Friday, July 26, 2013

The Lull of July

The lull of July: We enter into it with some denial that it’s really summer. “The end of June already?” we exclaim. The cicadas begin to sing and vie for courting honors. The summer thunderstorms sweep in with the strong breezes turning the leaves of the Catawba and Pecan trees upward. It is this period of time, when the thermometer registers 85* Fahrenheit at just 9:30 am, that farming seems so much less attractive than it did in early spring when the muck boots and hooded sweatshirts were in need.

Chores must be done– the weeds need to be pulled, goat & cow milked, chickens fed, eggs collected, as well as laundry hung out on the line regardless of the temperature. At least the heat assists with the radical civilly-disobedient laundry-drying apparatus in the back yard: the clothes dry at an alarming rate – much faster than I can fold it. Especially when all three lines are loaded down and I’m hoping I’ll have time to get it all taken in before the next thunderstorm rolls in. I’m not at all opposed to the second rinse cycle though, and it happens often. It has been especially common this season – we just ended a 21-day streak of daily rainfall. “Rain much?” is the most common phrase my husband and I ask one another as we don our muck boots, a seeming anomaly in the heat of July, to do our chores.

I spent the last week during the hottest hours of the day in the air-conditioning – sorting, folding and putting away the clothes that had piled up on the couch(es) for weeks on end. Really.

Occasionally, during the heat of the summer, I carve out blocks of time for reading. Having just finished Forrest Pritchard’s Gaining Ground I am seeking for more food for thought. This time it is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My favorite thing about Kingsolver's writing is that she skips around a bit – much like the way my brain works – and I find myself very much at home in her books. This book, although new to me, is dog-eared in about 9 different places already – that’s how much I skip around.


Rightfully, dubbed the “fair-weather-farmer” by Captain Strong Arms, I've accepted the idea that I don’t like to farm when it’s too cold or too hot. Actually, I’ll take the cold over the heat, but I do not care for more than 6 inches of snow. I’m stubborn: just as stubborn as the July heat and the August humidity. I’ll wake early; greeting the morning dew on the grass with my flip-flops and listen to the birds call and sing while I quench the thirst of the plants in the greenhouse and garden. Then when it gets to be too much, I will slink back into the respite of the air conditioning by 11:30 on those days admitting defeat. With raised beds, the watering schedule will increase to twice daily on those days, also.

Got Weeds?
Call it defeat, or call it the way of nature, taking the spent lettuce plants out of the raised beds might feel like giving in, but I prefer to consider it moving through. In my beginning days of growing food I had a hard time with any seedling that was tossed aside – I wanted to save them all – and the same for the beds of lettuce. Since it is only just a few days from the end of July, I’ll count my blessings that the lettuce lasted as long as it did without bolting to seed.

It’s time to plan for the fall crops. Actually, I feel a bit tardy as I’m about 3 weeks behind schedule for starting seeds. That’s okay, I’m late nearly everywhere I go, so why not late to the greenhouse too? The list of crops I want to grow for the latter half of this year is lengthy; kale, collards, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, broccoli & rabe, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, onions and on. Some will go into the raised beds and most will be tried in the greenhouse.

This summer’s weather has been unpredictable. Life can be that way also. What we need to do is learn to adapt and overcome. Those two words may not bring success; however, they will bring lessons for the next season.

Aspire to inspire, not just make a living.....
That is what I’m keeping my eyes on at this point; the next season. It’s too late to un-do what has been done here in regards to crop failures. It’s time to accept the lull of July and go with nature’s dictation.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” Lau Tzu

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