Planting and harvesting season is upon us here at Happy Earth Farm, so that means it is time for permanently dirt stained hands, arms, and feet with a healthy layer of grime embedded under each nail. It also means a nasty farmer’s tan and admonishment from my dermatologist. Summer ushers in weeks of feeling like a hunchback due to spending hours upon hours bent over in the fields. None of that really bothers me that much because it feels rewarding to be physically exhausted and filthy at the end of each day.
My task today, on the other hand, was challenging; I had to thin the seedlings. Every season while seeding the fields we sow two or three in every hole with the hope that at least one germinates and becomes a viable plant. Once the plant, or plants emerge, they must be thinned to only one per hole…..and that is where my trouble began. I left them to grow much bigger than in past seasons because we have been too busy to get the thinning accomplished. Today, most of the holes contained two big, beautiful seedlings.
So there I stood as judge and jury, who would die and who would live. I couldn’t help it; I froze at the prospect of making that life altering decision. It was just too much responsibility for me to make a choice between two gorgeous, vibrant plants. I just stood there over the first hole containing two equal candidates for what seemed like hours sizing up each one of them. If they could talk I would have asked a series of questions and allowed them to make a case for choosing the other guy. It was like I was being asked to decide between two children who was my favorite.
There had to be an alternative. At the far end of the field I spied a couple of rows that were not yet planted and probably wouldn’t be planted this season. So as I plucked one plant from the hole I made the long haul to the other side of the field to plant the seedlings that were less fortunate than their twin. Even after Steve told me the chances of those plants responding positively to the transplant were slim to none I kept at it. Even after he noted that I was adding another one to two hours to my workday I kept at it. Even after he said his go-to response when I am doing something ridiculous “ Whatever Karen, it’s your funeral”, I kept at it.
I was determined to be their savior. I had a hopeful heart and a steady hand. I am freakin Mother Theresa here. This is going to be my finest hour, a true testament to my kind, gentle spirit. With an aching back, blistered fingers and filth from head to toe, not to mention two extra hours of work, I walked the long path back to the row where I planted those orphans. No, I did not find a beautiful row of perky plants basking in the sun. I found a very long row of dead or dying, pathetic looking wilting greens, a true wasteland. Next time I am picking favorites.