What Does a Working Farm Look Like?

Often we have farm visitors.  This might include CSA members who pick up at the farm, other growers, chefs, or even a farm dinner or two.  What most people don’t know is that whenever we expect guests, we go into a whirlwind of cleaning and tidying.  Farming is messy business, with long days.  Although it can be beautiful, it is rarely neat and tidy.  Here is a snapshot.

There is almost always equipment out.  This could include the tractor, maybe a few implements, and most likely the Gator.  All of these items have “homes” around the farm, they just won’t stay there!  We use them almost every day, and in the back of our minds, know that we will be using them again in an hour or two, so why put them away?  We are lucky to get them back in the barn at night.  To be honest, we don’t always.

There also seems to be boxes and bins all around during the harvest season.  We get busy picking and packing produce, and by the end of the day, these things are magically everywhere.  I tell all our employees to please tidy up before they leave.  My husband and I try to tidy up before we call it a day.  Even so, most of the time, there are boxes or bins scattered about.  Why put them up when we will just get them right back out the next day?


Tools are a biggie, and seem to magically move around on their own volition.  This includes hoes, shovels, knives, scissors, sharpies, screwdrivers, and pliers.  No matter how hard we try to remind everyone, including ourselves, to put tools away, we still find them in cubbies in the Gator, side pockets of the truck cab, sitting on the picnic tables, or even worse, left somewhere in the field until we run over it with a mower or tiller.  We all know the importance taking care of things, so it must be magic, for surely none of us would leave tools just lying around!

Trellising equipment such as poles, wires, and string also seem to end up all around.  In the summer, we trellis our string beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.  It adds up to a lot of stringing and trellising, and it seems that every week something needs it.  That makes it really tempting to just leave the required items out in the field…we will be getting to it later in the week anyway!  


The biggest farm-cluttering offender is stuff in general.  We have different places around the farm where we collect things we think we might need later. You know that “drawer of stuff” in your kitchen? Well, we have that same concept, but it’s all over the farm:  stuff we may use some other time for some unknown purpose, so we can’t throw it away. Farming is like that.  You wouldn’t believe how often we need just a little piece of wire, a wooden pole or two, a T-post, an old piece of fencing, a shovel handle, or a piece of PVC pipe.  This is why when grandpa died, everyone walked around the farm and said “Holy cow! What was he doing with all this stuff?”  It seems like we might need it, so we just keep saving these things.  Sometimes we do need it!

Terri2 Straw

So now the secret is out.  The place is usually a mess.  It is a good thing we have a farm dinner once or twice a year, so that we clean everything up!  On those few occasions when it is all mowed, picked up, and put away, I stand in awe of how beautiful everything is.  We truly live and work in the Garden of Eden. 

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