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Let’s Celebrate the Women Who Raised Us

Here’s to Carmen. Who let me brush her beautiful long, blonde hair and who never rolled her eyes when I would ask her to Pepper (volleyball game) with me in the backyard. Who is pee your pants funny, and reminds me the only way to succeed is to put myself out there and ask for more.

Here’s to Joyce. Who let me look through her jewelry box, sleep on the floor right next to her bed during weekend visits. Who taught me not to put up with bullshit, who cleans up our family messes and is the glue that holds my family together.

Here’s to Margie. Who held my hand after Lincoln was born and told me I can do this. Who is an active member of our daily village that makes this farm and family work. Who taught me that good food is made with time and a lot of love. And that homemade applesauce tastes better with a marshmallow thrown in.

Here’s to Diana. Who brought me into this world and would only sometimes need to remind me she could take me out of it. Who taught me how to be artistic and always gave me a safe, creative space to figure this life thing out. Who pushes me to move on when I’m fixated on things and to forgive when I can’t let go. Who picked me up when I fell, kissed my boo boos, walked me down the aisle, and tells me I’m a good mom.

These women have helped shape me into who I am today. They are integral parts of my family. They have guided and mentored me. Wiped tears and made me laugh until my sides hurt. I am me because of them.

Need a good way to celebrate the women in your life that are amazing? We have plenty of gift ideas.

Buy Flowers at a Pop-up Shop

Join us Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Retrofit Culture in Bloomington to create the perfect bouquet for Mom. Arrangements will be made on the spot, with your input, with fresh, locally grown flowers from our farm.

Flower CSA

Receive a hand-tied bouquet each week for 18 weeks this summer. Flowers will be available to pick up between 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Green Top Grocery parking lot next to the PrairiErth Vegetable CSA pick-up starting Tuesday, May 28th and ending Tuesday, September 24th.

Enjoy a Class Together

Bring your favorite bottle of wine and create a farm fresh flower centerpiece at Finding Eminence Farm. Even if you’ve never arranged flowers before, you will leave the class with the confidence to do it again on your own. In the class you will: receive a farm tour and have exclusive access to harvest your own flowers from the fields, learn how to create a stunning, abundant centerpiece through small group and one on one guidance, take home and enjoy your centerpiece that you arranged in a keepsake vase

Prairie Winds

This is my first spring being full-time on the farm and boy are things different. We have most evenings together, which has been such a nice treat. In the past, most spring planting was crammed into weeknights after supper or weekends. We’ve gotten more time back as a family and for that I’m extremely grateful.

We always try to develop a game plan for where the plants will go in the field. But what always happens is we’ll have two or three nice days where we can plant and so it’s a mad dash to get whatever plants are ready into the ground. We always forget how strong the winds are this time of year. I tried to put up low tunnels with Agribond fabric yesterday on the newly planted crops, to only to have it be a fool’s errand with the wind whipping it around like a bunch of Kleenex.

Our hoop house is just about to burst with blooms. We just need a few more sunny days. The violas in the hoop fill it full of heady fragrance. I never knew violas had a scent.

One of our cats, Sweet Pea, has started snuggling on my lap while I do computer work. When we got her, she was a little skiddish and we could only really pet her, she wouldn’t let us hold her. It was never part of the plan to let her in my heart or on my lap and yet here she sits purr-snoring with her first set of eye lids closed looking like a cat zombie. Gosh I love her so much.

We have a full-fledged farm helper this year. We’re able to trust him with certain chores. He hauled t-posts by himself the other day and can identify different types of flowers but refuses to eat the “sticks” (stems) of microgreens. He’ll go off to Kindergarten this fall. How did time go by so fast?

It’s So Close

We’re almost there, can you feel it? The way the sun hangs above the horizon a little longer each day? The way the thawing earth squishes beneath our feet? How the thermometer tempts us by stretching towards 40 degrees.

Spring is almost here. I can see it in the little snow birds nipping near the peonies, the pheasant who has taken residence near the creek, the way Sweet Pea stalks the vole trails, and the third opossum who has made it’s way into our chicken coop this month. Yuck.

We’re almost there. We’re slowing shaking off the slumber we have been in. The hibernation we need that winter brings. Chris has been upgrading our microgreen set-up. We’re swapping out metal shelves for custom wood shelves that house a large watering tray for the microgreen trays and it will speed up our daily watering process. And we are upgrading to LED grow lights to conserve more energy.

Seeds are being started, corms are being soaked, and anemones are poking up in the hoop house. I have been meeting with couples about flowers for their wedding day. This year marks the largest amount of weddings we have ever done. Is it finally paying off that we incessantly talk about our farm to the point where we probably need to shut up about it? Maybe.

The spring cleaning list is being made. Soon the farm will be humming and blooming and we’ll be working with crazy amounts of crotch sweat. But we’re in that sweet spot of the the relaxation of winter mixed in possibility of spring.

Do You Think We Can Make it to the Bridge Today?

“Do you think we can make it to the bridge today?”

I ask Lincoln as we trudge through the tall grass next to the creek as two kittens follow us like a pack of dogs.

“Um. Maybe. But it’ll take a long, long, long, time,” he responds.

During my maternity leave I turned the options over in my mind on what I could do. Being a stay-at-home mom was something I knew I wasn’t cut out for and I enjoyed my job and wanted to continue it. But I also couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the tiny swaddled burrito in my arms 5 days a week with someone else.

I was stupid lucky and my employer-at-the-time agreed to let me work four days a week. Linc would go to daycare during those days and then on Friday we would be together. “Mommy/Lincoln Days” as we called them. Sometimes these days went great, other days I’d constantly watch the clock counting down the minutes until Chris would come home and I’d get a break.

In May, when I went on the farm full-time, to make our finances work without me having a steady, full-time salary, we had to reduce Lincoln’s days at daycare to two days a week. It takes a really good village to raise children, but it also take a damn good village to run a business. My mother-in-law willingly stepped up and takes Lincoln a day a week as well, leaving Lincoln and me two days a week for “Mommy/Lincoln Days”. The days where Lincoln isn’t with me, I don’t mess around and can (mostly) cram a week’s worth of work into two days. (If you wonder if corporate America can do the same….yes, yes they can – but they will never admit it.) The past few months, my mother-in-law has had to work or attend to her life (how dare she!) and Lincoln and I have had many three “Mommy/Lincoln Days” in a week.

Being a stay-at-home mom who has a business to run three feet from her all day long and that business doesn’t care what day it is, IS THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE. This time is precious and sacred and fleeting. Lincoln will go to Kindergarten in August and these days we had together will be gone, forever. I keep telling myself this, but the day to day minutia being with a five year old in the middle of nowhere as your human interaction is difficult and I sometimes still find myself watching the clock waiting for Chris to come home.

NASA has been doing social experiments to see how humans interact with each other in confined spaces in order to determine if we can send people to Mars. The whole thing is recorded on a podcast called The Habitat and it’s fascinating. I can’t help but feel like Linc and I are a part of this experiment. Two people cooped up in the country, in the winter, with not enough funds to go and do fun things everyday, and the highlight of our week is the local public library. I think any day now someone will call, offering us our own podcast deal or reality TV time slot.

To help alleviate the stir crazies that are setting in with these short cold winter days, I force us to walk along the drainage ditch that sits in our backyard when the sun is out. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, we bundle up and head outside. Half a mile down this creek there sits a rickety ass wooden bridge the commodity farmers use to haul their cartoonishly large equipment from field to field. It’s nothing amazing, but there’s no railings and it’s about ten feet above the creek and it’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s a great place to chuck rocks into the small stream and watch the minnows. I’ve only ever been there by myself – when I’d walk in my post-partum rage I’d sit down, let my feet dangle and see our white farmhouse, a tiny square in the distance.

The bridge has become the ultimate goal each time during our walks. But it’s hard to go far when you’re five, your boots are heavy on your small feet, and we have to stop every 20 paces to let the cats catch up (why they follow us, I have no idea). We normally make it about half way in before someone (Lincoln) is too tired and is complaining about the wind is hitting their face or trying to save all the snow in their coat pockets. We turn around, cats in tow, with the promise of getting to that bridge someday.

Do we even need to get to that bridge someday? Maybe I don’t need the bridge. Maybe I need to be okay it’ll take a long, long, long, time to get there and even if I do get there, it’s not going to make the journey there any different. Maybe none of us need that bridge. Maybe we think once we get to the bridge we will be happier, thinner, more confident, a better person. “If I can just get to that damned bridge all of this will be better,” you tell yourself. I hear myself saying that a lot.

Or is it enough that we simply try to get to that bridge each time? Shouldn’t it be enough to get the opportunity to bundle up at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday and scrunch my shoulders to hold in the heat as I walk and feel a little arm wrap around my thigh? Shouldn’t it be enough to get to answer questions like “What are feathers made of?” “Where does the water come from for this creek?” “Can you see Sweet Pea still waiting for us?”  

Will I make it to the bridge today? I don’t know. That bridge isn’t going anywhere, at least I hope not, for a long, long, long time. But my time with this tiny human is flying by at warp speed and I need to remember we’re not part of a NASA experiment, we are part of this one life we get and we are lucky to be in it.  

A Lightning Round

Almost since we started the farm, Audra and I have listened to Chris Blanchard’s “Farmer to Farmer Podcast.” I don’t even remember how we learned about it, but from the first episode I heard, I was hooked. Each episode is essentially Chris interviewing a small-scale grower and learning about their farm and how it fits into their life. The podcasts are engaging, funny, insightful, and uniquely educational for small growers like us. Even a couple of our “farmer friends” were interviewed for the show. Audra and I would occasionally joke that if we ever got our act together, maybe we could be cool enough/successful enough/lucky enough to be interviewed as well. This fall, Chris Blanchard passed away after a long battle with an illness. Though I never met him in person, or even spoke to him in writing, he has left a profound impact on my life. I have listened to his voice in my ear for dozens of hours. As a result, I, like so many other listeners, feel as though I got to know him. This winter I have started to re-listen to some of my favorite Farmer to Farmer podcasts, and while I am still sad when I think about Chris’s untimely death, I continue to feel blessed that he was able to leave behind such a valuable gift to those of us trying to make a living by growing.

At the end of each podcast, Chris would do a “lightning round” where he would ask his guest a series of questions with relatively short answers. I’ve thought about what my answers would be for some of these questions many times, so I thought I would share my responses. I’ll also have Audra answer the same questions without seeing my own responses first.

What is your favorite tool on the farm?

Chris: The first that comes to mind is our BCS two-wheel tractor. It is our single biggest investment for the farm, to date, but it has made our soil preparation so much easier and more effective. We spent multiple seasons creating raised beds one shovelful at a time, and it was remarkably unsustainable. We have a harrow plow, flail mower, and bed shaper for our BCS, and there are literally dozens of other attachments that we could still purchase that would have big impacts on how we farm. So, to use a term that Chris Blanchard loathed, it’s been a real “game changer” on our farm, and I think we’ve only started to see its potential impact.

Audra: The computer. Without it we wouldn’t have our budgets or quickbooks. We wouldn’t actually know what our profit margin is or what our sales projections are for the month. We wouldn’t understand where we are wasting time or money with products or projects. I think it’s the most crucial tool we have. It allows us to edit the photos we take and tell our story through our blog and social media. It connects us with our vendors. We could be the best growers in the world, but if we didn’t have our computer, we couldn’t sell or market our products or understand our finances and we wouldn’t have a functioning farm.

What advice would you give your beginning farmer self?

Chris: I have two things. At times, I wish we had tried to grow more when we still lived in town. If I had known anything about the “urban farming” trend at the time, I think that we could have gotten some much needed experience that would have helped us transition to our farm in the country. Along those same lines, I really wish I had not tried to grow everything those first couple years. We would have been much better off growing a few things and figuring out how to grow them really well. We wasted a lot of time and money on trying to diversify too much in the beginning. I think that choice would have helped us mentally as well. I feel like we lost some confidence those first couple years because we wanted to grow so many different things, but then we ended up growing all of them pretty poorly. Now, I feel like we’re finally growing a few things really, really well, and that feels a whole lot more fulfilling.

Audra: Go easy on yourself. It will all be ok. And save your damn money. You broke a lot off to chew at once. You uprooted your family, started a farm while working full-time and were a mom all at the same time. No one could have done that perfectly and you did the best you could with what you had. And yes, you can create that budget now to have a better nest egg to live off of when the time comes to go to the farm full time. There’s fat in your spending habits, CUT. THE. FAT. NOW.

What is your favorite crop to grow?

Chris: Salanova lettuce. I had only grown a few heads of lettuce prior to starting the farm, and we initially didn’t even consider it as one of our farm crops. Now, we grow 6 of the 8 Salanova varieties, and I’ve figured out how to grow them pretty well for the entire growing season, which I don’t think we can say about anything else that we grow currently. It’s also the tastiest lettuce I’ve ever had, and I’m convinced it’s better than just about anything else you can buy.

Audra: Ranunculus. Their transformation gets me. They start out looking like shriveled up branches that require an elaborate soaking ceremony to morph into alien-like cephlapods that feel weird and slightly gross in your hands. They go into our hoop house in the winter and they are one of four crops going at that point, so I get to really pay attention to how they grow. Each day more green shows and after months of basically watching paint dry, a papery delicate bloom appears with the faintest fragrance.

What is one non-farm thing you’ve enjoyed doing in the past month?

Chris: Since I’m still working full-time off the farm, I have not done a very good job of doing stuff “for me” the past few years. The little time I do have to spare, I feel like I should be spending with my family. However, last month I did go deer hunting for the first time since our son was born, so I was thankful that I took some time to do that. I didn’t get a deer, but that just gives me more reason to get back out there again.

Audra: Going to the movies with our kid. It’s been hard to live and work in the same place, so it was nice to leave the farm and do something fun.

What is Audra’s farming super power?

Chris: Audra has this crazy ability to see something, and then seemingly instantly being able to replicate it, usually making it better in the process. It feels like she can just figure out how to do almost anything. It actually kind of pisses me off sometimes. I feel like I can easily get stuck in this analysis paralysis cycle, but Audra can just get an idea in her head, or look at one picture, and then she’s off to the races. I don’t feel like that’s a skill that I share. We’re lucky that she’s such a fast learner with so many things–it’s helped us to grow the farm much more quickly than we would have been able to otherwise.

Audra: His work ethic. There have been so many times when I physically and emotionally can’t push myself any more and I’ll look at Chris and he doesn’t have that panicked look on his face that I have. He’ll look at me and say something like “we can do it” and pick up a hoe and start at it again and I realize I can keep going. He’s got this knack for being able to work in stupid hot heat and get the damn job done and keep us as a team going too.

Redefining the Notion of Success

I’ve been thinking a lot about what “success” feels like for me and for the farm.  I think part of this fascination has been a direct result of my new obsession with constantly listening to farming-related podcasts as I work.  This is a double edged sword. Typically, to become a guest on one of these podcasts, you need to be a pretty “successful” farmer in some way. On some days these podcasts can be inspirational and provide me a cornucopia of ideas to try out on our little farm.  On other days, though, listening to all these people’s seemingly instant success just really pisses me off. What is it about other people being successful that, on our worst days at least, make us intensely, irrationally, immaturely jealous?

I mean, how in the hell can these people be so successful, so quickly?  What are they doing that I’m not doing? What am I doing that I shouldn’t be?  What’s closer to the truth is that we’re all slogging through the swamp of life.  Everyone’s boots get stuck in the mud, everyone’s torso is covered in the same mosquito bites, and everyone’s sweaty body smells disgusting at the end of the journey.  Some of us just do a better job of hiding all the unpleasantries of the struggle, and others of us probably focus too much of our attention on them. The context of my swamp might be different than yours, but it’s still pretty much a swamp.  The internet and our constant intake of everyone’s “content” only magnifies this problem of uncontextualized comparison. We all promote the story that we want to tell, and we try to leave out the icky parts that we’re embarrassed about.

So when I think about success for me and for the farm, I try to get past this tendency to base my own feelings of success on how others have attempted to define it for themselves.  Success could be related to the amount of money we make, or how many pounds of lettuce I sell in a given week, or how many weddings Audra can book in the summer months. When we first started this farm journey, I think my notions of success were similar.  As we continue, though, I wonder if success is how well we can maintain our work/life balance, how well we take care of our customers, how happy we are in doing this difficult, unpredictable work. And maybe success is a mixture of all these things, plus many more.  

When I first graduated college, I was pretty naive.  I thought I was going to get a teaching job and slowly but surely I would help to change the world by better preparing the next generation. No matter how much the bureaucrats try to quantify the “success” of teachers and schools, there are so many things that we do in education that can’t truly be measured.  The further I go into my teaching career, the more I’ve come to realize that the things that matter most are the ones that are hardest to put on a spreadsheet or a school report card.  This inability to truly measure success as a teacher is part of what makes it such a delightfully frustrating profession.

Farming is maybe not so different.  Sure, we can weigh and count everything we produce, we can pull numbers from Quickbooks to track our sales of each product and how much we sold to each customer, but are those things really what our business’s success should be grounded in?  What about the value we contribute to our community? Are people eating healthier because of our toils? Do we create joy for people who value keeping more money in our local communities? Are we also able to feed the souls of those who eat our food, who speak to us at the market, who come and spend an evening on the farm?  How can we even begin to measure those things? Should we even try?

I heard someone say the other day (most likely on a podcast!) that they knew that they couldn’t change the world, but they were certain that they could change their world.  I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot lately.  I wonder if more of us thought like this, how much better of a world would we have?  Changing the world seems daunting and unlikely, a recipe for giving up quickly. But my world?  Yeah, I can probably have some impact there–in my home, on my farm, within my little community.  I could maybe find success with that goal. But I still don’t know what “success” would actually look like, what it would feel like in my hands, what it would sound like as it flows through my ears.  

Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be.  Maybe success cannot and should not be a static thing, a destination.  Maybe success itself is a journey as well? Is it possible that the moment that we acknowledge that we’ve become successful that we suddenly become a little less likely to maintain that success?  Or is it that successful people just want to continue to become more and more successful, and can rarely settle for today’s success as the end game?

This is my concern.  Even if our farm becomes more like the successful ones I hear about on all these podcasts, will I even realize it when it comes?  Or will I be so lost in the pursuit that I can’t even enjoy the fruits of our labor? Once I get there, will it be as important to me as it is right now?  I’ve known people who have trained themselves to be afraid of success. They’ve provided themselves with the perfect subconscious excuse to give up easily or not even try.  But don’t confuse my mixed emotions for fear. We desperately want this farm to be successful. And we’re working hard every day to make that a possibility. Maybe by the time we get there, I’ll be able to identify it.  As we crest the hill, I’ll pause, and sigh, and say, “Oh yeah, there it is.” And then, quickly after, we’ll continue down the road to see if we recognize what’s over the next hill.

Photos by Sara Gardner Photography.

The Booger on the Sheet

It was a spring day when I was changing my son’s sheets on his bed when I noticed the weird shape hanging off the side of his fitted sheet and on his bed skirt. I knew what it was before I actually knew what it was. I had done the same thing as a kid. Too lazy to get up to get a tissue, I’d wipe my nose contents on the side of my bed, hoping no one would notice, especially my mom. When I came downstairs to ask my son about it, he got a confused look on his face and said, “How did you know I did that?” My response: “I’m a mom, I know these things.”

The booger on the sheet.

The little tiny secret that doesn’t really hurt anyone, but also doesn’t tell the full story. We’ve also had a giant booger on our sheet. A figurative booger–please know I stopped doing that when I was 8. I’ve had a thing looming in the background that I’ve not talked about all summer because it has brought me shame, grief, relief, anxiety, and the unknown. ALL the emotions.

In May, I lost my full-time job of ten years. We never really talk on the blog, social media, or even in person about how both of us work full-time while running this farm. And I have only told a few wedding couples that I still worked full-time outside of the farm. I didn’t want a couple to ever think I wasn’t fully invested in them or their day. Regardless of how busy I am or how crazy our lives get, I take this responsibility of being a part of someone’s wedding day very seriously. When we started this farm four years ago, we knew one of us would need to commit to it full-time at some point. And that was always an awkward subject because I never wanted my employer to think I wasn’t fully invested in my job either.

And so, because of all this, for the past four years I’ve been living split lives. “Day Audra” was hunched over a laptop as a graphic designer cranking out ads for a corporate retirement community system. And “Moonlight Audra” was growing, designing, and running a business with whatever time was left over. The last two years have been much more stressful and filled with angst than my silly Instagram stories might suggest. Our side hustle has defined so much of our lives. I got really good at burning the candle at both ends and we could see there was not much wax left.

How do you keep all the pieces of yourself together when you are a wife, mom, full-time graphic designer, and full-time farmer? How do you eat healthy, have breathing room, read a book, have somewhat of a clean house, have friends, or even grocery shop when every square inch of your life is taken up? The things I have screamed, said, and done during this time are permanently burned in my brain and make me sick when I think about them.

Chris often teases me by repeating one of my favorite lines:  “I can’t keep living like this!” Another famous line I’d use is “I need just one job!” because it got to the point where I couldn’t keep all the plates spinning.

In May, Chris and I were sitting on the couch before bed, drinking a beer and discussing our life choices.  I think I even said “I can’t keep living like this” once or thirteen times. Together we decided that this might need to be our final growing season with us both working full-time. We would need to take a leap, have a super scary period in our lives where things are even more uncertain, and have me go full-time on the farm. We admitted this with a lot of trepidation, but we could see the numbers and knew the farm just couldn’t go where it needed to with us half assing it. At least one of us needed to whole ass it.Then the next day, I went in to work and the universe shoved me hard off a cliff and told me to take a leap.

I lost my job.

I always wanted to have this be our story: We lived in town, loved to garden, threw caution to the wind, bought a farm, became so successful we were able to quit our jobs, and now we live off the land and life is good.

I became really angry and full of shame that my narrative was changed without my permission. And I felt like a failure because had I worked harder and been more creative, could I have kept my job longer and been able to quit on my terms?

No. The answer to that question is most certainly no.

It didn’t matter because the company I worked for needed to make cuts, and I was simply one of those cuts. But the reality is, we knew this is where we were headed. Before I lost my job, we started outlining next year and pulling together budgets and we could see this was the clear and defined path we needed to take, but we kept shaking our heads no. No we weren’t ready. We needed to be smart and take calculated steps to do this. We have a family to consider, bills to pay, a farm to maintain financially and physically. But are we really fully 100% prepared for anything?

When I got the news I lost my job, our lives were so busy, so it took Chris and me three days to sit down and have the “now what the hell do we do?” talk. I knew in my heart, that I couldn’t fathom trying to go find a job off the farm because I had seen what we could do with the limited time we had on it. I knew what we could do if I was on it full-time. So when we sat down, three days later, I sad, “Now what?” And Chris said, “You work on the farm, obviously.” It’s what we came here to do. The moment we saw our house for the first time, the moment we put that first seed in the ground, the first wedding we booked, the first wholesale account we scored, we knew. We knew this is what we came to do and now it was time to do the damn thing.

I’m so grateful for my job and the time I had there. My job allowed us to build up this business. It taught me how to do sales, marketing, graphic design, and event planning. It taught me how to work and bring people’s visions to life in creative ways, develop relationships, and build a website. I obtained so many of the tools I needed to create our own business from my corporate job. I needed to work for other people and be a part of a team before I could ever understand how to be my own boss and run my own business.

And so I have been doing this thing for five months now and it has been so much different than I thought it would be. It’s fun, hard, good, hard, scary, and hard. Entrepreneurship has really high highs and really low lows. When there’s no safety net of a full-time job to catch you, those lows get even lower and those highs are freaking euphoric. And that just takes me to 10:00 a.m. on most days. Besides parenting, I feel like I have never worked this hard on anything in my entire life. All in all, we’ve had a good year and I feel I have come into the stride of being a full-time business owner. We’re farming much smarter instead of harder. We finally got our floral studio finished this spring. And just last week we paid off our line of credit so that our farm is currently completely debt-free. We’re learning that if we continue to want what we have, then we should always have what we need.

This leap we have taken is super scary, but it also feels amazing to do what I love. Instead of feeling like I’m living two different lives, I’m now fully living the one life I’ve been given. And I can’t really say that’s something I was doing before we started this farm or before we had our son. I’m taking risks, learning from both mistakes and successes, being challenged, and chasing a dream. And now you know the rest of the story.  It’s not nearly as glamorous as I’d like, but life rarely is.

Our final wedding of the season was out the door earlier today. We had our first frost last week, which annihilated most of our field flowers. Soon we will begin planning for next spring and plotting the next evolutions of our farm and business. The trees are starting to let go of their leaves, and we too must decide what to let go of, and what to desperately cling to with all our might.

And amidst all that, here I am, with clean sheets, free of boogers.