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Hold Your Horses!

That saying is so universal and it stems from another era, but the message still resonates and is applicable today.  When I farmed with Belgian draft horses, “hold your horses” took on a deeper meaning. Those “girls” of mine were big 1,700 lbs. of muscle and single-mindedness; gentle giants, for the most part.

However, getting them to stand still and wait could be a challenge. Shoot, getting me to stand still and wait is a challenge, and I don’t even have a bit in my mouth! Conversely, waiting and learning to wait is a necessary life skill for all of us.

This spring has been tough to wait! We have had incredible weather, warmer than expected and dryer than expected. I have had several non-farming folk in the community ask me how the farming is going: “Have you planted your peas yet?”  The look on their face is priceless when I tell them, “No”. They think I am joking with them, but I am not. I did work a little bit of ground to transplant some blackberries, but other than that, I am waiting.

I have learned to “hold my horses” and wait for April.  I remember a spring like this in 2005 and I had chomped right through the bit and started discing and plowing. I was appalled that my neighbors hadn’t started yet. After all the weather was perfect, but those 3 and 4 generational farmers who had farmed here for years were holding their horses.  I finally ran into one of those “slow out of the gate” neighbors. I asked him, “Why haven’t you started working the dirt?” His response was profound, “It is only March?” not a hint of superiority in his voice, his eyes, nothing derogatory at all. His answer was simple and, quite frankly, honest.

This year I was the one in the valley holding my horses, and all those multigenerational farmers got started early. Farming is akin to gambling and with the global warming as a new factor, it is hard to know if March will be the new April. And now? After a 1” rain event last week with more to come, I am glad that I have finally learned to hold my horses. After all it is only March!