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Archive for August, 2012

I was tempted into farm life, in part, by romantic notions. I think that this is not an uncommon phenomenon for people of my age and background. I read, a lot, about the satisfaction of growing food. I wrote, a lot, and still do, about the beauty of nature in the garden. I had enough experience with farming to taste its rewards. I am young and agile, blessed with freedom and opportunity, and possess a healthy work ethic. On an instinctual level I am drawn to a lifestyle that includes barns and neat rows of vegetables, firewood and mud boots, sunflowers and fresh eggs.

There are a number of facts which must also be presented in order to convince the reader that I am not of the impression that farming is easy or practical. One; farming is exorbitantly priced. We do not own land, nor could we in the foreseeable future. Two; much of the work is physically detrimental. Slogging around with fifty pound bags of grain and buckets of water is not healthy for our backs and joints. Three; not only is farming exorbitantly priced, it is not, at least at this scale, economically viable. We both work otherwise, Jacob full time, in order to support our hobby. Jacob is trying to convince me that I will feel differently once we have several hundred pounds of pork in the freezer. For now, I can’t think about the fact that based on farmer’s market prices, we are paying ourselves approximately thirty cents an hour to grow vegetables. Four; farming means sacrificing the notion of free time. Seeds in the ground will turn into plants, which will bear fruit; weeds will somehow grow unnoticed until they are veritable trees; pigs and chickens and cows will need food and water twice a day, every day, and constant access to fresh grass and ground. Five; farming is exorbitantly priced. One needs land, seed, tools, water, fertilizer, animals, grain, fencing, electricity, fuel, insurance, labels and baskets and bags, row cover and mulch, compost, buckets, feeders, and more grain.

Despite these facts, working on a piece of land to raise animals and vegetables is undeniably alluring. There is so much romance to it:

Walking through dew-covered grass to the garden in the foggy, early morning air with a steaming mug of fresh coffee to sip on.

Crouching beside the first bed of newly emerging lettuce mix to see that it has grown into thick rows of perfectly formed leaves of deep purple and green.

Taking a break in the middle of a hot afternoon to lie in the shady grass and make plans for the future.

Waking up to birdsong in the morning and a soft, new breeze coming in through the window.

Falling asleep to crickets each night.

Walking to the barn in the moonlight on a frozen January night with the one I love, boots squeaking  on the blue snow. When we bring hay to the cows, they tear into it greedily, breath pulsing from their giant nostrils and hanging still in the air beneath the lamplight.

The slowly collapsing stone wall at the north end of the pasture, moss-covered and seemingly ancient.

An orange cat napping on a tall pile of warm hay.

A walk in the garden with a beer at sunset, just to look, when we’re allowed only to talk about what we’ve accomplished and not what still needs doing.

The smell and the smoothness of a ripe tomato.

 

We are blessed to be working and living on this land. We cannot afford ownership, but we are fortunate to be borrowing for a time. Our landowner is flexible and adventurous, and we have the chance and the challenge to create whatever we can imagine.

Life this summer is full of sweetness. There is nothing quite like being able to don boots, in the midst of baking blueberry muffins, to walk out to the chicken coop for a fresh egg.

 

 

 

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