When I woke up this morning, it finally smelled like summer. Warm, wet ground soaked by the thunderstorms of yesterday slowly giving its moisture back to the blue sky. Blooming flowers. Freshly-mowed grass.
Things are changing around here.
Our fields, so recently (it seems to us!) covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice, slowly melted into cool pools of mud that were continuously pounded by a stormy, wet, cold spring. Planting the tomatoes two weeks ago required slogging through fields so wet that the paths clung to our boots like quicksand, threatening to suck them away from us as we carried our precious plants out to the dibbled holes that will be their new homes, for now. The land is a riot of color now: the lettuce screams out in green and red while the strawberries twinkle white and perfect.
Our days are getting longer. Breakfast starts earlier and chores end later.
Our animals are out on pasture. We move them from one field to another, removing and replacing electric fencing in endless repetition.
Our outdoor shower is working again.
Our brooder house has already been filled with day-old chirping chicks, emptied as we moved the fast-growing birds out to their summer field, and been filled again with more singing, fluffy bundles of baby chicken.
Our backs hurt from transplanting starts instead of chopping wood.
Our class is spending less time in an indoor classroom and more time outside, learning more from our own bodies and the land itself than from books and PowerPoint presentations.
Our trees, slow to bud in this seemingly endless early spring, have finally opened their buds into their summer selves: lush, verdant, providing a contrast of color against a sky that has been stubbornly grey.
It seems like so many things are beginning again. And yet, we are all starting to think about the biggest change that is about to befall all of us: as of September 16th, none of us will be Maggie’s Farm students anymore.
Despite all the new things, it already feels like something is ending. That’s a sad thing for most of us, given how much we love this land, love this place, love this community. It’s sad to confront how impermanent all of this is. In four months, we will all be gone and a new group of student farmers will have taken our place.
Luckily, farming is filled with nothing but lessons on how impermanent everything is.
Those onions you planted? They might make it to December before growing, being picked, and being eaten. Those chicks and lambs you helped raise? Most of them will be gone, too. That independent project you built? Your chicken coop, root washer, or water cube trailer may last a few seasons before it needs replacing or the farm invents a new system that makes your brilliant solution to a problem obsolete. That kitchen you swept? Ha! It will be dirty in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The people you fed will be hungry again, the field will be empty again, more leaves will fall and need to be raked.
Nothing you do will last forever. Nothing that is planted or raised will live forever. The only permanent thing is impermanence. For everything, there is a season.
This sounds like a dark or depressing thought, but in some ways, it can be soothing. Our triumphs may not last forever, but neither will our mistakes. And while those onions won’t last for more than a few months, hopefully the practice of growing onions will outlast us, outlast our children and grandchildren, and continue after the generations that follow us have long since forgotten our names.
What we are growing now may not last long, and our time here at the farm may not last long, either. But we can hope that the larger paradigm that we are participating in, the practices that we are learning, and loving, and will someday pass on to others, will be part of something far more permanent.
In a world of change, this is a comforting thought.