I have a confession to make…
This is a big one…
you may be shocked to learn that…
Sometimes, I HATE summertime!
Now, I realize that many other producers may understand my statement…but, I dare say no one else will.
How could I dislike, much less HATE, the warm, beautiful summer time when the “living is easy” and gorgeous, delicious food is ever abundant? What on earth could I be thinking? Isn’t this the time when I make the majority of my income? Am I not the one who is always saying how much L-O-V-E what I do for a living? Have I suddenly lost my mind?
Yeah, yeah, yeah…
But, there are times when it is SO HOT! The weeds are SO TALL! There are SO MANY bugs…eating EVERYTHING! There are far too many zucchini, tomatoes, onions, or whatever multiplying on the kitchen table, counter…for that matter…any flat surface all over the house. I need to can, freeze, and preserve countless things. There are seeds to sow, seedlings to plant, animals to process, crops to check, vegetables to harvest, and countless meals to prepare. The "to-do" list multiplies exponentially on a daily basis.I can't seem to keep up with the housework, laundry, and farm paperwork. Then, there are the complete and utter crop failures. It either rains TOO much or NOT AT ALL! There are news reports of dire weather events elsewhere in the world that we know will affect prices, sales or availability in the upcoming months. I’m tired…oh, so tired. Did I mention it’s HOT?!? The animals are complaining, panting, or acting “off” due to weather related issues. And due to said weather issues, the power has been out THREE times this week alone. There are familial, community and Market “issues” weighing on my mind and/or heart. Add to that, I need to be thinking ahead and planning for Fall, Winter…and quite honestly…NEXT SPRING!
Gee…and this is when the living is “easy”? Seriously?
I need a break!
I need a break!
Any farmer/producer must admit that summer is not the “easy livin’ ” time that is often portrayed by Madison Avenue and the movies. Vacations and farm life just do NOT mix. That old saying “make hay while the sun shines” means that during the warm months of summer, there is oh, so very much work to be done. Sometimes, the amount of work seems insurmountable and more than a little overwhelming. There is an internal pressure to work harder, faster because there is a limited window of opportunity for accomplishment and success.
Mid-to late-July occasionally finds me wishing I had indeed followed some other line of work. You know, I really could have done something else. A little consideration only proves discouraging…if I had followed that opportunity long, long ago…I might be retiring soon…with benefits galore. Why…I might be cruising the high seas! The Boss and I might be tooling around the country in some big RV…visiting Farmers’ Markets across the nation…maybe around the world. (….oh never mind…that actually sounds like some sort of hell on earth...or at the very least purgatory!)
Some years, the summer doldrums hit far harder than others. This year seems especially bad. Maybe it was the Derecho. We are now seeing the far reaching effects of the wind, the heat and the 5 day power outage. (It is not pretty) The continued high temperatures and torrential rains haven’t helped much. Maybe it is that last year seemed SO incredibly awesome. (Last year seemed so great because the year before was quite possibly the worst of our lives…take that back…it WAS the worst year of our lives) I haven’t felt quite so overwhelmed since the first year of living here on the hill. That first year, the learning curve seemed almost insurmountable as we shifted growing zones AND lifestyles. Talk about failures…frustrations…and tears… That situation was one I hope to NEVER repeat!
I’ve been hot and tired and the number of crop failures continues to mount. While it’s not a pretty picture of farming, living, or even coping…there have been a number of times when I have just wanted to cry this year. (and okay,I admit it… I did) The bugs have beaten me on more than one occasion, freakish weather wiped out more than one “sure thing” crop, and we have experienced some things this year that we never have in the past. For the record…there are no “do-overs” in farming. Often you get ONE shot at a project until next year. I suppose we should just look at all of it as a learning experience.
As a farmer, it is hard to admit to the fact that sometimes I falter….sometimes I fail…and sometimes, just sometimes…I really want to give up! (Farmers should be tough, resilient and capable) It would be nice to find something easy…something fun…something that pays the BIG bucks. And, then I find myself feeling slightly ashamed, somewhat apologetic and more than a little embarrassed. Because, I really love what I do!...despite the frustrations, the hard work, and the small return on investment. I really do. I love this life and all of its ups and downs. That is when I feel as if a confession is in order.
The truth of the matter is just this…Farming is hard work with absolutely NO guarantees! You can give it your best shot, work to your utmost ability, only to have the weather, a twist of fate or a glitch in the market defy you. It is only through an enormous amount of faith and fortitude that any farm can continue to survive. Farmers are said to have the most faith…of any profession…of any group of folks on earth. I really think that is true. Sometimes, like this year, I can attest to the truth of that statement.
If it wasn’t for farmers…and their faith…and fortitude…we would all be cold, naked and very hungry. I count myself privileged to number among the farmers/ranchers and other folks who make their living in agriculture in this country. It is an awesome feeling to know that you are an integral part (however small) in the food supply.
It’s just the "mid-summer doldrums" talking…