From May 3rd to May 17th, I was at the farm. I needed a break from lockdown New York City. It was a productive two weeks and I am happy I did it. I not only had a great time with my family, but I woke up at 5am every day, started the carnivore diet, and ditched my caffeine habit.
On the car ride up, I made an an agreement with my friend that we would both try to wake up at 5am for the month of May or we would have to Venmo our worst enemy $100, something neither of us wanted to do. We both validated our getting up early by sending a selfie outside between 5:00-5:15. It’s worked like a charm – every day since May 4th I’ve gotten up on time.
Last year, my new year’s resolution was to get up at 5am everyday for the year. This was a big challenge, and I did so for about half the year. I found that the hardest part was getting to bed early enough to get up on time. Still, with the extra time I had in the morning, I ended up reading a lot and starting a business. I didn’t plan on doing those things, I just made it a point that I woke up early and let myself wander to whatever I wanted to do.
I took the same approach with this challenge for myself during the farm reset – after I got up, as long as I didn’t go to bed again, I wanted to give myself the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I ended up doing a fair bit of reading (Thus Spoke Zarathusrta and Letters From a Self-made Merchant to His Son) and going for walks in the morning. A few mornings I helped my dad, a few I checked on the chickens that had some predator problems.
The first few days of getting up early, I would make a strong cup of black coffee and read in my room. It reminded me of a description of Coke Stevenson’s morning routine of waking up at 4am every day to read. I read about this in Means of Ascent bu Robert Caro. Coke Stevenson was LBJ’s opponent for a senate seat in 19XX. A lawyer, self-made man, his integrity was unassailable and he was popular throughout all of Texas. It’s widely accepted that LBJ cheated him out of the senate race.
“He would read at night, but also in the morning before daylight. He rose very early every morning, and put on a pot-a battered old graniteware pot-of very strong coffee. Then he would site down with a book. Friends who stayed at the ranch remember sometimes getting up at four or five in the morning to go to the bathroom, and seeing a lamp brining in the living room, and in its circle of light, Coke Stevenson reading, his huge, gnarled, powerful hands tenderly holding the book. ‘He treats his books like friends’ one man would recall. ‘None of this books has a turned down edge’ to make the place; ‘none has notes on the margin – if notes are needed, he makes them on a piece of paper and inserts them at the place'”
I always remembered that quote, and waking up a few days and doing the same made me feel some kind of connection with a great man like Stevenson.
The first 10 days I spent clearing away 10 years of brush from fences on the outskirts of the farm. The brush grounded the fence so electricity couldn’t go through. This was satisfying work and what I needed to shake up sedentary quarantine routine. Above and beyond the other things I’ll talk about here, outdoor manual labor, being around family, and seeing the first results of the work that I do in the real world were crucial to the reset. It got me thinking about some kind of business that could be built around a farm reset.
I also planted 4 acres of peas and did other tractor work. Tractor work is always fun because of the power you feel when behind the wheel of the tractor.
Another change is that on May 14th, I started a carnivore diet. I noticed that within a few days of the carnivore diet, my mood and energy levels improved. I felt alert and sharp all day and slept great. I didn’t feel tired or slow after I ate. I was eating lots of steak, eggs, and ground beef. I don’t know how it will affect my running, since I usually feel better running on carbs, but I’ll write about that later.
When researching the carnivore diet, I learned that some people have bad diarrhea for the first few weeks of the diet. Luckily that did not happen to me, at least not yet. I did notice that I poop once every 5 days or so, which honestly is nice. I don’t even think about having to go and don’t miss going 1-2x per day. I drink about a gallon of water a day.
Since I was on a roll with waking up early and eating a lot of meat, I decided to take a break from coffee as well. I haven’t been drinking it since May 12th or so. Who knows how long it will go, but the combination of eating only meat, and waking up early for manual labor outside is a great recipe for not needing coffee. I noticed a few withdrawal headaches, but they weren’t too hard to get through. My liquid treat is now Topo Chico.
On May 3rd, I stopped using a face cream I’ve used for years to keep my face clear. My face has been pretty red, dry, and flaky for the majority of the time, but I think it’s a good release and I am testing whether or not a carnivore diet will change my skin at all. I think it will, but we shall see.
When I set out on the farm reset, I had the intention of journaling more, following Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, and of starting a calisthenics routine, but you can only do so much at once, and overall I am happy with the foundational momentum I’ve started to build.
I also re-did the farm website. I migrated their content from Wix to Square. It wasn’t a terrible transition. The hardest part of this stuff is having the photos and content already, so I was able to copy and paste most content over to Square. I will say, as someone who has worked in software sales, that it was interesting to be on “buyer” side where I worked with my mom to determine what exactly was needed and what the problem w
I also worked on cleaning up one of the farm houses we have that has sort of fallen into disrepair. I’d like to get it to a livable situation so that it could be used for workers, as an airbnb, or for myself one day. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being ready to live in, it’s at about a 3. It needs a lot of work that is above my skill level, but it’s something I want to work on in the future.