I love farming. I love the people, the places and what I get to do every day. Farmers put up with a lot, and we enjoy it. Just this past week we had more than 3,000 row feet of leeks to get out of the field, and the only trouble was that the ground had frozen more than two inches thick. Normally picking leeks requires at most a pitchfork to free them from the ground, and often just a good yank, but this time however it took many layers, gloves, hats and picks and mattocks just to get them free from the frozen grasp of the now wintery ground. Then we had to pull them up, load them onto carts and pile them on the side of the field. Next we had to trim the leaves, peal away any dead material, cut off excess roots and bag them up so they are ready for storage. The pile of hundreds, maybe thousands of pounds of leeks was daunting at best, the weather was cold enough to numb your fingers and yet we all seemed to be enjoying ourselves. As I looked around, smiling at the stories that we told, I couldn’t help but notice that it is more than what I do, but also with whom.
One of the most fascinating facets of almost all new farmers is that they do too, in fact it is practically as if it is a prerequisite for the job. Some folks notice the same phenomenon and they take it as a warning that you must be crazy to farm. After all, why would you do something that only people who really love it do? It must be difficult, arduous, or something for only really passionate people to do it. But what does that say about the rest of the things we do? Where is the passion, the desire, the drive to do what we believe in, whatever crazy pursuit that may be?
I have joined a new crew of excited and crazy people at Essex Farm, run by Mark and Kristin Kimball. My life here includes milking fifteen Jersey cows, making butter, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, butchering highland cattle and pigs, working with horses and much more, so I’m sure there will be stories to tell.
As a short plug for the work that Kristin does, she has just published a wonderful book called the Dirty Life, it is i the story how she ended up on a farm with her husband Mark, and the story of their first year on the farm.