Ten years into farming and I’ll never get used to the fluctuation of emotions that come along with it. One day I’m stressed or angry, the next day I’m grateful and ecstatic. One hour I’m exhausted and the next I’m bouncing around accomplishing everything on my to-do list.
This week was no different. It started out full of anticipation. We had to harvest for our first Whole Foods order, and it had to be perfect. We grew a fantastic crop of kale this year, and they’re ordering 70 cases a week. But to be profitable we need to be extremely efficient, so we decided to field-pack the kale and ice it down. Hans, my husband, developed a great system with a conveyor belt and dunk tanks with ice, and we were able to get the order in the cooler very quickly. I felt such a sense of accomplishment that morning when the harvest was done. Relief too, we really needed the boost of income since everything is ripening so late. Selling to Whole Foods was a dream come true for us. Something we had worked towards for a long time.
That afternoon, I spot-checked a case in the cooler, and I noticed some broken stems. Then I saw bunch sizes that weren’t consistent, and some boxes didn’t have the right count. I called Hans into the cooler and threw a giant temper tantrum. How could he screw up an order so important? He checked every single box, fixed the order and stayed patient with me. I felt totally drained from being so angry, and I felt a little silly, too.
When the semi truck rolled in the next morning, I was ecstatically waiting in the driveway, thanking God for this great opportunity. I was taking pictures and videos and texting my mom. I was grinning ear-to-ear, when 16 hours before I was stomping my foot and yelling about money and time wasted. Farming is a rollercoaster of emotions, and sometimes it’s a thrill and other times I just want off.
Take this weekend for instance. Hans decided to stay home and work since we have so much to catch up on. Then a market helper called in sick and a couple more market staff showed up late. I was stressed out. We were running around, putting up price signs, getting the few tomatoes I had out on the table and I just knew it was going to be one of those days. I was right, it was. It was hot and ridiculously busy and my back just ached. I kept thinking of my bed and the air conditioning and how badly I wanted to be in both.
Once I got home, I looked at our sales reports for that morning and we had the highest sales than we’d ever had. I was so grateful that I started crying all over my cashboxes. Prayers were answered, we had vegetables to sell and I could pay my employees without worrying if the checks would bounce. One minute I’m annoyed and stressed to be at the market and the next moment I’m thanking God for allowing us to have such a successful one.
There are those days when I’m angry that Hans has to stay late in the fields cultivating, only to be taken aback with the beauty of a clean field of rainbow chard. Sometimes I wished I lived back in the city and spent my weekends at the mall or the movies. But once I go there to visit I can’t wait to get out and come back to the red-winged black birds and the smell of my neighbor’s hayfield. There are moments where I get so frustrated with the weather and the weeds that I want to quit altogether and there are days where I can’t believe I get to do this type of work for a living. Luckily, there are more days of gratitude and awe than days of frustration and desperation.