Monday, December 21, 2009
"Why farm?" We get that all the time.
We have full time plus jobs, three young children, long commutes, crazy expenses, a house that requires the chopping of wood for heat and a hundred other chores, all sorts of creative, political and social obligations etc, etc and I can't tell you the number of times folks, hearing about our jam-packed lifestyle shake their heads and call us crazy.
We used to laugh it off. Sure, well. Yeah...
But lately, we are wondering if perhaps we ARE a little crazy. Too crazy.
It all started with the hay. We don't have any. Our farm is small, and so, like many other unfortunate farmers we are forced to buy our hay from those with the land and equipment to produce it. $4.75 a smallish bale-- if we take the seats out of the minivan, load it ourselves and drive it home-- untold extra dollars if we have it delivered. This year, due to other obligations-- kids' birthdays, family, etc etc-- it snowed before we got the hay in. Now the driveway down to the barn is an ice slope with little hope of thaw, and we are stuck with 70 bales of hay (about a month's worth) in our garage. And many trips to pick up hay ahead.
In addition, Dan spent precious time he should have devoted to grading finals on fixing the fence Charlie bashed in trying to get a few more ewes "under his belt". And the water hydrant in the barn broke so we have to tote buckets a little farther over the treacherous ice. And it is cold, in the single digits in the mornings.
All just everyday stuff. But it's stuff that might seem more worth the trouble if we could eke a little profit out of the livestock. We can't. Haven't. And won't in the forseeable future.
You see, the jobs and kids and other obligations keep us from focusing on the selling part. We should be out there pushing yarn and pelts and meat and every other scrap of "by" and "value added" product". The selling needs to happen in order for "farm" to be more than the landed equivalent of "boat" (as in: a hole in the ground you pour your money into.) As it stands, the money we pour into the livestock could be our childrens' security or education or maybe just a breather in our constant financial juggle.
Part time farming really is a losing proposition.
I don't mean to sound grouchy. Or whiny. Or even glum. I don't feel any of these things. I am just coming to the realization that maybe... just maybe... I will regret that I haven't had time to teach that felting class with my kids after school or concentrate more fully on the half written novel or just play a few more rounds of "Fundomino" without having to truck on out to take care of the animals. Also, there is all the money to be saved.
On the other hand. Our sheep are family. I would miss the expensive little beasties, and mucking around out there in the cold, too. And watching newborn lambs. And figuring out breeding groups. And all the shearing days and unintentional "sheep rodeos". I would also miss feeling that deeper connection to the seasons and cycles and the inimacy with birth and death, joy and sorrow, that farming sort of is.
It's winter on Maggie's Farm, and I guess you could say, I've got cold feet.
Posted by Perri at 2:49 PM