Office vs Work on the Land

 It is not an easy transition landing into the reality of farm work from a very romantic view of working on the land, to a very practical day-to-day scheduling and organizing the work. And doing that work!

Photo by Matt Audiffret

In the office with co-workers and all the tools, we had to schedule meetings and tasks was kind of automatic, and it took a bit of time every week, but we were in a well-established planning system and it didn’t take much effort.

Oh, how different that is now, being back home. First, it is not coworkers anymore, but our family members that we see and work with on daily basis. So there are a lot of preset ways of communicating and deciding what needs to be done. I am still many times lost in this specific dynamic and feel some days how I keep failing to do what needs to be done (at least in my head;). It can be very frustrating when you plan your day and then someone has a different idea of what is important to do. Or when you walk all the way up to the field and realize you forgot something that you need. Or when the tool you want to use to do that work is suddenly not working. Or the tractor doesn’t start. Or there is a small flood in the kitchen from who knows what….and you need to drop everything and figure out how to fix it because the service for such things takes a week or so for someone to come up here.

The upside of all this is that you don’t think in terms of our usual time anymore. Our rhythm is much more intuitive now and closer to our surroundings than before in the city.

Photo by Matt Audiffret

We wake up when animals are up. We know the working day starts when the church bell rings the first time. Then when the bells go on the second time and it’s time to cook and eat. And when the third time bells ring, we usually sit outside the kitchen after dinner, the sun is down and it’s time to call it a day.

There is also a physical aspect of the work. I cannot do 10–12 full hours outside like I could sit in front of the computer and in the meetings before. Funny how this never even entered my mind when we moved over. I was so programmed to be busy, that I threw myself into the work here with the same attitude as I did before when I worked in the office. It came as a surprise that I actually cannot finish the whole to-do list because my hands feel like noodles and I almost fall asleep eating the first course at lunch.

I only now know my body well enough now that I started to plan the most demanding work in the mornings when possible, so afternoons are a bit easier. And cooking lunch and short rest after in between. I guess this had to happen for me to really start to slow down.

And it is an ongoing process even after 18 months of being here. Planning and allowing that the day can turn around in its own way, pushing myself only to the point that my body allows and can recover in a day or two, not feeling guilty (or at least not every time) when chores are not done in a time I wanted to finish them.

I think it’s important to talk about that side of small farming too.

Mihela Hladin, Jul 22nd, 2022

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