I gave birth to my son, Waylon, 6 years ago today.
We were living in a yurt, and the only farm structures were a sheep barn/seed house, woodshed/outhouse, and yurt.
The only “running” water came from a frost-free hydrant in the seedhouse in the middle of the field, and a squeaky hand pump in the yurt.
Sheep, turkeys, chickens, and pigs grazed on pasture.
We grew for 18 CSA shares on less than ⅓ of an acre.
This morning, before coming up to my writing nook, I sat outside the house with Edge for a few moments, taking in the flowering elderberries, the greenhouse and hoophouse, the nearly 1.5 acres of crops, the light fog whispering along the edges.
And I thought: we made all this together.
I remembered how nothing really happens on its own.
We’re a communal species, more than we realize. Our own sweat dropped into soil where mycelium runs, earthworms wriggle, and roots reach out.
Our own energy intertwined with the seeds that reach up, the sun that shines down, the water that quenches.
All of this growth comes from a million tiny things working together and supporting each other.
And amidst the growth, there’s cutting back.
Yesterday, as I deadheaded calendula, I thought: this is what I need to be doing — cutting back what’s not blooming, cutting back what’s diffusing my energy, and focus in on the few things that will bring me where I want to go.
It’s a fine balance between wildness and cultivation, between knowing when to let something go to seed and when to prune.
Right now it’s high summer, time to keep growing, time to stay focused if we’re to harvest all we plan on.
October will come sooner than I think, the sun will soften and go to bed earlier, and then I’ll let calendula scatter its seeds for a new generation.
But not yet.
What I’m getting at is this: prune what isn’t bringing you closer to your goals.
We don’t have sheep, turkeys, chickens, or pigs anymore.
We don’t use the old seedhouse attached to the sheep barn, which has transformed into a tool shed.
We no longer rely on the shallow spring that fed that squeaky hand-pump and frost-free hydrant.
Pruning all these is what let us take the leap to cultivating more acreage, to putting up a greenhouse and drilling a well, to having the time and space to plant elderberries, which are flowering now, panicles spread open on this cool morning.
What do you want to grow?
What’s spreading you too thin? Who’s holding you up, saying we can do this together?
There will always be distractions, detours, quack grass trying to sneak into the carrots.
But there will also be compost to give you a boost, ladybugs to eat the aphids, and your favorite hoe to clear the way.
We’re all in this together. We can grow and create beautiful things together. You can plant a seed and grow what brings you more alive.
Now Waylon’s in my lap, falling back asleep, too big to swaddle.
So I’ll leave this here.
My son snuggling, the fields growing, and a profound awe of what grows every day — of what we can be part of if we decide to dig in.
Are you a writer (or want to be one?) looking for guidance, structure, and community? Let’s write together.
Check out Harvesting Words, an online writing workshop for farmers and gardeners, and learn how to plant the seeds of your ideas, cultivate an effective and flourishing writing practice, and harvest words.