by Sky Harman, Farm Apprentice
Tonight a chill is in the air. For a week or so now, the chilled nights, the cold mornings require long sleeves and rubber boots to keep the heavy dew from our socks. It may pass, the heat may yet still return, as some of us at the farm predict, but fall is certainly in the air.
For me, fall is a melancholy time. It means many things, but it alludes to a passing of the season and the eventual return to the short days of winter. Already the days have grown shorter. No longer do we have the hours in the day to work until weariness overcomes us and yet still have the light to take care of the chores at home, not to mention a moment of respite and a long view of the setting sun. For many days now, I have rolled home with my headlights ablaze, and my chickens have had to skip their second meal of the day.
All of this aside, I am a bit excited by the change, even if it may be coming too soon. fall weather means ripe apples, root crops coming to maturity, and my new favorite thing: salad. The leafy greens are not quite ready for harvest, but one of the few fringe benefits of the farming life is being the first one to taste the harvest. I have eaten the spicy mustard leaves, succulent with moisture, almost tender enough to make me spare them from the imminent demise that they find in my mouth, but I am not so pardonable. The gift of their being is welcomed with thanks and praise.
Lettuces aside, fall means other things as well. The end of my apprenticeship is fast approaching, even though it feels like just a week and a day removed that it began. This time of year means for every farmer, a long look towards a future even if it may not come. For me it is thinking of my own practice in farming and how I will make this dream a reality.
Farmers are a pragmatic lot, and even with my misplaced hope and quirky skew on reality, I consider myself among that lot of people. It is the hows rather than the whys which most concern me, and so I have set my mind to addressing those things. It would be a daunting task for anyone to dream so big, yet so concretely, as I am doing. It is almost overwhelming but I must because I dream and because I believe that farming is not so much a livelihood, as a calling. I am called. I am called to feeding people so that they may sit around a dinner table, that I have not seen, to enjoy what I poured my soul into. I am called to care for the tender seedlings as they make their way from pot to earth. I am called by the tobacco hornworm, that I must crush on the tomato vine. I am called by the roosters crowing before the dawn outside my bedroom window. I am called by the cloudless sky. I am called by the weeds that always encroach the fields. I am called by the heat and the cold and I look forward today to another changing of the season when we again will plant anew.