This has been a week of dust, frost and family dynamics.
Dust poofs out from each foot fall, and billows out around the tractors on the fields.
Growers of food and flowers will know that most areas have experienced the first frost of the season: we outside workers begin the day in warm jackets, are in shorts by noon and back in the down by dinner.
In the family dynamics department, the onset of the carrot harvest sparked a brief, furious struggle between two factions on the farm: the bung ‘em in/get ‘em out crowd versus the plant carefully/harvest perfectly person (me). The former insisting on using the big potato harvester and the latter stopping just short of throwing herself under the wheels in an effort to stop the carrot-breaking massacre caused by the myriad of belts, turntables and foliage extractors which are features on the potato harvester.
Long story shortened to around 550 words, we are not using the potato harvester for the carrots. However, in your private ear I will tell you I am curious now to see if we can make it work: harvesting time would drop dramatically. I think the rushy-rush people might have had a good point and a more focussed, non-emotional evaluation of possibilities is in order. Please do not tell them I said this.
The good thing that came out of the big family farm fight of 2012 was that we got to have a family farm meeting. Those of you who have been reading for some time will recall that I am a very frustrated fan of meetings. You may know that our family farm meetings tend to disintegrate as each person gives into the part of their nature that gets them out of having conversations they would rather not have.
I am endlessly envious of those farm families that conduct regular meetings. One farm I know of is probably on to strategic planning for 2015, so effective are their meetings. Another has managed (through the judicious use of farm meetings I am sure) to absorb not only two children but also a son in-law and grandchildren in to the home and business.
The wonderful thing about our meeting was that we all sat in our places until it was over. True enough, we did each succumb to our respective default avoidance modes: Jennie talked about someone else’s feelings, mom reflected on how lucky we all are, dad presented an entirely fresh and convoluted look at farm budgets, and I fought back tears brought on by biting my tongue and being unable to clearly articulate any of my feelings at all.
Overall, it was a fairly messy affair that no counsellor could recommend, but the main thing is that we had a meeting. No strategic plan has been framed, and I couldn’t tell you what was resolved at all, but we came out of it agreeing to meet again with a firm date and time and that’s the main thing.
I don’t wish to belabour the point, but I think the lesson learned is that it is really important to keep talking (especially in a family farm meeting setting — in case any family members are reading this) and to not try too hard to change people’s minds about things. I am shocked to find that we are all pretty much on the same page.
Anna Helmer seeks clarity in the most unlikely places and can’t find it there either.