Taking so's we can give...
A man with a true saunter and a giant dump truck rumbled onto the farm last Friday like a vision. A lime-green knight bearing the long-hoped-for treasure: 12 yards of beautiful sandy loam topsoil.
As I've mentioned (perhaps lamented) before, this soil delivery was an anticipated event here at Moon Dog Farms. In preparing the Fall field for planting delicious beets and lettuces and all their crunchy friends, we wanted to address the massive bowl of a low spot that takes up nearly half of that space.
The bowl is a bit of a bummer, for bowl + rain = bowl filled with rain. As that same spot has been low and water-holding for years, it has become compacted such that the bowl o' rain doesn't drain for over a week. In the meantime, any food planted in that spot gets the royal flush.
We knew that spot would be trouble the moment we ran the discs and tiller through the ground the first time. Yet, we only had so much land to work with.
We needed to make it work.
Spring found us making do with the veggies that grew uphill from the bowl, and I often found myself wanting to give in and scheming to turn that low spot into a permanent pond, or maybe a mini rice-paddy. I desperately wanted to use the land the way it was, rather than re-shape it into something we wanted. I kept thinking that would be the permaculture way to do things. A fair principle, and one we try to farm by in most our endeavours although it's true that farming itself is an attempt to re-shape the land. But that's for another blog post. Mainly, it just irked me that we couldn't think of a more elegant, sustainable solution to these irksome low spots.
So I'd casually say,
"Well, let's get some fish, plant some reeds, and create a pond IN THE MIDDLE of the garden!
We don't need to bring things in to fix this problem! We'll use that water to irrigate in the summer, and attract beneficial beasties. We'll be pioneers, and everyone will think we're GENIUS!"
Then Alex would remind me that we needed to actually make some money to keep this whole farm-thing afloat. (I swear, I'll kill the water puns soon. Eventually.)
And to make money, we have to grow as many good veggies as we can, on the land we have. Again, he'd gently remind me that it's not required we have all our genius ideas the first year in. Or any genius ideas, really.
This year is, in many respects, time for us to make a lot of mistakes and endure and think through a lot of failures. A lot. Which is not to say that they'll be restricted to this year only, by any stretch of the imagination.
Then we have the part where I realize it's not the end of the world to truck dirt in to fill the holes in our Fall field. It doesn't mean we've failed the Sustainable Farm Grand Prix.
I do have to step back frequently and reflect upon the dreams in my head and the ground beneath my feet. The former won't become the latter in a matter of months.
If we're lucky, years might do the trick. If we're really lucky, we find a way to marry the two every day, and realize how much better it is living by doing what we can with what we have than living by dreaming only.
Say that 10 times fast.
One day, we'll have more things together and established, and we won't need as many inputs on this farm as we do now. But today is not that day. And neither was last Friday, when Ray from the Living Earth company came and delivered us our beautiful, beautiful dirt. We spread that dirt, dug some drainage canals, and hoped for the best.
And you know what? It felt so good only three days later when it rained nearly three inches overnight and our field held up like a champ.