One glowering photo and a whole lotta love.
A part of me feels like I should apologize. Not for disappearing from the blog for so long--although I do wish I could comb through my brain here more often--but for something else.
Rain, wetness, flooding and the consequent farmer sadness has been a theme for our year at Moon Dog Farms. Truthfully, it was one of the more pointed reasons that I felt less inclined to visit this space for reflection and put my thoughts out into the internet world.
We've had family members worried about us. Friends worried for us. Acquaintances and strangers have prayed for us, offered us kind words and sometimes even a home-cooked meal. ( Never mind how incredibly thoughtful and caring that gesture is, at our most dour moments all we could focus on was,
"We shouldn't HAVE to eat other people's food. WE'RE supposed to have the food!" What a bunch of grumps.)
This year has been a doozy thus far. The rain has seemed endless, and now that we're officially into hurricane season here on the Gulf, we're a bit twitchy. This most recent brush with Tropical storm-turned-Tropical Depression Bill was mercifully light, but our sopping and squelching fields did manage to collect nearly 10 inches of rain. Many crops are just gone. Others will be sickly.
Some will make it.
And in the meantime, we've reached something.
Not nirvana, but maybe a cousin-once-removed.
Our luck has been dismal, sure. But it's also true that we've learned so much more about the nature of our farm. And ourselves. We've had to consider topography and soil quality at an entirely new level. We've had to hone our skills of resiliency, trim priorities and look at one another honestly and say, "Let. It. Go."
Whew, but that last one is a toughie, though.
The point is, we're okay. Our plans were thrown akimbo and thrashed, stomped in the mud. But trouble can't be avoided in life, nor heartbreak. When you risk big, you have big wins and big losses. And I think it's fair to say we've been rich in both this year (with maybe a few more tallies on the muddy side.)
But back to that apology.
I shared a photo of Alex earlier this week, taken the day before the tropical depression made land. We received more rain on that day than in all the days following Bill's debut. It's very possible that we'll lose all our tomato crops, cucumbers, squash, okra and more because of the timing and quantity of that rainfall. I said as much in the caption of my photo of McFarmer--which incidentally, is probably the most glowerific I've ever seen him.
The response to that photo truly surprised me. Not only did love and support come pouring in, but so many within our community expressed concern that we would quit because of loss of spirit, loss of land or both. I hadn't quite realized how dire I made everything sound. After the photo I described, I'm sure that sounds like lip service, but I tell ya, it's not.
Things did feel dire in that moment, absolutely. I feel strongly about representing the truth of our farm with more than just the magazine-perfect moments. I love sharing photos of tiny bugs and gorgeous food, but I also want to impart the real picture of the often-wacky life choice we've made.
However, I regret that I caused some folks to think we're done, full-stop. The potential loss of an entire season's crops is disastrous for a small farm, but we are infinitely blessed because of our unique situation. Strong support systems and the lack of a $100,000 loan for land (plus a McFarmer who is a maniacal budget-handler) soften the blow. Farming--as with so many careers and lives--inevitably has moments that are utterly dire and filled with gloom and faces like thunder. Those are to balance the blissful, dizzying stretches of rapture that stick with us long after the thunder.
We're not done. Not even half-stop. We're taking our lumps and making plans. We're holding chickens, waiting for pears. We turn our faces to the sun, and breathe when we see the rain.