Spring can't help but bring with it optimism for the season to come - especially this year when the water is plentiful and all signs of last year's drought are gone. In fact, there has been a dramatic reversal of weather from one year to the next, and we are back to our old spring ways of hoping for a few days to dry out the soil, prepare new ground and get seeds and long-ready transplants into the ground.
The winter has been spent recovering from the hottest and driest season on record. No doubt about it, 2016 was a rough year. But one of my greatest appreciations of being a farmer comes from the fact that we get a significant break each winter to rest, evaluate and start anew. Rest and recovery for me came in the form of a lovely winter vacation with extended family skiing in Montana. I also enjoy running in the winter mud and rains, and trained for and ran a 25K trail run on Orcas Island in January. Evaluating came in many forms: comparing projected budgets to actuals, looking at what tools and implements might help us be more efficient in managing labor costs and battling weeds, evaluating how much each crop we grow produces versus how much we put into it and deciding whether we should continue growing it or not. Starting anew is planting the first seeds in the greenhouse in February - french breakfast radishes in a high tunnel for an early spring treat, and tomatoes in a warm propagation greenhouse to look forward to summer treats. From there, the to do list begins to cascade: ordering seeds and supplies, cleaning harvest bins and plastic totes, maintaining old equipment and setting up new, tending to perennial crops, and on and on. For a moment, I will wistfully look back on the days when I had the time to take the kids to swim lessons and get a quick work out in myself, or meet up with friends for a coffee and playdate. But soon, there will be no time for looking back or forward, but simply being in the present and attending to the multitude of daily tasks that are so simple yet satisfying.