December 31st: closure & reflection

“Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”   ~Francis Bacon

There is a rhythm, a reliable cycle to life and I believe that nowhere is it more apparent than it is on a farm. And though Nature sometimes acts up–like last week’s temperatures that bounced around the low 20s and mid-30s for days; like a rain that settles in when your schedule says “Time to spray dormant oil;” or like the late cold-snap that catches your fruit trees with their bloomers exposed–Nature is confined to buck and writhe within the bounds of the cycles that we all abide by. And because of this mostly reliable cycle there is the repeated list of duties undertaken in roughly the same sequence each year. January to get seeds started indoors. May to harvest honey. June to pick blueberries. It’s the same every year within a few days or a week at most. There is little room for procrastination. I speak from experience. You work with Nature or she marches on without you.

It can be hard to keep up. You feel like you just pruned those roses, yet here it is time to do it again. I make lists on my calendar to keep me on schedule. Sometimes I borrow lists from other sources–a favorite of mine is the Louisiana State University Ag Center’s list on what to plant by month. I have reminders on when to add light to the coop to keep the hens laying, when to start thinking about splitting the hives, and when to get the tractor serviced. I’m forgetful, easily distracted, and I love lists.

This is the last day of 2022. My chore list is rote, a typical end-of-month to-do, nothing special to show it is the last list for the year: caring for hens, collecting eggs, repairing a few freeze-damaged irrigation lines.

And don’t forget tending the books. Running a farm is not just planting stuff and petting baby animals. There’s marketing, budgeting, human resources, field surgery, wrenching, lots of other stuff, and there is accounting. Our farm books are up-to-date and tax-ready so they don’t leach the joy from life over the holidays. Accounting, more than any other is a task that grows daunting faster than Kudzu if left to languish, and will become a snowballing quagmire of time if allowed to bleed into the next year. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I apply this philosophy to the farm accounting.

But tomorrow we flip our calendars to a new year. The cycle of life will repeat as expected, yet the wonder remains. There is magic each time seed becomes plant, caterpillar becomes butterfly, or egg becomes chick. You can work to invite the magic, to bring the crop to harvest, but the magic is always completed on Nature’s schedule, and by Nature’s rules.

I intend to capture my journey on the farm over the next year, to show the ups and downs, challenges and joys, seedy day by seedy day. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

One of the last batches of eggs gathered in 2022. Big Tom & Nettles are hoping for one to drop.

Published by c ben-iesau

From L.A. to LA... I'm a New Orleans based artist and writer.

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