Things That Can’t Be Rushed

Those of us who are bathed in technology much of our lives, that is to say most of the Western world by now, have grown accustomed to having everything happen in a hurry. Speed is the ultimate. Efficiency is king.

I am prone to this, feeling impatient with the rate of change.

Even in gardening, I value a relatively quick turnaround: Plant a bunch of lettuce seedlings, and a month later I can be snipping salad from my own raised bed.

But some things take time, and move in a crooked line, and require great patience to see results.

Photographer: Kessner Photography

Photographer: Kessner Photography

I’m reminded of this when I visit a farmer friend who lives in my neighborhood. Her family farm is called Artesian Farm. It’s in the next county over, where Anna and her farm partners raise grassfed beef.

When she talks about farming, she thinks in terms of decades. For example, the process of transitioning the farm to organic—which her parents wanted to do long before there was any infrastructure of support—has barely begun, and the beginning itself is taking years.

It’s been nearly 10 years of preparation, and a very small portion of the crop acreage is just beginning the transition to organic.

To grow corn and beans organically, and to be certified as such, farmers undergo an elaborate process. One of Artesian Farm’s first steps was adding more cattle. It seems an odd thing: what do corn and beans have to do with the beef side of the business?

But Anna explains that crop rotation is key in organic farming. Hay is their chosen rotation crop. “It’s common wisdom that if you grow hay and sell it off your farm, you’re taking all the nutrition off your farm.” So more cattle were needed to make use of the hay.

A 200-page plan has taken about six years to complete. It would cost $2500 to have an outside agency prepare this plan, on top of the $1000 for certifying. Anna opted for the DIY approach.

During my visit Anna cuts me some lemon balm, which is near an imposing compost heap about the size of a mobile home. It looks like a small sod house was plunked down in the middle of her modest “back 40.” “How do you turn it?” I ask, thinking of our own compost pile—a midget compared to this—and how it never gets hot enough to kill weed seeds, because we don’t turn it, though we always say we will.

“Oh, I don’t bother turning it. Nature doesn’t turn it, in the woods.”

Anna and her compost bin, which she created “free-hand” with odd broom sticks, twigs, mop handles, rusty pipes, and other finds.

Anna and her compost bin, which she created “free-hand” with odd broom sticks, twigs, mop handles, rusty pipes, and other finds. Photo by Danny Chase.

Walking me back to my car, Anna reflects on the passage of time, how long it takes to make a change, to heal the land, to see results. Those of us who don’t spend as much time with our feet on the soil and hands in the dirt might expect results in a much shorter time frame than the decades that are really required.

Like the compost, like building the humus of the forest floor, there are things that can’t be rushed.

78 thoughts on “Things That Can’t Be Rushed

  1. I just started a small garden. Planted tomatoes and spinach, and it is a test of patience for me. I think farming/gardening is good for mankind. If nothing else will pour patience in us, growing your own food will.

    Good post!

  2. Oooh, composting. My compost pile has been doing GREAT, and it’s tiny. Do you know about how thermophilic compostin works? The bacteria in the compost creates heat and gas as it breaks down the materials in it, but the heat and gas comes from a careful balance of carbon and nitrogen to feed those bacteria – the RIGHT bacteria to create the heat. My compost is mostly animal manure and urine-soaked hay so it’s chock full of nitrogen and it steams on a 70-degree-day. I never turn it. How much nitrogen is in YOUR compost, because the number one reason for compost not heating up is a lack of nitrogen!

  3. Reblogged this on Ingredients to Share and commented:
    Interesting article! The importance of having a goal in mind with gardening, or any project we are tackling and how we need to have patience and realize that all things do not happen overnight. We live in a society where most people want instant results…iphones, computers, etc. Nature doesn’t work that way. Natural processes take time and while we are waiting for those things to occur we can be working on different projects that are interconnected in our larger goal. Great post and a thought for my busy, hectic Saturday morning!

  4. Hi Shawndra. Fabulous post.
    Brought to mind that great Lao Tzu quote: “Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished.”
    Great to see wordpress championing such a “Non-urban” post if that makes any sense at all?
    Congratulations on the freshly pressed… good luck with everything

  5. Did a veg patch a few years back. We had great success in growing and we had a bumper crop of most of the things we planted. I wish to do it again in the future but am now living in Canada so have to watch out for larger animals decimating the crops.
    Thanks for your article

    • Thank you for saying so. I was just thinking about an old comic I saw where someone was standing in front of a microwave going “hurry UP!” Hah! I think about that every time I load a web page and it’s coming in slowly and I feel so impatient. It feels good to tune in to the slower rhythms of nature.

  6. So glad for Freshly Pressed that I get to know your blog. I am trying to do this in my South African garden as well- just wish I could get vermicomposting right…

    • There’s a minimum requirement of “organic methods and materials” for either 3 or 5 years (I’ve forgotten, because I’m just a backyard earth-turner with no need for certs). Anna is taking the thorough route.

  7. Well, there’s the Law of Attraction for you: my name is Anna, I was a professional gardener, I’ve been patiently transforming a clay plot of weeds into a luxurious garden for the past four years, and I just picked up my allotted bucket of free compost from the local organic grocery store that gives it away annually. I only wish I had enough property to tend my own Compost Mountains. Now I’m off to visit my plant-trading friend for the latest exchange. Time to get muddy and happy!

    PS: Lemon balm rocks.

  8. very lovely post! so many take time for granted – either they rush it when they shouldn’t or make the mistake of thinking they have more time than they have. time is definitely a funny thing. patience is also something that’s in short supply and there needs to be more of it.

  9. I find myself rushing about and the urgency of our connected world makes it even worse. When the world is at our fingertips we sometimes need things like the organic process to remind instant is not always the best.

    • Exactly. We seem to have absorbed this idea that we have to do/have/be everything right now. I think there’s a new book out about this–Present Shock. I haven’t read it yet but it sounds intriguing.

  10. Pingback: Things That Can’t Be Rushed | agnes75's Blog

  11. Hi Shawndra, Every spring I plant my vegetable garden and spend much time fertilizing it and singing to it while watching it grow. I think the singing to it helps it grow along with nature and my lack of patience as I want it to grow faster! So now I go back to the garden after logging off to sing! Have a great Sunday and thanks for your awesome blog.

  12. Loved this! And the whole premise of your blog! I have been composting for years now and trying to teach my kids to live a greener (and healthier) life. It’s usually easier said than done, so I’m especially impressed by Anna’s composting area and efforts to go organic. Thanks for sharing — and I look forward to reading more of your posts…

  13. I recently did a month of WWOOFing at an organic farm in Hong Kong, which was an amazing experience. The farm is run as a passion project, and the people managing it truly love what they’re doing, taking their time and trying out new techniques all the time.

    Great article, thanks!

  14. When you’re working in your garden, it feels like time is standing still and that you are the only one in your little piece of heaven. You don’t take your cares or concerns with you when you enter it, and you are at one with every thing you touch or do in your world.

  15. Loved this post. I can’t express enough how often I’ve thought about our rushed world. It seems that a few can appreciate what the earth teaches us, and what nature wants us to notice.
    Pity though, ghat too many people are caught up in the realms the corporate world in which everything must happen right now.

  16. This was a lovely post to read. Thank you for writing it!

    I lamented my lack of time to get into the gardening when I had my first child. Since then, I don’t get the hours I used to, pottering in the garden and planning all my crops, picking off grubs and snails. And to my surprise, the garden took care of itself! An infestation of aphids on my roses brought stick insects and ladybirds in abundance; we have spiders and even a pair of shingleback lizards have spent the last two summers in our little frontyard. I still don’t get as much time as I’d like in the garden, but obviously it’s doing fine without so much intervention on my part 😀

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  17. Pingback: Once Upon A Time: The Man. | Daily Story For Children

  18. I started a garden for the first time this spring. I’ve decided to plant asparagus, which I heard is difficult to make grow and takes a couple of years to full harvest, but I LOVE asparagus, and it’s been a labor of love and patience, for sure, but it’s already sprouting! I’ve got cauliflower going and a couple of other things in mind, also. I’m super excited to eat things that I grew myself! Not to mention the great stress-relief of digging in dirt! 🙂

  19. Pingback: Things That Can’t Be Rushed | quirrk

  20. Reblogged this on Three Teaspoons A Day and commented:
    A curated dose of Freshly Pressed wisdom and a lesson on patience and perseverance. A particular Chinese idiom that resonates the same concept is, “好事多磨 (hǎo shì duō mó).” In English, it roughly translates to: “the road to happiness is strewn with setbacks,” or more simply, “nothing worth having comes easy.” On the brink of something good, we are oftentimes faced with twists and turns that attempt to divert us from our path. Whatever destination you intend on reaching (whether it be with fitness, with family, with yourself, in love, at work, at home, or at school), remember that “some things take time, and move in a crooked line, and require great patience to see results.” Good things take time, so be patient.

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  21. I am so grateful for this reminder (that things take so much time to change in nature) too! There are so many ways that I forget it cannot all be done in one day too! I was just reminiscing the other day about how I miss the simple act of composting. It’s good to have a reminder that the efforts of our lives don’t get completed in a day either. I really enjoyed reading this piece! The items everybody is talking about gardens and vegetables and I miss digging in the ground too, but this time of school that I am in is temporary too, a means to an end. Thank you, I think I have another post to draft!

  22. My partner and I have an ongoing debate as to who’s task it is to turn the compost pile… in the end, neither of us do it. Now I know the solution, we just need a larger pile 🙂

  23. We have a small compost bin, maybe 3′ x3′ with a locking plastic lid, and in the last six years I have never turned it. Things seem to decay on their own without my help, other than the addition of water to our compost bucket when I dump it a couple of times a week.

    I like Anna’s attitude about not turning her large compost pile. Your report about that has emboldened me to stay lazy with composting. 🙂

  24. I just started gardening for the first time. I got a plot at a community garden and started planting in early april. My plants are doing well. I also started a small compost bin in a bucket that sits in the corner of my kitchen in january. I’ve learned not to check it every day, and that the worms are doing there job, it just takes time.

      • I was really worried that it would smell bad or attract flies, but in all honesty, when I started leaving the worms alone to do their work I practically forgot they were there and they give me no trouble except for the odd escape artist or two. After four months I have a three gallon bucket of rich dark compost for my garden, and about twice the number of worms that I originally put in there 🙂

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