Almost six months have passed since we got this land so it feels like a right time to reflect on our journey so far. Here are four things we learnt from six months of being farmers.
1. Allowing nature bring us back to the here and now
During a day on the farm there would be hundreds of opportunities to bring our attention back to the here and now. A busy looking little spider, a warming ray of sunshine on a cold day, a loud bumble bee, a bird taking a bath, a tiny rabbit lying in the sun or an unexpected spot of rain, these are all little things that are constantly happening on the farm and catch our attention. We have learnt to be mindful about what is happening around us and use these little moments to bring us back to the present. Even in the bitterly cold winter weather, feeling so cold that all you can think about is how cold you feel, is a way of bringing you back to the now. There are so many things to see and to feel when spending so much time outdoors.
2. A seed wants to grow and life wants to live
Having never grown before, I started off being a bit worried about doing things wrong. I would ask myself, am I sowing this seed the right way? Have I got the right compost? Am I over or under watering them? Is the temperature okay? And so on. The seeds looked so tiny and the seedlings’ roots looked so fragile and vulnerable that I thought that if I handled them a bit too harshly or if the temperature changed too much they would not survive. I couldn’t be further from the truth. These little fragile looking seedlings are incredibly resilient and adaptable. They can survive having some of their roots torn and going through a frosty night. They want to live and they want to grow. Give them the right resources and they will grow and live. Realising this has given me a lot more confidence in doing what I am doing but has also given me a bit of a life lesson. Perhaps we are all seeds and seedlings – we want to grow and live – all we need is to give ourselves the right resources to do so.
3. Slowing down
Keivor and I have both come from high pace environments with our past careers. Stepping away from this and into a new lifestyle has taught us about the wonders of slowing down. Slow living has a lot in common with mindfulness and being in the present and in the moment without worrying about the past or the future. The tranquility of the farm naturally brings a feeling of peacefulness. One of my favourite moments is when we sit with a coffee, early in the morning on a sunny spring day, the grass is still wet with dew, there’s tiny little rabbits running around, the birds are singing and the sun is slowly warming our faces. Slow living isn’t about not doing anything or not being productive, it’s about integrating moments like this morning coffee throughout the day where possible. We love doing jobs that bring us into this slow space. We spent a few hours transplanting seedlings into module trays a few days ago and completely lost track of time. There was something so meditative about having our fingers in soil, untangling these tiny roots and transplanting the seedlings one by one. Any repetitive task like this can be a moment to slow down. Whether it’s a building task on the barn, a morning coffee or making a risotto for dinner, we have learnt to find moments to slow down.
4. Giving ourselves permission to be childlike
We realised that the farm environment makes it a lot easier to reconnect to our inner-child. The nature of this project means that we are constantly learning, listening to our intuitions and following our curiosities. We have been connecting to our sense of wonder a lot more than before. Childlike wonder cultivates a creative mind because everything seems possible. Creating a farm with no experience in farming is like having a big big playground. We think about something, we experiment, we fail, we learn, we imagine and experiment again.
Working on the farm, there have been so many opportunities to have fun and we’ve fallen into uncontrollable laughter so many times. There’s something very raw and human about being in nature, something that encourages us to drop the social image we put on. There’s something so great about giving yourself permission to be silly and reconnect to your inner-child. We are so often told to act in an adult way, to be serious and responsible. We hope the farm can be a place where people just let go of their appearances and allow themselves to be childlike, have a giggle, be silly and have fun. Our friend Steve gave a great example, he said it’s like when a dog walks into a work meeting and everyone gets excited and forgets about looking serious. We hope High View Farmstead will give this feeling to people.
Connecting to our inner-child is key to being in the here and now, being optimistic and slowing down.