The Tale of the Forgetful Farmgirl

Once upon a time there was a late twenty something Farmgirl living in Alaska. You see, in Alaska, time changes in a way that is foreign to much of the world. It seems to be the only thing people can talk about sometimes, especially farmers and those who spend a majority of their time out of doors (many Alaskans fit this bill). This changing time comes from the tilt of the Earth and how the sun plays across its surface throughout the seasons. Growing up in the Midwest, the winter nights were long and the summer days seemed endless, but she had never been to Alaska.

This Farmgirl writes about the length of days and nights often, and how quickly she and other Alaskans lose or gain daylight hours. It seemed that she was just an observer her first year in Alaska, but she became entrenched in these changes her second year…this tilt of the Earth directly influencing her Circadian rhythms.

Maybe seems unphased by Ava and Ronan (A couple of my Farm School Students)–perhaps he would like to take over one of my jobs?

The late night sun shines through the greenhouse (just a few days after the May 18 snow fall!)

There is something that happens to the whole of Alaska around mid to late March–everything seems alive! People are happy, there is a little hope of spring actually coming soon, homes are tidied and summer plans are developed.

Its this summer planning that got the best of the forgetful farmgirl. The surge of energy that comes with gaining sunlight at nearly six minutes a day after spending a few months of nineteen hour nights is dangerous. It makes people feel super human, it makes people think they can take on super human feats like somehow working fifty hours a week and working on a masters thesis and moving into a new home and having a life and still get enough sleep to stay sane. A lot of Alaskans actually can do this; perhaps they have become super human after years in the last frontier. This Farmgirl can almost do this too…but the staying sane part is getting lost on her.

So after that lengthy tale of an excuse, here comes the apology

I am SO sorry you sisterly Farmgirls out there for being such a flake these last few weeks! I have gotten lost in a sea of doing and planning and thinking and have overlooked one of my favorite duties–sharing stories with and hearing stories from you. Much has happened in the weeks since I last posted, so I might as well get to that.

What I woke up to on May 18….Ugh.

First of all, this spring took forever to actually begin. I was supposed to start farming on May 1, however this was delayed and delayed and delayed due to weather. Snow was on the ground well into May, and cold rain did not help thaw the frozen ground. In fact, it just led to increasingly huge vernal pools of water (remember wading through the pools with my bees?). After all of this rain and cold, it actually snowed about five inches on May 18. This was the most demotivating, ugliest, most unwelcome snow I have ever experienced. I went to a local coffee shop to get some grub and use the internet and ran into three other farmers or farm workers…all of us twiddling our thumbs and ready to get our hands dirty!

Well, the season started with a vengeance after this snow fall. Just a week after the snow, temperatures soared near eighty degrees in Palmer (this is uncharacteristic, I didnt feel like I was in Alaska!). This helped dry up the soils, allowed us to till, and we are now in full farming action. The weather has continued to be fairly stellar for the last few weeks, with temperatures staying high and the sun staying out, with just a few days of cold and rain mixed in. One thing is for sure.the mosquitos love the mix of previously standing water and presently warm temps.

As a born and bred Minnesotan, I am used to these hot, sunny summer days; however, Alaskan kids are NOT used to this. I am now working on Sun Circle Farm (the farm that I farm sit, often), and the two girls who live there cannot handle the heat. They were feeling heat exhaustion and refusing to eat because of lack of appetite. While I wanted to scoff at their wussiness, I had to remind myself that these same girls also go swimming in the vernal ponds as soon as the ice clears off of them! Their normal is just much different than mine

Leila (on her donkey’s cart) looking surprisingly happy in the afternoon heat. The rhubarb leaf hat must have helped. Notice the grass?

Working on Sun Circle Farm is such a blessing! I have the opportunity to work with two amazing female farmers: Anne-Corinne and Mimi. Both of them previously worked at Spring Creek Farm (where I worked last year), and they were part of the legacy of female-only principal farmers at that farm for the better part of a half century. Anne-Corinne is a superb horticulturalist and Mimi has been dubbed the Chief Efficiency Officer, or our C.E.O. They have farmed in Alaska for more than a decade, combined, and I feel like farmgirl sponge working side by side with them. So far, my super power is as the weed identifier.

Almost daily on the farm we are surprised by some sort of surprise snack from the girls, Leila and Trillium and their dad, Steve. With all of the warm weather, weve enjoyed a lot of ice cream, and I am totally okay with that. The last two days we have even had home made ice cream and frozen yogurt! What special treats to enjoy on a special farm on the special warm Alaskan days. Ive estimated that Ive planted almost 2,500 onions and other alliums in the last few work days, but I dont even mind when I get to be in such a great place with fun and intersting people (and free ice cream never disappoints).

Even if my schedule is full and my sanity is waning, at least I have one wonderful farming job to retain some of my happiness and faith in myself! I hope your summers and farming experiences are turning out to be just as rewarding.

Sending you peace and love,

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl

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