HAPPYDAY FARMS: Embracing Adversity and Seasons as Part of the Cycle of Life

Casey O'Neill

An Update From Casey O’Neill, Sun+Earth Board Member and co-owner of HappyDay Farms from their CSA Letter from the week of August 28th:

The smoky summer evening gives way to night and the fiery colors fade as the golden hour passes on. Our hearts go out to all who are affected by the blazes that threaten large swaths of California. Fire is an ever-present threat this time of year, a matter of when, not if. We prepare as best we can, and send what support we are able to those who have found themselves in the path of this year’s conflagrations.

For a Sunday evening it has been a busy one.  What was to be a quick harvest of a row of tomatoes turned into something of a marathon as the fruits just kept coming. A hundred pounds of tomatoes from a hundred foot row, kind of a nice ring to it. The tomatoes are flushing hard, enjoying their moment in the sun in the journey of crops through the farm cycle. Squash and cukes were pushing hard a couple of weeks ago but have slowed off some, and peppers are beginning to hammer. 

After tomato harvest I planted collards and kale into beds that I had uncovered earlier in the day. They had silage tarp over them for the last 6 weeks to help with breakdown of previous crop residues and weed suppression. With a little luck the majority of the weeds will have germinated and died under the plastic so that the bed will suffer minimal weed pressure which minimizes our labor and stress.

Farming for me right now is the process of feeling on top of the world and like an overwhelmed fuckup on any given day. Some things go well, some things do not and such is the rhythm of the farm. It’s easy to look around and see great beauty and total failure, often encompassed in the same space.

The old parable of ups and downs, light and dark exists in the fundamental duality of life. These are the days of our lives and we walk the path with what grace we can manage. It feels good to see the fall crops going into the ground as the summer bounty explodes. The farm is scented with many kinds of flowers, most of all the cannabis terpenes that are beginning to express themselves.

Salad mixes, herbs and brassica are being transplanted out into beds as space becomes available. We are up-planting the bigger, heading brassica in order to make sure that we maximize productivity from limited numbers of plants. They take up so much space when full grown that we need to make sure we plant only large, healthy starts that will survive pest pressure and provide our meals and some to sell through the winter.

As we approached the end of August we were grateful for the soil and the water that enables us to harvest bounty from the land. The work is ever-present in a way that can be both steadying and overwhelming at the same time. We stride through the days with measured steps, conserving energy where possible. As the days shorten it begins to feel like fall, though we are still several days from the Equinox. The season turns in gradual steps, both noticeable and yet part of the comfortable background to the journey.

The familiarity of seasonal shifts and the steps that they bring about on the farm is like putting on a favorite jacket to find that it still fits after a long hiatus. The comfort of seasonality is a beacon in this time, a source of bedrock into which our roots dive deep. The sweet flesh of the melon offers us the simple joy of life, while the heat reminds us of the necessary fortitude that we must bring to the tasks at hand.

As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!