Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Casey O’Neill of HappyDay Farms: ‘A Farm is a Living Organism’


Casey O’Neill cultivates cannabis, vegetables, and fruit in Mendocino County. We will be publishing his weekly newsletter regarding growing cannabis and produce sustainably.

This is the first holiday season since Mama’s passing in January.  I think about her, a deep sadness mellowed by the sweetness of her memory.  I remember the traditions that were so important to her, the things that our family revolved around for so many years.  We carry on many of them, but some things were special unto her.  

Loss is an inevitability in life, part of this human journey.  It is one of the biggest feels we can feel as social creatures.  I try to sit with it when it arises for me but I don’t seek it out.  Mama will always be there in my memory and when she arises I treasure her and then I go on with my day.  

She was so proud of us for the farm that we’ve built.  When we launched the farmstand this year we talked about how much she would have loved to have seen it.  Mama was a maker, a baker, a chef.  She would have stocked that farmstand like nobody’s business and it feels good to think about carrying on in a path of which she would approve.  

A farm is a living organism composed of land, humans, plants and animals.  Land, crops and animals are the body and soul, humans are the heart and mind.  When we lead with our hearts and use our minds as tools to build heart-truth, powerful things can happen.  Like all things in life, balance is necessary. 

Too much mind results in the slippery slope of economic focus that leads to debeaked chickens six to a small cage and vast swaths of unnecessary corn-wheat-soybeans.  The mind is an incredible tool, but like all tools it has an OFF button.  It can be so difficult to shut off the monkey-mind chatter, but like anything else, practice makes for better use of a tool. 

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Part of my love for the physical labor in farming comes from the flow state that it engenders.  When you get into the rhythm of work the mind becomes still with single focus.  Instead of multiple tracks of chatter, the energy is poured into movement and actuation.  Pops always says about working “I got into it like a meditation”.  

We’ve planted our complement of bulbs for the year, looking forward to the flowers of spring.  Farming, like life, is the experience of planning and expectation of the future while living in the present.  Knowing that the flowers will spring forth from the bulbs brings joy in the current effort, while creating joy in the future. 

To build in effort towards future joy is one experience of human fulfillment.  The joy we each take from our human relationships is created by an investment of time and energy in foundation.  We build lives together through interaction that operates in a fundamental feedback loop.  One of the guiding principles of life that my folks instilled is to verbalize love.  Like anything in life, the more we practice an experience, the more comfortable and capable we become in that experience.  As we express love, it becomes a more common feeling, like all pathways impressed upon our mental circuits through regular use. 

 Life is always a feedback loop of energy.  Though we choose through our words and actions what type of feedback loop in which to participate, we are also participants in the feedback loops of the people with whom we come in contact.  Each day is a series of interactions, each with an opportunity to express love and kindness.  

Sometimes it is easier to feel and express love than other times.  Competing emotions create stormy seas but love is the beacon of the lighthouse, guiding us home.  Growing into expressing love has been calming and centering through times of deep uncertainty and pain.  Life is a process of forward and back, ups and downs.  I love the old saying about emotions as waves but consciousness as the ocean.  

As we approach the solstice, we settle into reflection and thought, remembrance and preparation.  We experience the slowed time and the darkness as winter arrives, settled in the present while past and future ebb and flow.  Happiness, sadness, love, loss, gratitude all mingle into the weaving of the tapestry of our lives.  We are glad to behold it.  Much love and great success to you on your journey!

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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