The warm side of 25 degrees


It was 22 degrees when I got up this morning, 25 when I got to the farm. Everything shimmered with light of frozen dew, the final traces of a long, cold night. We began right where we left off yesterday, prying frosty bricks out of the frozen ground, leaving their perfect shape in the earth. It was kind of like playing tetris, backwards.

My body ached from the day before. Pushing a wheel barrow full of rock was not something I’d done in awhile, or, let’s be honest, ever I think. It was rewarding though, watching the sunset last night on a field a little less clunky. We rented a bobcat for the weekend, with a rototiller attachment in high hopes to get our seed beds somewhat ready. The bobcat rental guy was leery:

“I don’t often rent the rototiller. People tear them up.”

“I totally get it, we won’t push it.” I say

“Really, it’s only good for mixing topsoil.”

“Totally. That’s what we’re doing, pretty much.”

And so today, I unnervingly watched my boss friend bravely run the tiller through our field. He seemed un-bothered by the racket made by the small boulders hitting the guard, completely confident in the machines ability to not break. I kept my head down, and admired the fluffy soil in his wake. Killdeer birds walking with me, I hoped we hadn’t destroyed their nest.

It looks different down there. Thanks to the prior vegetation we have dirt that doesn’t really look like our normal, red clay, Tennesee dirt. It’s a good texture, full of worms and easy to work with. Tomorrow we’ll begin the process of amending. We’ll take the accumulating piles of nutrient magic (leaves) and work them into ground.

I wish you could smell this picture.

Then the following days we’ll broadcast a cover crop mixture of hairy vetch and rye to add nitrogen, suppress weeds, and continue the process of adding biomass above and below the surface.


everything rests.

I love this part. This time where biological systems take over and take advantage of the death and life of this place. Where simple leaves and dead plant matter decompose to feed the micro and macro organisms in our living soil, where the sun acts  as a catalyst for both decomposition and bringing green out of the earth. Roots meander, finding their way through tough soil and soon we’ll get to join the whole shi-bang by planting into this perfect system the food we’ll eat.  If we play our cards right (by cards I mean patience and good stewardship), this could be awesome. This resting part, where we “grow in personal simplicity while appreciating biological complexity” (Bahnson), is needed, for the ground, and also for us.

So now, after I’ve finished my Mellow Mushroom pizza and beer, I find myself in a blissful daze. My face burning from sun and cold, and my hands tired and shaky as I type. It was such a wonderful day, encouraging as people stopped by to express their support. Another shout out to Daniel with Urban Homesteaders for lending a hand today, what a guy. Come down tomorrow, spread some leaves, or sip a warm beverage and chat, either way, I look forward to meeting you.





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