I know exactly when it happened. It was one dew soaked, quiet morning I paused in the middle of our former lawn and let the enormity of what we have done this past year sink in and I thought: I’m a farmer.
Jim and I have been waffling back and forth on what exactly we should call our little plot of land. Micro-farm? Ex-lawn? Former pool site? Permaculture experiment? An overachieving garden?
A farm to me has cows, goats, pigs and chickens. A garden has flowers and some sort of color pattern and flow. So then I asked myself, what should I be called?
Glorified farm hand? CEO of animal husbandry? Garden worker? Botanist? Landscape architect? Soil enthusiast? Plant nurse maid?
I wasn’t entirely sure, until that morning. That morning before 6 am, awoken by my alarm clock not a noisy rooster (thank goodness) I bypassed our Corgi alarm system and slipped quietly outside. Letting the dew soak the sides of my flip flopped feet I walked to nearly the middle of the backyard, stopping just before the chicken coop so the hens couldn’t see me and croak their good mornings.
I stood and listened to the sleeping sounds of the neighborhood waking up and breathed in the fresh new air that would soon be weighed down by humidity as the sun dried the grass.
I’m not jumping on my tractor at dawn, up by the roosters crow to let the chickens out of their coop, dusting hay off my hands so I can milk the cows and goats. My hands aren’t callused, my skin isn’t wrinkled by the sun and farming hasn’t run through my families DNA. I don’t rely on my fields of single crop to survive, or run a farm stand nor did I grow up around the legs of cows and jumping off of hay bales.
But I do take pride in the land I work. I do soak my dirt stained clothes with sweat pulling the ripe fruit and vegetables from their vines. I pull back muscles straining to reach that elusive ripe cherry tomato and long after I scrub my hands and forearms do I smell like those potent tomato leaves. I get disappointed when something doesn’t flourish and secretly heartbroken when a perfectly healthy plant succumbs to an incurable disease. I wake up early to harvest so I’m not toasted by the midday sun and I take afternoon naps while the plants soak up it up. I weigh every bundle of crop I harvest and put a monetary value on it. I freeze, can and cook with what I’ve coaxed from seed to plant and delight in the incredible taste.
So no, not the traditional farmer who has earned the name passed down to him through generations or rubbed into his or her palms through daily grueling hours of hard work. But the new kind of farmer, the first generation urban farmer explorer, the backyard permaculture discoverer, the part-time nanny, part-time publicist, part-time soil negotiator and full time optimist.
A car door slammed, a neighbor off to work, and while the plants stretched ready to soak up the sun peeking over the tops of the trees I stretched too, warming up my muscles for the next round of collecting the ready crops. The chickens mumble their morning musing and warm up their throats for the gurgling they’ll offer me as they see me approach and I smiled to myself, small yet it may be I love our little farm.Share Now!