CSA Week #3 - Herbalicious

Farm Update

We've been away from the farm for nearly a week - and wow! What a difference a late-June week can make on a farm! When we're here every day, it's hard to notice the changes taking place in the field. But after a week away, the changes are mind-blowing! Flowers are blooming, cabbages are cabbag-ing, zucchinis are forming...and weeds are taking over in a big way! 

We will be hosting a weeding party soon - most likely next week! All are welcome to come out and play in the dirt! We will share more information about this on our social media sites this coming week! 

Photo from last year's weeding party - we have amazing friends!!

Photo from last year's weeding party - we have amazing friends!!

We had an incredible weekend sharing in fun, love, and music with a group of wonderful humans. We feel so fortunate to have been able to get out of town and let loose for a few days before the summer madness begins! And it is about to seriously begin. This weekend is the first wedding at the farm, which will be a Friday-Saturday event including the use of the new brick oven, veggies from the farm, and flowers for the flower girls. We are really excited to kick off the season with such a special and integrated event! 

Week #3 Veggies, Herbs, and Suggestions

This week's farm share exists in the middle ground between Spring and Summer, where juicy veggies like summer squash and beets are just a couple weeks away! We've got some repeat stars coming at you this week, as well as a few herbs to play around with in the kitchen!

Arugula - See the blog post from Week #1 for ideas on how to use this delicious, spicy green!

Radishes - So crunchy and dense! These are some of the best radishes we've every grown! Check out the blog post from Week #2 for suggestions on how to use 'em!

Salad Mix - The perfect greens mix for any salad base or as a topping on burgers, stir fries, tacos, and grains!

Kale - Gorgeous, thick, deeply colored leaves are amazing in salads, smoothies, soups, and stir fries. Check out the blog post from Week #2 for tips on preparing raw kale!

Garlic Scapes - These funny looking stocks are such a treat! We hope you had fun experimenting with them last week and look forward to hearing about your plans for them this week!

Basil - A mix of regular (Genovese) and Cinnamon basil will be included in the share. We recommend using basil in pasta dishes, on homemade pizzas, and in cold drinks. It is also super easy to make a pesto base by combining basil and olive oil in a food processor or blender. You can freeze the base and take out the desired amount as needed - but it also keeps well in the fridge for a number of weeks. When you're ready to add pesto to your meal, put the pesto base in the food processor with salt, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and a nut of your choosing. Combine thoroughly and enjoy on pasta, bread, crackers, soups, etc. 

Cilantro - This is a very distinctly flavored herb favored in Latin cuisine. It adds the perfect pop to a homemade salsa or chimichurri (sauce used for glazing meats), and complements a salad along with avocado, lime juice, pumpkin seeds, jalapeños, and sweet corn.

Lavender - A calming a soothing herb, lavender brings a sense of tranquility to the world. Lavender has an excellent aroma for preparing the body to sleep - sniff a bit of it before bedtime or when you feel too wound up. You can also dry it and use it in a tea with Earl Grey and cardamom seeds for the perfect cup of smooth energy.

CSA Week #2 - Turn up the Heat

Farm Update

The first CSA pick-up was a success! It was so wonderful to meet a couple new members and see returning members we know and love. It brings us such joy to provide veggies to our community - we literally couldn't do this whole thing without you! The first share was small but mighty and things will be getting bigger and bigger as the summer goes on.

CSA Week #1 Farm Share

CSA Week #1 Farm Share

We managed to empty the greenhouse in time to head out of town Wednesday! Hooray! The last few things were mostly flowers and succession vegetables (things we plant over and over again throughout the summer like pac choi, lettuce, and scallions). When we get back, we will start another round of succession veggies, as well as some brassicas that will be ready in the fall. It's always a puzzle to figure out the planting schedule with only a CSA. For this reason, we are considering entering a farmer's market next year so we can always over-plant and sell our excess to customers outside the CSA. 

As our flower operation grows this year, we are hoping a farmer's market will also be a great outlet for bouquets and bulk flowers. Additionally, we are looking to explore design and arrangement opportunities for weddings and events (at the property and elsewhere) for 2019 and beyond. We're hoping to dial in our flower systems this year and launch that side of the business next spring! Stay tuned!

It has been very dry this month (with little spits of rain this past week) and it looks like the heat and sunshine won't be letting up anytime soon. With the somewhat limited water access we have, dryness has been a particularly daunting challenge to face over the past two years and is already proving to be a challenge this year. After talking with some friends and doing some research, we decided to lay straw mulch on a number of the beds to retain moisture and protect soil health as the plants grow. I couldn't tell you why we haven't done this in the past but we are excited to see how the mulch performs this year! ;) We'll keep you posted on how it works out!

Straw mulch and that beautiful finished deck off the back of the barn!

Straw mulch and that beautiful finished deck off the back of the barn!

Week #2 Veggies, Herbs, and Suggestions

Redbor or Lacinato Kale - Redbor is a gorgeous red curly kale, rich in color and nutrients. Lacinato, or Dino Kale, is tender and dark green with flat leaves. Kale is a great last-minute addition to any soup or stir fry; it will only need a few minutes to cook down. If you like to eat uncooked kale, we recommend massaging it first because raw kale can be tough on the tummy. You can massage chopped kale dry with your hands, or put it in a bag with some olive oil and massage the bag. The kale will start to sweat and become less stiff. Massaging starts the break-down process and the kale will be much easier for your body to digest. Oil-rubbed kale is great with sunflower seeds, finely chopped scallions and carrots, avocado, raisins, and a Goddess or creamy balsamic dressing.

Arugula - the spicy green is at it again! Check out the post from Week #1 for some ideas on how to use this item!

Scallions - Check out the post from Week #1 for ideas on how to use this item!

Spinach (with salad greens) - a nutritiously dense green perfect for a raw salad or hot stir fry. Spinach has so many vitamins, it's ridiculous! A wonderful June salad includes spinach, thinly sliced strawberries, chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, crumbled goat cheese, and a creamy poppy seed dressing. For something totally off-the-wall, try this: chop up a small onion and one garlic clove - cook down in sauce pan in olive oil or butter. After onions are soft, add a small can of crushed pineapples and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. Add in a few tablespoons of peanut butter (mix thoroughly), salt and pepper. Add a healthy portion of spinach (it will cook down to a fraction of it's original size). As soon as the spinach wilts, turn heat off and serve over rice with hot sauce and chopped peanuts. Weird, but extremely delicious!

Radishes - red, spicy, crunchy - what's not to like? Radishes are a great springtime snack! Go ahead and eat them raw, like a mini-apple, just be forewarned: they are spicy and too many can upset the stomach. You can also use a sharp knife or mandolin to thinly slice radishes over a salad or tacos. If you're feeling adventurous, try pickling the radishes (one of my favorite uses!) by boiling equal parts water and vinegar (white or apple cider) with a few teaspoons of sea salt and honey, each. Slice radishes into rounds and pack into a mason jar with peppercorns, mustard seeds, and/or garlic cloves. Pour the hot mixture over the radishes and let cool on counter before covering and storing in fridge for up to 4 weeks. They will be tasty and pickled after 3-5 days. Fresh radishes store well in a produce bag for a long time, especially if you cut off the greens. The greens are edible, though, so try steaming them or cooking them into a stir fry to get rid of the roughness.

Baby Pac Choi - a favorite tender green. The small size of this pac choi can easily be chopped up and added to the arugula to diminish some of the spice! Check out the post from Week #1 for more ideas on how to use this item!

Garlic Scapes - a "limited edition" June treat with quite the creative streak! The garlic clove is planted in the fall and sits in the ground over winter. It is usually one of the first things to bud in the spring and quickly become a beautiful stalk. In June, the plant sends out a "scape" which, left uncut, would become a garlic flower. We cut the scapes off so that the plant puts more energy into the bulb which will be harvested next month. Scapes are similar in texture to asparagus with an intense garlic-y flavor. Try roasting or frying them in olive oil, salt, and pepper until a fork slips through easily (be careful not to overcook). You can also cut them into inch-long pieces and roast/fry them, then add them to a food processor with olive oil, parmesan cheese, nuts (cashew, pine, or almond), lemon juice, salt, pepper, and any other spices to make a delicious garlic pesto. For a bulkier batch, add in some greens, like arugula. Likewise, add in some cream cheese and/or mayo for a veggie dip or spread. Scapes keep well in the fridge in an air-tight container for a long time.

Chamomile - if you need a way to wind down in the evening, this herb is for you! Chamomile has long been known for it's soothing and sedative effect on the body and mind. You can simmer it fresh or dry it to use later in a bedtime tea. Herbs that work well with chamomile include lemon balm, rose hip, oat straw, valerian, calendula, and linden flower. If you aren't drying the chamomile by hanging it upside down (or using a dehydrator), we recommend snipping the butt-end of the bunch and keeping it in a cup of water.

CSA Week #1 - Gemini Greens

Farm Update

Tomorrow marks the first day of our 2018 CSA season! It also happens to be the New Moon in the sign of Gemini! Look out - Small Feat is getting witchy! The New Moon is the best time of the month to start a new mini-chapter: set new intentions, implement new ideas, re/start routines...The energy in the air is perfect for "seeding" new endeavors as the moon begins to grow toward full. And this New Moon is in the sign of Gemini - the master of new ideas and networking! It seems fitting to begin CSA pick-ups on this day as we'll all be starting a new weekly routine and creating community by sharing in the Earth's bounty together.

It has been a whirlwind spring! If you haven't read our last blog post, scroll down to catch up on some of the major changes happening at the farm this season - it's all very exciting! This past weekend we celebrated Caswell Farm's 10 Year Anniversary of hosting beautiful weddings on the property. A big crowd came out on Sunday evening to see the barn's new deck, survey the farm and landscaping, and enjoy the first-ever pizzas to come out of the new brick oven! It was a blast and we were so relieved to have completed all the major projects before everyone arrived ;) 

Dudes hastily finishing the deck before the party! They nailed it! ;)

Dudes hastily finishing the deck before the party! They nailed it! ;)

This week is the final push to move the last few trays of plants from the greenhouse into the ground. We will be headed out of town next week, so we are aiming to have everything planted and heavily watered before we take off and leave the farm under the watchful eye of some friends. The new and improved flower garden (complete with a very adorable "flower bed") was created by Joanna this spring with a brick patio and brick paths for guests to meander on. This was a really fun project that adds a lot of aesthetic charm to the property. Additionally, we've planted a number of perennial bushes and trees, and are excited to see if we harvest any berries or fruit this year! Even if we don't , it feels good to put some more permanent things in the soil and look at the farm with a longer timeframe in mind.

The weather has been strange - as is the new normal in Maine. April was very cold and May was incredibly warm and dry. We are mildly concerned about a drought this year, but we ask you all to join in a rain dance every once in a while to keep the fields fertile! The flea beetles (little black beetles that LOVE to eat leafy greens and brassicas) were a major problem when we planted our kale, broccoli, cabbage, salad mix, and pac choi a number of weeks ago. We struggled with what to do and tried many things. Finally, this past week, we hit the nail on the head with a dose of diatomaceous earth (a chalky-like substance made from crushed sea creature fossils). This substance irritates the bugs' exoskeletons and they move on to more agreeable pastures. Some of our greens took quite a beating, but from now on, they should be producing healthy, lush leaves!

Farmer Brian taking a load off after laying drip tape and conquering the flea beetles!

Farmer Brian taking a load off after laying drip tape and conquering the flea beetles!

Week #1 Veggies, Herbs, and Suggestions for Preparation and Storage

Salad Greens - This is our favorite mix called "Elegance Greens" from Johnny's Seed Company. It is a mixture of red mustard, mizuna, leaf broccoli, and pac choi. It has a bit of a bite when eaten raw and holds up well when wilted. This mix is the perfect base for a salad! Add scallions, an avocado, raisins, nuts and seeds, and dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a crack of black pepper. For some additional protein, add sardines to the salad and/or build the salad over a warm bed of quinoa - the greens will wilt slightly and balance the texture perfectly. Greens should be left in a produce bag, loosely sealed, in the refrigerator. Open the bag once a day to bring in some fresh air, but don't let the greens dry out by keeping the bag open. If things get a little icky toward the end of the week, rinse the greens in a colander and pull out any mushy pieces. Spin or pat dry and put the remaining greens back in a dry produce bag.

Arugula - A bright springtime classic! This leafy green is simultaneously sweet, spicy, and sour and adds the perfect pop to any dish. Lately, we've been enjoying arugula with avocado and olive oil on top of a rice cake for breakfast - topped with pumpkin and flax seeds. Arugula can also be enjoyed as a salad base, added to tacos in lieu of lettuce, or chopped finely and mixed with cream cheese and garlic for a savory bagel spread. Stores similarly to greens.

Scallions - The Summer's first Allium! Scallions are very versatile: grill them whole to enjoy with a BBQ'd steak; chop them roughly and add to a stir fry; or chop them finely and add them to a salad or that arugula-cream cheese spread mentioned above! Basically, they can be added to anything that needs a little crunch. Scallions can be stored in a produce bag, like the greens, or you can put them root-down in a cup of water in the fridge.

Pac Choi - This is a very popular Asian green. The texture is like a cross between celery and lettuce, and the taste is fresh and slightly bitter. Like the scallions, pac choi can be grilled whole or chopped up and added to a stir fry, soup, or salad. If you are going to stir fry or add pac choi to a soup, do it toward the end of cooking time so it doesn't loose too much of it's crunch! Pac choi is wonderfully complemented by peanuts and balsamic or black vinegar. Try making a slaw with pac choi, scallions, carrots, and purple cabbage by chopping all the veggies into thin ribbons and dressing with vinegar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, and peanuts. Let sit in fridge for at a least a few hours before serving. Store pac choi similarly to greens.

Oregano - A classic Mediterranean culinary herb. You'll be getting a big bundle so we recommend finding a place in your home that is dry and warm (like by a window) and hanging the bundle upside-down until the leaves are completely dry. This may take a week or so (or  you can use a dehydrator and be done in a couple hours). Then, you can strip the leaves off the stems, grind them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, and store in a glass jar - voila! Oregano for the summer! You can also cook with fresh oregano by adding it to any rice or pasta dish along with other spices. If you want to keep oregano fresh for a while, we recommend trimming the ends of the stems and placing the bundle in a glass of water on the counter.

Lemon Balm - Nature's nerve relaxant. Lemon balm soothes the nervous system, calms the mind, and is the perfect addition to any afternoon beverage. You can dry the lemon balm similarly to the oregano and grind it to use as a tea. One of my favorite ways to use fresh lemon balm is to muddle it into the bottom of a glass with frozen mixed berries and a splash or lemon or lime juice, then add seltzer water and ice. If you like booze, you can substitute lemon balm for mint in a julep or mojito - just be weary that lemon balm has a calming effect on the body and may make you especially drowsy if consumed with alcohol. You could also make a delicious raspberry lemon balm shrub by combining 2 parts raspberries, 1 part sugar, and 1/2 part chopped lemon balm in a mixing bowl - mashing the berries. Let mixture sit in fridge for 12-48 hours, strain out berries and leaves. Add 1 part apple cider vinegar and mix thoroughly. This shrub can be used in cocktails, added to seltzer water, or drank on its own!

Munching that Lemon Balm!

Munching that Lemon Balm!

A New Vision

In the age of Instagram and ever-present media, it can be near impossible not to compare yourself to everyone around the globe. Flooded with a barrage of perfectly staged pictures, intriguing captions, and promoted products, a sense of inadequacy can wash over us every time we look at our little pocket robot. This is true not only on a personal level, but on a professional level, as well. When we started our small farm over two years ago – making the distinct choice to not jump in head-first with business loans and a full-time commitment – the social media comparison game was a real struggle. We questioned every decision we made: had we seeded our tomatoes at the right time? Should we be expecting more out of our kale production? Did everyone deal with flea beetles in the numbers we saw on our baby greens?

The self-induced pressure to be bigger, better, and more beautiful kept us in a state of anxiety and self-doubt for most of our first year. In our second season, we cooled down a bit. We made a conscious effort to be grateful for the farm we had and gave ourselves a break for only being second-year farmers and business owners. With every perfect broccoli crown we saw on Instagram, we tried to remind ourselves that a lot of the farms we follow are much more experienced and mechanized than we are – not to mention most of them listed farming as their full-time occupation. We were in a different boat and needed to either be okay with that boat or get in a different boat.

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This past winter has been one of self-exploration and digging into what we really want out of life – not what Instagram tells us we want. In other words, we took a hard look at the boat we were in and decided to make it comfortable rather than complain about how it wasn’t like everyone else’s boat (or splash around in the water never deciding which boat to get in). Deepening the foundation of trust within the self (boat) is not an easy task, but it does make the comparison game seem less and less attractive. When we get clear about who we are, what we want, and then believe we are capable and worthy of having it, priorities shift. Instead of wondering if our Zinnias look as healthy as everyone else’s, we’ve been learning to ask ourselves if our Zinnias look how we want them to look or if we even want to grow Zinnias at all (the answer is “yes!”).

When we began to get clear about who we are and what we want out of this farm, we consciously made a lot of changes to be implemented this year in our New Vision. As noted in our last blog post, the first and most important change was that we needed to be on the farm. We bought an RV last year and Brian, with the help of a friend, has been chipping away at a complete internal renovation. It should be good-to-go in the next couple weeks! (We’ve been glamping in the fields since the beginning of May and are excited about some solid walls!)

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Second, we wanted to make the farm our full-time priority. This meant quitting our service industry jobs and committing to treat the farm as more than a side-business. This shift has been the trickiest one for a couple reasons. One reason: it’s scary! It’s scary to put all your eggs in one basket and turn your back on a regular paycheck, set hours, and a cushy safety net. But ultimately we realized as long as the farm was a “side hustle,” it’s quality would always suffer. Finding the motivation to put more effort into an endeavor that is considered a “side” is rare – most people will save their energy for the main gig.

Another reason this adjustment has been tricky is the size of our farm and the conditions of our property. Our space is limited, which caps the actual amount of produce we can grow, and there are many other things happening on the property besides our farm, which means we have to take other businesses' priorities into account.

This brings me to the third big change of our new vision: flowers and integration! Flowers have been a side hustle of the side hustle for the last two growing seasons. We never learned how to grow cut flowers while apprenticing and have used the “seed-and-pray” method of flower growing since starting Small Feat Farm. We incorporated flowers into our CSA program last year and received so much positive feedback that we thought we’d try our hand at flower farming in a more serious way this year! Being more lucrative than vegetables, flowers allow us to produce more revenue out of the half-acre available to us on the property. While we are still infants in the flower world, we opened a Flower CSA in addition to our Vegetable CSA program and will be selling bouquets around Cumberland and Portland. Joanna worked with a florist and wedding designer in Montana, and has experience arranging flowers for events – so the hope is to offer more design services in the coming years.

The garden part isn't much to look at yet, but we laid the brick patio and paths ourself! This will be a beautiful spot for pictures or a small ceremony on the farm.

The garden part isn't much to look at yet, but we laid the brick patio and paths ourself! This will be a beautiful spot for pictures or a small ceremony on the farm.

Integration! We are in a unique situation regarding the property we farm on and the community we are a part of here in Gray. Catherine Caswell, owner of the property, operates three other businesses out of the same space. First, Caswell Farm is a wedding and event venue featuring the property’s centuries-old barn, farmhouse, and grounds. Small Feat Farm takes up the back half of the field and provides an authentic backdrop for the weddings and events that take place here. As our flower operation takes off, the hope is to supply wedding clients with fresh flowers they can pick out and harvest themselves!

Second, The Bar Association is a mobile bartending company that services not only the weddings at the barn, but multiple weddings every weekend throughout the summer and fall. As experienced bar tenders, we are convenient employees of The Bar Association for events at the farm (since we live on the property) and happily accept the additional income :)

Third, a new catering company called Barn and Table is kicking off this year with the construction of a gorgeous brick oven right behind the barn! The wood-fired beauty will allow for a whole new cooking and dining opportunity on the property. As couples book the catering business for their weddings at the farm, we are also hoping to host and supply veggies for regular Farm-to-Table dinners and pizza nights. Brian has recently taken up interest in baking bread, too, and is excited to see how wood-fired loaves might make their way into a CSA!  

The brick oven in process, built entirely by hand by chef Brian Kowtko, Brian Rhodes-Devey, and KC Hamilton. It is now finished and pizzas will be flying out this weekend!

The brick oven in process, built entirely by hand by chef Brian Kowtko, Brian Rhodes-Devey, and KC Hamilton. It is now finished and pizzas will be flying out this weekend!

Long story short, we have decided to dive head-first into this property in its entirety. When we first met five years ago and started dreaming about our future farm, we talked about creating a multi-faceted space where opportunities for farming, weddings and events, farm-to-table dinners, workshops, and education coexisted in a dynamic flow. This has been our long-term vision since the beginning – but we always saw it in the distant future; something we would need to work years and years for. This mindset kept us from realizing that our dreams are actually happening right under our noses! In the sea of comparisons and anxiety about how we stacked up to other farms, we lost sight of who we really are and what we wanted out of life. Turns out, we want exactly what’s happening right here, right now. We’re not a thirty-acre farm with tractors and employees. We are Small Feat Farm: a low-impact producer of flowers and veggies for our community and guests visiting this beautiful, dynamic property in its multi-faceted splendor. Now it’s time to embrace it, commit to it, and believe in this new (or renewed) vision!

Photo by Liz Deleo from our wedding on the property in 2016! This place is dear to hearts in so many ways...

Photo by Liz Deleo from our wedding on the property in 2016! This place is dear to hearts in so many ways...

Consolidate Your Hoses!

If you look back to our first blog post, you’ll notice we posed a challenge for ourselves to see if we could live a “double life”: one foot in the rural farming world, one foot in the urban world of Portland (albeit a pretty small urban world). For the last two years, we wondered if we could juggle tending a small vegetable farm 30 minutes outside the city while also maintaining jobs and a social life downtown. Nobody stopped us, and we thought we were brilliant – cultivating a low-risk passion project while leaning on the service industry to keep up a steady cash flow. But alas…having your irons in too many fires leaves you running around like a…flustered blacksmith…

It’s been a hectic journey (as you may have gathered from the last couple posts, and the lack of posts since mid-summer). We decided sometime in July that we would inevitably need some serious R&R over the winter if we were to save our sanity, our willingness to work, and our relationship. But in order to take time off, it became clear we would need to stock-pile a lot of money in the meantime. So we started taking any odd job we could find, picking up extra shifts at the restaurants, working 7 days a week…and getting very little sleep. At the risk of boring you with tales all too familiar to anyone with a busy lifestyle, I’ll just say we’ve learned some very valuable lessons about balance, priorities, and rest since then...lessons we wish to share with you!

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Sometimes we get caught up doing way too much; it’s the way of our world. We’re so focused on achieving and pleasing those around us that we don’t make time for ourselves. On top of that, I would say in this culture, we don’t VALUE rest or balance. We never learn how to do it! Few of us are taught to “zoom-out,” in the moment, and take stock of what’s working and what’s not in our lives. We continue to sprint until we hit a breaking point and have an emotional breakdown (or run away on a cross-country road-trip for three months).

I offer you the Hose Metaphor: Say your life energy is water rushing through a mainline hose. There are two factors at play when determining how forcefully and to how much land that water will flow.

First: The Source. Is the water source at the top of the line constantly being replenished? It may not need replenishing for a while, but eventually the source will dry up or provide very weak pressure. When the source water becomes low and you only replenish it with a small bucket, there may be increased water pressure for a short time, but it will inevitably run dry again. (For those not catching along, “replenishing” equates to rest, recovery, recuperation, relaxing, etc.)

Second: Connecting Hoses. How many smaller hoses is the mainline feeding? The more hoses are added, the less water pressure flows through each hose. If too many hoses are added, water may not reach the end of some of them – there’s simply not enough pressure! (Hoses: commitments, responsibilities, projects, etc.)

The goal is to create balance between the rate at which the source water is being replenished and the number of connecting hoses so that there is adequate water coming out of each hose to ensure proper watering of the land.

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Needless to say, 2017 for Small Feat Farm and its farmers consisted of minimal source replenishment and far too many hoses. And I have a suspicion we are not the only people who have found ourselves in such a predicament. A lot of people in our society tend to run on empty. As ambitious individuals, we over-commit ourselves and tend to view rest and self-care as signs of weakness…or we talk about them as guilty pleasures or things we do when we’re at the end of our rope. This kind of hose management can lead to exhaustion, stress (and subsequent health problems), lack of fulfillment, and isolation of the heart.

Personally, this “lack of fulfillment” feeling has been nagging at my brain. In the chase to achieve more and prove my worth to the world, I tend to say “yes” to too many commitments. But then, as water pressure continually decreases, I find that I’m not doing well (or "performing highly") in any of my commitments; things become half-assed because there’s not enough energy to go around. And I end up disappointed in myself and believing the world is disappointed in me because I have nothing to show for how exhausted I feel. Every area of my life in 2017 was being half-assed: the farm, work, home-life, my partnership, my friendships. And on top of this, I wasn’t making enough time to replenish my energy. And that’s okay… we all find ourselves in this situation from time to time.

I’ve been paying special attention to the people I admire lately – how they live, how they prioritize, how they direct their energy. These are people in my personal life, as well as more famous people who I follow on social media. I’ve noticed a few common themes: 1. They have chosen a few areas of life to focus on and do not get caught up in adding more to their plate; 2. They have good boundaries and communicate them with the world (i.e. they value down-time and do not let anything get in the way of it); and 3. They are courageous in cultivating their passion and sharing it with the world. I’ve decided I want to emulate these priorities in my life so that the things I’m passionate about can have my full attention and energy, and hopefully have a greater impact on the world. No more half-assing as a product of over-exerting! Say it with me now!

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I should mention the flip side to too many hoses and not enough water: an overabundance of source water and nowhere for it to go. Sometimes, especially in winter, there can be a lot of lying around, cooking big meals, and going on vacation. These are all wonderful things, but when they come in abundance and there is a lack of responsibilities (this is particularly true for those of us who live a seasonal life), there can be a sense of restlessness or anxiety.

This usually happens to me in February. I start to feel the life force bubble within me as I dream about getting back to work and being outside. At my worst, I turn this energy inward: “I’m lazy and worthless and have been achieving nothing!” I beat myself for taking it easy because I can feel the “water pressure” building within me and don’t know where to direct it. At my best, I put this time period in context of the year and see that winter allows for necessary R&R so I can sustain higher energy levels in the summer. Instead of turning the restlessness inward, I can choose to push it out by making plans for the coming year, working on creative projects, and giving loads of attention to my relationships/friendships/community. It's important to have at least some connecting hoses in order to give life's energy purpose and direction.

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So in the ever-evolving story of our little farm, what’s the solution to greater fulfillment and more balance between hoses and source water for 2018? First thing’s first: consolidate those hoses! We bought an RV last year and will be inhabiting it on the farm come springtime. Since the farm is also a wedding venue, we plan to be more involved with weddings there – bartending and caretaking the property. While I’m sure a new living situation will bring its own host of challenges, we are excited for all our commitments to be in one place and centered around our passions: farming, community, and sustainability.

This past winter, we dove deep into some new spiritual practices and are eager to continue practicing in order to bring about more balance, mental clarity, and perspective while seeking a fulfilling life. These practices include daily meditation and stretching, honoring the four classical elements and astrological energies, and simply prioritizing time to read, write, and relax.

Choose your hoses wisely, dedicate time to check in with what’s working and what’s not, have the courage to DO something about what’s not working, and remember that constant replenishment (even in small doses) is necessary to maintain a fulfilling and passionate life.