The Pure Joy of Farming?
If you enjoy challenges, you will love farming. Irrigation pipes break and leak, and you get to dig them up and repair them while you are standing in 3 feet of mud. Water goes downhill and fast, especially in newly cleared fields. Heavy rains bring heavy erosion of soil and infrastructure. If your drainage and topographic is not ideal, you get to deal with the lovely forces of gravity- she is a tough mistress indeed!
Once you run the liquid nitrogen on and it starts flowing through your drip lines, more than berry plants get to grow. All manner of weeds, most with long wicked names that will haunt you as you watch them grow to corn stalk height. You can count on the first summer being weed-hell. If you survive it, its all down hill from there. Bugs. How would have thought that Florida’s tropical humid climate could raise up some many little pests? And like people, they just love blueberries. They burrow under the soil, onto the roots, in and on the leaves and finally bore into the fruit. Who invited them?
Now they tell me that last summer was the hottest in recorded history. No wonder I felt woozy some days and wondered whether I would catch my breath enough to get out of the fields and orchards. When you are pulling up nut grass, and sedge weeds in 97 degree temps you get to lose a lot of weight the hard way.
Farming tests your patience. You invest all this money, you do all this work, you fight for the plants on all these fronts and you wait. And you wait. And you fret, a little bit. Why are the weeds taller than the plants? What mysterious disease is stunting my Farthing plants so they are sooo little? When am I ever going to make a profit? These are some of the things that keep you up at night.
At the same time, there is a flat out miracle going on. We planted 60,000 little berry plants and by golly they are now almost three feet tall. They grow 24/7- while we are sleeping! A lot of days you just feel like you are along for the ride, even though you are working hard. I mean, really. You plant a bit of twiggy soil and a year later a couple pounds of beautiful and delicious berries appears on each plant! How great is that. And like Field of Dreams, people just pull up in your fields and get out with their families and big grins on their faces and pick your blueberries! Then they go home and make pies, and pancakes, and muffins and post the pictures on Facebook. Its surreal.