Welcome to April in Vermont, where temperatures wildly shift and there's about a foot of snow still on the ground. Welcome to the farmer whose most recent experience is in Pennsylvania, where even with a snowy winter, crops grew through the coldest times in the high tunnel and harvests started in February or March and continued through the summer. Soil turning would happen anywhere from now to within 2-3 weeks.
Now, I am looking at getting into the ground in May. Another month. Even with glorious sun and one day with temps in the 50s, it's hard to believe that this day will come, when the earth is visible, and the seeds I have purchased can be put to good use.
It is the job of every farmer, I think, to plan and envision the future. For me, as a newer farmer on new land, the vision feels more like a dream, more like something that might or might not happen in the face of so much uncertainty. Having land does not mean anything will grow on it. Having time and seeds doesn't mean that there will be harvest. Getting from seed packet to harvest, though I've done it 8 or more years now, is a long and uncertain process. I can plan and envision. I can do my best. I can try to listen closely to the land, and respond appropriately. There are no guarantees. The science of farming is powerful, needed, and all the knowledge in the world cannot control the outcomes of planting and growing food.
My father is having surgery to replace a valve in his heart. He called to tell me last week that it will be a cow valve that will replace the one that currently is so covered in plaque that it has a hard time opening. As the time for the surgery gets closer, I am having the desire to know more about it, and the subsequent desire to know nothing about it. I want to be with my father during this time in the most authentic way I know how, and I'm not so sure understanding all the science behind it will help me with that.
Because I believe that science can explain itself as much as it can, and there is still a vast uncertainty to this surgery. Because the faith I need to believe in my father's chances for success is not based in science. Because I believe in the requirement that we engage in acts of faith-- wild leaps of possibility into a great uncertainty, with the hopes for the best possible outcome-- in order to live our most full and meaningful lives.
I know my father continues to move, willing or no, into the acts of faith that will define these years for him. I know I am embracing faithful leaps with this risky, and well planned, farm venture. These acts of faith are powerful and humbling, and leave us both leaping into the stream of life that will carry us where it will. Where it wills, and where we will find ourselves, on the other side.