
The intricate grains of my hands are stained with dirt and grease, calloused ridges cycle through healing and new openings, mysterious bruises and cuts are found where heavy objects were lifted against the body and left their marks, sore joints and tight backs lead me a welcoming bed. Coming in from the field as the sun sets, after rising to welcome it thirteen hours ago, bible in hand and eagerness to conquer the day, one is almost too exhausted to think. The day’s tasks took a quick tempo that carried me till four without a bite, revealing how long you can actually go when so focused (probably till sun down unless Nick offered to pick up a burrito).
Once some scraps are put down, I wash up and sit down at the desk to catch up on some past emails and letters strewn across the desk. I’ll often pick up my guitar to figure out a song I’m listening to, or get carried away reading up on today’s world news and online journal articles, but by then it’s already past time to go to sleep. All my well intentioned desires to make it through my stack of books and journals, or rework our business plan, or tediously go through our stack of receipts, has once again yielded to tired eyes and limited mental capacity at this hour.
My exhaustion causes a cloud of mediocrity to fall over what we’ve set out to do. Our grueling hours, burdensome tasks, and ever-so-slowly unfolding change and growth has deflated our past enthusiasm and thrown us into a pace of just getting by. Our initial days of planning and record keeping have quickly been over taken by 11+ hours of planting, cultivating, and patching up loose ends of our every growing project list. As time lines re-shift and priority projects pile up, there’s just too much to do, too many things to not forget, and too many people to keep up with.
Yet amidst all the grime of work and mediocrity onset by exhaustion, I’m constantly reminded by what’s around me, like recognizing the emerging greenery from the cracks of an abandoned urban lot. Our days are filled with constant beauty; the smell of the rich soil just after the afternoon rain, the rough pass of the cows tongue, the squawk of the chicken announcing a freshly laid egg, the rising of the mist pierced by streams of the new day sun, a gut-wrenching laugh shared with a dear friend, the joy on the face of an urbanite getting their hands dirty and skin burnt. These small joys build, like a mosaic, yielding a much more intricate and ever grandiose picture of what Rocklands really is.
It’s a farm full of so much and filling so many things; a deep sigh of peace, restoration from the daily grind, refreshment for the soul like the cool spring in the main pasture, escape from the confusion of today’s intangibleness world. Countless cars roll up to unload eager visitors and friends, whom upon leaving have a new bounce in their step; a shift from innocent ignorance to a deep understanding of the rawness of nature and human life realized by actually “doing”.
The occupation of farming is far from the romantic picture painted by the populous. Pictures of rolling hills, vine ripe crop and rusted equipment capture the imagination, especially of those safe from the elements; suburbia folk. There is nothing wrong with being of this understanding, and it usually transforms rather quickly when one picks up the rake and heads out to the field with one of us. After a few hours, caked in dust and burnt from the sun, you soon realize how a fresh breeze actually cools you, how water can actually taste so good, articulate the smell of the evening air, and hopefully soon enough, how many hours are actually put in just to have a taste of vine ripe produce; fresh, local, and naturally grown produce.
How incredibly tangible this wondrous life is; so practical and simple yet incredibly “wonderful” as the word implies, full of wonder. Someone can pick up a seed, water it, care for it, watch it grow, and enjoy the fruit of it’s yield. We’re actually a part of something that is way beyond our person, way more complicated than we can reduce into a series of encyclopedias, way more fulfilling than what modern culture has conjured up, and way more intimate than what many of us have come to know.
I love to work the land and hope you can come join us in our adventure to share the bounty of the land,