In all this, balance has been the aim or standard. Balance has defined the limits. The Marshes wanted a place large enough to provide a subsistence, but not too large to care for. They wanted to grow enough food so that they could keep what they needed and give some to friends. They wanted their life to have a margin of generosity, but not of waste.
Wendell Berry, from “An Excellent Homestead” (1979)
I’ve been struggling some lately trying to determine the right balance here. I keep expanding the gardens and increasing the amount of food we’re growing–and I love doing that. But every time I do it increases the amount of labor I’ll have to expend taking care of it all. And it increases the risk that we will generate waste. At this point my work days are usually 14-15 hours long. I love this life so I’m not complaining about the work. The issue is that I’m not able to accomplish everything that needs doing in those hours. It’s going to be necessary for me to get some help.
I need to keep in mind the wise observation Wendell Berry made about the Indiana farm of his friends the Marshes. “Large enough to provide a subsistence but not too large to care for.” That was originally my intent here. I wanted to grow enough food to feed our family and have some left over to give away. That was fairly easily accomplished a few years ago, to my delight. We grow nearly all the food we eat and we have been able to give away a lot of food. Now, through our CSA, we’re providing food to many other families as well, and still trying to give away a lot of what we grow. The balance I’m seeking will be to grow enough food to meet our needs and those of our members, have plenty left to give away, have nothing wasted, and have time to tend the land and animals here properly.
It seems to me that is the balance we should all seek in life–a margin of generosity, but not of waste.