Once of my favorite parts of farming is the required presence of mind. Things that in modern society passed unnoticed or are determined unimportant have serious implications in my world. Of course, we've often discussed the weather- not just the drama of a storm- but the literal amount of inches of rainfall, the specific way in which the sun falls- matter.
The way in which a chicken clucks can tell you if they are frightened, or just merrily looking for treats. When the rooster crows, even if my eyes are still glued shut, I know that the sun is rising and that it's probably not raining. Todd crows later if it's cloudy. The slightest glimmer of yellow or brown on a leaf can indicate disease, bugs, or soil failures.
This presence of mind takes adjusting too, it can be overwhelming to require oneself to watch for, and listen to, just about everything. It carries over to just about every aspect of daily life.
Tonight, I didn't manage to get dinner until just a few minutes ago. I worked until about 6 on the farm, and then still needed to run some errands, including getting some materials we need (produce bags) for our first CSA delivery. By the time I got back, the hens were already roosting and the sheep were waiting to be gated in the barn. I spent a few minutes washing eggs for tomorrow's order while my dinner cooked. Kim is working late, and I was ravenous at this point, so I decided on fried eggs, a slice of bread with jam, and cheese. Nothing special, right? I disagree.
The eggs that I cracked were light brown, and from this I know they came from one of two buff colored hens. Only two girls we have lay that color, I've pulled the eggs still warm from underneath both. One egg had slight indents on it, which is why I didn't box it for the CSA. Those dents indicated to me that the hen had trouble passing the egg, so it's time to up their rations of fruits and veggies, easier now that the field is producing. The bread was made by my wife, warmed the house just yesterday, and was so delicious that this little half slice is all that was left. Though the flour wasn't some I milled-- I know the process of milling grain and I can smell the stones grinding.
And oh, that blackberry jam? That jam was squirreled away last summer, the berries were seconds too soft to sell at McEnroe Organics. I picked them during my time there, setting perfect pints on shelves in their farm stand while filling boxes of crushed, ugly, wet, and mouth watering bits in my truck. The cheese was store bought, but I still know that somewhere, a cow was milked and her fruits were cultured to the slices on my plate. I hope she is treated kindly, and scratched just at her tail base where cows like.
I don't waste food anymore. We cook only what we will eat, either immediately or before it spoils. Knowing the sweat, the time, the investment that food requires has required me to pay attention to each bite. This is why I farm, and it's also why we wanted to start the CSA. I want to share this presence, the details with others. I want others to feel the genuine appreciation you feel in a simple fried egg dinner.
Farming changes the overlooked moments of our world into an extraordinary story. Tomorrow, we start to share that story in our first delivery. I can't wait.