Mid-season Burnout and Other Things to Be Grateful For
This year - with our new farm setup, expansion, and the need to adapt to rapidly changing times - has felt like a constant game of catch-up. As partners (in so many aspects), Adam and I often go through cycles of stress, anxiety and elation - always hoping that we can balance each other out when one is up while the other down. We find ourselves reminding each other, when tasks seem to be piling up and things get overwhelming, that hey, we're actually doing this, and we're doing a damn good job.
There have been several times this year when I've started to feel burnt out. Farming is not something that you can take a break from at certain times of year, and working 14 hrs a day is pretty normal right now. My days off are the ones where I only work for 6 hrs catching up on all of my office work and maybe spend some time doing "non-essential" tasks like harvesting chamomile and filling the dehydrator with market leftovers (or fold the laundry). This is not a "woe is me, I work too hard"! I am a hard-wired workaholic and I love what I do and the life that comes with it. I get to take January/February/March off to sit around in my pyjamas reading books and drinking tea. (Okay, and do our taxes.)
Right now, mid-July is definitely burning me out a little. But sometimes burnout is a reminder and opportunity to step back, decide what's important, and be grateful for what you have. Here's what I'm grateful for right now:
1. Our customers. CSA members who signed up before the season started - some not knowing what they were going to get, and some retuning to us for the second or third year. Shoppers at the Ottawa Street Farmers Market, who have come with patience and willingness to adapt to the new normal. We didn't know what to expect from markets this year, and the attendance has blown us away. Friends and customers who have found us online, who ordered seedlings and order veggies, patient with our learning curve as we navigate the website sales and challenges that come with it. Also, our wholesale customers, who have been adapting their own businesses, while keeping their enthusiasm for working with local farmers.
2. Our staff and volunteers. We are so lucky to have these people working with us. Ann Gorman-McKinney, who knows the market and our customers, and is always smiling under her cloth mask. Mikaela Demers who reached out to volunteer and now has been working with us through the heat and the rain to get things done in the field. Tisha and other friends volunteering their time with so much energy to make market smoother and easier. Eli and Chaz, camping out and putting in some hard work and sweat to whip the field into shape. Kerstin/Mom/Farmor, spending time with the boys, helping with orders and deliveries and taking care of all of us. We wouldn't be able to do what we are doing without these people and our huge network of friends and supporters.
3. This land, and the chance that brought us to it. So many circumstances came together to make this happen, and we are lucky to have found such a perfect place to move our farm. The land has really provided - so many crops so far this year have exceeded our expectations of what we would get out of a hayfield. And throughout coronavirus-times, we have been able to be outside (and our kids spend time outside). I think a lot about people who have been stuck in quarantine, or simply stuck inside while trying to keep physically distant from others - and I know that we are very lucky to have this.
July 2019, October 2019, May 2020, July 2020
4. Family. I know we have a resilient and adaptable relationship, and resilient and adaptable 4 and 7 year olds. These kids have been great at becoming more independent and dealing with everything going on around them. Enough said.
Okay, I'm done with the sappy monologue! Back to farming!
Thanks for reading, everyone.