I’m a planner. I like going to bed knowing what tasks need to be accomplished the following day. I don’t like curveballs. My husband, Houston, on the other hand, is most comfortable in an environment that is constantly changing.
I’m learning that both mindsets are necessary to owning and running our farm and business. There needs to be some planning in order to prepare for guests, volunteers and contractors, much of it days or weeks before they arrive. But invariably there are surprises, especially since we’re doing so many things we’ve never done before.
These days, when I get to the farm in the mornings, I usually try to assess and see if there’s anything out of the ordinary that I need to address before doing my regular chores. A few of the surprises I’ve had lately are: our neighbors’ cows on the property, a fallen hydroponic tower, a broken tent zipper. You get the picture. These require an immediate response.
There are other unexpected situations, though, that reveal themselves over time. For example, we put our tomato seedlings in the hydroponic towers a few days before our granddaughter was born - four weeks early. For the next month or so, while baby Mia grew, the tomato plants also grew and grew and grew until I had a jungle I was trying to contain. While I had prepared the towers and made sure each plant was getting the proper nutrients, I had missed a step. I learned late in the game that I should have been pruning the plants. Surprise! Pruning, I discovered, allows for more nutrients to reach the fruit, not just the foliage. So now I’m pruning regularly and starting to get a bit of a handle on the massive plants growing in our hydroponic operation.
I’m also learning a lot around our glamping business. The first year we pitched our beautiful bell tent and left it out year round since we didn’t have a great storage solution. It looked pretty and we were able to use it during the winter for a day retreat and a few overnight guests. My plan was that it would always be ready for guests. What I hadn’t considered though, is that leaving it out in the elements, uncovered, resulted in staining by weather and falling leaves. After getting the tent pressure washed, we bought a rain fly that stays up year round, regardless of weather. This “uh-oh, better regroup and try something new” decision is extending the life of our tent, the most profitable element of our business so far.
The point is we can plan and most of the time, things work out better when we are prepared. But we also have to be agile, ready to change course when the situation calls for it. The better we are at adapting, the better we can handle most situations that happen - both at the farm and in life.
This piece was first published in Sherry’s column, “Finding Myself in a Small Town,” 10/24/20, in the Corsicana Daily Sun.