Team Red Dog for the Win!

Team Red Dog for the Win!

For the second year in a row, three of the Red Dog staff, including myself, decided to pose as runners during the recent half marathon down in Quilcene. I guess the challenges of full time farming during the height of the season wasn’t enough for this trio. We grudgingly went on a few after-work training runs leading up to the race, but decided that between lifting crate after crate of celery and spending our days walking from field to field, we were ready. With the arrival of fall, looming squash harvest and the fading of summer bounty I found myself comparing the 13.1 miles of joy, pain, doubt and excitement to a season on the farm.

The anticipation leading up to the race felt much like looking at the yearly greenhouse seeding list for the first time. Flats and flats and flats to fill, who is going to fill all these flats? We haven’t even hired anyone yet! Then the morning of the race came and reality set in, no backing out now. Whatever planning or training happened didn’t matter anymore.

Fortunately for two of us, we had run this route before and experience proved extremely valuable. We knew how long the hills were, where to conserve our energy, and where to go for it. I’ve been lucky to farm with some of the crew for the last three seasons, and Karyn the last four. Each year we get better at farming this land and we also become a better team. We know what look out for, each other’s strengths and weaknesses, how to help each other grow and when someone REALLY needs a vacation.

Right now I guess we’re probably at mile 10 or 11 on the farm. It’s starting to rain again, gets dark sooner and we’re finally starting at eight o’clock every morning. We’re going to be pulling thousands of pounds of squash, potatoes, radishes and beets out of the field in the coming months which physically can be the hardest part of the year. A lot of the crew will be moving on soon and few of us will be left to tend the fields through December. It’s actually my favorite time of year, mostly because I don’t like the heat, but also because it is a great time for reflection. Looking around and seeing an overflow of healthy produce, happy customers and a crew that has grown so much from taking that first peak at the greenhouse seeding list makes me really excited.

Sometimes the last mile can be the hardest, it definitely was for me last weekend. Luckily one of the many differences between farming and running is nobody will be crossing the “farm finish line” by themselves. Instead we will be pulling all those wet, muddy vegetables out of the fields with the best crew in all the land.