Big Decisions

It’s the time of the season for seed inventory; the time when I bring up all my collective tins of garden seed–the nightshades and the kohl crops and the melons, cukes, and squashes, the corn, beans, and peas, and the herbs and flowers and make a list of everything I have so as to determine what I’ll need to order for the 2010 season.

But this year there will be some decisions to make–bigger decisions than usual–before placing those orders.

You see, I am attempting to assume primary custody of my son, and the court’s decision in late January on that matter will determine a lot of other things in my life, including the scale and shape of my farm business in the coming year.

Of all the parts of my working life, the farm will be the most affected by a change in custody if there is one.  My teaching gig affords me retirement and health insurance benefits plus a reasonable paycheck pretty much every month of the year.  That’s probably not going to change anytime in the near future–at least by my own doings.

I’ll still take on my responsibilities as Farmers Market Board president if they’ll still have me–I should probably get on canvassing for our next meeting to talk about this season and next.

The question is what elements of the CSA and market gardens I’d keep and what parts I might suspend or eliminate should my time be more involved in taking care of my son on a daily basis.

On the one hand, the CSA can be a bit of a grind what with weekly deliveries of a set amount of produce to a set number of people, but the time involved with actually harvesting and getting that produce to the members is less demanding than a four-hour stint at the market every week (with accompanying several-hour stint in harvest and prep).

On the other hand, the market gardening and sales at the farmers market allows me a bit more flexibility with what and how much I grow, and whether or not, in a pinch, I go to market at all (though missing a market also cuts down on the farm income and can also mean produce ending up in the compost rather than on someone’s table).

With the CSA, the deliveries have to be made no matter what–but in a pinch I could call on H or another friend to help with childcare if my son was under the weather or otherwise indisposed to go out on the delivery run.  Generally speaking, during the school year I make deliveries before school is out anyhow to cut down on traffic issues.

[Those readers in urban areas are now laughing their heads off at the idea of traffic in small-town South Dakota.  Yeah, I know.  But it can tack 5-10 minutes onto the round trip!]

While Thursdays selling at the market is probably my favorite time of the week during the regular season despite the work involved in preparation (a farmer needs her social time!), that seems to me the best place to make a cut if one is needed.

The overall time involved with harvesting, setting up, standing and selling extends beyond the end of the school day and into the dinner hour as well, making it a tricky proposition.  It’s possible I could ask one of my friends/market regulars to pick him up and bring him down to the market, but that seems like a lot to ask.

At this point, it’s impossible to know what will happen or what shape things will take for the coming year, but I’m trying to plan for several possible outcomes and situations.

In the end, I may make a “regular” seed order anyhow and try to use what I can and give away what I can’t use in a reasonable length of time should the situation warrant a cutback.

After all, the biggest reason for starting this business to begin with was to feed my own family the best food money can’t really buy in this area–and that remains a primary goal.  No matter what happens with the custody decision, at the very least I’ll be growing for us.

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2 responses

  1. good luck with your custody stuff. I’ll be going through that (again) next summer and I’m not looking forward to the stress! Does your son enjoy farm labor? They say work like that builds character and it’s a good way to bond if he has any interest in it. His presence may end up enhancing your farm activities, ya never know 🙂

    • Nope, I can’t say as he does enjoy much of the farm labor. I do manage to get him out there occasionally to help spot ripe tomatoes, little cukes, and (his favorite) sugar snap peas. It’s not hard to get him in the field when the snap peas are in season!

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