The cool, moist weather has slowed the arrival of spring flowers, but they are now in full force. Amber and I have an arrangement in which birthday and Christmas presents to each other come in the form of flower bulbs. The daffodils we planted this winter are exploding in color, bright and shining on these cloudy days and accented by the contrast of the purple hyacinths.
Crocuses came first, and after daffodils come the tulips, a march of color that offers the unbridled joy of life. There are new flowers bursting into bloom every few weeks from here until all but the calendula are rendered unto biomass by the killing frost. Cosmos, delphiniums, gladiolas, sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds and many other types that we grow for cut flowers, pollinator habitat and the simple joy of flowers. The mustard and manzanita are in full bloom now, but the bees have been little able to partake with so much moisture in the air of late.
We had a weekend of mizzle and overcast, but we also managed to snatch bits of work in the spaces between the showers. When the forecast calls for rain but it holds off enough for you to get stuff done outside, it feels like a special kind of bonus. It’s like finding a magical extension of time and is good for serotonin levels on a cloudy day.
There is an element of the do-work-feel-happy-brain-chemicals principle that is essential to farming. It is part and parcel of the calling that drives the farmer, a physiological perspective on the reasons we keep coming back for more. Farming (like any life of manual labor) carries an inherent understanding that the body can’t do it forever, but the siren’s song draws us back each spring. The blood rises as does the color in the grass.
Leaves are beginning to bud out, the land is rich with moisture as it burgeons into the abundant growth of spring. We are planting out successions of head lettuce, beets, tatsoi, boc choi and various brassica, starting with cauliflower, broccoli and collards. Harvest in the salad-mix and mustard hoophouse is in full swing, and the first rows of heartier greens are not far behind. We snatch windows between showers to prep and plant, making the most of the time between the clouds that billow through the ridgeline.
Today we’ve planted a dozen trees and a few bushes up in the pasture. With them we sowed acorns, and set them round with wire cages to protect them from the deer. Drip irrigation will keep them moist through the summer as they begin to send roots down into the earth. The trees are fast growing, and will one day give way to the oaks, which travel in slow and stately form towards the sky. There are few young oaks on the land around us, and it feels good to sow acorns in the hopes of creating future trees to take the place of their elders as time marches on.
Planting trees and sowing acorns are small steps, two of the many we hope to take in this journey of stewardship and effort to return to the land the love it gives to us. To harvest bounty from a patch of ground is to accept an offering from the land that it feels right to strive to reciprocate. Land husbandry creates a deep and soulful relationship that is governed by love and respect.
Each year we learn new skills and methods of farming, seeking to better our practice. We make many mistakes, but we continue forward. We are spending heavy effort right now chopping thistle because we failed to stop them from going to seed two years ago. We are learning more about pasture management, species composition and time management.
There is a strength that comes from knowledge of place and capability of action. It is the energy flowing through the cycle of interaction that is farming. We are grateful for the opportunity to engage in the journey.