We spent most of last weekend on them last week too.
The weekend before, the three-day holiday weekend, was dominated by moving the chickens outside, finishing their fence, and odds and ends for them.
I am exhausted.
My job tires me, it frustrates me, irritates me, inspires me, but it's nothing compared to the exhaustion I feel after hammering fencing, digging up brick walkways, shoveling mountains of dirt, hauling 50 pound bags of chicken feed, and tending to the plants.
"Farmers toil. Nature laughs. Farmers weep. There's your history of agriculture in a nutshell," writes Kristin Kimball in The Dirty Life, you know, the book I wrote about a while ago and am still reading between turning dirt.
Sometime over the weekend, I told M that I can't cut it as a farmer. Okay, I said that quite a few times. When I realized my tomatoes had been eaten by bunnies and chickens, then my other baby tomatoes were looking rough, then my seedlings were dying. While dodging chicken poop all over our deck, because the free ranging birds do not respect the deck, and turning dirt in the sun for hours. Many of the veggie failures can be accounted for with our (mostly mine) over eagerness to get started before we had earth ready for planting. We'll get the timing down eventually.
He keeps saying, "We'll make a farmer out of you yet."
Did I mention how tired I am?
Farming isn't going to be our livelihood anytime soon. If I can get vegetables to produce enough for us to eat and to have on hand for hard winters, that will be a massive life achievement.
It's the kind of work you don't really think about while picking out your produce at the store, or even the farmers market. Knowing where your food comes from is great, but I have been developing a whole new respect for those who have fed me for the last 30 decades, because I certainly wasn't growing my own sustenance all these years.
I may never grow enough and my chickens my never produce enough for me to provide for anyone more than myself and M, but I can say, definitively, that growing food teaches you a few lessons.
If you want to eat, you have to do the heavy lifting. The turning dirt, pulling weeds, raking rocks, planting seeds and tending those baby plants.
It seems so simple, but after a day of shoveling, I am tired in a way I've hardly known my whole life.
You learn the interconnectivity of things. The chickens peck the grass (they're like mini lawn mowers!), they catch bugs, they poop EVERYWHERE, but that turns into rich soil that grows my veggies.
I won't pretend to have this under control. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm still a little unsettled by chicken feet, I think they look like little dinosaurs, and when they flap at me, I tend to jump back instead of just scooping them up.
I spilled chicken feed all over the hallway tonight, cursing the whole time, hoping the dogs wouldn't eat it while I was scooping it back into the bucket. Did I mention how unwieldy a 50 pound bag of chicken feed can be?
I'm not entirely sure where I was going with this other than even the early attempts at mini farming are exhausting. I'm still not sure I'm cut out for this, but I do want to keep trying. I do want to cook with vegetables we grew ourselves and I do want to go to bed at night knowing that the work I put into the day will yield something useful, edible, meaningful and purposeful.