The Magic is…different

Well, it will be one year on Sunday since Andrew and I got hitched, and I am happy to report that we both still consider marriage to be one of our better ideas.  Appropriately enough, we’ll be celebrating our anniversary at a friend’s birthday pig roast.  I’m tempted to pull out my wedding dress in honor of the occasion, but will refrain as the dress is a) on its way to family heirloom status b) beautifully preserved and c) not improved by barbecue stains.  Anyway, Sunday is Casey’s birthday party, and I imagine that it would rather detract from his day if some weird girl were wandering around in a long white dress.

Yesterday, as we were butchering our first batch of chickens (hooray!  we finally have something to sell!), I reflected on the changes that come to a relationship with greater familiarity.  Andrew had asked rhetorically, “why is it that harvesting, whether vegetables or animals, is always so un-fun?”  I replied that I thought that it was more a matter of duration than of the intrinsic felicitousness of a task–harvesting a bushel of tomatoes is delightful; harvesting one ton single-handedly, less so.  Still, he was on to something, as I realized when I thought back to my first season farming.  That year, I couldn’t bring myself to just throw culled tomatoes on the ground.  I sampled every single one, as though trying to redeem the rejection of each blemished fruit.

At Serenbe, every task, no matter how backbreaking or repetitive, glowed with novelty and purpose.  I was learning how to farm!  I was watching seeds turn into fruit!  I had no idea that the earth could produce such wonders!  The first time we processed chickens (also at Serenbe) we lacked a proper scalder or a plucker (not to mention the faintest idea of chicken anatomy), and in our ignorance and inexperience it took four of us a full day to complete 25 birds.  I thought it was awesome.

It makes me feel a bit jaded to realize how different farming seems today.  The long days feel–well–long, and the backbreaking tasks makes me worry about my back. I do not taste every rejected tomato.

But, for all that, I still love it.  I still get giddy when seeds emerge from the soil.  I still feel deeply content when I look out over a field.  Bizarrely, I still really, really like to weed.  And I still become excited when I think about improving farm systems: how to build healthier soil, how to harvest more efficiently, how to push the growing season later into winter or earlier into spring.  One day may be boring, or painful, or just plain unpleasant, but this would be true no matter what I do.  Farming is a package deal, and I couldn’t fully appreciate its rewards if I didn’t have to sweat to earn them.

It’s the same with our marriage, of course.  We don’t take long walks at night as we did when we first met.  No single day since has trumped the sheer excitement and joy of our wedding day.  But the changes are sustainable ones, and natural.  We communicate better every day.  We work together more effectively and efficiently.  And we have more reasons to love one another, as learn more about ourselves and our farm.

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