lessons learned: what farming can teach us about patience

Life on a farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.

~Henri Alain

When I taught young children and as I raised my daughter, I had several lessons I wanted to impart–one of those was “practice being patient.”  If you know young children, it is a tall order to tell them “be patient” so I adapted it to “practice being patient.”  This phrase let them know that Ms. Cameron (or Mom) appreciated their excitement and curiosity but also wanted to teach them a skills that would serve them well.

Needless to say, the teacher was the worst student.

As I began my little suburban farm, I expected everything to happen quickly and effortlessly and perfectly the first time.  I wanted nature to be on my schedule.  The first year, I spent so much time concerned about the end result that I missed what the journey had to offer along the way.

a week's harvest
a week’s harvest

Cancer and two surgeries slowed me down the second year, thank goodness.  I didn’t just have to “practice being patient”–it was my only alternative.  I learned how to watch the sun and track where it would be at different times of the day.  I started composting with the notion that given time and the right ingredients, I’d have nutrients to enrich my soil.  Rather than tending to nature by confining it to my box of preconceived expectations, I let nature tend to me which offered me a new world of observation, simplicity, and even patience.

That’s when I became a farmer.

And so, as time has passed the last two years, I find myself nodding my head as friends and other gardeners tell stories of giant yields and early tomatoes, perfectly planned plots and gorgeous garden gizmos.   I get where they’re coming from, but me, well, I’m gonna put on my overalls, grab the pitchfork and go turn some compost.  The plants will grow themselves just fine.

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