Thursday, June 25, 2020

Summer Light

Breakfast around here is never complicated. Most mornings it's just coffee. I am not the kind of person that wakes up hungry. And since right after that first cup is consumed there is usually a lot of physical work to be done — I get right to it. But yesterday started with rain and I slept in an extra hour, lulled by the sound of it against the box fan in the window. When I woke up I had that magical cup of coffee and I wanted breakfast. I knew I wouldn't be heading out on a run in the rain. I knew the chores could be done a little slower. So I grabbed two fat eggs off the spiral rack in the kitchen and a large slab of bacon end in the fridge. I sliced off a few pieces of bacon off the pig brick and set them into a skillet to fry. In a large mug I whisked the eggs with cream and added a little salt and pepper as air filled the eggs, promising a fluffy scramble when it hit that sizzling fat. Once plated and doused with enough sriracha to cause concern - I sat cross-legged in the living room to enjoy it the way I love best - in a bowl with chopsticks. If I have it, I throw on a dollop of sour cream to cut the heat but this morning I just poured my coffee over ice. That was a fine summer brekky. My farm's eggs and bacon, fueling a day of work indoors and out. It still hasn't got old.

They say you don't realize you've been in a slump till you're out of it. That's true for me. The second half of winter is when I stop running and hiking. It's when I just want to eat cheese in the dark and fill cold days with comforting meals and eating becomes less about fueling the day mindfully and more about an anxious response. But with the sun bright and running nearly every day I am starting to feel more like the summer self I crave all March. A body that has no problem running six miles in the heat after a mug of coffee. Skin tanned, scarred, and bitten by bugs but bright in its own way. And this farm...

Guys, I don't think she's ever looked better.

Maybe part of it is falling in love? Maybe it's looking at this house and land with the fresh eyes of another person? Maybe it's finally trying to figure out how to pay this month's mortgage instead of trying to stay no farther than three month's behind? Maybe it's just eggs on a rainy morning... but I feel out of the slump. The farm looks it, too. The place was never without care. Even at my saddest moment's the grass was cut and the sheets got washed, but right now walking around the farm feels like a team of professionals helped plan it. The pasture is green and lush and the lambs and goats are romping along in it. Their electric netting stops a few feet from the garden where it meets the horses' gate so moments happen like last night - where I walked outside to check the garden at dusk and just beyond the hanging snow peas and tomato blossoms a fat ewe ripped into grass to the sounds of owls and crickets while a horse beside them nickered for hay. And those horses look so good and have been ridden so much! Everyone on the farm is being active! And with meat birds and piglets on the way (having piglets delivered for winter shares) there are projects and meals to come!

I'm not out of the woods. There is still that forever anxiety of making the bills. I know I write about money a lot, it's because it's the thing I worry about the most. I have my home. I have my health (so far). Figuring out how to make a living every month is the low-grade panic I still have. But it's the kind of panic that helps more than it hinders. It makes every morning a mission, every day a set of goals to make to keep the farm moving forward and feeding people. Sometimes people write me and tell me not to talk about money. That people don't want to hear about it. Well, until I don't have to worry about it you're gonna hear about it. Best you find another farm blog, as there are thousands. This one is about just making it and being grateful as hell I did. And that gratitude makes the reins on my pony feel magical and walking out to the chicken coop feel like a red carpet. The struggle sweetens the pot. Hunger is a good sauce.

I still have a ways to go to make this month's bills, but even if they are late I will be just a few weeks behind and not months. Outside dapple light is falling over the pumpkin and potato patches. The lawn is freshly cut, making even the dandelions and plantain look elegant, all cropped neat. After this coffee is downed I'll finish up the late chores (bedding replacement and fences get worked on after animals are fed and watered) and then hit the pavement for a solid run before heading to the post office to mail out soap and artwork. My girlfriend will be here soon and I am so excited to spend time with her on this piece of land in the mountains. She makes my home feel like something more, something safer. I feel like when I am around her I can actually relax. She calms me like a shot of whiskey, just as fiery.

There's a lot to do today. A piglet hut to construct. An old coop to clean out and prepare for twenty meat birds. There's gardens to weed and early crops to harvest. It's the time of year where trips to the market are for four, butter, seasoning, garlic cloves and olive oil. Everything else is in the field or freezer. I know I'm still trying to make the month but this feels insanely wealthy, it always has. And with over a decade of farming in my bones now, it still fuels me to keep going and keep up the work of this place.

Bowls of eggs with a side of iced coffee. Who knew it had the power to rocket hope?