The books are closed on Edgewater Farm’s 2013 season (our tax year being somewhat different than most people’s, we have to file our taxes by March 1st). By all accounts it was a much better year for us than we thought it would be back in July when we had our onion crop and a fair amount of our strawberry crop ruined by rainy weather and flooding. That was a grim period for all NH and VT farmers and their employees . You couldn’t cultivate the weeds to have them dry out and die, and your work boots were soggy 24-7. My old hockey-skate-induced athletes’-foot returned with a vengeance, and we all got depressed from sunlight deprivation. Then August came, and summer showed its cheerier side; fall was absolutely delightful. Sales were strong, and we able to get some stuff to actually grow. So now, as we surround ourselves with catalogs and go to meetings, we can erase the memory of the bleaker times and have happy dreams of the future. Unfortunately, the future begins now as we have to make plant divisions and start seeding ornamentals this week, as well as start root stocks for the greenhouse tomatoes we graft. But it is nice to have these little seasonal benchmarks to adhere to. Keeps you in touch with the flow of the seasons, and fosters the hope of renewal.
It has been very cold thus far this winter, starting back in November. All of us old geezers are making the same comment: that this winter is more like the winters of our childhood. Cold temps and snow appeared well before Christmas, and such has not been the case the last many years. I know better than to make general statements about what may lie before us weather-wise, for it could turn out to be warm and rainy yet. After all, this is still New England even if climate change is out and about. But the single most striking thing one notices as you get older (and if you work outdoors) is the lengthening of the days. It has been brutally cold this past week (a couple of nights of -15 F ) and yet farmers notice that it seems to be much lighter outside at 4:45 PM than it was at Christmas. The change is subtle, but it captures your attention. And it brings you some cheer. I guess that the one understated benefit of farming is that you get to enjoy nature’s subtle changes. The slowing growth of lettuce in the fall, the accelerated growth of summer squash in the June heat, the muggy oppressive tension before a thunderstorm in July, the cooler drier change of the air of late August and early September, the lengthening tree shadows of November. There are more lucrative ways to make a living, but not many that let you directly feel the vagaries of the natural forces about us.
So the temperatures have abated and it’s a sunny Sunday morning, and the snow is nice and dry….good for skiing and snow shoeing. I have been at the desk too long, and with warming temps and rain in the forecast, I have decided all the greenhouse work that I should have done yesterday will await me tomorrow morning when it’s icy and miserable. And I will be happier to tackle it then….