Last week, at the tender age of 29 and 15 months, I officially retired from the rat race. Pure Land Organic FTE: 2.
It was weirdly unsettling at first. We got in late Sunday night after a fun weekend with family in Louisiana. Monday morning, I was completely adrift. It felt like I had called in sick to work but wasn't actually sick, which I've never been able to do without a thick, sticky coating of guilt and shame (oh, my character!) even when I actually was sick. After a few hours of hemhorraging money to have my brakes replaced, I took myself to Central Market to rectify our empty fridge, then made étouffée for dinner with the leftover tails we shucked from the crawfish boil my cute husband made on Saturday.
Tuesday morning, Farmer Pop came over. We had White Rock Coffee, omelets, and a nice long meeting, generating a three page to-do list (single spaced, y'all). I mentioned the weird feeling hovering over me as if I was playing hooky, and having just been through it himself a few years ago, he replied, "... it'll go away." The dogs were pleasantly confused by my presence at home and duly delighted at Grandpa's until he headed up to help our neighbor dig holes for fence posts (a PTO driven auger will make you friends). We had lots of family in town, so later on we had everyone over for dinner. I served grilled lemon and oregano chicken with spring asparagus, freshly procured green onion Savoie's sausage and spicy boudin from Louisiana, rosemary balsamic roasted beets and carrots, and a green garlic and Swiss chard risotto. The oregano, rosemary, beets, carrots, green garlic, and chard came from my garden. My Mama brought her world-famous (literally) Kahlua chocolate cake for dessert.
Wednesday, I packed a little two-person lunch of chicken salad sandwiches from the previous night's leftovers, and headed for the farm. Farmer Pop and I rolled out a shit ton of irrigation tape (one "shit ton" is metric for 900 feet) and got rained on. We learned that the pump we have generates enough water pressure at the end of 900 plus feet to make it function as a fire hose. That was fun. Then we plowed the top terrace (I place my current tractor skills at about a 2, but practice makes hopefully mediocre, one day) and marveled at all the wonderful roots that had been laid down by the cover crops. I learned I definitely need to invest in some work boots, got quite filthy, and made Cajun salmon soft tacos in like 5 seconds for dinner.
Thursday the forecast called for rain, so I hunkered down at home and started to crack our crop rotation plan. One of the most critical techniques in organic farming is crop rotation; you should never put crops of the same family in the same place in direct succession. The longer you can go without replanting the same family in the same spot, the better (it has to do primarily with the soil nutrition but also all kinds of things like the insects and microbes left behind from certain crops affecting detrimentally or beneficially certain following crops). This is not tremendously difficult per se; it's more like a logic puzzle, so it just takes a bit of thought. The dogs were tickled pink that Mama was home. Of course, it didn't rain, so the non-sissy employee had another productive day on the tractor. For dinner, I made lime shrimp with coconut rice and roasted acorn squash.
Friday morning, Farmer Pop and I did some collective head-scratching at the little index card village making up my rough crop rotation, but ultimately came up with a solid plan... it seems, thus far. Then he went out to buy a tiller and wrecked shop on the top flat and terrace, which we ought to have completely filled within the next couple of weeks. I spent an ungodly amount of time flipping back and forth through Howard Garrett's Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening and compiled planting and harvesting dates for each of our major crop groups to start a Project file. Later, I did a little meal planning and grocery shopping, at which point the dogs became hysterical because Mama lives at home now Mama can't leave, EVER. Then I quickly whipped up this frittata using my master recipe with Brussels sprout leaves from the garden, a couple slices of ham, and the leftover acorn squash.
And the weird feeling? It's still there, but I feel it starting to fade. I give it another couple days tops, because I'm about to have so much work to do, I'm not even going to remember what it felt like to play hooky. I'm hoping to schedule some "blogging time" at least weekly, but I just have no idea how crazy it's going to get, so please bear with me (and "like" our Facebook page, I put a lot of pictures up there and plan to even more frequently as things get interesting).