Farmer's Diary: Spring Farming Life on Stout Oak Farm
Look up. Look around. I need to remind myself to take a break from seeding trays of lettuce and step outside the greenhouse. The sky is constantly changing, like almost everything on the farm. Very few things actually stay still. Buildings, stone walls, old equipment parked at the edge of the field, those are the steadfast ones. Everything else is in motion if you watch closely enough.
It’s only 7:30 am and so much has already happened. At this moment, someone is crossing the barnyard with a wheelbarrow full of compost. A tractor climbs the hill on its way to prepare some beds for planting cabbage and beets. In the greenhouse, cucumber seedlings are pushing up through the soil in their trays. The newest lime green leaves on the pepper plants unfurl themselves a little and face the sun. Outside, the chickens cluck their way onto a sunny patch of grass. Water is running somewhere. The breeze picks up and I close my hand over the lettuce seeds I’m holding to keep them from flying away.
This is spring on the farm; time is hurtling by. Sometimes it all seems blurry, as if I am living inside a time-lapse video of my own life. How did those kale plants get so big? When did the grass in our pasture get so long? How can it possibly be 5 o’clock already? Did someone remember to collect the eggs? Look up, look around. The season is fully underway and our crops are growing all around us. If we take the time to notice, they’ll tell us what to do next. The details matter, and we are paying attention. We just need to know what to look for.
The carrots have finally germinated and it’s time to sow another round of chard. Weeds grow constantly, but now they’re really gaining some momentum. The arugula is ready to harvest, and probably the bok choy, too. Every week there are new things to eat. Spinach, chives, and sorrel are first, then radishes, baby lettuce, kale, and scallions. The first bite of each crop is like tasting with a new palate.
We stand in the field, eating handfuls of arugula.
In the spring, each new vegetable we harvest is like adding an entire new food group to our diet. This is just the beginning. Soon there will be peas, cilantro, carrots, cucumbers, onions, and then eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Our culinary options will be blown wide open. This is how the rest of the year unfolds, as we live, work, cook, and eat along with the crop calendar. It’s a good thing it doesn’t all come at once. How could we possibly savor it all in the same moment?