Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fighting (For?) the Farm ...

I came to a realization today as I was driving around in my little NAPA minivan delivering parts to fix the broken cars of the world. That realization was that sometimes I get frustrated and most often it is the farm that frustrates me. When I get back to the farm after 6:15 PM on most nights (and much later each Sunday, Wednesday, and some Tuesdays) I often feel overwhelmed by the chores that need to be done ... let alone the things that I would like or need to do in order to keep the farm running somewhat smoothly (things like fixing fence, adding water systems, finding a place for the pigs to live this winter). Please understand that I don't say this to complain because I realize my plate is no more full than the next person and I have so much more to be thankful for, but I do often wonder if I'm "Fighting the Farm" or "Fighting For the Farm" if you get what I mean.

There are many times when I look around the farm (lately it's pretty dark when that happens) and the thought pops into my mind, "I could sell the pigs, sell the cattle, sell the sheep, sell most of the equipment, and just keep a few chickens to laugh at (and a pig to kick ... name that movie). Then when I came home from town I could walk into the house and "relax". It all seems very easy actually ... just liquidate it all and chalk it up to one of my grand adventures and passing fancies. Then I would no longer have to be "Fighting the Farm". And I wonder, should I even be "Fighting the Farm"? Is it worth it? Is it the right course for me? Is it even worth doing?

On the other hand there are times when I realize that I am "Fighting For the Farm". Most of these times don't happen while I'm outside in my cold weather clothes and a headlamp fixing an electric fence that the sheep decided wasn't good enough and feeding the pigs in the dark. My "Fighting For the Farm" moments usually happen when I'm making a delivery to customers in Des Moines, taking a couple hogs to the processor, or thinking about the future of the farm.

The difficulty and the goal is to have more "Fighting For" moments than "Fighting" moments. I've decided this can happen in a couple of different ways. The most obvious way is to focus on what is possible and what I can accomplish ...

**I started writing this post a couple weeks ago and never finished it. As I was working on a post for today I came across this one and as I read over it I thought it would be a good idea to just post it as is ... I'm not sure that I really completed my thoughts on it or that I can draw them to a close right now, but it is a fairly accurate snapshot of my mind ... at least on that particular night. So ... I'll post it ... it's kind of like my full disclosure post ... to show that I get frustrated with the farm, and still press on ;)

12 comments:

sugarcreekfarm said...

This is the same tug-of-war we seem to have been in for years now. Unfortunately right now, the "fighting the farm" side is winning.

Ryan Marquardt said...

I am very much in the same boat. Racing to do morning chores before taking care of a child during the day and racing around in the dark trying to get them all feed before 8:00 PM.

Meanwhile it seems like the most simple task like finishing a very small loafing shed, cleaning up from the season, cleaning out our chicken building all go undone. You feel like you are spending most of your energy just holding your ground and progress is an excruciating step forward.

It does seem that the biggest motivator is our customers. The low customer contact time of winter is hard on our wills and motivation. I do often wonder what could be done if we just liquidate and move to town. We could live in a much nicer home and still have less debt. I am right there with you Ethan.

Kimberly Z at Sunnyrock Farm said...

We understand this feeling too. I think it is the dark evenings that get us down. There is so much to do but it all has to wait until (insert: warmer weather, drier ground, more money,...). My husband gets frustrated with this and the fact that his job gets in the way of what he really wants to do. I just keep reminding him that he'll have 3 more helpers coming up in the ranks AND if we get everything done now then we'll get bored and have to take on a bigger adventure. Hang in there...it's only December and we have a long winter ahead!!!

hERITAGE vIEW fARM said...

Wow, those are some of the exact thoughts that have been going through my mind these past few weeks. I feel like we are continually redoing things on the farm.. we also just finished getting the winter place set up for the pigs, dug a new water line, etc. etc. It seems like we are always redoing things and I keep thinking if we just had the "system" in place things would be so much better. I just found a list I made a couple of years ago when we first started raising pigs, on the list I wrote down everything that stressed me out at the time.. it was quite comical to read and see how far we've come since then.. sometimes I think getting some perspective is a good things but not easy to do when you need to water the pigs and all of your hoses are frozen

Rich said...

"...and a pig to kick ... name that movie..."

Is that from 'Lonesome Dove', when Gus and Call are arguing about the ranch's sign saying 'We don't rent pigs'?

If you are frustrated at times with the progress of the farm, doesn't that simply mean that you can see the possibilities of the farm and are dissatisfied with the rate of improvement?

Frustration can be a good thing, frustration usually exists when the potential of something is being wasted. Something of value needs to exist before it can be wasted.

You wouldn't get frustrated unless you were building something of value.

andy said...

Oh, the thoughts that go thru our minds in winter with shortened cold days...we all experience the same frustration...Where would you like to be next July 4th....being in the city maybe a iced tea with ur favorite James Patterson novel..or maybe the lawn has to be mowed..a little bar-b-cue with the neighbors...or out in the middle of your field talking to goats and the steers..smelling the dung all over the feels...sun goes down your on the swing totally exhausted but with a smile on ur face....ya I have been there ...have never turned a profit on my farm...thanksful for off the farm employment...but being in my 60's I have already spent my life savings on my horses and steers and sheep and chickens and dogs...as long as things balance from now til they put in a box the country air seems a much finer choice for ME anyway....

crystal.cattle said...

I don't think you are alone in your thoughts, but I think what keeps most of us going is passion. Those that don't love what they are doing, just don't last. I think you can make money in this business, but people don't farm to become rich.

It frustrates me when groups attack farming and ranching. I don't think they realize all the work that goes into putting food on our plates. Hang in there and good luck! We need farmers to stay on the land and keep feeding the world!

www.cdycattle.blogspot.com

Ethan Book said...

Rich ... You're right ... ;)

Walter Jeffries said...

Glad you posted this even partly done. Good thoughts. Been there. Done that. Keep pushing, it is worth coming out the other side where the farm and you are working together, during the day.

Yeoman said...

I feel this way from time to time also. I think, quite frankly, it's fatigue. The nature of modern economics in this country is that we're forced to work on and off the farm, and after awhile, the off the farm work seems like the real work, and the farming work can start to seem like a burden to us, and like a hobby to others.

But I find that feeling passes. And with it usually comes the frustration of knowing that if we had our ruthers, we'd be on the farm all day.

Steve Romero said...

From Page 74 of "You Can Farm", by Joel Salatin:

#9 IMPATIENCE. In a nutshell this is wanting too much too fast and then getting frustrated too soon. Anything worth striving for is worth waiting for. I've watched folks routinely give up right before the breakthrough.

Yeoman said...

On the other hand, there sure are days, like today, when I sit at my town job, and just can't get started in spite of (because of?) a huge pile of work in my office, and think. . . "in an earlier era I wouldn't have to be here and could be out on my farm/ranch. . . "

Sigh.

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