Stepping Over the Threshold
Fun fact: The term threshold comes from a small lip or divider that farmers used to place in the bottom of their barn door while they beat their grain with flails. It was inserted into the door to keep what they were threshing from skittering out the door. In other words, it held the "thresh" in the barn. Thus the term "threshold" was adopted for the divide between inside a door and outside a door. OR more generally, a divide between any two distinct times or spaces.
Right now we are passing over a threshold of sorts. We are finishing up the very last things from this season and just dipping our toes into next year's work.
Today Daniel is pulling the last crop skeletons out of the garden. The cold is here for good and everything is done. The more he can bed down the garden now the easier next spring will be. Another last job is gently cracking open the soil in every bed with a broadfork (see picture above) to allow oxygen and moisture to infiltrate over the winter. This also loosens the soil structure without pulverizing it (like a tiller would do). Its slow and gentle soil work but it is far better for the fertility and longterm health of future crop roots.
We are also slowly taking all the cows to the butcher. There will be three groups going in on different days. We've taken in one group so far.
And the last major project to be completed is next year's seed order. This is really item number one for next year but we've decided it is important to get it done extra early this season. We've heard rumors that seeds will be in short supply this winter due to, well... everything. As a small and nimble farm we can move quickly to secure what we need for our people. It's hard to farm (and eat for that matter) if you don't have seeds to plant! So we took action. It feels really good to secure that oh-so-important piece!
Now that the season has mostly wound down we are also getting a clear picture on the farm's financial performance for the year--which allows us to build out next year's budget. Budgeting is pretty critical for a farm--we get most of our income during one part of the year and have to make sure that money lasts for the entire year. The entire yearly production cycle needs to be accounted for and strictly budgeted if we're going to make it to the end of the year. Furthermore, since we don't use debt, negative cashflow isn't an option even for a short time. So we spend quite a bit of time making sure everything can pan out to the end.
I personally like this part of the work. Its kinda zoomed out--taking a wide perspective of one or more years at a time and charting a larger course. I like that. Especially after a long period of being way down in the... (dare I say it?) weeds. It feels fresh and exciting to step back and look at the big picture. You get to see ALLLLL the stuff we actually accomplished and choose some big rocks to hit next year.
And there is also the excitement of laying it all aside! We'll be cutting back and taking time off around Thanksgiving and the holidays and we are looking forward to that. No guilt. No pressure. Letting go when you know things are tied up and settled is such a relief. All year we battle to rest when things are still zooming and almost engulfing us, and that is an important discipline to work on, but resting when you know you can has its own deliciousness.
We will have a LOT to be thankful this next week. It breaks my mind to go back over all the beauty and growth that has happened here this year!
Next up: pulling together the team for next year. As always, we'll be relying on our tribe to send forward people who may want to work and grow here. If you know someone please help us make the connection!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!