“Farm” was first described to me as a heroic labour position at Deep Springs. Running through fields of alfalfa with a hammer in hand, banging on pipes and clamps of metal until they meet your will, and occasionally, (or not so occasionally) yelling into the sky or at the irrigation lines whenever they resist compliance. On some days this romantic ideal of what “farm” is aligns with reality. On these days I wake up at 5:30am primed to run, work hard, and release energy. Some days there are coyotes in the fields rummaging for food, and when they howl or look at me, I howl back at them. On these days I might even look out and appreciate the beautiful landscape–the valley cast in pink light as the sun peeks over the mountains.
But other days– most days, in fact– the romantic ideal of “farm” is nowhere to be found. This is when I inadvertently sleep in a little too late, when my other farm-teamers forget to check on me and wake me up, and when I’m left to start labour late and am already a little too frustrated. Too many times on these days I neglect the smaller duties of farm– such as fixing a line that’s not as straight as it could be– because I’m feeling lazy or in a rush, or want to finish my readings for class, only to find out that over time that small problem has developed into a far greater one. I’m then in a position of having to ask my fellow farm-teamers to help me out for an extra few hours midday in the sweltering heat to re-build a whole line. This has happened many times, and it is frustrating.
Over the past term, I’ve been mad at myself for taking shortcuts out of laziness, and also frustrated with other farm-teamers for various reasons, some more justifiable than others. Quite honestly, I don’t know what else other than my experience on farm team has been able to make me so immediately frustrated. It’s almost impressive. I’ve often found myself standing in the middle of the field, impatient with a dysfunctional motor, wondering why the college hasn’t updated its outdated infrastructure, blaming my frustration on anything other than my own actions.
But actually, reflecting on how I treat myself in these circumstances– wondering whether I should fix a particular sprinkler in the moment, or later, reflecting on how I communicate with other farm-teamers when I’m in a good mood or a bad mood– has proved to be a challenging and fulfilling experience full of self-reflection. Although there is a certain peace and ease when everything is going well, when my experience meets the expectation of the heroic, I’ve found that there is actually a more intriguing experience to be had when nothing works as planned. Perhaps the best moments arise when everything is broken and you’re forced to reckon with yourself and your peers.
Michael Leger DS’16