Joe Cocker was so, so right.
Sometimes, you really can only get by with a little help from your friends.
And before you say anything, the bulk of the thanks should be for John Lennon for writing his fantastic lyrics that ring ever-so-true. It's just that I really like the idea of Joe Cocker asking me and theMcFarmer for a lil' help, followed by a few beers as the sun goes down to toast our hard work. Plus, I was a huge 'The Wonder Years' fan.
But truly TRULY, our thanks belong to the brilliant-hearted folks who came out to the farm last Saturday to help us with a very large task.
These people donated hours of their lives, sacrificed their hard-earned Saturday cartoon-watching, dog-walking, relaxing and brunching time, got very well-acquainted with 5 gallon buckets and the ick of fish emulsion, all to help us plant apple trees in our orchard. And I tell ya, I can't remember the last Saturday that was as much fun as that day.
A combination of trees delivered a little bit earlier than we planned, market harvest and the longest stretch of sunny & rainless days we've seen in a while (about a week! egads!) meant that we finally had a chance to get the tractor tilling, discing and making beds for Spring, on the weekend that we also had to harvest, prep & plant 80 new trees and work on some house construction.
Basically, last Saturday had a lot assignations. An all-too-familiar fidgety feeling has been creeping over us over the last few weeks, as it continues to be Soggy Dog Farms around here. El Nino is real, y'all, and we have no idea what to do about it apart from take it in the face, keep making plans and adjust them, constantly. The spring crops started in the propagation greenhouses have been patiently waiting in the greenhouse as their projected planting dates go 1, 2,3 and 4 weeks delinquent, and they need to get in the ground, post haste.
So, when it was Friday and I realized quite how many things we had on the docket, I though to myself, "Gee whiz. How are we gonna swing this one?"
And then the answer came, swift and borne by the farm angels of wisdom, fluttering in on a breeze from the duck pond and smelling oddly like granular fertilizer.
"Ask for help."
We haven't done a very good job with this idea in the past, the McFarmer and I. It would be nice if I could blame it all on a stubborn mix of independence and refusal to burden anyone else, but that would ignore our wariness at being the folks telling others what to do because it weirds us out. We're sometimes afraid it will expose our true nincompoopness. As first-generation farmers, there are large gaps in our knowledge; our combined 5ish years of working on other farms before coming to Texas means we learned a lot and also that we didn't. We frequently balk at the idea of instructing others how to do a task when we've only just learned it ourselves, or are learning it at just that moment--or, that we're making it up as we go along.
But, needs must. Fears gotta be conquered at some time, and so it was that our friends Cate, Heather, Christina and Jennifer journeyed out to Moon Dog Farms on a bright, golden Saturday and helped us get 80 apple trees installed in the orchard. True pals that they are, they brought along kumquats and beer. Then, old friends Emily & Zach joined the pack to help me with the market harvest and Alex with other construction plans. It felt like a never ending conveyor of generosity.
I wasn't prepared for how touched I'd feel at seeing customers and friends--new and old--working side by side to help us out. They were in good spirits, the day was a special kind of winter perfection, and it felt really, really good.
Community is a word that gets liberally sprinkled into articles and conversation when talking about local agriculture, (I alone probably use that word a minimum of 47 times a day when swapping between my market manager & farmer hats), but I was moved to see our community, our people, support us so physically. We got those trees installed, fertilized, clipped and watered in less than 3 hours, and each woman who shoved her hand in a bucket of greensand and compost did so with a smile on her face. And no one called us on being nincompoops. Yet.
We're very thankful, as we plunge headfirst into the busiest time of the year, to have such good eggs to call on. I kept making the joke that all the people present last Saturday were like Lego people, with job titles that fit neatly into one simple word: photographer, dietitian, astronaut (yes, really), architect, doctor. And there we were doing something so simple, so ancient--tree planting.
And it really is funny to me, all our highly-educated Lego friends (and I still don't know what they're doing being friends with me and Alex) wearing ugly gloves and squinting in the sun, all of us together.
It is simple, I suppose. And not just because of the one-word job titles.
We really do get by with a little help from our friends.