When this journey began, I was already into my gardening season. I had one garden already planted and another waiting on the weather to break so that I could get out and prep and plant it for my early summer crops. Because it was so wet this spring (2010) it was about 2 weeks later than usual but not that big of a problem. In addition to the plot that was planted and the new plot awaiting planting, I was also trying to figure out a way to establish a new place to grow after I moved.
I had a lot of plants in the greenhouse that needed to get into the ground but their harvest season would occur after I was hopefully moved, so I transported my tomatoes, eggplants and some pepper plants to the new location. Unfortunately, being 40 miles away from my plants at the moment is making me kinda nervous anyway. The new location had several major storms blow through and I was worried that things might have been damaged by the wind and rain.
The situation I found myself in back in early May was beyond anything I seemed to be able to do much about. The garden situation turned into just one in a long series of bad luck and setbacks. Having one garden to manage would have been easy, even with the rain and other adverse conditions. I could have worked around it.. we've done it before, many times. But having the garden I need to be tending the most be 40 miles away (which is an hour trip each way for me...the route is thru some of the most congested traffic in this area) proved to be extremely hard to work around.
What I have written on this blog up until now about my reasons for moving (especially the part about the moving of the Farm being instigated by my need to be closer to family) is only a tiny bit of the truth. I did need to be closer to them but I had a much more distressing reason for making this move back to my hometown.
In the first week after Dave's passing, his mother announced to me that she was planning on renting Dave's beloved organic fields to another farmer, where he intended to grow hay. I was not offered ANY choice, not the opportunity to stay and be the renter, nothing. Just pretty much "you need to go", implied the sooner the better. That happened in late March. Imagine if you will the effect that would have on a grieving widow, who had not even had time to wrap herself around the fact that her husband was gone forever...I was completely devestated by this announcement. I didn't get out of bed for 2 days.
Ironically, she said that she wasn't pushing me to leave and in the next breath was telling me that she also intended to remodel the house where the two of us had lived for the last 10 years and rent it out. And that I needed to get all of my equipment, tomato cages, plant stakes, etc, out of the field by June 1st, because that was when the new farmer would want to start working in the field. That all needed to be done by the time school started which is August. I was too stunned to even reply to most of what she said to me that day.
Since the remodel on the house would take about abt 2 months minimum by my estimate, so that didn't leave me much time since it was already April. If the house needed to be vacated for the new tenant moving in by August and repairs needed to be done before that...well, you see where I am going with this. Without giving me an actual date to be out, that was effectively exactly what she did. In other words, I had between 45 and 60 days to move the last 10 years of my life....my home, my farm....everything. So much for not pushing me out.
The thing that puzzled me at first about all of this is that Dave was staying at her house during this time and she had been included in many of our conversations about the Farm. We all knew Dave would not be able to do any work this year and talked at length about what would happen with the garden, with CSA, etc.
We talked at length about how I would manage things with Dave unable to participate physically (at this point, we were not counting on him not surviving past March...he was not that sick until the last 4-5 weeks before he died). Our garden plan for this year was to use the small plot for early spring crops and to plant just a portion of the larger garden space that we knew I could manage with little or no assistance. That was a good plan and it would have worked out fine. I had volunteers waiting in the wings to help me with anything I needed help with at the Farm. Dave's mother knew way before Dave's death that this was our plan.
She listened and sat in silence. At any time, while Dave was alive, she could have voiced her intentions. She could have given me some time to adjust. Dave could have helped me make a new plan. She was completely aware that I had obligations to my CSA members and that what this farm produced was my sole source of income. She heard me tell Dave that I would do whatever I could to keep the Farm going. She even sat at Dave's memorial service and listened to the pastor read a eulogy that included the statement from me that stated "I will continue to operate New Moon Farm Organics, no matter what happens in the future. It is Dave's legacy, what he leaves be ind as a testament to his dedication and love of what we do here. I intend to continue our dreams and follow the path..."
And yet she sat through those conversations (and in that church) and never said a word to either Dave or myself about her intentions for the Farm. If at any point prior to Dave's death she had expressed that she needed to do something different with the Farm, she had more than ample opportunity to speak up to both of us. AND I would not now be in the position I find myself.
Our farm has always been Dave's "family farm" and we have never stated otherwise, to anyone. His mother is the one in control of it and perfectly within her rights to do whatever she likes with it. I cannot and do not blame her for that. I do blame her for being such a coward for not speaking up when Dave was alive. I know it was because she didn't want to promise him that I could stay or that the Farm would go on. She never "got" what we were doing there at the Farm so there is no surprise there. She claimed at the time that she needed the money from the rental income which I can understand, but did she just realize she needed it 5 days after Dave died? I find that so very hard to believe.
Unfortunately, in addition to not speaking up about what she planned on doing with the Farm, Dave's mother also kept changing things on me and then I have to scramble to get yet another part of all of this done. About 2 weeks after telling me that she was renting the fields to someone else, she announced that he needed to get in the field by May 1, which means that I had to scramble to get everything out of the field by Apr. 30, which I did. It also meant I had to scramble to get something in the ground at the new place. Then it seems that the new tenant changed his mind because of the rain and won't need to be in the fields until July or August, maybe even September.
And so, I could have planted in the big garden after all which makes me very angry. I do not intend for this to be a diatribe against Dave's mother and I am sorry if it sounds that way. I just think that to understand what I am up against here, I need to make the situation here clear to everyone.
I am grateful that my parents offered me the use of their land (it will be mine someday, so that was logical) but it is simply a flat field at the moment. Nothing has been done to prep the soil, etc. That is why I came up with the idea of setting up the raised beds first. I want to raise herbs in beds eventually, so that seemed logical,too, to start with those. Dave and I grew a whole lot of stuff in a tiny garden space before and I know how to achieve that using intensive and square foot methods of growing. Not a problem...in theory. That is also why things are easily blown about, etc.
Raised beds have extremely loose soil and so the roots of plants do not have quite the anchor that they would if growing deeper root systems, etc. One other problem with moving is that I will be 58 years old in August and being forced to move in with my parents. Even though it will be temporary, it is still a bit of a struggle to get my mind around that one, too. I haven't lived at home since I was 18. To say that we have different ideas on most things would be the understatement of the century. They are great, though, and so willing to accomodate me. It must be almost as hard for them but things we do for love...
And then there is the emotional aspect of all of this. I am having to break up 16 years of our life together during a period of time in my life when I am grieving for the man I loved more than life. It took me three weeks to even be able to walk into his closet and then I just stood there and cried. Imagine having to pack up all of his belongings, basically the entire last decade of our live together, under such pressure and in such a short time. This has been gut wrenching for me but I have no choice but to move ahead best I can. I miss him but sometimes, I really need him here to help me figure out what to do.
The expense of this move has also been something that has been more of a burden that I could have forseen. I moved an entire household and farm so storage of my belongings has been an issue. I rented a POD to move in and it filled up, so I had to rent another storage unit. I have things stored in somebody's garage, in
another person's attic, in my mom's spare bedroom....I just hope I can remember where everything is if I ever find a place of my own to live in.
So far this journey has not been a pleasant one. It is like climbing a mountain. Just one thing after another...and another...and another... I am still trying to find for 3 of my dogs, which is like trying to find homes for my children. Dave's beloved dog, Jack, died not too long ago and that was very hard to take. I brought some of my cats with me, but I only found homes for some of the others, so I had to call someone to come and take the rest of them away. No choice. That will haunt me forever.
I had to divest myself of my beloved Delaware chickens because there is no where to put them at the new place and I do not have the time to build a new coop. I hand raised them from hatchlings and while I know that they are "only" chickens to some people, they are not to me. The cats that I have rescued over the last 2 years will have to go to the pound because nobody will take them since they are not pretty little house kitties. I have so loved all of those furred and feathered creatures and now I have had to banish them to fates I have no control over. I think that might finishing breaking my heart completely in two.
So, with all of that said (and there is more, I am just sparing you anymore of this maudlin tale) I just do not think that I can go on with CSA this year BY MYSELF. I made a committment to you all, monetarily and ethically and I have thought long and hard about how to uphold that committment. I know that most of you signed on with me because of specific reasons and I know what most of those reasons are. I have found a couple of other small farmers in and around Lincoln County who are willing to partner with me, until I can finish getting moved and settled into the new place and get things rolling there or possibly all season if we want, to provide high quality produce for the CSA.
These are people that I trust and would buy from myself and those of you who know me know that I hold others up to high standards. There is also a meat producer, a honey farmer & a fruit farmer, that I might also be able to work with. It seems an equitable solution to the situation for now. Only problem is that I need another week or two to get everything arranged logistically, meaning that we would not be picking up CSA this Saturday. We will still get in the 12 weeks or I would refund for any missed weeks at the end of CSA. And so that is crux of the situation with CSA and New Moon Farm.
I know it is the 11th hours on this but I have been pushed into such a corner and this last week has kind for forced my hand. I am not making this decision, everybody will make their own decision as to wheter or not to participate. This solution may not suit everyone and so if you do want to continue to participate in CSA under these conditions, I totally understand. I am sorry for your involvement in all of this. If I had my way and things were different I would not have shared that very personal tale with you all. It is my burden to bear.
Since it is affecting us all at the moment, though, I felt it was necessary to let everyone know what was happening and why. And so that is what is going on at the Farm. Thanks for your support. I totally understand if you want to opt out of CSA. And I can't apologize enough for this to be coming so late in the season. I truly thought that things were working out until the last couple of weeks and that I would be moved and all settled in by now.
Best to you all. Suzanne