When Andy Williams sung those words,he didn't have in mind what we do. This is the time of year when we start to plan this seasons' vegetable garden and decide what fruits we will add to the existing landscape. The engines have all been tuned and oils changed. The tiller has been cleaned and hoes, clippers and shears sharpened.
My guess is all small farmers are starting to have this anticipation that some may say is cabin fever. I know we are not alone in our feelings. Tens of thousands of us are starting to go through the same steps. We hold out hope for the coming spring; we plan for the sunny days and envision what our plants will be bearing. We look to the interactions with our old customers and friends as well the potential for new relationships. But for the most part we all dream of spring and summer days to come.
Vegetable people will start to plan the garden layouts with what to plant and how much to be planted. We decide what seeds will be ordered and where everything is going to be placed then we draw the irrigation plan. We make sure we have all the parts to keep water flowing. There is anticipation about the coming season; each year is a chance to make better what failures we had last year, to prove to ourselves that we have learned and can overcome what we may face. It never turns out that way but we can dream.
This is that magical time when everything before you is full of promise, much like catching the sunrise when it’s still below the horizon and violet hues brighten the under-bellies of the clouds. The beauty of it makes you think that the day's potential is limitless. It’s that expectation of good things to come. Our thoughts are on how plants will be positioned in the limited space and what expected yields will be. We’ll take stock of what is in inventory and plan to purchase replenishments. Each year is a fresh start with new possibilities and new aspects to learn and knowledge to build upon. We look forward to the rewards that our hard labor reaps and the satisfaction we get when eating something that we’ve grown. We belong to a larger group of people who all have these same feelings, thoughts and anticipations.
This is the most wonderful time of the year for the prospects are endless. I can not wait to hook the tiller up to the tractor and break the season’s first piece of soil. The smells of a fresh crisp morning air so cold it stings the lungs. As the day progresses, temperatures inch higher and the odor of fresh humus wafts from turned soils. You get to see the nutrient rich dark chocolate soil breaking up as the cover crops and chicken fertilizer turn under to start to do their part for sustainability. We wait out the last of the winter days testing and tracking soil temperatures and watch long term forecast eager to plant the season’s first seeds and plants.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Everyone that does this knows about it, but we might not bring ourselves to speak or even think, except for a fleeting second. It is there and always present, it is the dark side that the regular public doesn't see but might catch in a news article. Like the dairy farmer in New York, this winter, who catastrophically gave up. There are heavy burdens and failure has great consequences to whole families. You have the inevitable crop failures, then equipment failures, plant infestations and weed over-population. Worst, not being profitable and going under and most horrific of all injury or loss of life. We all know the dangers, failures, foibles and hard physical labor that we are about to face, but we decide to do it anyway. We treat our job with reverence, respect and caution. Mother Nature has her own plans and we just hope to fit in them and try to do well no matter the circumstances.
So, good luck to all my colleagues this coming season may your animals be happy, planted rows straight, weeds under control and bugs beneficial. May the soils bring forth the bounty you so richly deserve for your sheer perseverance and determination. Your work is not in vain. Who else is going to help the environment, provide safe fresh food and replenish the earth’s nutrients if not for the small, sustainable farmers in the world? Which is why I think at this time even though you can't see the ground for the snow, it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Buy Local –From a farmer you know and trust not a chain profiting off the words