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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Farming is a passion - often unrequited

They say that farming is in your blood.  While I didn't have much of an opportunity to farm with my family when I was young - the last of the dairy farm was being put to bed when I arrived on this earth - the farm itself stayed in the family.  I played in the barn, I got under foot of the farm hands that were still haying, I played in the pastures with the heifers that remained here, I caught salamanders in the ponds, I made forts in between boulders and next to hand stacked stone walls, I slept on the floor of a handmade cabin at the south end of the lake and went potty in the woods, even in the rain.  Those are just a few of the things that are in my blood.

I have been homesteading and slowly growing a vegetable, livestock and Christmas tree farm on my families land for almost ten years.  I tried to fit in infrastructure projects, livestock care, weeding, watering, planting, baking, canning and farmers markets with a full time job, a terrible pregnancy which gave me the most wonderful Little man.  As he grows there are t-ball practices and games, soccer practices and games, cub scouts, etc.  The dream of farming has taken a side seat, a back seat or all too often gets relegated to the back of the trailer whose wheels are falling off.

Last summer I made the VERY difficult decision to leave a career that I loved, working with people that I both loved and admired and a profession whose dedication is unwavering, in order to spend more time on the farm.  I miss them terribly.  

The first few months were a huge adjustment.  Learning a new part time job, taking on a second part time job since the cut in pay was more than my budget could absorb but giving up much of that extra time that was supposed to be spent on the farm, and trying to sell summer piglets who were eating me out of house and home.  Then winter arrived far too early and best laid plans of erecting a high tunnel in November have become hoping to get it completed by the end of March.

Farming is a passion and in order to be successful, many things have to take a back seat.  We don't travel, we don't take family vacations more than a few miles away from the farm, it has been more than two years since I have bought myself a new pair of pants or even some desperately overdue new shoes.  Little man needs food, warmth, and clothing; the animals need bedding and feed; the car insurance and light bill need to be paid, the car needs fuel and perhaps if there is anything leftover then maybe we can grab a takeout pizza or sandwiches once every other month or so.  It has been a difficult winter, one which was not completely unexpected, but one that makes this farmer question - far too often - whether she made the right decision.

Spring is four days away - at least chronologically if not meteorologically.  The chicks are scheduled to hatch this weekend and this past weeks thaw proves that there is actually still grass under the white which has blanketed the ground for the past five months.  It will be lean, but this farmer will be working hard to make a go of it over the next nine months.

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