Friday, December 03, 2010

Year in the Headlights

Good grief, would you look at that? It's December already, the snowflakes are starting to drift down, and it's time to celebrate the anniversary of this blog again.

How do I even begin to express the whirlwind of experiences, the major changes in my life in the past year? In some ways, things don't seem to have changed much at all -- I'm still living comfortably, though as simply as I can (and needing to tighten the belt a little more for winter) -- but the differences in my worklife and in my personal sanity have been enormous and all to the good.

Obviously, when I wrote up last year's review and goals, I knew what I was planning behind the scenes: an all-out switch to farming, baking, and focusing on local foods. On the whole, I met those goals -- I worked eight months at the farm and am continuing to expand the baking business -- but as you might expect, nothing turned out entirely as I expected, and I ran headlong into several tough realities:

--Starting your own business requires a lot of time and effort, and there's no guarantee of making major profits.
--It's very difficult to make a living at farming without having supplementary income.
--Trying to do everything I want to do -- growing food, baking, writing -- means I still don't have time for everything.
--The business of food is a fickle one, subject to customer desires and demands and never the same from week to week.
--There just ain't enough time in the day.

That said, I surely wouldn't go back for anything!

Now, as winter draws near and the urge to hibernate becomes almost irresistible, I feel like my work is rather like this garlic plot, one of the last things I worked on at the farm this season. I planted row after row of garlic, covering the cloves with plenty of soil and grass mulch, then let it get a brief start in the late autumn warmth before it grew dormant for winter.

I've planted plenty of seeds this year and opened myself up to possibilities, but over the next couple of months, I'll just have to wait and see what grows from all of that. I know I'll need to find a better balance in the coming year, but what that balance will be, I just don't know yet.

What do I know?

1. I will have less space for my own gardens this year, not more. The large garden plot will not be available next year, due to forces beyond my control, and plans to expand another plot have been set aside for another year. That means that I will have to plan next year's crops much more carefully -- for what will be used most, what will be shared, and what might be sourced elsewhere.

2. I still want to farm, though I may have less time to do it. The OEFFA Male is eager to have me return for a second year, but I also have possibilities with a couple of other farmers. Given the increase in gasoline prices, distance will certainly be a critical factor, as will income, crops, and time I can break away from baking. Lots to ponder there.

3. The baking business is already expanding, and while I would like to find another outlet for selling baked goods (since sales at Local Roots have hit a plateau for the moment), I also still don't want to bake full-time. With the market being open four days a week, I'm currently baking every day, but I think there are ways to arrange my schedule so that I'm not chained to the oven. Will have to wait until after the holidays to see how that works out.

4. Somehow, I need to make a little more time for my writing again. I had thought that would be a more major part of my business, but it has fallen almost completely to the wayside this year. The farming blog fell apart in late summer due to technical difficulties and then lack of time to pick it back up; my writing for the Ethicurean has dropped to a trickle, despite having things I want to write; and this blog has suffered its own silences from time to time. Winter should be the time to get back up to speed, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

5. Food preservation continues to be an important part of my "Independence," so I intend to keep that up somehow amid all these other plans. For now, though, I want to focus more conscious attention to eating what I've put up for winter. It's always been there for convenience and in case of hard times; this winter, that will be put to the test. Time already to start cleaning out the freezer, I say.

6. I'd like to get back to reading in my chosen fields. I've been too exhausted mentally lately to want to read books on gardening, farming, or food in general, but before next season begins, I'd like to work through the pile I have now as well as sit down with the classic The One-Straw Revolution, a book that the OEFFA Male referred to frequently this summer. I still have a lot to learn!

7. And I really need and want to get a better exercise schedule in place this winter so that I'm in good shape for next season. Included in that is developing a more satisfying and mindful yoga practice -- I need to remember to take time to breathe, not just rush around and work, work, work.

What an amazing year it's been. Yes, it did turn out "better" than what had come before. But there's always room for improvement.

And there's time to rest. That time is NOW.

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At 12/06/2010 4:06 PM, OpenID eatclosetohome said...

Thanks for the wrap-up! Congratulations on your big year! I hope the coming year brings you the balance, experimentation, and profit you're looking for. :)

At 12/06/2010 4:14 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Or at least keeps me heading in the right direction. :-) Thanks, E! You are, as always, an inspiration!


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