‘every year it dies on him’

 

what a day.

i’m glad i stumbled onto this article yesterday. reading these passages, i can come to terms with the fact that the chronic overwork here has nothing to do with our shoddy workpersonship, or lack of know-how.

I just wanted to get across how much you struggle, how much of yourself you pour into a farm. And ultimately the farm dies. Ultimately there’s only so much you can do. Because I’ve watched my dad my whole life completely invest all of his being into this farm, and every year it dies on him. And every time he’s sort of shocked, like ‘Oh my God, really? It didn’t all work out somehow?’

My experience of the farm was always like, ‘Shit, our backs are up against the wall, this farm is teetering, what are we going to do?’

 

maybe it’s just how it goes.

 

the potato beetles have invaded the tomato patch, a newborn calf isn’t doing well, the two herds ended up in the same pasture due to a busted fence (which will mean a good half day of work to get them back into separate fields), the electric garage door is jammed open (also a solid half day’s work to fix), and i have yet to stake the tomato plants. it’s also becoming clear that the laying hens want more space than our chicken tractor can afford. i’m not sure i’m sold on the tractor idea anymore. it’s nice to have different animals doing a rotation on the pasture, but not nice enough to justify cramped quarters for livestock who live on a roomy 270 acre farm.

also, we finished the shade structure i had started for Ursula Franklin, but she hasn’t set hoof under it. it might take a while (and some highly desirable edible being placed there at first), but it’s an underwhelming response, for sure.

 

the saving grace on days like these is really our toddler-adult rotation. i’m with kiddo in the morning, and he alternates one afternoon with p., one with our good friend d. who’s here working with us for the summer. because more than the sheer amount of work to do, the really taxing part for me is the lack of consecutive minutes and hours to do the work (outside of the 1.5 hour of nap, and post-bedtime, anywhere between 8pm and 9:30pm).

it’s quite stellar that this child gets to grow and play in the company of three adults who love and get a kick out of him. and while i worry and wish that he got to spend more time with other littles (we were SO well served in the city with drop ins and playgroups, library storytimes and public parks), i think this rotation at least provides some diversity (and time to regenerate patience for this mama).

 

 

because sometimes when you’re losing the weeding and potato beetle battle, spending a few afternoon hours rocking out and getting some filth off the old inherited ceiling fans makes you feel surprisingly productive.

 

and tomorrow is another day.

 

IMG_20140626_203902949_HDR

here our star head butting calf, that p. affectionately calls ‘Simon’, poses with the laundry.

on sleep, home-making and the gender divide.

 

Kiddo and I are under the weather. Just enough for him to sleep super poorly, which means just enough for us both to be sleep deprived and pretty grumpy throughout the day. I don’t know if it’s the move and transition, but he’s in a pretty intense « MAMAN! » phase right now. Being on child care and homebound for the bulk of the day these past few days is making it challenging for me to feel settled in, to feel like a co-farmer, to feel like anything but a full time stay-at-home-mom (and for the record, I have nothing against stay-at-home-parenting, but I know it’s work that I couldn’t sustainably or happily do myself).

Both P. and I are struggling with our division of labour, trying to figure out how to structure our workdays without it all falling down very traditional gendered lines. I unfortunately don’t know how to work the tractor, and am not yet comfortable working with livestock. I’ll learn these things, but right now there are 45 cows on pasture with 10 calves, the Jersey and her twins are in need of a move onto grass as well and the 40 yearlings (that are going to be the CSA beef this fall), are being trucked over sometime this week. Fertilizers need to be spread before fencing goes up and fencing needs to go up asap. Which leaves laundry and food and kid and cleaning on my plate, malgré nous. Sub-optimal.

 

We took a half day off yesterday and drove the four kilometres to town to check it out, walk around, see the sights and the people. It’s the sort of thing that leaves me feeling a bit desolate. The last time I had to make a new home and to craft a new feeling of community, it was in Halifax and it was clearer to me how to tackle the task. The cafés, the dancing, the bike culture. Not so clear here. We did find the schools though and there were some pretty solid play structures there, albeit for the slightly older crowd. But he’ll grow into them.

 

st andré park

 

Entre temps, I’m just trying to remember our medium to longer term goals for this place : to both be farming (if we so choose), and to live with other farm families on this land — making the community building piece a bit more manageable.  And that lack of sleep makes even the most resilient of people quite cloudy headed and miserable.