Farm Life

The Year of Stability : Growing Strong Roots in 2024

Congratulations, dear ones. We made it through 2023! All of the challenges we faced over the past year have grown us into the people we are right now. I hope we have chosen to become wiser, stronger, and kinder as a result. We are crossing into a bright new year full of new opportunities, new experiences, new possibilities. All the cards are on the table. Anything can happen. Set down the baggage you have carried through the last year. Examine it. Consider it. Which pieces do you want to bring with you into the new year? Which pieces are you ready to burn? Which new pieces will you choose to create from the ashes?

I titled my last year “The Year of Joy”, and joy was found through steady work of discovery and healing. I asked myself hard questions about how I had ended up in burnout, what could be done to prevent it from happening again, and what sort of foundations I needed to build to support my path forward. I dedicated the month of February to foundational work, and the yields were astronomical. I began to imagine what an entire year dedicated to foundational work could mean for my business, my farm, my life. It could change everything. And so, this year, my resolution is stability.

The Shape of Stability

I’ve been living on this land for eight years now. The coming spring will mark my four year anniversary of full time farming. I turned forty this past autumn. It is well past time for the frantic startup phase to make way for a more sustainable form of life-long work. It’s time to let go of the duct tape, the temporary fixes, and the making do. I have collected knowledge, wisdom, and skill through the good work I’ve done here so far. I have also collected a sizable backlog of tasks, some of which necessitate constant workarounds that chip away at my time and energy, and some of which expose my plants, animals, and property to potential harm. Every workaround I am able to remove by implementing a foundation of good structure, good design, and good processes sends a strong root deep into the Earth to hold this farm steady as it grows. This is going to be the year for new chicken yards, clearly defined orchard rows, and well designed processes. It’s also going to be the year to tackle some boring practical chores, like organizing the closets and automating some of the bookkeeping.

To Carry Forward

Farming

I’m still working through the grant-funded woodland understory project, and that will remain a top priority project until it is completed. I’ve made significant progress already, and recently planted native wildflower seeds in several patches of woods where the honeysuckle bushes have been fully cleared. I continuously add new native plants to the land, either as crops or for purposes of study. I’ll continue beekeeping and chickening and gardening, of course.

Writing

I continue to work on my book, which I am beginning to re-imagine as a collection of books. I think I want to divide it into smaller works that I could complete on a faster timeline, rather than one massive volume that will take decades to complete. Meanwhile (and afterwards), I’ll keep writing this blog. I am also a speaker at the Indiana Small Farms Conference this February, which is one of my top two favorite events of all time (the Ohio Pawpaw Fest is the other).

Art

I’ll keep creating my products and offering them for sale in my shop. I have ideas for some new products, and I hope I will have time to bring them to life this year.

To Lay Down, For Now

Since I have decided that I want to work on something new, and I know that I need to avoid falling back into a state of burnout, and I also know that my schedule is presently overflowing, then the inevitable conclusion is that I must let go of something old. And so, I have made the decision not to participate in any farmers markets this year. Although I love my market booth, and I will especially miss seeing all my wonderful customers, farmers markets require a surprisingly significant investment of time and energy. I trust that I will find my way back to the market in good time. But this year, I need to prioritize the foundational work that will ultimately facilitate broader offerings and a more impactful market presence in the future. I intend to continue offering all my products (including the veggies) online in my shop. I do plan to return to the Ohio Pawpaw Fest in September, and I will be speaking at the Indiana Small Farms Conference this February. I do not plan to participate in any craft fairs or other events that are not sustainable agriculture themed this year.

Conclusion

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

L. R. Knost

A stable foundation is a gift we choose to give to our future selves. A seed knows to put down a root before exposing its leaves. Our roots are what hold us steady while we expand to reach higher heights and wider expanses. We come home to shelter in our roots after our leaves have fallen. Our roots nourish us when wind and sun have left us weary. From our roots, we can regrow.

I invite you to join me in this year of stability. Care for your future self in whatever ways you most need. Give yourself a strong foundation for the life you want to live. The world awaits your unique gifts, your infinite joy, your fulfilled purpose. Nurture your spark so you can shine brightly, as you were made to do.