We are rapid juggling the process of spring. There are always so many things to do this time of year that it becomes difficult to prioritize and good time management becomes essential. We are struggling with getting the full water system up and running, hustling to install a new pump and solar panels so that we have ag water from the pond available for irrigation.
Hand-watering is often necessary for getting seeds to sprout and cooling spring crops on warm spring days, and there is more upkeep of livestock required because we are in the process of raising a batch of meat birds. Seed planting, transplanting and bed prep all must fit into the choreography, so too harvest and marketing.
Today is a big day for us because we’ll be settling a hive of bees into their new home on farm. We’ve tried bees without success in the past, but hope to have identified the errors in our ways. When I first built our hive platform (raised about 10’ off the ground to protect the bees from bears), it was in an area of the garden that receives no sun until around 11 in the morning. It turns out that bees need sun on the hive first thing in the morning to get them off and running, gathering as much nectar as possible.
Last week I took down the hive stand and moved it to the bottom of the garden, where it gets full sun first thing in the morning. Over the weekend, Amber went to Santa Rosa with Marbry and picked up the new bees. This afternoon, they will be installed gently into their new hive, hopefully without stings for the beekeepers. We are excited to venture into the bee arena again. We have a deep love of pollinators, and were shattered to lose hives in the past.
Farming is an intertwined story of heartbreak and triumph, love and sadness. Life and death are inherent to the process, creating a rollercoaster of emotions that defines the life of the farmer. The aching intensity of the loss of a hive (seeing the thousands of dead bees and beginning to cry) balanced by the depth of joy that comes from baby rabbits and peeping chicks. The difficulty of cutting firewood and the harsh reality of slaughter balanced by the comfort of winter meals from the wood cookstove.
To farm is to feel all the feels as the year moves through successive cycles or order and entropy. The chaos of growth that occurs in the overgrown spring beds gives way to the order of neat rows of crops, which again explodes into fecundity with the riot of summer growth. Successive waves of green cover the brown soil, which becomes richer over time as we settle into our place.
The development of the farm matches the development of the farmer, a deepening of process and knowledge that conveys stability and understanding. Weathering the inevitable difficulties becomes easier as the years go by, each step a summation of the previous journey plus one. Life unfolds before us as the path wends away behind, and we sally forth to the best of our abilities.
Like any part of life, sometimes you feel like you’re on top of the world and sometimes you feel so deep underwater that your soul feels crushed. Sometimes it happens at the same time, and this aching, magical, difficult, incredible wave carries you along on the torrent; all you can do is hope that there are no jagged rocks ahead.