Growing potatoes is pretty standard fare on farms and in gardens all over the world. We clear vegetation, open furrows, drop seed potato pieces every 8 inches, cover with soil and hope for rain. As our grand parents did, we pick potato bugs off the leaves as the plants grow and hill the soil up around the stems to give more space for the tubers to swell under ground. Just like in the Andes mountains of Peru where potatoes originate, when the plants die back, we pry open the earth with digging forks to reveal the fortunes of the season. The lowly potato, now fresh and bright in stark contrast to the soil that surrounds it, emerges to come full circle from seed to soil and back again.
Valerie and Vonda, our two eldest draft horses, deserve most of the credit for the potato crop this year. The work is familiar to the horses, they have hilled and worked many potato patches before, but in the moment, the mundane is transformed. We three work as one, thousands of pounds between us just inches from the crop we carefully cultivate. The horses are glad to be out of their stalls, groomed, and sure to be rewarded with oats for their efforts. In those moments, I come full circle too, from dream to gritty work and right back to dream, lucid and grimy all at once.
We harnessed the horses last week to bring the potato patch back to where we started. The ground began covered in grasses and clover, and with the help of the team we seeded the soil to cover it with life once again. Oats, peas, and radishes are now sprouting vigorously, not to be harvested, but grown only to feed the soil that generously provided the potatoes. Those green shoots are sending down roots that will heal the disturbance caused by our crop. They will grow, die, and set the stage for a whole new cycle to unfold come next spring. Rhythms, cycles, and circles...connecting us to everything.