The first kiss. Long dreamt of, long remembered, even now, whatever your age or life stage or station, you’re remembering back or dreaming forward….Some name it essential, most call it good, and none deny the power. That first kiss is at once strong and vulnerable, risking everything to gain even more.
That’s the feeling a citrus farmer has tending his wind machines and frost water as frost’s first kiss comes into his groves. He knows he needs what he’s afraid of.
Your citrus farmers have had a tough go this fall. Fruit is very sweet, but the frost that normally comes around Thanksgiving, didn’t get here until Christmas. Until the groves get that first kiss of frost, the rind is quite weak. That coupled with the drippy fog set up a nightmare of wonderful fruit that wouldn’t ship across the street without decay.
Indeed, on your behalf, we passed on most of the Clementines (The wonderful early season Mandarins) because we were afraid they’d cause you more grief than joy.
I am a relative newcomer to all of this myself, this being only our fourth year as citrus packers. The first three, showed us what happens when it gets too cold, this one taught us what happens when it’s too warm, and the whole thing just reinforces what little control farmers have in the big scheme of things.
Of course I know this from 40 years farming stone fruit, I’ve watched it closely with your vegetable farmers this past 7 plus years. So then, what’s a farmer to do Uncle Vern?
Well, here’s the deal; and you my dear ones get the benefit of a life in the furrow paying tuition in the school of hard knocks without the blisters and knots on your head.
Success in agriculture—and I dare say most endeavors of worth—is the sum of hundreds of small decisions, practices and efforts done consistently well over time. When I said a farmer has little control, that’s true, but a little control well played can have a huge impact.
In the case of our aforementioned citrus farmer, out tending his warming tools, gaining a couple degrees could indeed save his crop. Having our probiotics on ahead of spring rain and right after can save our crop. Proactively releasing beneficial insects, clean orchards and hard frost furrows. Happy employees, proper equipment and financing, skilled marketing; hundreds of small decisions, practices and efforts done consistently well over time. You’ll also hear plenty of “Lord willin’” ahead of most people’s plan statement.
For me, and most farmers I know, when we watch a perfect crop lost in a few minutes to some natural disaster like hail or frost (and who hasn’t?), while there’s a sense of loss, there’s no regret; it wasn’t one of the little control things. If it was something we could have done something about however, you just paid some high tuition.
2015. It was nice for the Abundant Harvest crew to have the 2 week holiday. Frankly, this Abundant Harvest Organics project of moving farm products directly to you all has been the most personally rewarding endeavor of my career. It is a very high honor. If it ended today, it was very good. If it lasts another couple centuries, that’s even better.
In the meantime, we intend to execute the hundreds of small decisions, practices and efforts as consistently well as we can, for as long a time as we can. Now go kiss somebody who loves you and