As I harvested and washed salad mix in the sleet today, I thought about what it means to farm in the winter. Some things are much easier (no irrigation, less pest pressure, less heat) but some are hard, like the cold, the wet, and the damaging storms that can batter winter crops to pieces. Having good rain gear makes a world of difference, but working outside during the winter takes a different kind of fortitude than does summer farm work. I’m like a hot pepper; I thrive in the heat, not as much in the cold.
I’ve been working on my mental attitude around rainy days. Sunny days make me feel bright and alive, rainy days make me feel a bit more dim. In observing these traits, I am attempting to bring a reflexivity to my process. By considering and reflecting on these mind states, I seek to learn to accept each, and to be comfortable and at peace in either. Awareness of my feelings is a practice that I am learning to engage.
It’s so easy to be stuck in a mental loop without even being aware of it. I’m working to notice my thoughts, which begins a process of self-observation and reflection. Being aware of what I’m thinking also gives me the opportunity to be aware of the input from my senses. I can choose where to put my attention, focusing on the tree across the valley, or the faint note of woodsmoke and chicken soup. Choosing where to put my attention replaces the thought loop with focus. Practice makes a mindful human, and though I have a long way to go I am enjoying the process.
There is an interesting disconnect that I find in bringing calm awareness to my being, which brings new thoughts or ideas to the surface. The more I can center myself in the effort at hand (whatever that may be), the more I create opportunity to channel a higher purpose into my actions. Inspiration arrives when space is created for it, not when it is called.
Speaking of being inspired, we are making some major upgrades on the farm! After many years of fabricating cheap pvc hoophouses, we are making the step up to the metal framed caterpillar tunnel. After the hours spent knocking snow off the pvc structures last spring, we are glad for the opportunity to move in the direction of more capable infrastructure.
Successful winter production on a small scale hinges a great deal on the quality of the season extension methodologies. It’s difficult to space the harvests out so that we have something each week for market, and the vagaries of weather often confound crops grown outside. We are excited to expand our potential for winter harvests, and are glad this week to offer the last of our winter salad mix from the old hoophouse bed.
A social media memory today reminded us that four years ago, we built the old hoophouse that we tore down today to make space for the new one. That consonance provided a signal from the universe that the time for renewal and levelling up in our farm process had arrived. We each have a path to walk, and the universe likes to provide signs along the way; if we are observant, we notice them. As always, it is a joy to have the opportunity to share these thoughts with you. Much love and great success!
-HappyDay CSA Newsletter Jan 20th 2019. For full newsletter pdf with recipes go to