In farming we learn by repeating a process. Over and over and over again. We pay attention, we try to improve, we do the best we can with the time we have but the reality is that we never really reach perfection. There is always a more productive way to prune the berries, an easier way to move the pigs, a cleaner method of bedding the chicks…
We are constantly learning and trying to change based on experience and observation. We are constantly trying to become better farmers. And that process doesn’t end. That is an exciting part of farm work for me.
There’s always more to know. From visions of future building projects, all the way down to the biology of fungi in the orchard, I think I have learned something new every day that I’ve been working here at Hickory Nut Gap. My last day of work is Friday. My fiance and I are moving back to Chapel Hill where she will begin grad school and I will find a job doing…something. Now that my stint on the farm is almost over, I feel it is a good time to look back to the beginning.
I began writing this blog with a post on direction. I’ve thought on that theme quite a bit during my time here and I can’t say that I’ve come to any definitive answers on the topic. I have begun to realize that life doesn’t run in a straight line. It’s more like— a pig in an unfenced pasture. He can’t always see what’s beyond the next hill, but he will move from one good and interesting thing to the next and be perfectly content with ambling slowly along, rooting at whatever comes his way.
So maybe life has a little more direction and focused action than that. But it’s the contentedness that I think is admirable. Hickory Nut Gap is moving purposefully into the future, but, as a farm, there will always be new projects that crop up, unforeseen and unasked for. Those are usually the most fun, though. Or at least they are the projects where we learn the most.
I think it works the same way on an individual level, for me, anyways. I know certain things about the future and other things I am still figuring out. I’ve learned to accept that and to have a little patience during the trial and error period. Life is a series of trials and errors (mostly errors it seems at times), but that is how we move forward. I know that farming or gardening or working the land will always be part of what I do. I know that I want to be a good steward of the earth, I want to eat good food, I want to be a part of community. The details—those are up in the air.