This year brought on a lot of changes for Delight. Here are a few lessons that I learned over the course of this busy summer.
1. When things fall by the wayside, don’t be hard on yourself.
We are three very busy women who are trying to run a budding business while still working day jobs, so it can be hard to find the time to get things done on the farm. Thank the heavens (literally) for long summer days, or we’d never get our CSA harvests done. (We definitely harvested in the dark a couple of times this summer.) Still, even with more daylight and three pairs of hands, there are tasks that fall through the cracks, goals that get modified, and dreams that are shelved for the season. This year, our plan to put up a fence around our less-than-a-quarter acre of planted land got tabled again and again. Each week, we found that we didn’t have the time to invest in this project. Trust me, we paid the price for tabling that task. We struggled to keep visitors from trampling young daffodils and tulips; to keep our dogs from plowing full speed through the middle of rows; to keep goats from midnight-snacking on our sunflower crop. That goat hurdle was our “last straw” moment. Now, just as the season for cut flowers is wrapping up in our zone, we’re putting up a fence. It’s OK! Not great, but surely OK. We certainly would have benefited from getting this bad boy up earlier, but the rush could have potentially compromised the integrity of the structure, or put a big strain on our already strained work/life juggling acts, or put us in a financially sticky place, or, or, or. I have to believe that this fence is going up at exactly the right time. And in the end, we’re getting it done with help from our amazing mentors and friends.
Short of it: There will always be tasks, goals, or dreams that fall (or get pushed) to the wayside. When that happens, don’t be hard on yourself.
2. Divide and conquer.
As I said, we’re three busy ladies. And although we love working and playing together, it’s not always efficient to operate the farm that way. This year, we found that more land means more tasks, and that getting it all done means less people doing more things all at once. Early on, ‘divide and conquer’ was deemed our route to less wasted time. Now, we try our best to split up responsibilities, and time at the farm. The beauty of having three heads in the game, is that we can all fit in farm time when it works for us. If we can all get in the field at the same time, that’s great. But it’s not necessary for us to fill orders and tend to ongoing projects.
Short of it: We try to split up the work, and we still end up goofing off all together on occasion.
3. Don’t leave your clippers in the field.
Easy enough – just don’t do it. Don’t think, “Oh yeah, I’m leaving them right by that pink zinnia row, got it. Yeah, got it. I’ll find them. Not worried about it.” You will lose them. You will have to buy new ones.
Short of it: I said it once before, but it bears repeating. Don’t leave your clippers in the field.
4. Actually, don’t always use clippers to harvest.
Our goddess of a mentor, Linda Chapman of Harvest Moon Flower Farm, told us about the wonders of harvesting with box cutters early this spring. I’m definitely a believer. Box cutters are cheaper and often more durable than floral clippers, they get a great cut on the stem if your blade is nice and sharp, and they save our hands and wrists from repetitive stress of squeezing clippers over and over. All of us want to continue to farm, while trying our best to keep our bodies healthy and strong. Any tricks or strategies that can protect the body and ensure longevity of tendons, joints and muscles is worth trying.
Short of it: Try swapping a box cutter for clippers during harvest.
5. Break the rules.
I risk getting us into some trouble with this one, but breaking the rules came in handy this season. Early in the summer, we were in the market for a walk-in cooler for flower storage. Our beloved mentor says you’re not a real flower farmer until you’re using one. She’s right to some degree – a cooler undoubtedly changes the game. After a bit of searching, we found one online – right size, right price. One problem: it was in Wisconsin. So we took a leap, rented a truck strong enough to haul this massive cooler home, loaded up the dogs, and hit the road. Let’s just say – it took thousands of dollars, hundreds of miles, many generous angels, a couple broken laws, two new tires, and one minute of shit-scared-stressed-out tears to get this cooler home. We did it. It was one of the riskiest things I’ve ever done, and I don’t regret it one bit. We wouldn’t have this cooler today had we not bent and broken the rules a bit.
Short of it: Break the rules when the universe gives you the go-ahead.