“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
Sometimes I don’t know where my brain is. Actually, that’s not true. The fact of the matter is that I let my brain wander into so many different fields of interest that I lose sight of what is of the highest importance, and therefore miss out on making the most effective decisions. So here we are, the season is getting ready to start up, we are planting transplants every week right now in preparation for the first field plantings next month, and I made a mistake: I neglected to go to the greenhouse to check on my transplants one day last week. It was a rainy, cloudy day, and I convinced myself that it wasn’t completely necessary, that with the lack of sunshine and the watering I had done the day before, the little tiny plants would be just fine if I didn’t check in with them that day. I had a ton of other things on my to-do list, and was feeling pretty good about the amount I was accomplishing. But, low and behold, when I went into the greenhouse the next day, guess what I found? DEAD TRANSPLANTS! I was furious with myself. It seems like every year since I’ve been in this farming gig, which, granted, isn’t very many, I have sustained losses in the greenhouse and in the field due to neglect on my behalf. Every year when this happens, I make a mental note that when my plants are babies, the most fragile and tender points in their life-cycle (just like any baby, really) I need to check on them daily, if not multiple times a day. Every year I’ve come to this realization, a hard lesson learned, yet every year I seem to commit the same lapse in judgement. After beating myself up the whole day, I wrote down in my commonplace notebook, underlined in big, bold letters, “CHECK TRANSPLANTS EVERY DAY, NO EXCEPTIONS!” which I have since transferred to a Google document I created, titled, “Best Practices.”
I believe I’ve said this before, but farming is a vocation dealing largely in life and death. Sometimes it seems so heavily favored in the realm of death, though, that I wonder whether I should not trade in my Carhartt for a black robe and my hoe for a scythe. The losses this past week were not too significant, and we should still be fine for getting out to the field in a few weeks. I’ve since adopted an attitude of gratitude toward the situation. Clearly, I hadn’t quite learned this lesson in seasons past, and making a mental note wasn’t sufficient to make the lesson concrete.While I can’t promise that this incident will not occur again at any point in the future, I am conscious that with every failure and set back, I am further refining the hierarchy of prioritization in my farming operations, and am creating systems that will prevent mistakes such as this from happening again.
Failure is the greatest teacher in life. We would not have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today were it not for years of trial and error, and multitudes of failures. The quote above comes from a man who failed often and grandiosely, going through two or three failed automobile manufacturing companies, losing incredible sums of his and his investors money, before creating the Ford Motor Company, which is, as we all know, a hugely successful company to this day. The key to failure is the ability to learn from them, and see each failure as an opportunity to better yourself, which is what we should all strive for: constant improvement. I am, and will become, a better farmer not just for this mistake in itself, but for my desire to really embed this lesson learned into my operations in order to prevent it’s happening again in the future. Were I to succumb to self-pity, or fixate blame externally, at the temperature of the germination chamber being to high, or come up with a conspiracy theory about my fellow Lomaxers being out to sabotage my business (which I can’t guarantee they aren’t… I jest!), I would inevitably continue to repeat this failure time and time again. Next time you find that you’ve made a mistake, instead of getting down about it, let go of any negativity and really make a concerted effort to see it for what it really is, an opportunity for improvement, for that is the path to true growth.
In other farm news, this week we started beets and pak choy in the greenhouse, and are having terrific germination rates! I’m checking on my babies every day now, usually twice a day, and I can’t wait to get out in the field and get these here veggies ready for your tables! This morning, as I was doing the chicken chores, I watched a hawk swoop in over the run for a closer look… going to have to address that here ASAP! Next week we’ll be starting our spring brassicas, as well as a few of the first summer veggies: Cabbage, collards, chard, kale, broccoli, eggplant and peppers! Get ready!
I hope you’ll come out to the markets tomorrow! I’ll be out of town, but Lily will be running the show at the Winecoff Market and Matt will be ready and rolling at the NoDa market, both from 9am til noon. They’ll have pea shoots, radish shoots, sunflower shoots and pasture-raised, non-GMO eggs for your conscientious consumption! We’ll also have Street Fare Farm T-Shirts and Bumper Stickers for sale. Huzzah!
Don’t forget to sign up for your 2017 Street Fare Farm CSA Share! Pick your veggies to go in your box and pick it up fresh every week! We’re also super excited to be working with Big Tree Farm to bring you some woodlot raised, non-GMO pork shares for your dining delight. Get your share quick before they’re all gone! Here’s the link
Finally, I am looking to acquire a vehicle for my niece who is living with me and working on the farm. Looking for either a SUV, little truck, van, or station wagon, something she could haul veggies to a market with, and that can get around town, too. Looking to spend $3k or less, preferably $2000-$2500. Let me know if anyone knows of anything! Thanks!
I hope you all have a marvelous weekend, a great week, and remember, failure is your friend!