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I learned to can fruit a few weeks ago. I was shown to wipe the rim of the jar for the sake of cleanliness and to allow the lid to seal properly when it’s being pressurized. It’s such a small detail, and not really a necessity, but for some reason, it made sense to me and it felt like a punctuation of completeness. This tiny, ritualistic step stuck with me that day and as I walked to my car that day I started to think about all the little things we all do that make us feel complete. Whether they are necessary or not, big or small, crucial in this moment or not, we still do them for some reason or another. I wondered, do little things like wiping the rim of a glass jar REALLY matter? I mean, WHO cares? They probably make no difference to the naked eye, but for some reason, for me, wiping that rim marks a sense of completion and a presence of quality and love.

I began to reel through a list of small things I do on the farm and for each one, I felt a sense of wholehearted engagement. It completes me to whisper sweet nothings to the farm crops, to tickle each fertile fig, pat down the kale leaves to the beat of a pop song, or tousle the tresses of yard long beans. I have no proof that my actions make a difference to the crops, but I feel more whole, more alive, and more like I’ve left my love-print on each sprawling vine when I do these small, ritualistic things.

So, is it needed? Probably not. Do I do it anyway. Yes. Why? Because it fills in gaps where there were dry crevices, it makes me giggle on the inside, and it makes me feel like I’m connected to a larger rhythm of nature. Here are just a few more of the ritualistic sweet nothings I do on the farm.

To the chickens I say “Hi Cookies” and blow them air kisses.

When I transfer tomatoes into four inch pots, I drop soil and turn the pot counter clockwise eight times before I move onto the next.

  1. I knock 4 times on the outhouse wall before entering. For courtesy and because 4 times feels more definite than 3.
  2. When watering the seedlings, I water across the rows from back to front and then do a second round in a clockwise circular motion towards the center. I just want to makes sure they can’t complain of not making contact with the shower head.
  3. When I drop produce boxes on site, all boxes are arranged like a fan with names facing out. They just look happier that way.
  4. At the Farmers market, I stage all the Asian pears with their tops pointing straight up. Pears Gone Wild.
  5. The eggs are placed nose down (as always) and filled from one end to the other. Being unbalanced is…well, funnier looking.
  6. For wheatgrass seeding, kelp and feather meal layering, from the top left-hand corner to the bottom right-hand corner, I diagonally spread the seed or meal evenly like barber stripes. Taste the rainbow.
  7. When seeding new crops, I poke seed holes from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the seed tray. Then fill with vermiculite from top left corner to bottom right corner and then offer a generous coating all over the tray like parmesan cheese on lasagna. Mmmm, lasagna.
  8. I scoop up the chickens under the nook of my left armpit when I’m putting them back into the coop. Left side, the side where I hang my purse. Just feels right.
  9. Tie my apron strings around the back and then a taught bow in the front, just left of center. Also exactly where my political beliefs stand at 7 o’clock in the morning.

 

I do all of these things on the farm. They are part of my ritualistic routine. They may not have real purpose or any real impact on the ROI of the farm, but they make me feel complete, intentional and whole hearted. I figure, if nothing else than my own quirky relationship to the farm, these could be the signs of a tender, loving existence.