Eddy’s Overwhelmed

Shawna originally titled this piece, “Eddy’s Overwhelmed.” Not only did I inspire my wife’s painting, it resonates strongly, and even helps me make sense of this crazy life we’re living. The weight I bear is not only impossibly difficult and stressful, but beautiful. At the last minute she renamed it, “Big Dreams.”

Eddy's Overwhelmed

I even got a photo of Chuck Marohn—founder of Strong Towns and a real American hero in my book—beside it. He just happened to be wrapping up an event immediately prior to the opening of my wife’s current art exhibition at The Red Herring Lounge last night. Many of my dreams for a more locally-based life, a stronger and more resilient community, etc, will be impacted by his incredibly influential work. He has the ears of scores of America’s mayors, and was even at the White House recently. It was a remarkable coincidence to meet him right here at this spot…

Chuck and painting

These days have been busier than at any other point in my life. I recently took a part-time job as a farmhand at Talmadge Farms, while continuing to also endure the struggle of building my own urban farm. After laboring in the fields under the sun, I raced home on the bike (only 16 miles roundtrip compared to 60 for the Food Farm) to accompany my wife to the show. Standing in the shower a few minutes before we left, I observed the extremely dirty water at my feet. What a contrast to the pristine wastewater coming off me between tours of duty at the office! Time—oh so scarce and precious—on the bike spent pedaling through the countryside was rewarding: mentally, physically, and spiritually. And then, wearing the same tattered shoes as I had on in the field, we’re at this big-time event only an hour later. Surreal…

happy at show

Meanwhile, down on my own farm, the work is painstaking, slow, and arduous. So far I’ve only got six beds prepped (30 inches wide by 30 feet). The other night I received my first mosquito bite of the season while working the broadfork. I borrowed this remarkable tool from Francois Medion, the head gardener at The Duluth Grill. It aerates deep down into the subsoil, and is one heckuva workout. Who needs Crossfit?


Rocks have become my new nemesis, even lovely Lake Superior agates that churn up—this place was at the bottom of the big lake years ago, after all. The paperweight below was heavier than me. After heaving it out of the ground, I rolled the oblong object a few feet off the field, where it’ll probably rest until the end of time. Twas a miracle that I didn’t break the shovel handle on it.


The farm only takes small sips of gasoline on occasion, so this work is bringing home the full meaning of Slow Food. I’ve had this Trek 1200 bike since I was 14. With all original components, it’s the very same “portal into other worlds” that I spoke of in my book (I did record an audiobook as well, y’all).


Alas, a foundation is being laid for long-term success. I’m already looking forward to getting off to an early start next season with all this prep work behind me. Building a farm from scratch requires serious, sustained effort, and so much more of farming life is mental than I ever realized. The decision-making is endless. What sort of irrigation should I use? What should I plant? When and how should they be staggered for succession planting? Where should they all go? How can I put up a quick fence to keep the deer out? The questions are never-ending. Even these are part of the journey. Key elements of beauty.

As I continue pondering and toiling, I hope you’ll head out to The Red Herring Lounge to take in Mischief, Memory, and Wonder: A Collection of 25 Paintings by Shawna Gilmore. These pieces will be on display until June 15th. As you enjoy a favorite beverage of choice, and perhaps some good music, think of me out in the field. That’s almost certainly where I’ll be at that very moment. Or sleeping…

band closes night

extra just in  case

Eddy's Overwhelmed

2 thoughts on “Eddy’s Overwhelmed

  1. So excited for your farming adventure! The 30″ beds and the broadfork make me think of Jean-Martin Fortier, who I’m sure you are familiar with. He certainly is inspiring! I look forward to following your progress. Best of wishes!


    1. Yes! Jean Martin is awesome. I’ve also been into an urban farmer named Curtis Stone who farms on an even smaller scale—just 1/3rd of an acre, and he makes a great living at it. These people give so much hope for those of us who have longed for a future in agriculture, but have allowed society to squash these dreams through the oft-quoted notion of, “You can’t make money at farming…” Anyhow, you’d totally dig permaculturevoices.com. Amazing podcasts! I tuned in just two months ago—yes, immediately after turning 40—and I only needed to hear one episode to make the leap. So encouraging! Thanks for dropping in, Erin, and keep up your great work at http://www.yellowbirchhobbyfarm.com/. Holy cow (rabbit)! I see there’s a new post I’ll need to catch up on. I can’t believe you’re able to pull off meat rabbits when you have kids who tend to get attached. Well done! I can’t wait to read it…

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