A Love of Farming Cycles
A Love of Farming Cycles
By Don Lareau – Zephyros Farm and Garden –
“What is your favorite thing about being a farmer?” Now if I had gotten that question while under a tractor fixing something or after hours of endless harvesting this would definitely be another disgruntled farmer column. Instead it came on the drive home from another great market while looking out over the snow cappedColoradopeaks framed by the aspens and pines of a high mountain fall. So instead I was able to see the forest from the trees for a brief minute, something difficult to do in the midst of a farming season.
It came to me that there are many things I love about being a farmer, but it can all be wrapped up in that I get to enjoy the seasons. Not like some people who mark the summer by Memorial Day and Labor Day, but instead by the imperceptibly shorter days in the beginning of July. Those days are some of my favorite because I feel like a runner coming around the bases who knows that they will make it to home base even though there may still be a base or two to go.
Just like so many of our ancestors who lived by the sun and the moon farming forces you to do so. When the days of summer start having shorter and shorter hours of light the plants try harder and harder to make fruits, and they begin to do it more and more quickly as they sense the impending lack of sun coming. I too feel that and look to the plants to enter a new phase. Summer is not over until we turn the bend just beyond the day and night becoming equal in length, as apposed to an arbitrary holiday.
The fall truly is my favorite time since it does mean the end to many plants, and is usually punctuated by the frost which can have its effect irregardless of the hours of sun. By the time we are at the equinox the plants are showing signs of being tired of making fruits, seeds and flowers. They are reflecting how the farmers are feeling! But some things are finding new life such as greens, just as we can reflect on a season for all its ups and downs and get excited about another year coming. The fall is the time to wind down and settle in.
Then comes the winter which really has the same effect as summer as I notice the light growing even by January. This light growing ever so slowly will make those plants in the greenhouse start to grow bit by bit. And the greenhouses are truly getting full buy the time that spring comes around. As the days of spring come and the light begins to really return you can feel the rush as we whirl towards those days of summer where the return of the fruit will be the reward of the work put in each spring.
It is this cycle of waking with the sun and going to bed with the sun that makes us truly blessed. Oh I do not really do that, I do wake with the sun or even earlier, but lights afford us long evenings and earlier mornings. But farming at least makes you aware of these cycles in ways that so many others do not have time to notice. It is being a part of the yearly circadian rhythm of the planet that allows me to be connected in a way that so many long for. In fact the more people can reconnect with these rhythms the more I feel like their sanity would return, to know what is really important and what is really meaningful in our lives. Instead so many create these false realities of time, night and day, and we pay a cost for this body confusion. In fact I would like more blackouts so we can all go to bed when the sun goes down, and rise when it comes up.