Thursday, December 1, 2011

Next Year

I say it pretty much every month, season, year - I'm almost there. The crazy is about to let up and carefree, easy-livin' will reign in the land o' Jackson once again!

So either I'm a hopelessly optimistic simp, or have a heavy case of willful amnesia.

Another farmer chick and bloggy-buddy of mine were just talking about this idea - the mythical "next year" that is the perpetual, elusive finish line and jackpot payoff for this year's (and every one before) efforts, losses, lessons learned. Next year, the soil will finally be *spot on* and my veggies will be EPIC! Next year, we'll have all of our fencing fixed and up and caring for the goats will be practically effortless! Next year, I'll start knitting for my bazaars in the Spring and avoid the crunch!

Ah, "next year", you tease, you! The faster we run, the more we push, the further away you get.

When the frenzy of Spring - planting, planning, births, cleaning - finally gives way to Summer, it's foraging, fishing, fretting over babies, milking, canning that consume our days. Then Fall comes, promising some relief, and delivering some, in addition to harvesting, breeding goats, putting food up, crafting, weatherproofing and putting the farm to bed for the Winter.

Winter is maybe the biggest trickster of all. The season when a farmer/homesteader is supposed to take their ease from a year of laboring and scrambling to keep things running, is instead just as busy. Keeping housing (people and animal alike) warm and dry in a Western Washington winter is job in and of itself. Sump pumps, five-gallon buckets, muck boots and rigging up ratty old tarps are all in a day's work.

Winter is also the traditional time of year to butcher stock. We will be harvesting a rooster or two and goat this Winter, and next year will likely have a pig or two to do as well. The amount of prep and labor that goes into harvesting and butchering might surprise you. It surprised me the first time! Segregating the animal (sometimes the night before), sharpening your tools, boiling water, gathering all of the odds and ends that you'll need for catching and holding "stuff" as you move through the process. And that is just the basic setup.

Then there's the cutting, wrapping, putting up of your harvest after the fact. It makes for one (or several) very long days.

Winter tends to be the time of year that we try to tie up the loose ends on all of our other hobbies and projects - racking wine, bottling vinegar, non-stop knitting, waxing cheese, smoking fish, tying flies, mending and endless planning, plotting and dreaming about next year.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend in Oregon that has the most zen outlook on this I've ever seen (actually she's a Quaker). I crave that ability - to be in the season and of it and not be contantly looking to the next "thing". Maybe it's about who we are as people - but I think mostly it's about who we are as a species that we can't quite capture it...always in hot pursuit.