August 3, 2012 at 2:11 PM
"This division of labor led to an incredibly trite, but necessary argument"
Matthew Irwin is a freelance writer and farmers' apprentice living in Alcalde, NM.
This is a weekly blog about the author’s experiences as an intern on a farm in Alcalde, New Mexico. The entry concludes with the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Report, which provides an overview of goods headed to market each week.
Farmer Ron finished building the walk-in cooler, after working on it for three weeks between harvesting, watering and maintenance. Two weeks ago, we started by laying a concrete base; then, we assembled the 10-foot by 10-foot cooler, which took a few extra supports and sealants as Farmer Ron bought it used from a hunting outfitter in Taos; and on Monday, we installed the cooling unit. And it couldn’t have come too soon with the fruit harvest in full swing: peaches, nectarines, plums and blackberries.
On Wednesday, my family went up to the Freshies of New Mexico peach orchard to work with Christopher and Taylor. Having heard that they have a two-year-old and a second kid on the way, we wanted to find out how they balanced peach-picking with child-rearing, because, frankly, we’d been having a hard time. The weekend before we’d had a bit of a breakdown trying to find time for everything: farming, freelance and family.
Melina had been struggling to feel useful at Mer-Girl Gardens, having to stop frequently to feed or otherwise tend to the baby, while occasionally being reminded that all her professional dreams and free spirit fantasies have been halted. When I’m not mowing or lifting heavy objects, I also “wear” the baby, which I find to be much easier than she does, but I didn’t give birth four months ago and I let him whine. Plus, we don’t bottle feed at all, so I pass him on over when it’s time to feed. What I do is write. As our internship provides only room and board, I pay bills by freelancing (and frankly, I couldn’t stop writing if I wanted to, as it helps me navigate my thoughts). This division of labor led to an incredibly trite, but necessary argument last Saturday when Melina pointed out that she raises the baby, while I work too much. I said, “You don’t appreciate how hard I work for this family.” And she said, “You don’t appreciate how hard it is to raise a baby.” Something had to change.
We had a difficult weekend, going back and forth and trying to allow the other to feel however he or she did, as our spiritual practice had taught us. By the time we reached Freshies Wednesday afternoon, we had resolved our conflict by determining to set a schedule that designates hours for me to write, undisturbed, as well as to have solo play time with the baby while Melina catches up with herself. Simultaneously, I thanked her for giving her life to this family, when she easily could have said no thanks, as I would have when I was 25 years old (Hell, just over a year ago, I thought I wouldn’t have kids, but that’s another story.) A clairvoyant told Melina that I would resist a schedule because I had been a slave in a past life, and I wouldn’t be told what to do. Truth is I became a writer in part to avoid schedules. I’d met many deadlines and logged many odd and late hours, but I hadn’t kept hours in years, which also meant, however, that I was pretty much always on, which didn’t work for baby life. And though I changed my job, I had not yet changed my habits, even though as many times as I clicked “Check Mail,” my inbox contained only a fraction of the emails I had received to make me feel as important as I had as a full-time writer/editor. I agreed to set some more regular hours.
We pulled peaches at Freshies in the hot sun for about four hours, swapping baby duty and even taking time to play with him on a blanket Chris and Taylor had laid out in the middle of the row with some of their daughter’s toys. I took note of how steady Chris and Taylor appeared. The work seemed endless, but they did what they could with the time they had, without pressuring themselves or each other to do more. They didn’t work particularly fast, but like I said, steadily. They told us that working with a kid tied to one’s back sounds romantic and tribal and all that, but it’s prickly, and gets downright thorny when the kids can say no. We all quit when we ran out of boxes, somewhat sooner than planned, though a welcome break as peach fuzz begins to itch when it builds up on one’s skin. Afterwards, we jumped in the Rio Grande together—all six of us—and washed the day downstream. Stepping out of the river, I slipped and staggered on the rocks with the baby in my arms, while Melina caught us and pushed us onto the bank.
Boxcar Farm has spinach, fresh peas (English, sugar snap and snow peas), new potatoes, a new crop of lettuce and close to 30 varieties of garlic in bulk and braids. They also have fresh herbs (parsley, mint). "Stop by to talk to us about our upcoming sale of fermented vegetables—kimchi and sauerkraut," they say.
Freshies of New Mexico
Freshies is all about the peach harvest, but they still find time to bring oyster mushrooms, tomatoes, basil and carrots.
Mountain Flower Farm
Mountain Flower tells us that the heaviest harvest season has arrived. Their table hosts the luscious sweet corn, canary melon and cucumbers, mainly alibi, but also lemon and Japanese. They also bring seven varieties of summer squash and tons of flowers, from mixed arrangements to lisianthus and zowie zinnieas, plus marigold leis and garlands.
Pat Montoya Family Orchard
Pat Montoya brings white lady peaches and, new this week, golden delicious apples, as well as chile, veggies and homemade jams and jellies. They'll also bring dried apples, which they say is perfect for dessert.
Read more at matthewjirwin.com. Would you like to submit what goodies you have headed to market? Contact Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org.