Sunday, February 3, 2013

Quotable Sunday 02/03/2013: Finding A Natural Balance

Our 10th  Year on the Farm and Discovering Nature's Purpose.

I know this is a strange title for a post but its meaning will become clearer as things progress. When Denise and I started farming flowers it evolved into a complete transition from the life we had led up to that point in the Fall of 2003. Let me give you a little history.  We used to live in what I call the other world, "The Cubicle World"

 The Cubical World is composed of basically 2 parts the first is economic.  When young and in our 20's we both followed the traditional path of first college, professional degrees, mine in accounting and finance hers in secondary education.  Then once out of college we both pursued jobs in the"Professional" way. I started work at a manufacturing company and Denise teaching history at a high school. Economically we began to grow and develop security and transition into the Adult life we were supposed to have.  Every week day we would get up and go to our jobs.  For me it meant pushing papers, making spreadsheets, analyzing costs etc..I actually worked in a cubicle.  But honestly, it quickly became a job, a mechanism to obtain money to get things.  Material things, the house, the cars, the toys of life.  Granted these things and my job contributed greatly to our comfort but it lacked passion and in time became mind numbing.  Worse yet for me it became a 20 plus year disconnection from Nature, from the cycles and the seasons of life.  

How did I deal with the blah routines and stresses of professional life in the late 20th century?  That leads us to the second part of living in the Cubicle World.."The Infotainment sphere"  A strange phrase, what is infotainment?  It starts with the passive world of the media you consume. Sitting in front of the TV I began to notice that the dang machine was always on and that it wasn't so much important what was watched but the escape or decompression time  it provided.  As computers and the internet evolved it too became part of the escape, part of the media.  I mean, okay, I was part of the first generation raised on TV right? Its logical that it became an ubiquitous part of life,  always there, always on.  Maybe, but for me I began to notice that what was evolving was the continuous selling of everything and a faster and faster evolution of devices to deliver whatever was being pushed.

Books became mechanisms to sell movies. Movies became mechanisms to sell products or political agendas.  Political agendas fill the radio airwaves.  PC's evolved into smartphones and then tablets.  The internet delivers infotainment on demand.    On and on it seemed like everything was becoming packaged, integrated, manipulative, and costly.  Each slice of infotainment came at a small cost..only $29.99 for Dish network, only $150 per month for the family plan smartphone with a data plan, only $39.99 per month for amazing internet service, these costs are cumulative.  I began to realize that I'm paying a lot to escape and be entertained.

Paying in the technical sense was just money, but money in the purest sense was also my time. So I began to think about how much of my time was the infotainment sphere actually consuming between using the products and working to pay for them and their delivery devices it.  It was staggering. To purchase and pay for the content and device delivery plans it equated to 160 hrs per year of work, in addition the consumption of this stuff probably averaged 5 hours a day 7 days a week or about 2200 hours a year.  Total hours spent 2360 or lets just say 2400 hours a year.  When you consider that if you sleep 8 hours a night and are awake 16 hours a day there are only 5840 hours available in a year, so 40% of my time was being spent on "infotainment"

So with 40% my time spent at my cubicle job and 40% of my time spent in the infotainment sphere, that left 20% of my time to do what?  As you can guess the remaining time was spent living, you know, getting the groceries, fixing things around the house, taking care of life.  This wasn't the fulfilling life we wanted and we both knew we had to change.

The life event that pushed this change was the end of my cubicle career. Due to business decisions made by a Corporate entity 3000 miles away my job was eliminated (as well as those of  the other 105 people working in the factory that I formerly managed). At first this created angst and confusion because the professional world I lived in and became comfortable with was abruptly ended.  After a short while though we both realized that this was the opening to begin something in the pursuit of a passion instead of just a paycheck.
Denise had always wanted to be involved with floral design and I always loved working outside with nature so flower farming seemed to be a natural fit.

So in 2003 we opened with our first season as Bare Mountain Flowers(Farm). With little first hand experience we made a lot of mistakes along the way.  But as time has progressed, this will be our 10th season, we have learned much from the kindness of others, through our professional association with the Assoc. Specialty Cut-Flower Growers, and from other local growers of food and vegetables.

What we have really learned (relearned) is that once you mostly unplug from the infotainment sphere and cubicle world and seriously begin to watch the cycles of the days, seasons, and even the years you begin to fully understand that the 21st century world that modern America has become for the most part is fake. Its not built on the real things of life.

What I mean by this is simple.  Think of the nature of each day, each week and each season. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The days get long then they get short, the seasons get warm, then they get cold.  Each plant, each animal, each of God's creations follows these cycles throughout each day, throughout each year and throughout their lives.  When you disconnect with that, when you live in the infotainment sphere I have to imagine that you will always subtly know something important is missing. We as humans, as part of the existence of this planet, have to reconnect to its nature, slow down and be part of it.

 If we have accomplished anything in the last 10 seasons here on the farm it is this reconnection to the natural world.  It drives us. We farm our land in as natural a manner as possible.  We strive to limit inputs from outside the farm.  We vow to use no man made chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizer.  We vow to treat the soil with respect and feed it and the communities that live in it. We strive to create a sustainable system that produces healthy flowers and food and to leave our land better than when we started farming. 

We also have learned (the hard way) that we have to understand our own cycle of life. That we must eat well, wholesome foods, that we must adequately rest, that we must not plan, schedule and work ourselves into oblivion, and that we must stay connected to the people who are important to us.  So as nature is balanced so must we be with our health and our daily lives.

So in a nutshell,  what took me  50+ years of life and 10 years of farming  to learn is that I must accept the natural balance to life. If we can all find this balance perhaps we'll all  live longer,  healthier and hopefully happier lives.

   --Farmer Tony----

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
Dale Carnegie


  1. This was a GREAT post. Thank you. Living a simpler life is what my husband and I have lived and I want to continue living that way now that he is gone.

    This statement is oh so true, but most people don't see it.

    *the 21st century world that modern America has become for the most part is fake. Its not built on the real things of life.*

    Keep doing what you are doing and inspiring and encouraging others to do the same.

    FlowerLady Lorraine

  2. You are so right Farmer Tony. I retired from my cubicle career in 2005. Love my new "slow" career. Great quote also.

  3. That's a wake up a smell the roses story! Love its' inspiration and hope!

  4. Thanks so much, just what i was needing today to remind me why i did the choices i did! So much inspiration... i'll come back for sure! :)

  5. I want to thank all of you for your kind words. It is encouraging to know that my "mental noodling" can make connections with others. --Farmer Tony--

  6. really love much. thank you. : )

  7. Boy Tony, that is exactly right. I'm in the middle of the crisis now, as I try to find balance between farming, family and living in a contented manner. I look around my house and all I want is less, so that I can have more. More of the things that really fill me up and last.


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