Planning the Farm

“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

This time last year I was in midst of facilitating a move across the country.  Obsessively, I checked new real estate listings, made sure our favourites were still available while keeping a close eye on the market at home, looking for any clues about how the sale of our house would unfold.

Those winter months were a whirlwind…  We had so much to do– So much to plan, that it was easy to forget about the piece of cheese at the end of the maze, one interspersed with appointments, packing, purging, and never-ending lists.

As gruelling as it was, I have a serious passion for planning.  I have a keen appetite for taking big ideas and preparing them into bite-sized pieces.  I’ve never been one to keep an agenda, but I live for lists!  If you want to know what needs to be done, I’m your girl.

As a result of all this preparation I was missing out on my all time favourite annual planning spree.  It’s usually signalled by the arrival of the first seed catalogue, and flipping through its pages is better than any fairytale.  I take great joy in planning my garden, and it’s a pure delight caring for my precious, little plant babies.

It’s a task I love so much I almost went ahead and did it anyway so that people who were moving into our house could inherit our garden for the rest of the summer, but when I found out that they weren’t arriving for another few weeks after we left, I couldn’t just leave my plants to fend for themselves in the heat of July.

However, the heartache I felt in the absence of planning and caring for my own garden reassured my spirit that I was on the right path, and soon I’d have a farm to plan. There was so much to consider, and I struggled trying to prepare a plan for a place that we were still so far away from.

We arrived at our homestead on the last day of June.  It was raining like crazy, and the fog was thick.  After the real estate agent left we rushed outside to take a better look at our acreage.  Kenny said in his most serious voice, “Sarah Macalpine, Land Owner…”  I squealed with delight!

It was an astounding feeling to finally be here.  We did it.  We worked so hard to get here, and we definitely had arrived.  Those first few moments were wondrous, filled with pride and elation, but as the fog fell and swelled around us so did my perception of the infinite road ahead of us.

In the fog, day one.
On the third day the fog lifted, and we woke up to this

So much planning had to be done. I wrote lists to make more lists.  I planned in my sleep and I dreamt about the vast potential of abundance just below the ground’s surface.  I fell in love with ideas, and some nights I would walk hand-in-hand with them into the sunset.

One idea that swept me off my feet was our farm stand.  It was engaged to be an inviting structure, somewhere we would sell our bouquets, amongst other things, host workshops, and share the beauty of the farm with our community, tourists, and hopefully people with dogs…

I planned our days, and envisioned a schedule where we would harvest and nurture the flowers in the field at dawn.  Around lunch time I’d open the farm stand and start making flower crowns for cute little girls with their puppies shortly thereafter.

I would find myself in the section of our yard where we decided we would build it, dreaming.  When I took the garbage out I would stare longingly at the empty space as I walked by.  When we approached our house while coming home I imagined what it would look like from the road, and what kind of impression it would give.  I pretty much stood in that spot and got married to it.  I loved everything about it, and all the possibilities it could give us.

Except, all of a sudden I didn’t.  In the midst of  winter planning, and spring preparation; the lists, charts, and planting agendas, I decided to drop everything and paint a huge chalkboard on the wall.  The ideas needed to be somewhere I could really see them, and the page wasn’t cutting it anymore.  With so much to orchestrate, my overture to the big picture had to be a chalkboard.

I realized two things, the first, I’m way more type A than I though I was, and two, I don’t want to build a farm stand.  Gasp.

We’re we really breaking up? Not forever, just for now… It’s not the farm stand, it’s me.

Sometimes when my gut is talking I think it’s my fear, and sometimes when my fear is talking I think it’s my gut instincts.  Both have my best interests in mind, however one is a little more genuine than the other.  It took me a couple of days to sort out who was doing the talking.  Were the permits, and paperwork taking the joy out of my beloved venture and just giving me cold feet?  Was I scared of the commitment?  Or did I finally just realize how many hours there are in a day, and how I should be spending them this first season?

Bingo.  My heart, and my gut were telling me that this year I need to be in the field.  Before I can manage the kind of farm stand that I want, I need to master my product.  As fate would have it, Kenny was feeling the exact same way; It was just too much.

We ultimately came to that decision together in front of our chalkboard.  An incredibly relieving resolution!  We were so happy to be able to get back working on the foundation of our farm, and we both agreed that we still do want to build a farm stand, just not this year.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

With a big portion of the slate wiped clean I was able to fully immerse myself into the seed catalouge and our farm plan.  My attention has been unconditionally devoted to my first true love, planning my garden, starting seeds, growing flowers, and our own food.

I’m a lot less concerned with that empty space in the front.  The farm stand will get there one day, but for now I’m going to shine the spotlight on the garden.



10 Comments on “Planning the Farm

  1. I’m glad you figured out that you need to learn the place by being there and seeing what works, before/instead of getting cute farmstand bags and promo material printed! We moved to a nice place last summer near Woodstock NY and I had all the fantasies about keeping it wild plus growing organic wild flowers etc.–not to sell, but to keep things energetically healthy and natural. After I planted the pounds of organic seeds I had been saving for the last couple of years, I found out the birds and chipmunks and squirrels and deer ate everything, so there were no cute flowers that hadn’t been here before, and the organic clover that I planted to add nitrogen to the poor soil mostly got eaten as seeds. As a result my plans changed completely, so I am waiting to see what comes up this year on its own, and what bushes the deer eat, and what survived last year and is likely to survive again. I love the animals and am okay with them eating things, but I also will focus on the plants including old-fashioned vines that they ignored which the bees still liked, etc. Best wishes with your farm and enjoying it and learning it.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m really sorry to hear about your seeds, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. Good for you for not feeling stuck in the mud about it, and moving on! All the best to you in your success this season!

  2. Hard to stop & change midstream. Good for you for you two for not getting caught up in what you originally planned but instead finding what’s going to work.

  3. I’m not big on plants, I unfortunately didn’t inherit my mom’s green thumb. But oh damn, all THAT planning has made me excited. I love planning too. If I can plan out everything, it would be an honor to do it. I’m glad that even if your plans changed, you just went with it. I’m very hesitant whenever my life plans get derailed!

  4. I’m so glad you two are laying your plans out ahead of time and taking the time fully make you dreams come true. Beautiful writing.

  5. Planning vs dreaming…and then dreaming of the plan! From your photos it looks like your plan to stick to the fields worked, congrats! Question, do you have favourite seed catalogues you buy from?

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