Starting my flower farm: Part 4 – Boundaries for real life

Having a business can be all consuming. I am the type of person who thrives off task completion, seeking perfection and those qualities can quickly turn you into a workaholic. Finding a balance and routine that would allow me and my family to get the most out of summer, and still grow a successful business, was important.

In the early season, while the young plants are competing for space, there’s no easy balance. Planting, weeding, watering is all time consuming no matter which way you cut it. Working every evening on your hands and knees pulling tiny weeds from the holes in the fabric, planting tiny plants, over analyzing the weather forecast to get the garden enough water (and not too much!) is hard physically and mentally. For a while there, Fiona and I would work up and down the rows of tiny plants thinking, “holy moly, this better be worth it.” Spoiler-it was.

From left, zinnias, Fiona weeding the dahlias, sunflowers that we grow in rows off-fabric, and cosmos in early season.

After the plants got off to a good start and could hold their own against the weeds, Brad asked me if I wanted to spend any time with him in the evenings this summer. Well, of course I did! So a new schedule had to emerge. It was NOT realistic or healthy to be out there every night, so that’s where the Thursday to Saturday/Sunday schedule was born. Fiona and I figured we could cut flowers Wednesday evening for Thursday’s farm stand, and then again Friday night, for a refill to Saturday’s farm stand. Thursday evenings we deadheaded, cut grass, planted sunflowers, or other odds and ends.

This was a great fit for us. That relieved a lot of the “heavy” work from the weekend, and our customers were so awesome to give us heads up if they were looking for something on a specific day. So expect you will see a very similar schedule next year as Thursday’s and Saturday’s were by far the busiest days at the farm stand.

Finding a work-life balance is a process for every family no matter the working situation, and it’s not easy. The other thing that seems to confuse people is why we take on so much! Yes, big projects come with time constraints, stress, and unknowns, but both Brad and I are the type of people who thrive on accomplishment. Not that raising healthy, mindful, caring and considerate kids is not an accomplishment we’re working towards, but something to continue into the long-term, to give our farm and farm-business longevity is so important in this highly competitive and fast changing agriculture industry.

For me, personally, I have less anxiety when I’m able to “scratch things off the list” as they say. Anxiety is hungry for certainty, and setting out on a task like cutting enough flowers for 6 table-centrepiece jars, is something that visually satisfies that need to achieve. I’ve also always loved interior house-painting for this reason. The result is so instant, and rewarding! Unless you’ve wrestled with, and done the work to find the source of your depression or anxiety, this can be very confusing. “Jess, just do less, take some things out of your mind.” I’m not wired like that.

The beautiful part of agriculture and farming, is that we have a slow season. We do not have livestock, so yes, we can actually put some tasks down for the winter. The winter seems shorter and shorter every year, but we still take the time to turn off and reconnect, refocus, and redirect our goals. Part 5 will talk about those goals! Thanks for being here and reading long.