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The Crop Report Week 22 | Not Everything Can Be Saved

Being a farmer my whole life, I live by the mentality that everything serves a purpose. We care for things to get the most of their value, but know that there are times to let go and find peace when the outcome is bleak.  

I grew up raising livestock (primarily sheep) and remember the many hours our family put into saving a mother and lambs, only to nurse an orphan lamb along for a couple of days at most. Even though we knew that neither mama nor baby would likely survive, we cared for them with the same love and compassion each time. Its just what farmers do.

While the heartstrings might not pull quite as hard when we lose seedling trays or bulb crops, the hard work and passion put forth time and time again are the same. As crop farmers, the idea of a miracle when it comes to the plants is much more far-fetched than with animals. There’s been plenty of times that the lambs would miraculously spring back to health, but when it comes to flowers, there is a point that we have to abandon tired crops and move on to fresh new plantings.

This shift in mindset was hard for me and still is for some of our tribe. Accepting when to jump ship right before a crop is about to decline can be so hard. The flowers still look good even though you know you have picked the bajebus out of them, the shrinking blooms can be hard to notice, and the lush foliage is starting to show its age. These are all signs that its time to stop putting in the effort and move on.

This week marks the first of that shift on this farm as our ever-producing patch of bachelor buttons are put up for the season. Located right by the main entrance to the farm, the bachelor buttons are an impressive show for visitors and are in full bloom as we speak. But the truth is, these plants are teetering on the edge of decline, and our resources are better used focusing on the upcoming flushes of healthy robust crops like our snapdragons! 

Some of our perennials are being left in the ground so they can finish out blooming in the field, allowing the plants to mature to full size without compromising from aggressive harvests. It can almost feel like a kid in an expensive candy store without any money. You have beautiful blooms in the field that you have worked so hard to produce and hear the cries of customers wanting that exact bloom. But you know better, the time has passed to pick “those flowers” - they won’t be as good as fresh ones and we have to do what’s best for the plant. It’s hard for everyone! But, it’s an important balance for us to maintain in the equilibrium of flower farming. 

After so much work, time, and effort, it can be hard to walk away but that's just part of this gig. There are so many character traits of farmers that I admire, but the knowledge to know when to shift focus is one that I admire most. (I mean, it’s not like I really have a choice.) 

In addition to the flowers, the farm is facing other transitions and changes as we mark the bittersweet end to the original farm smokehouse.  

This was HARD. When we bought the property, I had dreamed of saving this building and restoring it back to its original glory. The smokehouse is a two-story, white clapboard-sided tin roof shed that resides a few steps out my back door. The doors barely open and the floor is missing in most of the most convenient areas, but what is still intact was a whole lot of charm. The old stone fireplace still has the swinging arms that the kettles hung on!

As time has passed, I have spoken with so many professionals only to hear over and over that the project would be very expensive and the current situation was a hazard to my small children. I had to move on. The building has been dismantled and will make way for new spaces for my family to live and enjoy the farm. We hope to save and repurpose the brick, and the lumber is staying in our family - some of which will hopefully return as a dining room table. I can’t help but get all kinds of feels thinking of it coming back to serve the very farm it cooked meals for so long ago.

 

While not everything can be saved on the farm, everything can be appreciated and valued for what it brings. After all, it’s a farm. When the old moves out, something new and exciting is almost always on its heels.

-xoxo Jess

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