To Pause And Give Thanks

This past month has seen me readying the farm for winter—jobs like moving the hens to their coop, buttoning up the greenhouses, and cleaning and organizing the barn so everything is good to go for spring. In the midst of this winding down, I have already begun preparing for next season. The potting soil has arrived, and the seed potatoes will need to be ordered soon. Also on deck for December is drafting the seeding schedule and field plan, as well as calculating the 2019 budget.

But between those two sets of tasks, between clearing the remnants of the season just finished and laying the foundation for the one yet to come, rests a moment to pause and give thanks. As part of my end-of-season review, I have filled a page of my farm notebook listing everything I am thankful for this past season. And reviewing it, I see that in some ways I am thankful most for those things that didn’t happen.

Nothing broke down. I rely on a fair bit of equipment to keep the farm running smoothly—some of it, like the tractor and farm truck, quite elderly. And having one of those machines break down would have been, at the very least, a huge headache, as well as a major time suck and financial challenge. But everything kept chugging along, for which I am thankful.

We didn’t experience any catastrophic weather. On Instagram, I follow farms from all around the country, and many of those far-flung colleagues had some truly, biblically-catastrophic weather this season: Torrential rains in the Northeast. Unrelenting drought in the Southwest. Hurricanes, wildfires, floods. I know I tend to complain about the weather, as is the farmers’ ancient prerogative, but we were given seasonable weather this year, and I am grateful.

No one was seriously injured. Farming is dangerous. Here are a couple of fun facts: The fatality rate for farm workers is seven times higher than that of workers in all other private industries. (The leading cause of death, by the way, is being crushed under a tractor.) Each day, 243 farm workers are seriously injured, a rate 40 percent higher than the national average. And small operations like ours aren’t exempt. I vividly remember one time on another farm when one of the crew, as he was carelessly sharpening his harvest knife, deeply slit the inside of his left forearm from wrist to elbow. That was a scary day. I am so thankful nothing like that has happened here to any of our workers.

More than avoiding those bad scenarios, I am grateful for the many, many good things we received this season. Obviously, I am grateful for all the good things to eat that the farm yielded. And I am grateful, too, for this lovely place we’ve been given, and that I have the privilege of working and living here and the chance to share all this beauty and delight with others. But, above all, I am so grateful for our members, who make all this possible. None of this adventure would have been possible without them.