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Do You Choose Your Own Work?

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

That's a lot of pressure, eh? This was Grandma's tongue-in-cheek saying for keeping the kids on task. The idea of work has been on my mind lately as sweet Kia the poochie refuses to come in at night, but instead chooses to guard the farm rather than sleep. She ferociously, bravely, valiantly, and very noisily barks away the coyotes, deer, raccoons and all other variety of critters who attempt to infringe upon her self-determined space. She takes her work very seriously and we never even ask her to do it.

In the last couple of months I've been known to say "That's not my job!" I'll blame it all on culture shock and processing country living with the city part of my not quite bilingual brain. This incredulous reaction, little foot stomp and postering are all part of my natural human response to work not necessarily chosen by me, but that's life...or is it? As an adult, I know that sometimes I have to suck it up and barrel through in order to move back into the happy place of doing work I choose.

Not only are we happy when we can choose our own work, but WHEN also matters. Of course, there are things we come to realize must be done in a timely manner, but most of us will accomplish the moving of mountains when allowed our own space, time, approach, etc.

My son went to a Montessori school for eight years when he was a kidlet ages 3-11. In this model of teaching, students choose "work" each day. They decide what they want to learn or practice and they have a big block of time to hone their skills. Arrival time in the Montessori classroom is for waking up, greeting friends and play. There's no immediate pressure for work until the brain has limbered and social needs met. Then, the teacher calls students to the meeting area to discuss a new lesson and new opportunity for work, review ongoing work, and ask students to identify what work they plan to address for the day. If students are working on group work or projects, they identify who will be working with them and what each will do to contribute. In this model, most of the students happily march off to the work they have chosen. Also to note, "life work," like squeezing lemons, grating nutmeg, knitting and woodworking are things students learn in the Montessori classroom in addition to more traditional schoolwork.

Judging by the numbers of workers feeling intensely disinterested in returning to the office, I imagine they got a taste of self-determination and autonomy during the work-from-home days. And, in talking to teacher friends who report schools full of angry students, I would also argue that kids are frustrated by the work choices they are offered and time that is not theirs to manage. Most of us have drive, most of us want to live life with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and most of us want to work. In fact, when we are working for ourselves, we will most likely work more, longer, harder and with more determination. My two cents, our system is broken, very broken.

Why this topic today? Because as I muddle through the transition from permanent paycheck and benefits employment to the self-employed life of farming, I am enormously grateful for the freedom I have each day to choose my own work. Outside of a few minor temper tantrums over the hard work involved in country living, I no longer wake up nauseous, no longer imagine my life elsewhere (fight or flight, right?) and I no longer battle the Saturday afternoon to Monday Blues. Kia has made me reflect on this as she happily chooses her work, and I recall my own work/career and time in the classroom. I wonder if kids need less school work and more real work? Perhaps it's time to apprentice and employ our tweens and teens and encourage more adults towards self-employment! Oh, if I ran the zoo what I would do...!


The hydrometer helps us determine if the syrup is ready to bottle.

The trees have stopped running again with temps not dipping low enough overnight, but we had a huge run last week and should be bottling many gallons today or tomorrow. We're hopeful they start another run on Friday, and of course, we watch the trees and taste for "salad syrup" to know when we'll be done.


New this week are two soups: 1) Lentil and 2) Gingered Butternut & Potato, and our weekly salad is Black Bean with Toasted Coconut, Rice, Sunflower Seeds and Lime. Check the BIG list to see what else we offer.

We're grateful for some rain as drought was looking possible. Of course, we're tired of the mud and anxious to see green again! Soon, very soon.

Stay well.

Sending love from the farm,


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