So I decided to become a farmer the other day. Never mind the fact that the closest I’ve come to farming is the science project I’ve got going on in my refrigerator. I have that dangerous combination of determination, passion and ignorance often found in trailblazers like myself (and borderline personalities).
Determined to start this farming lifestyle as soon as possible, I headed over to the home improvement store to gather supplies. A nice young man in an orange apron approached, at which point I became the worst part of his day. A mere two and a half hours later, I was on my way home with a pile of items ill-suited to an uncoordinated graphic designer with a distaste for manual labor and sunlight.
Who are you calling a hoe?
Once home, I changed into a cute farming outfit, filled up my water bottle and headed outside. The plan was to build a wooden square, put dirt in it and wait for the bounty. While the plan took a bit of a detour that involved some flailing about and a near leg-gouging, the result was just as I’d expected—Mr. Weenie built the box for me, hauled it out of the shed and lugged giant bags of soil and compost (which, as it turns out, is actually made of poo) to the backyard.
After it became apparent that Mr. Weenie wouldn’t be joining me for the great sod bust of 2010, I grabbed a rusty old shovel (the gardening tool, not the spouse) and got to work. As torrents of sweat cascaded down my neck, back and legs into my cute little farming socks, I began to question my plan. After all, there was a Whole Foods just minutes down the road, and aside from slight queasiness at paying seven dollars for a head of lettuce, there would be little physical discomfort involved.
Don’t quit the day job.
Considering my SAT math scores, it was no surprise that my soil estimates were a tad off. Apparently one must multiply to get square footage, not subtract. After another trip to Home Depot I proceeded to dump 1.5 square feet of dirt directly into my left shoe. (Note to self: Must get new farming socks.) Bags two and three were uneventful, but the peat moss I borrowed from my neighbor held a magical surprise in the form of a roach infestation.
While I don’t believe roaches are living creatures, but rather denizens of hell that must be eradicated, I just didn’t have the stomach (or enough feet) to squish the mass of unholy filth pouring forth from the bag of peat moss. In a nauseating flashback to the time I left half an order of fried cheese sticks out on the desk of my freshman dorm room overnight, I was left with only one option: Scream like a 4-year-old girl, do freakish terror-jig in my box of dirt, madly attempt to flip disgusting roaches out of dirt box with rake while instead flipping self over side of box and into tree stump.
After a bit of “tilling” (I made little decorations in the dirt with my nifty rake), I was ready to plant some veggies. Have I mentioned that I don’t really like vegetables? I find them pretentious, and they take too long to chew. However, since I don’t eat meat that lives on land and has legs, I find my diet to be awfully limiting when I cut out all vegetables. If only they could get broccoli to taste like bacon. (Mmmm…bacon…why must you live on land and have feet??)
So back to planting. I bought seeds as well as sprouted plants since I don’t really believe in seeds. The idea that burying tiny grains of organic matter will result in roasted beets on a bed of Swiss chard is kind of like believing in the existence of Santa Claus or Retirement.
On your mark—get set—GROW!
I guess I got a little excited in the gardening department, because I wound up with 27 sprouted plants plus seeds for spinach, chard, beets, radishes, carrots, sugar snap peas, parsley, three types of lettuce and some sort of alien squash I’ve never seen before. As I looked at my sad little 4′x4′ garden, I had visions of the Stonehenge scene from the movie, This is Spinal Tap, where a computational error in drawing up plans for a famous rock band’s giant set-piece results in a bunch of leprechauns dancing around an 18-inch version of the iconic English monument. Farming, it turns out, is hard. And it involves math.
Undaunted, I bravely moved on to the sowing of the seeds. Step 1: Carefully read instructions on outside of seed packets to determine planting depth, spacing, water/sun requirements, etc. Step 2: Ignore instructions. Instead, dig holes, dump seeds into holes, stir seeds around with finger, make nifty little plant label stakes, forget where and what you planted, randomly stick labels into dirt wherever you think you might have planted something, admire cute gardening hat, eat ice cream sandwich.
While I may be a seed atheist, I do believe in seedlings that I buy from a nursery. Therefore, they received the prime spot on the farm–right in the center. In hindsight, it might have been a little easier to plant the center of the box before the perimeter, but with such low expectations, it hardly mattered. As I stood watering my green babies that evening, I felt a disturbing, yet not entirely unpleasant sensation around the zipper of my pants. Turns out the hose had sprung a leak, and I was standing right over it—a fitting end to a challenging day.
Morning has broken… and so has your back.
I awoke the next morning unable to move—pain shooting down my neck, shoulders and hamstrings. I used the momentum of my one working limb to flip over and into a position where I could hang my legs off the side of the bed, slide to the floor, wriggle over to the wall and into a standing position. Piece of cake. (until I had to put on shoes)
An hour later, shoes firmly attached, I went out to survey the land. Apparently farming is one of those delayed gratification activities, but two days later I couldn’t believe my eyes—some of the seeds had sprouted! They were next to a sign that said “radish,” so they might have been radishes! They also could’ve been carrots or weeds, but at least they were alive. It was official—I was a Farmer! Time to update my Linkedin profile.
1990 – 2010: Graphic Designer
Last Friday afternoon – present: Farmer