Farmer Midnight

schedule-2Non-stop. That perfectly describes my last two weeks since we started our seedlings in the greenhouse. Bongi (my chore buddy) and I have been constantly watching, watering, and worrying over them like the needy infants they are. And because the entire farm is literally captive in a 30’ x  72’ tropical bubble, caring for those thousands of soon-to-be plants is priority number one around here. This means we’ve been left to squeeze everything else – animal chores and personal life – into the scraps of time in between pilgrimages to the greenhouse.

Take Thursday’s schedule, for instance:

6:45 – Sun comes up and alarm goes off.  Dress as appropriately as possible for a 30-degree day and an 80-degree greenhouse.

7:00 – 8:15 – Drive to Sentinel Elm (our sister farm) for first watering rotation in the greenhouse. Agonize over algal growth and dry-down.

8:15 – 8:30 – Drive back to Maggie’s Farm while hoping my classmates left me some breakfast. Eat what I find. Brush teeth while putting on shoes.

8:30 – 8:45 – Attend morning meeting. Discuss work for the day.

8:45 – 9:30 – Apple pruning lecture in preparation for the next day’s apple pruning practicum.

9:30 – 10:30 – Return to Sentinel Elm and plant oregano and thyme seeds in the greenhouse.

10:30 – 11:30 – Second watering in greenhouse.

11:30 – 11:55 – Inspect germination of newly seeded cilantro and spinach in the hoop house.

11:55 – 12:00 – Bask in cuteness of baby goats. Send video to Dina.

12:00 – 12:20 – Drive back to Maggie’s.  Scarf down lunch in 10 minutes.

12:20 – 1: 15 – Drive back to Sentinel Elm. Third watering in the greenhouse.

1:15 – 1:30  – Afternoon meeting.  Go over work.

1:30 – 2:30 – Design new feeding rotation for cows at the Wazlosky barn and fence off temporary pasture.

2:30 – 3:15 – Fourth watering at Sentinel Elm.

3:15 – 4:15 – Deliver hay to sheep barn at Maggie’s and prepare lambing jugs for baby lambs.

4:15 – 4:55 – Inspect burn piles in newly cleared pasture in preparation for the next day’s bonfire.

4:55 – 5:00 – Snow ball fight.

5:00 – 5:30 – Sweep and mop house floors.

5:30 – 6:15 – Return to Sentinel Elm and close down greenhouse for night.

6:15 – . . . – Sun goes down, eat dinner, shower, talk to Dina, get a Swisher update and remind her I love her and why we’re doing this, work on business plan.

10 PM – Farmer midnight.  Ideal bedtime, but never happens. Lights out a 11:20.

Repeat.

Once the lambs come in April, this schedule will seem lax. On top of everything else, we’ll be working in teams to check on laboring ewes every two hours, day and night, and do our best to assist if things get complicated.

This has been the first real brush I’ve had with a schedule dictated entirely by the whims and whimsies of plants and animals.  The physical demands of the work have yet to pick up, but the relentlessness of it all makes me panic a little.  From now until September, this farm pinball machine will bounce us around from cows to chickens to fields to market until it spits us out on our backs in November. Until then, no weekends.  No sick days.   At least, not on a real farm.  It gives me fresh perspective on why people who were born into farming might run as fast as possible toward a nine-to-five job in the city in the hopes of the occasional Saturday lie-in.

This last Saturday? It looked just like Thursday. So did Sunday.

schedule-4And before I go now to work on my much-neglected business plan, a couple reminders to you Boston residents.

Summer CSA shares are on sale, and as readers of Plough & Stars, you’re eligible for a 5% discount!  That works out to a weeks’ worth of produce for free.  Shoot us an email if you’re interested and we’ll get you set up.  More details about the share are here.

Also keep your eye out for our next installment of stories and photos from the farm in the Food section of Wednesday’s Boston Globe.

Busy times.  Hold on to your hats.

If you have a moment you can check out The Week in Photos before you go.

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