Not so romantic

Today, I harvested turnips in the freezing rain. Braced against the wind, I bent over again and again to unearth those savory white treats then bent my frozen fingers enough to twist the tie around four together. 

“Those CSA members better appreciate their turnips this week!” I exclaimed as the hail started to pound us once again.

This morning rates as one of the most physically uncomfortable experiences of my life. Even with two pairs of pants and seven layers of tops on, I was cold to the core. My fingers were beyond numb into the realm of shooting pains, accompanied by my toes. And yet, we had to finish the shares.

Why can’t we just take the day off? I wondered silently, in complaining agony.

But farmers don’t get the day off for bad weather. They don’t get to sit inside, wrapped in blankets, and sip hot tea. We fantasized about that, but we were the ones watching the green and brown earth get spotted with pea-sized hail. I’m so over this whole farming thing, I added to my inner monologue.

One of the apprentices was curious about this hail, being from Peru where such weather doesn’t occur. “Tastes salty,” he said, recognizing the effect of the ocean in the air of Long Island. It’s funny, I thought, how we base so many of our observations on taste when working with food constantly.

Lunch couldn’t come soon enough, and at 1 pm we nearly sprinted off the fields into the farmhouse for homemade borscht. Feeling returned to fingers and toes; spirits lifted. The clouds cleared and though the temperature remained cold, the sun shone down.

Today will be a day to remember. To remember that farming is not so romantic. That someone has to brave the elements to ensure quality food. To remember that when we pay for food, we pay not just for the product, but for the human labor that gets those turnips from the mud on a sleeting Wednesday to your warm kitchen on Saturday.