The last newsletter of 2020. What a doozy. We are closing out the year by slowing it down, nestling into the warmth of the woodstove and the comfort of hot meals. This is soup and roast weather, hearty and thick like the warm layers we wear when we go outside. It is time for reflecting and seeking lessons from the year gone by.
So many changes in our lives, so much to process. We rose through many challenges this year, and it feels good to look back at our work. The year began with us learning to care for Mama through her passing at home. The effort stretched our capacity in ways that were often uncomfortable but that carried the sense of duty and honor that bred sweetness in retrospect.
An unfolding pandemic brought changes to the farm, from updating and reworking our wash/pack procedures to an expansion in production to meet an explosion of demand from our community members. There is deep joy and actuation in stepping into a calling in mutual support of the people with whom we travel through life. To farm is to exist in relationship with community and land, and we feel deep reverence for this shared journey.
Mutual relationships are created through interaction over time, a building process that defines the experience of life. Each day we add to the project of living, with opportunity for choice about how we respond moment to moment. When we bring love to our encounters it is replicated in a ripple effect, both in good times and even more so in difficult ones.
Humans are prone to throwing ourselves too much into our passions, losing balance and ultimately health. It felt good this year to step deeper into a calling but it was hard to maintain equilibrium. The additional workload was too much to bear at times and we sacrificed quality of life to throw ourselves into the effort. This past season is not one we can repeat.
Sometimes the most difficult parts of our lives are the most fertile ground for lessons and teachings. This year stripped us down to bare mineral soil, to a point of emotional and physical exhaustion that is unable to sprout new growth. Now we do the work of rebuilding the topsoil, for we find strength in the bedrock beneath.
Prepping and planning for next year, resting and reading and enjoying time with family. Like making compost, life is a process of layers. Too much of one input makes for a poor compost pile and an unbalanced existence. A good compost pile has lots of ingredients and variation, and the process of decomposition creates opportunity for renewal and change. Good compost is like wisdom, it takes time, heat, death and life to achieve.
There is a joy in spontaneity that we often sacrifice to the rigidity of schedules and the demands made upon us. Farming, like family, is the necessary repetition of routine, of stability and constancy. We are each called to our efforts out of love, respect and the honor of duty. Balance is success in all things, but it can be so difficult to achieve.
In the season to come, we hope to find that through the rigidity of clear and accurate planning we can create enough space in life for enjoyable spontaneity. It is important to have enough space in the routine of our lives to take off to the river on a hot afternoon or to catch a nap. A farm doesn’t take weekends off, so we have to learn to structure offsetting schedules so that everyone gets enough breaks to keep the workload sustainable.
Crops and livestock exist in relationship to the farmers, a deep responsibility, the Farmer’s Contract. It is no small thing to undertake care for the miracle of life and growth. The germination of seeds and the joy of creatures is an energetic process that feeds the soul. That feeling imbues and defines, becoming inseparable from identity. The relationships that we each undertake in life become our Human Contract, existing in mutuality with others. May we each find nourishment in, and for, these relationships. As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!
-HappyDay Newsletter, December 27th, 2020
Casey O'Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun+Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. Casey is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. Casey also serves on the board of Sun+Earth Certified. You can find his radio show podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. You can also find out more about HappyDay Farms here: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com, on Instagram @happydayfarms and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casey.oneill.395/ or https://www.facebook.com/happydayfarmscsa/