Farmer Tam’s Field n’ Farm Report

The Winter Lament…

The fields are empty now at Prairie Gardens except for two perfectly straight, yet strangely fluffy, rows of white mysterious mounds. It’s the Kale, covered by a blanket of snow!

Otherwise, the fall fields are done, abandoned, save for a flock of wild partridge, a coyote, the snowy white weasel that I chanced a glimpse of – as he leapt off to disappear into the snow, and me.

My tracks in the snow bee line for those snowy mysterious mounds of “Winterbor” Kale. Who knew it would be so exceptional in December! Safely below the billowy blanket of powdery snow, the “Ice Kale” as I’ve become to know it, stands resolute to even the bone chillin’ day last week of -29 C! Actually -38 C with the wind chill.

My cutting knife easily cleaves the frozen leaves from the icy stem, which snap like icicles from the roof top. The blue curly leaves are frozen solid. Until I bring them inside to warm. In an hour, I check on them. The fronds are soft and pliable, and the flavour is so sweet. They are not fazed by the freezing temps! This is the time of year to truly appreciate Kale – at Christmas!

In the fall, I take the temperature of the farm by the bustling bins of pumpkins lining the courtyard, the boxes of CSA veggies going out, and the sales report. Our fall crew has come and gone. The new faces and excitement of the pumpkin season is complete. Arrivals, departures and changes have are a part of life on the farm. It’s winter.

But it’s the politics of being a woman and a farmer in Sturgeon County that leave me cold. The Mayor called. We must talk, he said. Too many people, he said. Too many children. Really??? I feel empty toward this county, this place and the land. Like Autumn, I am fading. Time to hit a refresh button. Perhaps some red wine and cookies.

And then, a hope – I find the bin of sprouting seeds! The familiar seed packets are heavy. There’s lots of seed. I start rummaging around in the greenhouse. Here they are. The window boxes. Some soil. I can’t stop myself. The hose unfurls. The soil is moist. It’s time to fill some pots. I’m the eternal optimist. A Farmer. And Christmas is coming.

First it’s the Red Rambo Radish, then the Peppergrass Seed. Then the Scarlet Frills Mustard. Soon the Kotamsuna, and oh – hey, how about this one – the Mizuna! And Nasturtiums! Some of the Rosemary, carefully saved indoors, as if knowing they are going to spend the rest of their lives here, burst into a happy blue-blossomed hurrah!

The thought comes to me, “If you want me to be here, make it someplace that I want to be.” I’m not sure who says this, the ones who have left, the ones who remain, the place itself, or me.

It’s hard to remember that I, too, am living an adventure on this place I call home, when all the other adventurers who have come and gone from this place are whispers of a season past. I try put my worries aside. Make some plans to fill in the spaces of these good-byes. This isn’t easy. I don’t want to make new friends. I don’t want to say good-bye.

Twenty nine years here, on the farm. I don’t want them to be done. I want them to endure. I want the farm here with me. I swallow thickly. I understand. The eternal optimist. A Farmer. It’s what I do.

To bolster my energy, I spend the day in the greenhouse. I rest amongst the herbs, resilient and determined. Like me.

I remind myself, it is my life’s work, not just a job. It is more than growing vegetables – much more. It is awareness and healing and the spirit of life. And the sprouts are growing. Waving their leaves in joy! No matter the politics.

Thank you all for your support! Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a bountiful New Year!

Farmer Tam