Plane Crashes and Windfalls

Coffee lands, Canyons, and Rivers of Mountains over Papua New Gunieau

As I write, it's windy. Not just a little windy, but the fifty and sixty mile per hour gusts that shake the barn and rustle the plastic on the hoop houses. Mary is picking flowers in the hoop house, and I have the special board wedged in the west barn door that keeps it closed in these gusts.  That kind of wind wears on us.  We have things battened down and have taken row cover off sensitive plants to avoid some of the damage, but it's still hard not to worry.  Years ago, riding in small planes in Indonesia and Borneo I'd feel the same worries, often caught out in storms.  And even on a transcontinental flight this winter, when I was working off-farm so we could continue building in the off season I worried. I have a fear plane crashes.  It's not because I have such a deep fear of the plane I'm in crashing, but a more general, deeper fear, one brought on by a story a friend once told me.

He, like I used to, traveled the world working in remote parts of the globe.  He spoke to me of a time when he was sure the  small plane he was in was about to go down.  He told me, 'so, I took out my phone and began scrolling through contacts, wondering who I would call. I didn't know.'  When the flight recovered and came down safely in the end, it was not that instance of physical danger that rattled him, but the realization that he wasn't certain who in his life was right to reach out to in a worst or potentially last moment of life.  I thought a lot, after that, about who might be on my "airplane crash list."  

It was in part because of that story that I dug in with Mary, back when I was still working abroad, and why eventually we started farming together in Montana. This third year, we are learning, still, how to hold our ground, trying to make it. We think of our mountain valley as where we've landed, not just crashed. There were a few deeply stormy nights this winter, when we woke to seventy mile per hour gusts, feeling the barn loft sway more than is comfortable, shaking in the winds.  Mary and I would hold onto each other tightly, and I'd remind her she was my plane crash list. That we have lists that are clear, long, and full--good community to reach out to and hang on with. 

I'd tell her my better plane story, too, about the time in Borneo when I asked the pilot to turn around, so I could make a picture of some of the coffee and farming valleys where we've worked. It's a reminder for us to think carefully about where we are headed, to remember we can turn, and to keep sight of some of those goals and dreams.   And, we'd remind one another of our dreams -- to dig in, to plant more windbreaks, to feed people and ourselves, to build a farm that is a growing place for us, and to build a better barn and be able to make enough of a living that we can build a home, and give more back to our community. we do it bit by bit, more often than not at tractor speed, not airplane speed.  And this week, we continue, by purchasing hundreds of dollars of pins and sandbags we will fill to hold down our row cover, and add tons of organic mulch to our gardens to hold soil moisture. 

On the other side of wind gusts, there is sometimes a windfall.  We are entering the time of year when crops do start to arrive, sometimes surprisingly, with a few new ones each week.  For tomorrow's market, we'll have several new crops and a new abundance of many the have been regulars so far this spring. If you can't make it to market, you can still get in on our CSA or our feedbag program. We'd love to have you.  In order to keep growing our farm, and to not have income shortfalls, we could still use about ten supporters--- either large feedbag or CSA members.

And that photograph above? I made that image of another farming valley, this one in Papua New Guinea, when I asked the pilot to turn around.  Even with a fear of plane crashes, and a deep one, there's a lot that's possible.