I think I like farming because I love catastrophes. I’m not speaking for all farmers, and I don’t even consider myself a farmer yet, but the farmers that I’ve met remind me a lot of EMTs. There’s a lot of dark humor there. A lot of gossiping about horrific accidents. A fair measure of superstitious protections. And if you’re lucky, there’s also a healthy dollop of tranquil acceptance.
In our first month of farm independence, my co-conspirator Caitlin has been teaching me about Radical Acceptance, which according to Psychology Today means, “completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting you suffer less.” It also says “Radical acceptance is easier to understand than it is to practice.”
Here are my attempts at practicing radical acceptance.
In my first month of growing food, I built a hoophouse that was supposed to help me sell food a month early; it turned into a mysterious deathbox…everything that I planted in it turned yellow and grew a hunchback. I put some more topsoil in, prayed to the all-seeing all-knowing farm books, and put the tomatoes in it. They’re my most valuable crop, and I know they might die, and I probably don’t know enough to save them. But they might not! Radical Acceptance.
Root maggots got the first batch of radishes. Usually you can beat them if you cover your crops with Row Cover. But since 90% of my most frustrating farmhand moments have been wrestling row cover, I hoped root maggots hadn’t moved to Oldtown yet and left the radishes uncovered. Now I know better; row cover is an incredible waste of time and energy…but it’s the only thing that can defeat the maggots. Radical Acceptance.
This winter I was riding a wave of big dream realization, and planned after Curtis Stone’s audaciously optimistic farm profit models. Now I have $600 worth of produce, most of which is beautiful, all ready to sell! But as a first year farmer, I’m that weird new kid on the block who nobody wants to be friends with yet. It takes time to build a customer base, so I’m dumping most of those tasty little plants into the compost pile. Everybody says start small and build up! Now I believe them. Radical Acceptance.
This feels a lot like skiing….I planned the perfect route, launched myself over the edge, and am now tomahawking down the hill. But I can’t say I’m not having a good time? It’s gonna be a great story someday. And I know for a fact that this is just the beginning. The seasoned farmers I’ve worked for are kind of like pro skiers…they get good at one cliff, then find a harder one to jump off. I respect that bravery.
The radishes are covered, the tomatoes are surviving so far, and I had two big restaurant orders come in last weekend. Now I might not have enough greens for the next order? Radical Acceptance.