Greentree Naturals Newsletter Winter 2017
Winter Solstice arrived with an arctic blast that has had us in a deep freeze ever since. The temperatures have been in the single digits, which moves us to spending more time indoors than out. It is always such an extreme from summer to winter months in many more ways than just the difference of temperatures. We've moved from spending 12-14 hours a day outside during the growing season, to only hour or two outside; on negative zero days, we don't go outside at all other than to feed and water the chickens and gather eggs, or walk to the mail box.
During the farming season, once the crops are in the fields, we move into a routine of harvesting, processing, weighing, bagging, and delivering our produce with trips to town three days a week. There is a rhythm to it all, and fortunately we still enjoy it. When winter comes, we make every effort to just stay on the farm as much as possible. To me, this is heaven! I only went to town once in December, and anticipate only a couple of town days will be needed in January. Not meaning to be anti-social, but most certainly selectively social. Winter is time to rest, create, write, read, and do some inside work.
We have a freezer full of local meats, pork, chicken and beef we purchased from local farmers, and lots of food stored up from our summer harvest. Our chickens lay eggs all winter, so we are just spoiled with the bounty of the farm. I understand the true meaning of contentment and am quite happy to stay home. There's no place like home.
I am forever grateful that I traveled so much in my youth. My lifestyle was such that I would work for 8 or 9 months for the USFS, then travel the rest of the year. I spent years traveling throughout the western US, exploring National Parks and lots of hot springs wherever I could find them. Most of those years I traveled in my old 1959 stubby school bus that only went 45 mph, which is the perfect travel speed for seeing more. I'm home, and with a full heart, most certainly filled with gratitude.
Looking back over the past year, I can say this was a particularly unusual growing season for us because we both had injuries this year. It was a season of letting go of things we couldn't do & just doing our best. Some days our best was quite a bit less than others, but we survived. Thom had arthroscopic surgery on both knees, and I wore an ankle brace for 3 months for a torn ligament and tendon, which healed on its own. Sometimes you just have to be grateful for the simple pleasures like being able to take a walk without pain. We are both on the mend now, and looking forward to the new year being injury free. Our motto: Slow and steady wins the race!
Diane is working as a consultant for the University of Idaho Small Farms program again, which involved presenting & facilitating several live webinars on sustainable agriculture, whole farm planning, and crop production. The work continues to be a passion that melds well with farming. This fall, I presented two sessions at the National Women in Sustainable Ag conference & was a part of the luncheon key note panel in Portland. This winter I am developing a farmer mentor training program and revising a hand book that I developed in 2008 that will become an official publication for University of Idaho.
When people ask us about retirement, we have to laugh and often say "we were tired yesterday, and we'll be tired tomorrow"; that's retirement for us and most of the farmers we know. When you do what you love, what the heck?
That said, Thom does say that he is not returning to do tree planting inspections next year, which is the end of 30+ years of working in the woods. He had a huge contract in the spring that kept him away from the farm for over 6 weeks. It was a challenge with his knee pain, but he did it none-the-less. You do what you've got to do. I suspect that Thom's knee issues were just the normal wear & tear of hiking up and down mountains for all those years, but his work up and down ladders building the new wood shed and completing the wiring inside the big greenhouse made things worse. My gosh, that man can get things done! And our beautiful wood shed is full of wood that is keeping us warm and toasty this winter.
When I was at the airport in Portland, I bought a ticket for their electric train to get to my motel. Options for ticket purchase included an "Honored Citizen" discount, which was a sweet way of referring to a senior citizen. We are the elders now, and grateful for the years of living a fulfilling life getting to do what we love. Aging provides years of perspective and reminds me that every day is a gift.
At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought, but what we built; not what we got, but what we shared; not our competence, but our character; and not our success, but our significance. Live a life that matters, live a life of Love. We are happy to look forward to the new year with optimism and wish each of you peace, good health and prosperity in the New Year.
Winter Garden gate & winter driveway