Back on the Farm

My apologies that blogging has been slow of late. I’ve had the world’s craziest last couple of weeks with work, which (naturally) coincided with the peak of spring work on the farm.

I got home late Thursday night from New York, where I’d spent two solid days working in-house for a big PR firm. Like most of my clients, they typically send a data file to me for analysis — and then I do the work here on the farm, in my detached office building. There is usually some back-and-forth, discussion, and additional analysis … but almost always by phone and email. This project was a little different, however. They’d fielded a huge, multinational survey, and are now camped out in a 15th floor “war room” doing analysis. They thought it would be helpful for me to be physically in the room, part of the discussion, and able to respond to requests in real time.

We agreed to a daily rate, and I hopped the earliest flight on Wednesday morning. I got to their offices in Lower Manhattan shortly before 9am, and was running numbers on my laptop literally all day long. Being there with them did make a big difference for everyone’s productivity. I’ve been using SPSS for data analysis for over 25 years now, and know the software backwards and forwards. I was able to manipulate their data file quickly, and kick out the results they needed. And because I was there with them, and part of the whole conversation about the goals of the presentation they were putting together, I was able to suggest refinements and alternative approaches to the data analysis.

So, it was extremely productive. It was also exhausting. As I’d gotten up at 3am to catch my flight, and had only briefly napped on the plane, by evening I was struggling to keep my eyes open. But I did join the other four members of the team for dinner at a nice little Italian place around the corner from their office. I enjoyed getting to know them better — I’d previously only worked with them over the telephone, and we’d never met in person. For my part, I regaled them with tales from the farm, and what we do here.

We were back in the office before 9am the next morning, and again spent virtually the whole day doing analysis. Finally, around 6pm, I packed up and headed out.

I had a little extra time before my 9:30pm flight home out of Newark, and it was a beautiful afternoon. I took my time walking up Hudson Street from SoHo, through the West Village, just soaking in all sights. New York is really an amazing place, like no other in the world. What I love about these neighborhoods is that there’s a little bit of everything, all piled on top of every thing else and mixed up together. Small restaurants. Apartment buildings. Parks, with little leaguers playing baseball on the other side of a chain link fence. Playgrounds. Hip Hop artists dancing on top of a bus, shooting a music video, right in the middle of the street. And people, people, people everywhere — every one of them different.


Like John Cougar Mellencamp, I’ve “got nothing against the big town.” My only regret about the trip to New York is that the pace was so frenetic, and that I didn’t have a little extra time to see the sights. Still … it was incredibly good to head home. I was so exhausted, I fell asleep before the plane lifted off. I didn’t wake up until we were approaching Detroit. Then it was an hour and a quarter to drive back to the farm. As I crawled into bed, I glanced at the clock. 1:25am. Less than 46 hours earlier, my alarm had gone off and put the whole whirlwind trip in motion. And now I was back.

Friday afternoon, I tried to spend a lot of time catching up with things on the farm. Out in the back yard, cutting some grass for the goats, I suddenly had to stop and just savor the feel of sunlight. I took deep breaths of country air, and enjoyed the aroma of fresh lawn trimmings. As I carried the grass catcher to the goats, and they came running, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that I get to live here. Much as I enjoyed visiting New York, I can’t imagine not being able to come home to a place like this.


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