In retrospect, I can now see that we were perhaps day-dreaming a bit too much. But in our defense, we really were much better prepared going into this season than we had ever been before. We had three successful seasons under out belt, and had created practiced systems for most of the crops we would be growing this season. We were expanding, but not as drastically as we had in the past. Plus, like I said, we were experienced. We had been growing independently for three years.
Well, nothing like Mother Nature to put you in your place. This spring’s slow and late appearance managed to throw all of our careful planning and preparations into the gutter with little to no effort. While it rained/snowed for all of March and most of April, we thought we would never be able to get into the ground. Our heavy soil seemed like it would never dry out, and we didn’t want to risk destroying the beautiful soil structure we had been working so hard to create. When it finally dried out enough to allow us to start working the soil, the temperature stayed stubbornly low. Worried, we were already behind schedule, we went ahead with planting what we thought were cold tolerant crops, but the temperatures proved too frigid for even some of our heartiest crops.
We spent a good portion of May nursing along some of our early, cold-shocked crops back to health; convinced that our CSA would have to start several weeks behind schedule. But then something strange happened. We walked the fields earlier this week and everything seemed to be right on schedule. Ready to be harvested. It was almost as if it was laughing at us. Mocking us for our inexperience. Yes, there were still some gaps where we had lost a few plants, and while our determined battles against the weeds had mostly won out, there were a few sections where those frisky invasives had out-maneuvered us, but for the most part, everything looked like a more realistic version of our winter dreams.
I am realizing more and more that we will never be able to consider ourselves experienced farmers. Even after 20 or 30 or 50 years of farming, I imagine there will always be new conditions that arise and throw off all of our plans. But I hope that over time, we will get better at responding to those challenges and changes.