It’s April and I’m not farming, not seeding in the greenhouse all day, and waiting for the perfectly dry day when my Carrot will till the pea beds and we can get them seeded.
There are pea seeds. Plenty of them. We placed our seed order in early December before we knew there would be no applicants for our two management positions, before the hoophouse came down, before the equipment catalogue was delivered with prices twice as high as they were the year prior, and before we admitted to ourselves that we needed to stop.
So there are pea seeds, and tomato seeds, and bean seeds, and onion seeds, but as of right now, there’s no plans to put them in the ground. It’s a weird sensation. To have this part of the business inside our home, but to not have the business in our hearts, consuming every fiber of our being and every decision we make.
Even weirder still that the farm we loved so deeply for nine years isn’t even a part of our regular routine. The farm is ten miles south of our home, and our travels rarely take us south. I haven’t set foot on the farm since January when I visited my parents and forced myself to walk around the hoophouse and take it all in, to come to terms with the changes in front of us instead of hiding from them.
My Carrot has been there a few times. He’s done a little maintenance in the greenhouse, cleaned a few things up, dumped out our compost bucket and filled our five gallon water jugs from the well. Our bodies are still full of water from the farm. Our produce scraps are still preparing to become soil there one day.
But mostly the farm is absent from our lives. An idea more than a place: an idea that ceases to exist when we aren’t giving it a basis in reality.
Despite it all, even the weird, hard, beautifully bittersweet feelings of resting, we are happy. Our lives feel fuller than they did before which I don’t think either of us expected. It’s probably thanks to Lilly, who makes everything more rich than it was before.
And also probably because for once, in this crazy journey of entrepreneurship that asks one to push, push, push, and build resilience, and problem solve, and make endless sacrifices above all else, we stopped to pause and listen to ourselves instead. When ourselves said “This is not sustainable. You need a BREAK. You deserve a BREAK.”
I believe the universe smiles on you when you stop and listen. Or maybe, our minds just get a rest when we stop and listen. And that leads to more opportunities to smile. Whatever it is, however it happened, things are going well. They’re fun even, which I really didn’t expect.
We made the decision to take a break from the farm without looking at any of our finances. We knew we had a great season last year. We knew we had some debt we could make smaller payments on and a small savings to fall back on if things got really bad, but we didn’t really know anything beyond that. It was a true leap of faith. We trusted we were smart capable people who would be able to figure something out.
We both expected to work full-time immediately and honestly, that filled me with immense stress through January and February. We had no plan for childcare and my Carrot had no potential job prospects. We didn’t plan. We just paused. It was a true leap of faith.
What’s happened since has been a steady stream of freelance gigs all centered around food and farmers. Enough in fact that for now my Carrot has been able to put out feelers, take care of Lilly full+ time, and wait for the right opportunity to come into our lives, or no opportunity if my freelance work keeps snowballing in the beautiful way it has been (PSST local food enthusiast with endless experience in CSA and farming available for hire in the realms of recipe development, consulting, social media management, copywriting, and honestly, whatever else we can dream up together). The “no opportunity” plan would give him space to farm and grow food for us with Lilly for fun. Which feels incredibly indulgent and incredibly right.
We’ll see what happens. There’s much uncertainty around us all the time. It feels as if our lives shift by the week, new possibilities floating in and out of our lives, some of them sticking, some of them leaving just as quickly as they were dreamed up.
It makes us both go crazy at times. When we keep on trusting, things go better.
As for this space here, I have no desire to ever let it go. As I juggle recipe development and freelance projects that wax and wane in scope and time commitment, I’ll continue to carve out a few minutes to share our lives and our recipes with you when I can. If you need more, my Instagram account is turning into a beautiful delicious space of its own.
I’m also considering starting a Substack to fund this beautiful work of creating and sharing that I’ve been doing for nearly a decade now. If that excites you, please do let me know. If you have ideas for what you’d like to see in a more formal newsletter, let me know that as well. It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for years but need some help in structuring.
Anyhow, that’s where we’re at, nearly four months into this huge decision we made last December.
And I chose to share this particular recipe right now because it matches pretty much exactly how I feel in this moment: hanging onto the past (hello last storage celeriac in April), dreaming of new beginnings (with fresh herbs from Lovefood Farm and Winterfell Acres), and playing with the ripe opportunities that come into our lives (yup, those pears from the Willy Street Co-op were perfect and unexpected).
The flavors balance each other, enrich each other even, and that’s a beautiful thing.
P.S. We have done a little local traveling since Lilly came into our lives 8 months ago. I’ll be doing a road-trip round up soon with tips for Duluth, Indiana, and the lovely cabin we stayed at outside Black River Falls.
CELERIAC PEAR SLAW
This recipe is a lovely side dish with just about any spring meal, but we’re partial to putting a pile on top of a shredded pork sandwich, making it more fun and interesting than a plain old slaw. I also added it to my rice and lentil bowl earlier this week and could see a pile of it faring well on some tacos or a salad as well. Slaws are always in my fridge for this reason. They allow you to use any veggies you have on hand and dress up any meal.
Makes enough for 4-6 side dishes
Takes 20 minutes
4 cups shredded celeriac
1 pear, matchsticked
1/3 cup minced chives
1/3 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted pepitas, coarsely chopped*
- Combine celeriac, pear, chives, and cilantro in a large bowl.
- Whisk together oil, vinegar, mayo, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper until smooth and creamy.
- Add dressing to veggies and herbs, and toss to combine. Add pepitas just before serving.
*I pulled out pepitas and that’s what I tested this recipe with, but since then, I spotted the local hazelnuts in my pantry and realized they would have been even better. Try those if you have them on hand.