Two weeks ago I was as burned out as the tomato plants. Spent and tired. My nerves frazzled from the pace of the summer. Long, hot days and late nights.
Just when I thought it wouldn’t let up something magical happened. Labor Day.
Like the flip of a switch we entered the third and final growing season of the year. The farm shifted with the weather too. The stale August air was replaced with new projects and energy and fresh starts.
The best change happened today. Dug In’s beloved Natalie became Farm Manager. This is a big deal, for me at least. Hopefully for both of us.
Natalie came to the farm in June 2016. She loved plants, had worked in a greenhouse. Perfect, I said, I need extra hands.
After 14 months together, there is so much to know and say and admire about Natalie. I am not a good enough writer to draw you an adequate picture of this complicated, funny and extremely strong woman. However, I will simply say, she is like no one I’ve known before.
Of course, it’s the parts of Natalie that remind me of myself that I truly adore! Her grit to hold down five jobs at once. Her eternal optimism for the next growing season. Her ability to smile at everyone, regardless of how tired, hungry or burned out she is.
But those traits alone fall far short of her true character. Natalie is who I could only dream of being, particularly at her age (24!!). In over a year, she’s never called in sick. She doesn’t bring her drama, just hard work. When I’m overwhelmed she simply shows up and does what needs to be done.
Natalie, I’ve learned, doesn’t just love plants. She loves to farm.
So starting today, she’ll no longer work on the stand unless we’re in a pickle. Instead, she’ll spend her days in the field. Each morning she’ll walk the gardens making notes about what needs attention. She’ll manage the seeding, planting, harvesting, fertilizing, irrigation and bug killing.
Natalie will work with the volunteers who continue to bless us with their help. She’ll run the equipment and share in decision making. She’ll be our resident beekeeper, and perhaps under her tutelage, the farm will have enough honey to sell regularly!
My only wish is that I could pay her enough for this to be a career and not just one more ‘job’. But, for the time she is with me, this is certain ~ she’ll make one hell of a Farm Manager.