It is interesting to me how a “year” is interpreted. By definition, December 31st is the end of the year, but I think that for many, there is a more personal interpretation of what constitutes a journey’s end: For teachers, I imagine their year’s end is the last day of school. For accountants, perhaps April 15th signifies closure and for professional athletes, the final game of the season.
As a farmer, Thanksgiving is my closure. It is the grand finale. It ushers in a much needed break from the planting, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting of crops. Sure, there are still winter crops growing in the raised beds and greenhouse that need attention, but they are a fraction of the work compared to summer and fall crops. The cooler temperatures also make the raising of pastured chickens impossible because there is nothing growing for them to graze upon. The weather induced halt will last for a couple of months.
Yes, there is a considerable list of winter projects that have been compiled over the busy months when we were just too swamped to consider taking them on, but they can wait a few weeks. For now, I feel a strong desire to celebrate and memorialize my year.
In the past year I have: fallen out of trees, been bitten by hundreds of fire ants, had blisters on top of blisters, slammed a t-post driver into my head, stepped in so many piles of shit that I lost count, lost fingernails, bruised pretty much every inch of me, worn the “fresh” scent of butchered chickens, chased wayward turkeys down the road, been pecked pretty much every single day, spent hours upon hours in knee deep mud harvesting sweet potatoes, hauled hundreds of pounds of produce to farmer’s markets and then stood stubbornly in monsoon-like rains because I was pissed off that I had just gotten everything out of the truck and on display before the sky opened up, spent sleepless nights worrying about the safety of our livestock, sprayed myself in the face and mouth with fish emulsion fertilizer (gag), cursed the heavens during a 4 week stretch of extreme heat and no rain, had so many random cuts that I stopped trying to figure out how they happened………and honest to god, have never felt more alive, accomplished or proud.
It is a life that needs to be fully appreciated through thoughtful reflection. Trying to mentally celebrate my year is impossible while on the farm. The only way a farmer can take a break is to physically remove themselves from their land, so I will be doing just that. I will take some time to just be. I have met some amazing people over this past year and have worked with many more. I want to take the time to reflect on how my life has been impacted by them. And it is not just the incredible colleagues and customers, the land has taught me much as well. I need to let those experiences solidify deep inside of me so I can draw from them when my new year begins.
And as I sit to reflect on my charmed life, there will most certainly be a drink in my hand and the smell of sunscreen in the air. Happy “New Year”.