Sometimes it is hard to not feel like weed pulling, cherry pitting, coop scooping, crop planting are not chores. And if they start to feel like chores instead of fun too often, I am afraid I will lose my love of it all. And it is a deep love that I do not want to lose. Whenever I think of something that needs to be done to sustain the whole farm and food thing, and it feels overwhelming or stressful, I feel wary. I think a lot of people stay away from urban farming because they have a mental image of piles of extra chores.
After picking all those cherries, we had boxes of cherries sitting in the kitchen for a week…and we started to notice a few going bad. And the next weekend we were going to a wedding and camping out overnight; then the week would start over again with all its hectic-ness, and it would never happen. We’d lose them all. So the last day we had to do anything was the Friday night before the Saturday wedding. But I started to think, “When is the last Friday night we went out?” And I didn’t want to pit cherries. I didn’t want to be Suzie Homemaker; I wanted to be young and alive and sexy. So I spent the day meditating on this and what to do.
Then I remembered something that one of my favorite singers, Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine, said in a “The Portland Sessions” interview when asked how they maintain their marriage while being business partners; her response was “fight naked”. I thought about that; and about what I really wanted to do Friday night, which was having a sexy date with my husband. And I came up with this: whiskey, after bedtime, cherry pitting, scantily clad. And it suddenly seemed more fun. I told my husband (who I am sure would not have been excited to commit Friday night to cherry pitting otherwise), and he reminded me about our evening plans at least 3 times throughout the day. Suddenly we were looking forward to it rather than dreading it.
So how did it go?….I will confess that by the time we got done packing for the overnight trip, and putting our son to bed, etc. it was quite late and we were exhausted and frazzled. It was not quite as sexy-date-like as hoped. (This is “for real farming”, right?). But you know what, it got done. And if it becomes a tradition for cherry pitting, maybe next time it will be.
I guess I am just encouraging you to think outside the box. We are talking URBAN farming here. It can be done differently.
Other ways I can think of to make it fun:
1. Community. The garlic has needed to be harvested for a little while, but my husband said he wanted to help. So I waited. And we finally went out there and harvested it together. It didn’t take that long. But it was a lot more fun. My husband seemed really proud of our harvest, which made me proud.
My mother-in-law, Pamela, also shared with me a great idea. They and two or three other couples all help each other in their yards, then rotate. So once a month, or whatever it is, all 6 or 8 people go to one house and tackle whatever project that person needs done. And the person hosting makes a meal for everyone. She said A LOT gets done, and they have become great friends through the process.
2. Make it artistic. The area I have for a veggie garden is kind-of round because it is constrained by big rocks. Last year it was in straight rows. This year I decided to make the beds like wedges of a pie, radiating out from the center. Why not? It’s my garden, and it’s supposed to be fun.
3. Give yourself grace. Right now the bed that had garlic in it is empty and should have been planted with winter crops two weeks ago. Weeds are overtaking my walkways and making it look messy. I should really add some compost as fertilizer around my tomatoes. It’s a lot, and once again it can start to feel stressful. But I just have to let myself let it go. I’m not actually dependent on this as my only food source, and I’m still learning. Next year I’ll do a better job of mulching to keep the weeds down, and maybe I’ll be more “on it” with planting. But I’ll get to it when I can, and that is enough.