And On the Seventh Day He Rested

Books are filled with wondrous knowledge and revelations. I have learned a lot of great things from books. In my youth I read parts of the bible when I was taking classes in preparation to be “confirmed.” The Bible has lots of great ideas, things to live by, like the 10 commandments. The bible verse that I thought about most this summer was Genesis 2:2 which says that after God created the heavens and earth, he rested on the seventh day. Or at least that is how I remember it.

This idea of the Sabbath being a day of rest is a profound one. I have been challenged to follow it through much of my life. Before we moved here I worked like a dog to make money so that we could buy our place in the country and move away from the city. In the early years here at Sunflower Farm I spent Monday to Friday at my computer doing paid work and then I worked like a fiend on Saturday and Sunday doing outside work and all sorts of different projects. I was happy until I couldn’t move on Sunday night. In fact I could never get this concept of taking Sunday off. I remember watching the TV show, “Little House on the Prairie” and the whole family would get into their Sunday clothes and take the wagon into town for church. They were pioneers! How did “Pa” have time to take a single minute off from farming and clearing land and well … settling and pioneering?

From the moment that I was able to get into the garden this past April I have worked 7 days a week, mostly in the garden. Computer time has been the exception rather than the norm, as reflected by my limited blog posting. This summer the wisdom of Sunday being a day of rest finally began to make sense. Or at least taking one day off during the week. It’s a truly brilliant concept.

Little by little I was running myself down. You don’t notice it at first. I still feel like I’m 18 (mentally anyway) but the reality is that my body is 53 years old and it just isn’t what it once was. This is hard for me to admit, but the commercials on the evening news remind me of this constantly.

One day in June I just hit the wall. There were a million things that needed to be done but I just couldn’t find the energy to tackle them.  So I started to slow down. That Sunday I told Michelle I wasn’t going to go into the garden until after breakfast. She got up early and let the chickens out and I lay in bed until after 7. It was awesome and I felt guilty as heck for doing it. Then I read until breakfast, but I was still in the garden by 10 am. The following Sunday it was raining so I didn’t get out until noon and it was wonderful.

One Sunday I spent the day propping up corn that had blown over and I really noticed it the following week. I was really dragging. One week I got smart and got a “Current Release” from the Video Store on Saturday afternoon which meant we had to take it back in on Sunday (or pay a fine). So we went to “Spuds” the new restaurant in town for breakfast. Woo hoo! What a luxury! Don’t say we don’t know how to live it up. Then I got caught up on emails when I got back. I took it a little easier and harvested some garlic in the afternoon.

It’s very hard to take time off when you are running a CSA. The work is endless. In fact that’s one of the downsides – you feel you’re never caught up. Stuff HAS to be weeded, those flats of broccoli HAVE to be planted, and that new section of drip irrigation HAS to be installed. So the concept of taking one 7th of your productive working time off-line is kind of foreign to me. But working 7 days a week, much of it at 80% productivity really doesn’t net you out much further ahead.

cam in garden wide shot

This is an old photo but gives you some idea of the size of just one of our gardens!

Suggesting that I will relax and avoid physical effort is much easier said than done. Regardless of how great the book is that I am reading, the jobs keep calling me. I’ll keep working on it though. I started off saying “Oh well …  I’ll take time off in the fall.” But that doesn’t really help with the cumulative fatigue that was starting to settle in this summer. Michelle is helping with great meals, and she’s been baking me lots of pies! Oh the pies! I’m making a point of eating as much protein as I can for breakfast. And as many pies as I can.

I am scaling back work on Sundays. I was hoping that by September there’d be less work, but with cleaning garlic, digging potatoes, harvesting sweet potatoes, digging and washing carrots …  well, it actually seems that there is as much or more work right now as there was earlier in the season. It never ends. But the end is in sight. There are only a few more weeks left in our CSA. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is October 14, the U.S. Columbus Day. Our daughters will be home that weekend for Thanksgiving. When they leave to head back to the city, I’m going to stay in bed for a week!

(Michelle’s Note: What Cam fails to mention is that not only does he work 7 days a week, his days are long! At the height of the season it isn’t unusual for him to be in the garden by 6 a.m. and he often works 12 or more hours a day! No wonder he is getting worn out!)

6 Responses to “And On the Seventh Day He Rested”

  • Excellent article. Always love to read about your adventures on the farm and learning, learning, learning.

    Just FYI, the 7th day that is mentioned in Genesis is SATURDAY. If you can count up to 7 you can figure that out with your own brain. Took me 53 years to do that, so I’m not knocking you. Just sayin’

    I tend to be a workaholic too, and used to work every day of the week too. But when I discovered that the Sabbath was actually Saturday (almost 11 years ago) and that God was serious about His command to keep it, I started to actually rest on that day. What a blessing! Divine permission to do nothing! No more guilt about stuff not getting done. No having to make excuses. And you know what? You DO get more done on 6 days when you rest the 7th! Especially when the day you rest on is HIS day–Saturday.

    Sermon finished. Amein!

  • Jim:

    Cam I have had that experience and am now paying for it. It all collapsed around me 13 years ago and I was doing hours something like you mention in a job, working a small property, being a leader in a community group and juggling a family somewhere in between.
    I got sick…flu like symptoms twice but each case different, pain all over and inside, ulcers in mouth…..and slept for 23 hours a day for months on end. After 3 years still sleeping 18 hours a day. Now I get away with 12 hours but sometimes like last week had to add about 3 more hours of sleep during the day on 3 days just to basically function. So after 13 years with chronic fatigue syndrome my only real function is to grow enough food for myself and family to eat because I now have severe allergies to all processed food and non organic food.
    So the moral is take note of the warning signs (which I had been receiving since about 1995) and act now and rest up enough to go the next day. I can guarantee it isn’t much fun the other way. I am not sure if I will ever get back to the way I used to be but do dream of the many things I would like to do when I am better. If I was an accountant I think my sleep deficit should have been cancelled out by now but unfortunately I don’t feel that way.
    Take care Cam and Michelle!

  • One day rest a week is worth taking. I worked 11-13 hours a day seeing patients and teaching, without taking a day off until 2009. Till I was 51!!!!! Though i felt exhausted I would think I needed to work as there was too much to do. I often asked God to give me more than 24 hours in a day so that I could rest enough!!! After I moved here, our children almost forced me to take weekends off. Initially I did as it to please them but now I really want to give myself some appreciation for working through the week. In my opinion your body wants that appreciation and giving you a tough time as you are giving it a tough time. Figure out how to enjoy the day offs.

  • Susan:

    I know the feeling. Although I don’t have a CSA I do have a large garden, animals, and a piece of property and house that were bank owned (read needing work) when we moved here and it has been a never ending list of jobs. Although my husband and I don’t take Sunday off we do scale back to doing the little things on Sunday that have a tendency to get put on the back burner and then relaxing starting in the mid-afternoon. Having a nice dinner at a reasonable time and watching a moving before bed. It may not be the whole day but it does help and we don’t feel so guilty. Your weeds will only grow a fraction on the one day off and will be waiting for you on Monday. Treat yourself kindly.

  • George Balogh:

    Cam,
    Thanks to you and Michelle for the assistance yesterday when I stopped by LOST with my ram!

    Heather and I struggle ( a lot) with the subject of your current blog—-workaholic farming.
    I am trying to convey your attitude on this in our situation.

    Best wishes,
    George

  • Neil B. (Orleans):

    Wow, you are making me tired just reading your blog.

    I remember reading an article on the Voyageurs (The Voyageurs were people who engaged in the transportation of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word, which literally means “traveler”). It stated that the men who paddled 6 days a week and took the 7th day off went farther than the men who paddled 7 days a week. This is a historical fact.

    So Voyageur Cam, rest on that 7th day.

    Take care!

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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