Even the knowledge that the cardboard box I had just thrown on a roaring fire in the burn barrel contained 200 onion sets could not diminish the joy of a beautiful Saturday morning on the farm. These late winter days, with frost on the ground at daybreak, but whose clear skies promise warm temperatures by late morning, are pure gold.
Cindy was off early to catch a flight to Florida leaving me to my own devices. So Caleb and I spent the morning knocking off items on the to-do list. Principle among them were to move about ten cubic yards of compost from the pile to the spring garden. Once that was done I tilled the space and we put in two hundred feet of potatoes and onions (I had run out and bought replacements), and some kale and turnips. It was a good start for the season.
A good to-do list needs to be slightly ambitious, with more than one can easily do in the allotted time. But not so much more that you are discouraged by the tasks undone. It should also contain small items that are easily accomplished so that you feel that satisfaction from checking them off the list. And, it should contain larger projects that may not be completed in one day. But, by at least making a start, you will be closer to their completion.
A good day on the farm, for me, begins with the practical completion of the to-do list. But it always includes good companionship from Cindy, neighbors and friends. A shared cup of coffee or a meal and good conversation adds depth to the good work of the day. Our former farm volunteer, Hannah, came by last evening for that shared cup of coffee and a good conversation. She had been out hiking with a mutual friend and had that healthy glow and exuberance one experiences at twenty-one.
But a good day should also include solitude, perhaps a bit of reading, maybe a good cigar and a walk. So I dropped all of those into the afternoon by rereading Will and Ariel Durant’s The Lessons of History and smoking that cigar while checking on the cattle.
After Hannah left, I fixed myself a small lamb roast, an onion and chard tart and had a few glasses of wine before an early night. I’d have to rank the day pretty high on the satisfaction scale.
Reading this weekend: The Sixth Extinction: an unnatural history by Elizabeth Kolbert. Equal parts fascinating and truly depressing, she focuses on the current sixth wave of extinction in the history of our planet. It is principally caused by that widely spread bipedal weed, and that fact alone should leave us feeling ashamed. Is it an act of cognitive dissonance to derive so much pleasure from your days and yet know that one’s actions collectively are causing so much destruction?