The first time I laid eyes on Taylor was in the summer of 2004. He was clean shaven, had short hair, and his hands were smooth and callous free. I thought he was one of the most handsome guys I’d ever met and immediately wanted to get to know him better. We were young and had both landed awesome summer jobs working on a dude ranch in western Montana. The days were busy but we were working for other folks and had the luxury of clocking “in and out” of our shifts for the day. That fist summer together was carefree and wonderful.
Fast forward twelve years and we’ve somehow found ourselves the owners/operators of a small organic vegetable farm in rural Oregon. Long gone are our days of carefree living and spontaneous adventures. Honestly, if you would’ve told me that summer (back in 2004) that in twelve years I’d be sharing my nightly happy hour in the back of a pick up truck, covered in sweat and dirt, snacking on radishes and drinking cold beer with that same clean cut guy I had a massive crush on years ago, I would have laughed in your face. That same guy now has the most earth-worn hands I’ve ever seen. The tiny creases on the far corner of his eyes (from squinting at me daily in the sun) are more present with each passing season. Despite that– I find him more handsome with each passing year. We’ve been farming for eight years now and I still have to pinch myself when I take a moment to step back and observe our reality. We’re almost unrecognizable to each other.
We’ve officially made it passed the halfway mark of our 2016 farm season. This year has definitely had its fair share of ups and downs and we feel emotionally and physically drained. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve produced but we’re always striving to get better and more efficient with our operation. As we transition into the month of September we’re filled with a lot of anticipation and hope for what our late summer and early fall crops will produce. We’re definitely at the point in the season where we’re emotionally tired and a complete crop devastation might actually kill us (we’re feeling weak!) Now is the time when we need to dig deep….there’s still a long road ahead and it’s a little too early to feel this beat down.
Sometimes I fantasize about a different life. What if we stayed on the ranch in Montana for a few more seasons? What if we worked in offices that were air conditioned? Would we live longer? Would having the luxury of clocking in and out of work make us happier? Would we be making more money doing something different? (actually….yes!) What would that feel like? There’s a lot of beauty in working for someone else and the freedom to take time off or go home at the end of the day (and not stare out at all of your unfinished business) can be tempting at times.
As much as I fantasize about an easier way of life I know I need to count my lucky stars for so many reasons. We’ve cultivated a wonderful community of CSA members, farmers market customers and some of the restaurant owners that we deliver to have become some of our best friends. Farming may kick our asses on a daily basis but damn, we really are lucky to do what we do even when it’s not the easiest way to make a living.
What we do isn’t any harder or more difficult than what anyone else is doing. Every job has its difficulties and what I’ve found talking to friends who are teachers, waitresses, doctors or stay at home parents is this—we’re all just trying to do the best we can and hard is just hard. We’re all in this together and it feels good know that everyone is just trying to stay afloat. What I hope is that at the end of the day, no matter how tired, worn out, or beat down you may feel, that you get to sit down, clink glasses and enjoy a tasty meal with someone you love. Those quiet hours in our kitchen at night are some of the happiest for us and I hope you all get a little taste of freedom in your own kitchens as well.
So…..cheers to surviving August! And let’s hope for a little energy boost to help get through September. Happy Friday everyone!
(some of the photos above were taken from my girl Kate Schwager–thanks for spending early mornings in the fields with us Kate!)