Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bad ass, kick ass, lady farmers

Things have been rolling along so smoothly lately, highlighted by the month of May where everything seemed to be falling apart.  May 2016 just plain SUCKED, and we got through it.  June has been amazing!  I love working with people and teaching them and showing them things and sharing the farm with them.  My real talent in life is managing people, I love it and I love the relationships that form through it.

We've been working with Andrea, who was working as a cook at Remington's and so is now in between cooking jobs and volunteering with us for a few weeks to learn more about growing vegetables.  She and I have lots in common and a similar sense of humour, so we've been having lots of fun and getting tons of shit done.  It's incredible how much more you can get done with two hands.  We've been weeding and cleaning and seeding and harvesting and packing in warp speed all month.  It's awesome!!

Janelle has also joined the farm team, part time in the evenings after her day job.  Last night she and I weeded about 1/2 an acre of potatoes with our stirrup hoes and taking turns on the wheel hoe, in 2-1/2 hours.  She's 9 years younger than me and so I'm feeling my age today... Or maybe like a 60 year old!  She's a tough farm girl and so has run tractors and done lots of hard work, you can tell immediately.  A great person to have on the team!

Liz is working a couple days a week.  Her day job is on the computer so she likes the change and being outside and active.  She has a passion for gardening and lots of ideas for us, and she approaches the work with a respect and care that I really appreciate.  I've only worked with Liz one day but I look forward to seeing her again this week!

Brianna's work permit arrived yesterday.  She is 14 and will work 4 days a week in the summer, weeding and picking and packing.  We had to get a work permit because she is under 16 and it was no big deal at all.  Brianna has very supportive parents who will transport her to work each day, and we're so glad to have her!  She says she likes picking cucumbers... We'll see if she still likes it by the end of the summer!

Sam is the great niece of our neighbour Jim who passed away in December.  She has been working at Patmore's and I could tell she was a keeper, so as she is getting laid off the end of the month I snagged her in the parking lot after work last Saturday.  She's stoked and I just know she'll be a great fit for us.

Fran is continuing to volunteer with us on Thursdays getting ready for market, which will be fun and super helpful as she already knows some of our systems.  She also helped me with the Employee Handbook because she is an HR expert.  Amazing!!

We also have Jacey, who won't be starting until August but who is also a chef and will help fill in the later season gaps when everyone goes back to school.  Thank goodness!!  She's been helping create some recipes to share with the Veggie Lovers' which is a huge help.  Jacey is sweet and funny and I am looking forward to working with her!

So, it's not what I intended, but we are an all-woman farm team at Mom's place this year.  We can't forget Jon and all his hard work getting our place going.  He's been tending the tunnel like it's a living thing (it pretty much is), and looking after the field crops and even doing some improvements to the property.  Like yesterday, he cut down the ugly shitty chokecherry mess at the corner of the driveway.  It was covered with black knot and overhanging the driveway.  Now we have the corner clear it looks so much tidier and you can see the chicken coop from the house, which is so awesome!!

June has brought real, hard work.  May wasn't as busy and so I fell off my schedule and lost my momentum a bit.  The harder I work, the harder I can work, the harder I want to work.  After kicking those potatoes' ass last night, I awoke this morning at 4:30 ready to kick today's ass too.  And that's what it's all about - kicking each days' ass as hard as you can and getting as much done as possible.  It's the time of year when I can actually get through my ambitious to-do lists if I try really, really hard, so I do and it puts us in a better place exponentially later in the season.

It's funny, the work this time of year reflects that, too. For instance: We've been squishing adult over-wintered Colorado potato beetles in the potato patch.  They are laying eggs and having lots of beetle sex.  I keep telling the gals, every beetle we squish now is one less beetle to lay eggs and then those hatch and lay eggs and then we're infested.  It's stupid work squishing bugs, but we have made a huge difference and haven't seen any larvae yet.  So, every thing I organize or set up in June, every weed we pull is exponentially less that we'll have to do later in the season.  Every ounce of energy I devote to training the farm team pays back when we have a solid hard working functional team later in the season when we are so busy we can't spend that individual time with each team member showing them how things are done.

So, rah rah for June and work that pays off exponentially!  It's very satisfying, especially when you have hard working people to share the work.  I never wanted an all woman team, and I don't want our farm to turn into a feminist farm.  That's the opposite of what I want.  We can acknowledge that we are all women, but drawing huge attention to the fact that we are an all-woman farm team seems like the opposite of feminist empowerment to me.  Yeah, we're all gals.  So what??  Why is that of more note than if we weren't?  I tried to hire men and they didn't work out.  So, thank goodness for all the strong, hard working women that we have connected with.  We are going to have an excellent season together!!

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