The joy of planning

Weeding at the right time — now that the rain is done, we can weed out all the little plants from around our crops, such as this basil! With the sun, it’s going to just take off now!

Rusty has gotten really in to Dungeons & Dragons this spring. He first learned about the imaginative game at the farm school program the kids attend and fell in love with all the possibilities of it. When he learned that there are expensive manuals that he could buy to learn more, he worked hard to earn the money and bought them himself. Now he spends hours pouring over his Monster Manual and his own notebook, drawing up characters and charting out potential adventures for he and his friends to imagine their way through.

It’s just the newest manifestation in a lifelong love of his: poring through books of information, making lists, drawing maps, and crafting narratives with all of it. He used to do the same with animals and plants; then historical events and people; and now: monsters!

At the same time that he’s been deep in D&D research, I’ve been doing lots of planning of my own for next year’s school year. We’ve been homeschooling for four years now, and I’ve gotten into the habit of picking our books and planning everything out in the spring so that I can be fully present and enjoy the summer. Plus, often I find myself full of ideas in this season, inspired by the creative energy of the world around me as trees leaf out and flowers blossom.

Some families use pre-planned curricula (which can work well!), but I find that Rusty and I have this love of planning in common. I deeply enjoy the process of planning our year: I love making my own lists; previewing potential books to schedule; and imagining how it could all fit together into another rich year of home learning for the kiddos.

I’m done with the bulk of my planning now, and as I was printing out our reading schedule for next year, I told Rusty that I’m like the “DM” for our house’s learning experience! (The “Dungeon Master” creates and then guides the players through their D & D games.) I’m not sure if he thought that was as funny as I did, but it was interesting for me to see the parallels in our activities and consider how the behavior that we call “play” in children really does slowly develop and mature into other purposes as we grow into adulthood.

Although, I still consider much of the planning Casey and I both do “play.” For example, I wouldn’t continue to homeschool the children if I didn’t also enjoy the process, but as a lifelong learner and book lover, it is a deep joy to be the one to introduce them to the world of learning: to literature, art, history, music and more! Likewise, Casey and I “play” on the farm all the time.

Our farm has been our canvas for the last thirteen years. We bought a mostly bare piece of farmland and have spent our life dreaming and planning about what is possible here, and then working to bring those plans into reality. We drew maps of our parcel and envisioned how to best divide the spaces into usable units. None of this is obvious at first, and each bit requires thinking through so many questions:

How big do we want our fields to be? Do we want to run our rows north-south or east-west? Where will we run our irrigation mainline? Where will we develop our access roads? Where will we locate a well, our orchards, our house, other infrastructure? How will each of these look? What materials will we use? How will we budget for these expenses? What order will we build/develop them?

Questions upon questions upon questions to consider, and we have! We’ve built a house, a shed, a pole barn, many greenhouses; planted two orchards (well into production now) and many other [now tall!] trees … beyond the visible landscape, we’ve also planned out our systems, our marketing, our rhythms for our farm. We’ve planned each season individually: what to grow and how much.

Casey and I have spent hours and hours poring over maps, lists, spreadsheets, seed catalogs — by the fire in winter and at the shady picnic table in the summer. Cups of coffee in hand. Cups of tea in hand. Babies on laps. Kids on laps. While we plan, again and again, solving each new puzzle that comes our way, keeping our work fresh and the farm a thriving, abundant and dynamic place.

Friends, it’s been really, REALLY fun. And, it’s still fun. Maybe even more fun than ever, as I (Katie) have been able to move more back into the daily management of the farm, and we once again feel like the partners who started the farm together in 2006, in our pre-kid days. And, the growing kids themselves bring more fun into it too, because they’re now old enough to have thoughts and opinions on such questions as well. They each have their own garden plots that they plan out and (mostly) tend (mostly) on their own (mostly).

So, when I look over at Rusty curled around his notebook and pencil, I see that we’ve clearly passed on our love of creation — of taking genuine interest in the world and imagining our potential creative role in the great dance of it all. Maybe today that looks like rolling dice and assigning characters to friends; maybe tomorrow it will be drafting a novel or starting a company or coming up with new solutions to old problems. Or, maybe just having productive fun in a small but authentic way that I can’t even imagine for he or Dottie just yet.

Life is a great adventure! And, we are blessed to be on the journey we are on, here in this place. May you too be filled with gratitude for the opportunities you have to imagine and create change in your world: whether that be in your workplace or in your garden or in your family … or, maybe even just in your kitchen! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries — More of these delicious Hood strawberries!
  • Head lettuce
  • Kohlrabi — We like to peel our kohlrabi (I usually just use a paring knife), then slice it and put it on the table plain for nibbling during our meal. If you want to make it more fancy, you can serve it with hummus or any kind of creamy dressing for dipping.
  • Zucchini — The first of the zucchini is ready in the high tunnel! This is, of course, just the beginning. People always joke about the abundance of this vegetable, but we love it more every year and are always sad to see it go in the fall. We are very excited to have it around again, and — yes — the volume of it will increase as we get more into summer itself.
  • Carrots
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
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