The Juggling Act

Sometimes farming takes on aspects of a circus act more than anything.

In early spring, you throw one ball up in the air and order some chicks. Then another ball follows when you order a few piglets or goslings or both.

With only two or three balls in the air, it seems quite reasonable to throw in another one in by tilling and planting the garden.

For a little while, that’s all there is, while you wait for the garden to produce and the animals to grow.

The days are warm and there seems to be enough rain, coming just when the garden seems to need it most.

You almost start to relax. Of course there is always weeding and hilling potatoes in the garden, and the constant feeding and caring for the animals.

But now the garden is producing … more and more each week. First it’s just a few greens, spinach and lettuce, then some root vegetables, radishes followed by carrots.

But life gets really busy when the peas are ready to pick. Often they need to be picked twice a week to keep them producing. It is a time-consuming job and can be hard on the back as well.

Each new vegetable that needs to be harvested adds to the juggle of the work on the farm, especially because we bring a lot of what we grow to the Fireweed Community Market on Thursdays, which also gives us a deadline.

Harvesting is yet another ball thrown into the mix. Depending on how well you juggle, you may be able to take this all in stride.

But now it’s time to start butchering the meat birds and that will take three days out of a week to deal with (one to set up, one to butcher and one to clean up) … along with all the other usual things that are going on during the summer.

Thankfully, people are willing to come and help on the day of butchering. As they say, “Many hands make light work” and this is really true. That day becomes almost a social.

Of course, adding to all of this juggling could be any extra work that can only be done in the summer, such as developing new garden plots, adding onto the barn or putting up new fencing.

Being able to prioritize is very helpful.

We don’t need to harvest anything on Fridays, the day after the market, and butchering usually takes place on Saturdays.

Monday tends to be the day of the week that the phone rings off the hook. But every other day we pick a job that works with the weather and keep plodding along.

The only thing that truly throws everything up in air is when a raven or fox is spotted near the barn or when someone says, “Your pigs are out”.

Then we drop everything to deal with it.

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