Harvest

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This is the first harvest from my very own farm. I’ve looked forward to this moment for years, since I first dedicated myself to farming for the people. It’s taken struggle, patience, enduring indignities, and help from friends to make this happen. I lost some of my crop this year to wild animals and unusual weather, but what feels most disappointing is the crop wastage incurred by the grain harvester dismissing my concerns.

20% of my grain is scattered in the field. How’d this happen? The person who harvested showed up with a combine he’s never used before and said I’d be his guinea pig. I needed to harvest and already exhausted other possibilities. I suggested he set the combine at the most conservative settings. He elided my comment by saying that he set the combine for wheat and it should be fine.

It wasn’t. An acre later, some 500 lbs of red fife lay strewn across the ground. I kneeled in the dirt to count my precious seed. I had so looked forward to celebrating this day, but I can’t help but feel crushed. It’s not only the loss of grains that I had promised to a baker friend, nor the damper on my farm’s growth, but feeling disrespected and losing my crop when it could have been avoided.

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Rain on Grains

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Raining in July

Mendocino never gets rain in July. Until now. I’ve been ready to harvest for weeks, but the person who was going to harvest delayed. On the day after our originally slated harvest date, it rained. I hoped the fog and sprinkle wouldn’t permeate the heads to the grain seeds. I rolled heads between my hands and when a few days ago they’d burst out now no berries popped out. The grains were soft, moist with each bite. Will the crop make it? I don’t know.

Deer ate my grains, rains may be rotting them. These are challenges of farming with nature. We tried farming at odds with nature, thinking that the world is ours to control. Because we have, we’ve done much damage to the earth and each other. I’d rather feed the deer than poison or shoot them for entering the farm. They are important partners in managing the ecosystem. The rains may be inopportune for me, but it helps our region by alleviating the drought by just that little bit. If the grains rot, then at least I planted a crop that sequesters significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, returning it to the soil so that there’s less to warm our planet.

Still, let’s hope for sunshine.