Mistakes and the Unexpected

It has really picked up speed on the farm the last couple weeks.  New structures have gone up, baby chicks have arrived, thousands of plants have been put in the ground, and even more seeds.  At least half of the beds are now filled, and the plants (and the weeds) have been thriving in this warm and rainy weather.   With all that is changing, there have been plenty of opportunities to learn…and completely mess up.  Same thing right?

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The caterpillar tunnels took about a day and a half to put up, including all the trellises we built inside. They are temporary hoophouses 6 ft tall, 10 ft wide, and 100 ft. long. We are trellising tomatoes under them along with other heat loving plants such as peppers, eggplant, and basil. Cucumbers will be growing in the spaces between the tunnels to capture some of that trapped heat as well.

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Some healthy looking eggplants growing happily under the toasty caterpillar tunnels.

I have heard that learning how to deal with failure and the unexpected is a very necessary skill to farming.  There are so many variables that go into farming, all of which are somewhat unpredictable and, the sum of them, completely overwhelming.

But even keeping track of the variables within my control has turned out to be a lot to take in.  Luckily the Tuckey’s have been gracious about my mistakes and forgetfulness and I have been reminded that every “fail” is an opportunity to learn and improve.

If everything had went to plan I wouldn’t know how much moisture is too much for seedlings when it is still getting chilly at night, I wouldn’t have guessed that a medium sized rock placed on a fabric plant collar (pest prevention measure) is not heavy enough to battle against the wind gusts of spring, and I would never have had the exciting experience of wrangling a runaway caterpillar tunnel.  Okay I might have been a little sarcastic about that last one.

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Me, carefully watering the seedlings in the greenhouse

But honestly, I have noticed a wonderful pattern with each mistake and conflict (more on working with my spouse later…)- something good comes out the other side of it: securely anchored tunnels, more conscious watering and ventilation, better organization and planning, more attentive seeding, better posture, quicker forgiveness, earlier bed time, and more questions.

It is not easy to view mistakes and unpredictable happenings this way- but it does make the emotional side of failure more tolerable.  It also helps to take time to appreciate what went right!  The chicks are happy and healthy, the transplanted head lettuce is beautiful, the cabbage responded well to its foliar spray of seaweed and fish oil, the lettuce mix is coming up great, and I remembered to close the gate!  All is good.

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The chicks in their brooding pen. 25 chickens and 5 turkeys. The turkeys are my favorite, they are so cute, playful and curious. This one has been teaching the others how to perch on top of the water.

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Head lettuce growing next to a couple rows of strawberries. I love the different colors and textured leaves in neat little rows.

A lot is to be learned on the farm yet and this is a lesson I am sure I will continue to work on. I’ve heard it said that the only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability- in other words; it’s not all going to go as planned.  I may feel the safest and most confident about something when it is predictable and within my control, but there is no wonder in that- no miracles, no beauty, and definitely no perfection.  That is the amazing thing about nurturing a living thing, you only have a small role in its life- the rest happens with faith in something greater.

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Tim and Victor the Cat next to the giant rhubarb-just waiting to be harvested for the CSA!

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