Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Oh yea, this was my idea."

The fresh cut season is in full swing. Lavender is like any pregnant creature about to give birth - when it's time, it's time, and you can't stand around looking for the overnight bag. The adage, "Make hay while the sun shines" makes much more sense when you live with any crop that needs to be cut and brought out of the field at a certain time for optimum results. We have learned so much about timing in the past five years. When I look back on that first year 's harvest, oh it is funny! We made so many mistakes and just bumbled along like Jethro and Nellie May in Paris. We've learned when to cut for fresh cut, versus when to cut for dried bundles, bud or oil. We learned that the paper clips you buy at Staples are crap. We learned that the bees tell us when to cut. We learned that each season you think you can do it all on your own, but you can't. We learned that the locals think we're nuts. And most importantly, we learned that you should plant your rows after you measure how wide your tractor is so it will fit through the rows.

Many write me about the romance of my life here, and it's true, there is much romance at Apifera, minute to minute. Much of that romance is for my own personal pleasure, and I don't need or care to share it with anyone - it is just my daily life. Some of the romance is construed by the readers of this blog. Like a glossy magazine, they see the pictures and hear the stories with the gentle endings, and they can edit out what they don't care to deal with. They see me at my best, as I can edit my words, appear calm in any storm, wisely guiding myself through life. But behind the scenes of any good movie, there are a few dirty little secrets - like the fact that a couple nights ago after leaving the field I was tired, grumpy, hungry and I had no patience. I yelled at Frankie because she was being a pain in my butt. And I had no time to discuss the beautiful sunset with Guinnias like I often do. I had no energy to brush Boone, and everything seemed like work.

We get the well intentioned offers, "Hey, we'll come out and work in the field with you for an afternoon and then we'll barbeque."....Ah, okay, but you best bring your own chef and wheelchair. Living on a farm with a crop, and livestock, is constant, hard, manual labor. It is not for sissies. It is not for dwaddlers, or pontificators, or wanna-a-be's. But I like it. I like growing a crop, on our land, and improving the crop over seasons. Watching a 1" seedling grow to a 4" wide beast that produces 10 large bundles is....sort of miraculous. It reminds you of the power of nourishment. It reminds you that a tiny seed turns into something. It reminds you that living is a verb, and that earth is a pretty cool realm to be jiving in.

I am a little spring woodland flower, and in the heat, I wilt. My roots shrink and I can't function. So I have to time my work around mornings and evenings. Together with Martyn's efforts, and field helpers we bring in at optimal times, we get the crop off the field. It's a 6 am rise time for Martyn, and often we work until 9 pm. The first year, I remember I had a horrible case of poison oak on both arms and wrists, and I had my arms wrapped in cotton to protect my open sores. It was 80+ degrees. We had no helpers lined up for field work. I remember sitting in the field on my knees at one point, looking out at a sea of lavender, and crying. My dirt farmer lifted me out of my despair by reminding me he had a fresh lamb rack waiting to grill at the house, with a bottle of wine. When I said we'd never get through this, he said we would. When I asked in despair, "Whose idea was this any way, to grow all this lavender?" He gently reminded me, "Yours."


Vintage West said...

Wow, all that lavender is just an amazing site!

peggy gatto said...

I always enjoy my visits here and thought I would let you know!
Happy 4th(and 5,6,7,8,9,etc!)

hawksnestfarm said...

Thank you Katherine for sharing insight into your croppy days...you make all the hard work seem so easy and worthwhile!

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
--Marcel Proust

farmlady said...

The idea of things is always different that the reality, but hard work is it's own reward and "no one promised you a rose garden"...., just Lavender, Sweetie.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Hi Magpie- wish you could see it at dusk, oh beauty!

Peggy, thanks for sharing, and hope you keep getting enjoyment here...or something!

Pbird [your apron just sold!]

Farmlady - well, my post was really directed at the readers who don't know me, but put my life on a pedestal. I'm human and flawed, that was really the point. NEver expected a rose garden. Cheers!

Caterina Giglio said...

absolutely wonderful post! thanks for sharing all of it with us!

MamaHen said...

Lordie, at least you have him (Martyn), and I know you're glad you do.

Blackfeatherfarm said...

LOVED this post. I have to say, I'm glad to see you are human after all.
I think people would lose that romantic notion if for just one day, they had to be tied to your apron strings.
Still, there has to be a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace at the end of the day. I think seeing happy little donkey faces helps that too.

Angela Meijer said...

This is such a great post. Getting a glimpse of all the hard work and commitment that goes into your farm, makes it all the more valuable.

Amy Schimler-Safford said...

Hi Katherine, haven't been by in awhile, enjoyed catching up on your blog. I love this post, love your honest account and real life reporting of life on the farm.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~