Throughout this year, I’ve fielded the occasional inquiry from friends: Do you miss your old job?
If you ask, Do you miss the steady and comfortable income of your old job? I have to say yes. Who wouldn’t? But miss the job itself? The stressful work environment? The petty bickering? My answer is a vehement no (often with a colorful descriptor in front of the negative).
So why, then, do I love farming so much?
So many reasons come to mind. For once in my life, I’m doing seriously physical work, out in the elements no matter what (save for thunderstorms). And contrary to popular belief (at least among those who have known me for years), I actually find it richly rewarding. I’m sore at the end of the day, of course, but for once in my life, I actually feel as if I’ve done a day’s work.
And the work is productive. What could be more beneficial, more elemental, than growing the good, delicious, healthy, nutritious food that others eat? That, in fact, I eat? As I work, I learn techniques as well as an intuitive feel for how plants look, grow, and respond — lessons I can take to my own gardens and use for more impressive results.
I get paid reasonably well for a farming apprentice, and the benefits, while not including health insurance and the other fancy-pants perks of a desk job, are equally useful: produce “seconds” to keep me fed at home, the occasional surprise bonus of lacto-fermented garlic scapes or a hand tool (to name but two), a bottomless supply of iced tea in the brutally hot weather.
I’ve got a good boss, one I respect and who respects me. He has kindly accommodated my occasional physical limits (especially after a recent fender-bender) but also knows when to challenge me to get in gear and do something new. (Granted, the boss I had just before leaving the library shared these qualities — I’ve been fortunate all around.)
And I have the intangible joys of working outside on a sunny day; breathing in fresh air; picking fresh wild black raspberries; studying insects; inhaling the fragrances of tomato plants and freshly-dug root vegetables; and so very much more.
Personally, I think more people should be farming — finding out what it takes to grow the food we eat — as I think many of those people would find vast pleasure in the work, even with the pain. This year so far has been a revelation to me, and I am so glad I made this leap.
Call me crazy if you will, but I really love farming.