5.)    The chores – Nothing quite beats getting up at seven in the morning everyday, whether it is raining and near freezing, or it’s already gearing up to be a warm day, you get ready and head to the barn for the morning meeting. First chore, make some coffee before we all turn into zombies. It’s spring as I write this so of course we have copious amounts of beautiful and fragile little seedlings that need to be potted up, watered, or fertilized everyday.
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That’s usually the more zen part of the day. Sometimes you have to prep a garden bed, but the weather is starting to change for the worse and you had better hurry. Remove the weeds by the roots, turn the soil, add the compost, and seaweed and other amendments, then plant the garlic. Your muddy hands serve as a reminder of the satisfying work you’ve done.
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Every day is like this, sometimes the wheel barrow is broke and you are hauling sacks full of whatever over your shoulder, sometimes it’s chicken manure and there just happens to be a hole in the bag near your face, hoo-ray. Through it all though, the chores are rewarding and not really so bothersome when the scenery is so stunning, which brings us to the next thing on the list…
4.) Randomly beautiful moments on the farm – Everyday, you will find a scene of perfect natural beauty if you just open your eyes, moments that a camera struggles to convey the real majesty of but leaves the observer awed. The sunlight filtering through the withered and bare winter trees on a foggy morning so that every ray seems to have a substance as real as the mist. Laying down in the back of a pickup truck on pile of soil and looking up through the tree branches to the blue sky on one of those lucky warm days in the earliest of spring,
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and just watching the branches play with the sunlight, accompanied by the sound of birds. The most amazing sound is the powerful swooshing wingbeat of a raven. Those dark black birds, blessed with a keen mind, caw loudly and with a disturbingly vocal quality, almost like a man imitating a bird sound, and many make unique and ever changing calls and noises, imitated from some unknown source or perhaps part of some unknown language of the species. My favorite sight is caused by dense fog settling in a low valley, creating the illusion that the fog is a body of water and the mountaintops are islands jutting out of a silvery sea.
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You can still see glimpses of the trees below which takes on the aspect of an underwater forest. You really can’t beat those moments, and these moments change with every season. That’s why you have to also love…
3.) The weather – I’ve already hinted at it, but the weather is spectacular out here in northern California. I first showed up here in the summer and I was immediately put on watering plants that were in desperate need of it. This could involve watering hundreds and hundreds of plants, one at a time. The winter brings rain, and cold like a Texan wouldn’t believe, or be prepared for.
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Evenings are spent bundled up in the yurt stoking as big a fire as our stove will allow, playing board games while our clothing dries by the fire. The work tapers off in the Winter because most of the garden beds have been covered for the winter, and the orchards no longer need constant attention. All of this adds up to more free time, to reflect, to draw and write, or to catch up on a little sleep. Every once in a while you hear a rustle in the woods that lets you know the forest is still alive with…
2.) The local wildlife – The animals around the farm leave little traces everywhere. Deer tracks pressed into fresh mud, or fresh turned garden beds, and it can be much harder to catch sight of a deer when you’re actually looking for one. The elongated and slimy form of the banana slug as it moves at glacial speeds across the forest detritus.
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Gangs of turkeys scatter across the road when you drive by, although some become indecisive and risk a high velocity meeting with a vehicle. Occasionally a bat gets lost and finds a nice warm spot in your bathroom for a couple of days.
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The pond is now alive with various frogs and insects,
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But, the thing that really makes farm life special is…
1.) The People – There isn’t much to say here really. We love each other, we share meals and laugh, and get frustrated, and we do it all together. Without the people: from the foreign new guy who makes beautiful nature sketches, to the iron-fisted, crotchety old boss,
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(just kidding, Steve) we wouldn’t be Milewide Nursery, so really I would like to thank the crew for making the farm life the best life.
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