Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Discomforts of Farming

Today we had our first really hot day. I’m not actually sure how hot it got; the weather gods on the internet said it would get into the upper 80’s or even 90. It never felt quite that hot to me but it did feel, well, hot. I spent an hour or two after lunch planting onion seedlings, and if we had been doing that for all eight hours of our day I probably would have been pretty miserable by the end of it. But I spent the morning up on the cultivating tractor, weeding a last bed of beets and six beds of carrots. The carrots at this point are very small, thin, wispy fellows, and I had to take extra care to keep the wire baskets from going too deep and throwing soil on top of the little plants. I had a little elevation on the tractor so I caught a bit of breeze, and it wasn’t terribly strenuous, it just took a certain amount of focus and care.

I spent the last couple hours of the day with Eric mending fences. Our larger field, called Patch field, has an electric fence around it (so does the other field, called Underhill, after our friend Frodo Baggins I like to think) to keep the deer from eating up all our food. Many of the wooden posts holding the wires up were broken, split or splintered, and we were tasked with removing them. This took a lot of messing around and disagreeable contortions of the hands with a pair of pliers and wire cutters, resulting in several minor scrapes, blisters or small areas of pinched flesh, as well as general fatigue to the muscles in my hands.

There are plenty of discomforts in this job. None of them has been particularly overwhelming thus far, certainly not enough to counterbalance the positive experience I’m having learning about farming, spending time outside in a beautiful setting, working with other good, interesting people and working hard at something I believe in. But they are there. Kneeling, bending over, repetitive tasks in strange positions, sunburn, windburn, cold weather (we’ve had little enough of that so far), wet socks, grimy, beyond grimy hands and face, filthy clothes, hot, sweaty days, etc. I’m paying particular attention to taking care of my hands, keeping them moisturized whenever possible but mostly just trying to be mindful and careful with them anytime I’m using them in a way that could possibly injure them. This job doesn’t really seem to have many opportunities for major harm (with a reasonable amount of care and common sense) to the hands but they get a lot of hard, physical use. I’m making sure to strum my guitar or pick up my violin regularly to keep them limber and keep tabs on them.

It’s too early to tell yet whether I’ll get more used to the various discomforts of this sort as the season goes on or whether, really, I just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

I’m starting to get very excited for the vegetables we’ll eventually be harvesting. It’ll still be awhile, but I had a conversation today discussing what stuff the respective we’s were most excited for, and I realized I’m excited for most of it. I suppose if forced to pick something I’ll say: hot chiles! I’m going to make hot sauce. Also, I can’t wait for good tomatoes and fresh oregano for the best greek salads ever in high summer (consult Chez Panisse Vegetables for the formula). And garlic, I’m really excited for that as well. Another high summer treat I’m looking forward to making is salsa, pico gallo in particular, if we have chiles, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and onions up at the same time. The onions might come a little later, I’m not sure. If I have to buy an onion at the store it won’t kill me, but my guess is we’ll have one of the varieties up in the summer, or I can use scallions or shallots.

Until next time.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

the best salsa i have ever had was made with farm ingredients last summer - our CSA put salsa kits together with cilantro, onion, tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic. it was heavenly. Give me a heads up when you make your batch and we'll start driving north!