Well here it is: the annual sinking feeling that the overly-worshipped scales of work-life balance are tilted heavily to the side of stress, over-work, and bone-tiredness. Pretty certain the situation is not unique to farming and no-one requires elaboration on the actual sensations? If by some chance you don’t know what I am talking about, go ahead and gloat. We can re-visit the issue mid-winter.
Writing an article seems an odd coping choice. Alternatively with this spare hour, I could stream something entertaining on my computer. An instinctive, deeply rooted and mostly ignored conviction that TV is bad spurs me to make this hour count for something. TV seems a waste of time, and I don’t think I have time to waste just now. Ergo: a few hundred words on the topic of…let’s see…weeds? The weather? Work mantras? Hmmm. Thrilling. I’ll write for another 15 minutes and if it doesn’t shape up into something readable I’ll abort the mission and watch something.
Weeds. The other day I happened to notice that a neighboring conventional farmer was hand-pulling weeds in their 20 acre potato field. Why this drudging manual effort – the avoidance of such being the subject of just about all agricultural innovation in the last century? I conclude that it’s important and that there isn’t a chemical suited to this particular weed. That same yellow mustard-type weed has flourished rather extravagantly in our own carrot field and I would have put them on the to-do list had Mom and dad not pulled them all while I was at market this weekend.
Now without giving away too many family secrets, I think it’s safe to say that mom and dad are older than me and as I am exhausted this Sunday night, I must assume that they are too. Aren’t they? Mom flatly denies it. Dad admits to “certainly working quite hard right now” in a sort of cheerful, twinkly way that deceives me not.
The point here is to encourage anyone with any of Pemberton’s Top Five weeds in their field, garden, and verges to get out there and pull the darn things. You can find the list (with helpful pictures) at: http://www.ssisc.info/home/pembertons-5-worst-weeds Go on. Do it when you are tired. Join the club.
The weather. In November, when it’s safely in the past, I will tell you how I really feel about the weather this summer. Until then, let me just say that there have been certain conditions which have required an ability to ignore and deny reality lest it discourage the necessary continuation of work. This ability to ignore and deny are my best coping skills and with plenty of practice, I find it possible to maintain production levels during periods of environmental difficulties. I have been ignoring the weather since May.
Work mantras. I use the following:
The row (substitute here as required- gas tank/pile/bin) will end, and then something different will happen. I ignore the immediate presence of subsequent rows (and tanks, piles, bins) and proceed as needed to next mantra, which is:
The day will end. It certainly will. There is no doubt that sooner or later the day will end, the sun will go away and we’ll probably stop working. That’s it. Ignore the coming day.
The weekend requires a specific market mantra: the market closing bell will sound and I can go back to Pemberton. Every effort is made to ignore the countless coming weeks and I try not to dwell on the fact that once the bell sounds a whole other stress-filled situation will develop as 73 vendors try to pack up and exit a small space as soon as possible, many of them with trailers and reefer trucks. Sooner or later the parking lot will be empty with no trace of the market and I’ll be sailing into Pemberton, beautiful Pemberton. I am buoyed at the thought.
There. I’ve done it. That’s heaps of words arranged carefully enough. Not only that, I have re-affirmed my mantras which should help me get through the coming week, which I can see is going to be a tough one. My goal this week is to see you at the Friday market and neither you nor I will think I am anywhere but smack-dab in the middle of that ridiculously contrived work-life balance thingee.
Honestly. Who thinks up these things?