Anna Helmer wonders which Big Issue to take a crack at today

Well let’s see here.

Lately in my Wellness Almanac column I have rather bravely (according to me) looked into certain deep issues including: Trump, coming out, parenting and global food system failures. Here it comes time to write another installment and I am unsure of my next move. Do I keep the streak alive or retreat to safety?

Ponder, ponder. My fingers are restlessly moving on the keyboard but I’m not quite ready to start.

I type that sentence and fidget some more.

I have a sizeable pile of Deep Thoughts and Issues sitting in my mind and they are keen for an airing. I am waiting to see if they take the form of necessarily coherent, hopefully engaging and ideally detached prose before I launch into the back-up farm story.

The only half-expected torrent of typing fails to materialize just yet.

I could make 600 words about just this process, I think to myself. I can make 600 words out of a tin can and a roll of duct tape. This causes an inner chortle and I re-read that line a few times. This is a blatant display of hubris and a subsequent fall should be expected. I don’t fear it however: an irregular 600-word columnist can handle whatever comes.

I wish I had had more of that confidence in my early 20s. Glad I have it now, of course. Better late than never.

There is a further delay in typing as I recall the article about ageing that wrote itself in my head yesterday, which at the time seemed interesting and insightful, but which now seems boring and un-original. I’ll have to do better than that, I suppose.

Ageing. I can’t believe that I have nothing original to add to the discussion around this. I should because I am thinking about it all the time. But I don’t.

Global injustice, political fundraising, and bureaucratic overreach? Nothing exceptional to offer here either.

Maybe today is not a good day to be writing an article. But today is all I’ve got. This hour is all I’ve got.

Right. Farm Story. Let’s have one. Keep it simple. What’s happening right now? Snow melt. Water. It’s covering half our land. When the frost leaves the deeper layers of the soil a good deal of it will drain downwards, but until then, it’s trying to drain up hills. Not gonna happen. So it sits, drowning the soil.

I scratch around with shovel and hoe, making canals leading to previously established drainage ditches. It works for a while but feels very futile. If I had money to burn I would buy a mini excavator which would really make this job easier. A mini excavator would be a very tidy answer to quite a few issues on the farm, and is the latest dream piece of equipment. Obviously joining the water-running-uphill department in terms of what’s possible.

The thing is, there is a lot of fancy new equipment and infrastructure in the farming community these days. A few significant and notable acreages have new, very well-funded owners with farming aspirations. Their properties are instantly supplied with items it has taken a generation or more to acquire on my farm. It is unsettling.

Surely it needn’t be said that there’s more to farming then spending heaps of money? That’s what we learned, and now what we teach. I really hope this is true because they seem determined to make a farm and doubtless we will soon find ourselves competing with them.

It seems I have successfully written an article reflecting the rise of cynicism in farmers as they age. Good for me.





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