These words were spoken by Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., the founding abbot of Saint Vincent Archabbey located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Boniface Wimmer immigrated to the United States with a small group of Benedictine monks in the mid 1800’s from Bavaria. As an extension, his work then also helped establish our town of Saint Marys and the first Benedictine convent located here as well.
I think of his inspirational words quite often and today they came to mind many times as work began anew in the hopyards for this growing season. There’s always that mix of anxiety, happiness, awe and terror that seem to make their way back and forth in my mind as a new season begins.
I took a walk through both the small and large hopyard, peeking underneath the straw mulch Dad and I put down last Fall, putting these fellas to bed for the Winter. There were a few buds poking through, however it’s still been rather cool up here in Saint Marys and I’d want to sleep a little longer too if I were them.
As a result, rather than working to place more of the flexible anchors we’re trialing, anchors we’d then attach the coir to and then up to the top cables, I then went about work to reassemble the hops platform, or “crow’s nest” as I refer to it. We use the crow’s nest, towed behind the tractor, to do everything from installing the cabling, to hanging the coir, to harvesting. When we first built the crow’s nest last Summer after purchasing the components, we had four helpers to do that chore. As is the case many times with a small, family farm, I ended up assembling it on my own as I did with the disassemble late last Fall. If I was able to take pictures of that process while also assembling it, you’d see that it’s not the safest job in the world…so be it.
It’s always inspiring to see the hops, any plant for that matter, poking through the soil, emerging to start another season. It’s one of those things that helps move me from the “anxiety” and “terror” modes right into “happiness” and “awe”. It’s not just the season as a whole that’s like riding the Jack Rabbit rollercoaster at Kennywood, it’s every single day on the Farm. From the time we get started in the early morning until we put all the tools away at the end of the day, there are multiple failures and successes one after another.
It can be extremely frustrating, but it’s also one of those things that for me anyway, makes me feel most alive.