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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Picking up the pieces, moving forward and re-setting priority number one!

The unforeseen, abrupt, loss of an income HURTS A LOT, especially in the spring on a small farm.  You start looking for more ways to cut already tight budgets and find ways to bring in any little bit of income to carry you through and keep the utilities on.  Farmers market, which was supposed to be on hold for this year, was added back to the mix.  Unfortunately, we hadn’t planned on a market garden this year so vegetable starts wouldn’t be available for sale.  Butchering hadn’t been done so we didn’t have any rabbit meat for sale.  Jams and jellies were still in their juice stage in the freezer.  We reached out to our neighbors and through some bartering and collaboration, little man’s father has managed to make a table at market work.

Chicken being chased by a toddler
with a camera
At the beginning of June I tried to do what I had done last year, bake four to six pies, four loaves of yeast bread and several desserts each market day.  I would come home from my off farm job and little man would ask me to play but I would be too busy baking to play.  He would ask to help so I would let him add pre-measured ingredients and mix when it was appropriate.  Baking took much longer than it had in the past.  Then when I moved on to the next recipe, he would ask to play again.  We would stop for dinner then go put the animals to bed, put little man and his father to bed then I would stay up baking more for market.  Since it was spring/early summer, the following night I would be transplanting from the greenhouse into the garden or the flower beds and he would help wherever he could, but then he would ask to play again, and again the answer would be, ‘As soon as I am done doing…’  The following night I would be baking again for market.  The following night would be spent cleaning out the rabbits and chickens housing, again little man would get his shovel and do what he could to help.  It breaks your heart when you have to tell your little one that you can’t play because you have to try and make a living. 

After too many times seeing that beautiful boy walk away with THAT look of total and complete disappointment, I decided that I was done with working full-time and trying to keep up with farmers market too.  I wasn’t going to miss another whole summer of playing and watching little man grow, all the while arguing with his father about distribution of chores/responsibilities and who was going to get to use the tiny work space portion of the kitchen first, just to try and eek out what little our local farmers market was going to gain for us.  Little man is far too important!  I wasn’t going to do it again this summer.

Now I come home in the evening and do at least one chore/job/task, which most of the time, includes some portion of something that little man can help with.  Then there is play time.  Sometimes it is fifteen minutes while making dinner, sometimes it is an hour and a half while the excavation of a new garage and parking facility are planned underneath the pine tree for the a pickup truck carrying blocks and a horse trailer carrying cows and rocks.  Often it involves running around with bare feet, pausing only to scratch a sow behind the ears, upsetting the chickens as they have to get out of the way of a racing toddler in the backyard.
2014's first harvest of
yellow beans from the garden

The worries are far from gone as little man’s father remains unemployed, but, the freezer is full and the garden is providing every day.  Now we have fifty meat birds ready to go into the freezer, I wasn’t able to buy the fingers for the chicken plucker we are building AND the one we borrowed needs fingers too

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Memorial Day throws you a curve ball!

2014 started relatively well considering all else. The plans were in place for a productive year, at least on paper anyway and we jumped in with both feet. This year would be better planned, we wouldn't take on too many projects, we would both be working full time jobs off the farm, the farmers market would be on hold for this year and we would focus on what we needed for the family, catch up on bills and get a decent financial foundation underneath us to start 2015 off with a deeper focus on the farm and earning at least one salary with what we can produce from the farm.

An older picture of the 'Rock' behind the fire pit
Plans were progressing, the year was moving forward, albeit behind schedule, but when has this farm ever adhered to a schedule – enter Memorial Day weekend. Historically, this weekend has hosted the impromptu annual family reunion down at camp. This year was no exception and the next generation, from 2 months to 5 years old, was present alongside those pushing into their late 70s to enjoy all that camp has meant to this family going on five generations now. Little man and I were no exception, visiting and enjoying the day with family. There was plenty to do at the farm, but this weekend has always been about spending time with those we only get to see once, maybe twice per year.

In the middle of a lovely conversation about the requirements instilled by my great-grandparents before you were allowed to take any boat out into the lake – you must be able to swim across three camp lots worth of lake shore before you could take out the row boat – you must be able to swim the distance from the shore to the island and back and pass the surprise you fell out of the boat with all your clothes on and make it back to shore with no life jacket test - before you could take out the motorboat; Little man’s father arrived at camp in a flurry of dust and flying gravel to inform me that he had just lost his job. I managed to politely inform him that no matter the issue at home – camp was no place spin tires and bring a cloud of dust. Then I took a deep breath and re-joined my family whose conversation had turned to the rock which borders the fire pit and the ‘rules’ about when you can and can’t sit on it.  All the while my mind racing – we were just barely getting our heads above water after five or six really lean years, we had just added Zeb, 50 meat birds, two batched of pullets through the incubator, Little man was still in diapers, we still have a car payment, Pig was pregnant and the restaurant where he worked supplied a lot of her food – WHAT THE HELL WERE WE GOING TO DO NOW??!?!?!?!?