What Do I Get Out Of It?
Working on a big project
Most of the tasks I take on have fairly short-term, defined goals (deliver job X by date Y, repeat), so it’s good to have a different overarching framework to hang more diverse targets onto, in the service of something bigger.
A shared project
Tal and I work on this together, every day, and make plans for the farm’s future. We worry and laugh about the same things, and share in the achievements. Maybe most people’s #couplegoals involve less mud, poop, and feathers, but this seems to work.
Health and fitness
Don’t worry, I’m not about to share any bathroom selfies, but the exercise of farm work has put me in the best shape of my life. It has also done it in a way that adapts me for the kinds of effort I need to exert. We have a gym in the house that I use as top-up when real life doesn’t provide me with enough exercise, but I haven’t needed to use it in ages. I never have to decide to “get in shape” or set any “fitness goals”. I show up and do the work, and the rest just happens.
Farm work gets me outdoors, and where we live, outdoors is an extraordinarily beautiful place. I see a lot more sunrises, I’m more aware of the passing of the seasons, and I’m exposed to the beauty of the place, which is always there, even on rainy days.
Meet more people
Getting things we need for the farm, like fish, crab, sawdust, information, or allies, forces me outside my comfort zone. I talk to people, pitch them ideas, tell them about the farm, teach them things or learn from them, negotiate, argue, and all kinds of human interaction stuff that I might miss otherwise.
This isn’t just our thing. A lot of people around our town contribute resources and supplies, in mutually beneficial ways. Others visit and look around, ask questions, or just grin as they see a flock of chickens running around a field. Then there are volunteers and would-be volunteers who offer their help. I enjoy being in the middle of that.
Whether it’s something as big and long-term as a barn conversion, or as small and immediate as a perch for a lame hen, farming constantly throws practical design challenges at me. I find that a diet of diverse challenges makes me better at designing all kinds of things, and that’s very satisfying as well as useful.
Complementary with translation
I’m a freelance translator, working from home. It has a lot of upsides, but it’s a sedentary, insular, and screen-based profession. The attributes of farming, described above, round out what I get from translation into a more balanced life (OK, it’s work-work balance, but it’s still balance).