Volume 7, Week 7, October 11-12, 2013
It’s really great to see your breath in the morning this time of year, to need a jacket for the first hour while you’re out with the pruners—they only need one for 15 minutes. The leaves are starting to change color. We get a chance to put things back in order that got left when there just wasn’t enough time. In order, where it’s supposed to be, how it’s supposed to be.
Of the seasons, fall is kind of like rebooting your computer. You know how sometimes it gets discombobulated and you’re not sure why, but if you just do that reboot thing, you hear it whirring and ticking, sort of starting over and re-ordering itself? And then it works just fine again. It has things in order.
There’s an appearance component to order, but order is way more than tidy. Order is even more than a place for everything, and everything in its place, because that just has to do with stuff. There’s a preparedness component to order. There’s also something called margins, or reserves that go into order. When we say things are in order, or have that feeling of order, what it means is we’re back in sync or in harmony with life.
Perhaps we wouldn’t appreciate order as much if we didn’t get out of it, but when any component is out of order, the whole gizmo doesn’t work so good. Fall gives us the rejuvenating chance to re-order. A practical component to order is the joyful day when we pay the bank back for their operating line of credit. People give all sorts of definitions to sustainability, and I just laugh. THE most important part is we cleared our credit line.
Healthy soil, well-paid employees, and in-house fertility can only be sustained if we’re making more than we’re spending. What we believe must function in the free market, the most honest, least forgiving, most efficient system ever devised. (I’ll write more on that in the future, because this is so important, but not this morning.) Once the bank’s paid back, however brief the time, we know we get to be here another year, and to a generational farmer like myself, that is paramount.
Let me try to honestly describe both the joy and burden of a fourth generation small farmer. On the joy side, it’s incomparable to know your boots are walking the same soil where generations before you walked behind horses and mules; that they too harvested peaches from this same ground. Through drought and flood, world wars and depressions, they made their living here and passed this working farm to the next generation.
Everybody has farm heritage somewhere in their not-too-distant past. Were you to go back there, you would still see the fingernail tracks in the soil where they were drug off by their boots, or feel the disappointment that they weren’t able to provide a viably inheritable farm. Invariably, this wasn’t their fault, but the fault of a system that rewarded the wrong players. Again, the farmer and the consumer should be the only two that matter within a system that efficiently connects and rewards both.
This fall, as I look in the rearview mirror at my own adult children assuming their roles and receiving the baton, as I visit our contributing farms and see their kids excited about the future, as I see the excitement of families opening their farm boxes each week and enjoying that “taste of the land,” I know all is right with the world; things are in order.