Ahhh, deep in the throes of the farming season. I am writing this in June and as usual, it feels like this is the busiest time of year. However, I am realizing that I feel this way pretty much all the time these days. In normal farmer style, I overcommit myself and when I do try to give myself a moment to spare, something seems to pop up and snatch those moments away.
What this has led to this year is actually making me crazy. I have become a serious offender of the very principles that have kept me steady all these years: I’ve become a chaser this season. What is a chaser? A chaser is a state of mind and habit that happens on my farm, maybe yours too. It’s when instead of riding the wave, I’m chasing it—and it feels as though I will never catch it.
When I am chasing I spend too much time doing chores that really shouldn’t have to be done at all. These chasing chores are a result of me not doing another chore on time, or at all. This year I am chasing because of weather and my schedule. In place of focusing my energy on preventing problems and other good things (riding the wave), I am running around like a fire extinguisher putting out the fires that are growing like crazy (chasing the wave.)
A great example of this is what I spent today doing— managing the pathways of one the gardens. Normally our beds and pathways are finished before even one plant is planted. This means that the beds are covered in biodegradable film and the pathways are either mulched with leaf litter, covered with landscape cloth, or tilled flat for easier weekly mowing before we begin planting. We plan to have this process completed a week or two before planting begins. This lends itself to a practically maintenance-free growing season as well as other benefits. This did not happen with our first tender annual planting this year.
The chasing chore I did today was to regain weed-free pathways so that the leaf litter can be put down this evening—the leaf litter that should have been put down weeks ago. This hard work would have never been needed if the leaf litter had gone down on time. It’s one of those “I’d kick myself if I could” moments.
My way of attempting to regain control and stop chasing? First and foremost is to do triage and eliminate some things to create more time and fewer chores. Sometimes this may mean dumping a section of plants that are on their way to getting overgrown anyway—ditch them and get ahead. Feed them to the compost pile. I have done this more than once. Call in help. I have a landscape guy that needed some side work who is now coming in the evening and spreading mulch and pounding stakes. I am heading to being back on top of things.
The moral of the story is when the wave starts crashing, you’ve already missed the ride. Cut your losses, ditch something, and get ahead of the next wave, because riding it is more profitable, rewarding, and just smarter.