I remarked in an e-mail to a farmer friend that I felt like August had swallowed me up and was slowly spitting me back out, little by little. It happens every year. I get to the end of August and I can barely remember what happened--it is a blur of harvests, of good eating, and exhaustion. This time of the season can be when we reach our peak of tiredness as farmers. Spring and early summer brings adrenaline and lots of daylight. July bring anticipation of summer tomatoes, watermelons, corn and general enjoyment of summer. Oh, and lots of hoeing, lest I forget. August is harvest, harvest, harvest. August is always insane at every farm I have worked at, including here. The work is just constant and becomes repititive--many crops need daily harvesting in order to keep up. The excitement of Sungold tomatoes has worn off and now become a dreaded job to do in a muggy, hot hoophouse with millions of mosquitoes. Plus, we begin preserving for our own home use. (See cuke pickles below!).
By the time September hits, we take a big sigh of relief and then realize right about now, that we are not done yet!!! There are still 217 watermelons to harvest on Tuesday morning and another 100 on Thursday. The purple broccoli is coming in like gangbusters and we haven't even touched nearly 3 acres of other fall crops that have yet to be harvested, washed and packed. Two interns are going back to school one day a week and we lost a couple Friday workshares. It's too late in the season to train and hire more, so we all work longer and harder. Ay yay yay. It feels like the summer is going on for eternity, even though next week it could be 30 degrees. The tiredness at this time of year is closer to exhaustion. Even if we get 10 hours of sleep every night, we still wake up feeling tired. It is a tiredness that you feel in your bones. This is the peak of the season and it is an economically necessary time of the year, but we are looking forward to the end of September. At least we are now able to take Sundays off, or at least most Sundays.
Sounds grim, eh? Then there is the other side. The side of farming that keeps you happy, fulfilled, and sane. Of gorgeous fog-filled mornings in the broccoli field watching the sunrise with a hot cup of coffee and a harvest tote at your side. The overflowing panoply of rainbow colored tomatoes that please the eye and palate. Testing (i.e. eating) too many watermelons while picking and doubling over in laughter nearly (I said nearly) peeing your pants at the face your co-worker is making. Customers sending you thoughtful and heartfelt e-mails about their children eating kale or broccoli from our farm and loving it. A teenage girl happily muching on a handful of chives in one hand and raspberries in the other. A family struggling with illness that is grateful they found local, fresh and organic food that you grew! This is the side of farming that is addictive. The food, the outdoors, the people. These are the things that make you think, "Why would we want to do anything else?"
We've had a good run and it's not over yet. Another four weeks of CSA boxes and then we truly will be in the homestretch. Granted there is much to do after it is all over too. I haven't touched my accounting books in well over a month, and we will start in on our seed order right away in November. But, the pace will have relaxed and we will be shifting into a whole other mode. What a difference a month will make!
Just take a gander to see what happens over the course of a few months in the hoophouse:
Winter early 2009
Irrigating Greens May 2009
July 11 2009, Tomatoes (kudos to Emily Taylor for photo)
August 2009 photo, long view of hoophouse and field
And those cucumber pickles....