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What's He Doing In There?

People always wonder what we do on the farm during the winter.

Obviously there is less physical work to do. There is still a lot of work though. In fact, there is still way too much work to do. It’s just that it is a different kind of work.

It’s mental work. Like planning. And solving problems. And strategizing. And reviewing.

Really, in many ways, my winter work can be very similar to someone working in an office doing project management. I spend a lot of time working in google sheets making timelines and charts. I spend a lot of time reviewing the finances from the year and making adjustments for the next year. I think a lot about flow and all the bottlenecks we have around here and figure out or research ways to relieve them.

And while sitting in the office or on my computer can be frustrating, I really don’t mind it too much. Actually, I love to nerd out about planning and processes and systems.

Like, I’m really geeky about it. I will gobble up a book on visual planning with a title like “Making Work Visible” and get all excited. It doesn’t occur to me that other people might be utterly repulsed by a title like that.

Creating a comprehensive checklist for all my weekly tasks during the CSA season so no one forgets the extension cord or tablecloths on delivery day gives me extreme pleasure.

It’s a kind of cleaning. Or sorting. Setting things in order. And it is mental release. My head is full of millions of ideas and problems and nagging reminders and pinning these things down onto a concrete checklist or calendar page is exciting and relieving.

It’s not easy though. Making a process that is simple and straightforward and flows week to week without dropping a detail is an incredibly complex project. It takes years of experimentation and review. Managing it all is a lot like juggling flaming torches. Too complicated and the system is impossible to follow and everything falls to pieces. Too simplistic and it leaves out essential details which result in chaos again. The middle goal is really a piece of magic.

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