Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Living on the Crooked Road ...

The name "Crooked Gap Farm" comes from the fact that the farm is located just off the "Crooked Road to Melcher". Unless you live in my area or have traveled this slightly winding road though the idea of the "Crooked Road to Melcher" is pretty much meaningless ... although I do think it helps create a great farm name! One thing that I think we can all relate to though is the fact that life sometimes is a "crooked road". Like traveling on a crooked road ... we can't always see what is coming ahead of us or even what is around the next bend.

Life is full of bends and turns on the crooked road and my life has been no exception. Just recently I found myself no longer working at the church where I have served for the last six plus years. It was one of those crooked road moments where they road in front of me just took a big swinging bend and I was faced with a new road ahead. I know that the road ahead has something laid out for me though and I'm impatiently nervous to see what is ahead.

Of course one big question floating around in my head right now is how the farm will fit into this new section of road that lays before me. I think beginning a farm enterprise (or any business for that matter) from scratch will always have a large uphill climb at the beginning, but that at some point you will feel like you are starting to climb and make progress. While I don't feel like I had completely made it up this first hill yet I do think that farm was and is just starting to take off. I feel like I'm starting to gain on the learning curve a little, that some of the marketing things are coming together, and that I see that success is possible for this farm and this place.

One thing I do know is that I'm passionate about the farm. Even though sometimes I feel like there have been more trials than success stories in the beginning I am excited about the possibilities of creating a farm that can provide a great product to the surrounding communities and a sustainable living. I love working with the customers ... I love seeing the animals do their thing out on pasture ... I love being part of the farm and I think that Crooked Gap Farm can work!

But, there is always a but ... But, I can only continue the farm here (and in some ways I feel like I can only continue it here or no where else) if I can figure out a work situation that allows me to get the farm going the rest of the way. The reality is that it takes quite a bit to start from nothing and build it to something ... especially when there is a mortgage and other start up costs involved. And, I haven't quite reached the point yet where the farm is supporting itself all the way and helping pay for the farm.

So, that is where the crooked road is leading right now. I'm working to keep my chin up and figure out ways that the farm can continue on. I'm searching for jobs around the area that would allow me to keep it all together, and I'm really trying to come up with those outside of the box ideas that will really allow me to throw myself into the farm!

**Insert Awkwardness Here** I know that there are quite a few readers of this blog and I'm always surprised by the number of people that pop in from time to time. I also know that I've been blessed by so many of the suggestions, comments, and encouragements posted on the blog or e-mailed to me. Right now though the farm is kind of in a tight spot as I look to find the next move on the road ahead. If you would have any job suggestions (creative or mundane) I would be truly grateful. And, I'll do my best to keep everyone updated with the farm in the meantime ...

10 comments:

Yeoman said...

All life is a crooked road, at least in my experience, and I think for most of us.

In your last several entries, rightly or wrongly, what I've been reading is the implied question "should I quit". Only you can answer that, of course.

What I'd point out is only my own experience, and you can take or leave any of that. I've come very close to having my own place, that I could make a living from, without an outside job (I think) twice. Both times, a family disaster (illness once, and then death once) prevented that. It's like fate intervening, and not to help as far as I can see.

Throughout that time, I've been hard at work in my town job as a lawyer. And that's more the case now than ever. So I've seen both sides.

If I could go back in time, I'd have just gone to work as a cowhand when I was 18, and skipped college entirely, and skipped my supposed success. It hasn't been worth it.

Farming is, I think, partially an instinct. If you are thinking of giving up, you should be aware that living contrary to the instinct's present in us is guaranteed to make us miserable. Every day, I dress in coat and tie, and go to a warm heating building, and am viewed as a successful attorney. Everyday I look out my window with the pain of regret, and at 48 years of age now, know that I'll never really have a chance to "just" be a rancher, and that people will always remember me as a lawyer. No matter how cold or miserable it is, I regret not being out in it. It's an instinct.

You're working hard, and maybe killing yourself in the process. Another poster in the prior thread more or less told you to give up so your kids will know you. Well, before you do that, consider what options really are there, and if they're in touch with who you are.

Some say you should do what you do well. Others say to do what you like. My point is to do, if you can (and in modern life, many of us cannot) what nature has installed the desire in you to do.

God Bless you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly new to your post. I don't envy your position though after reading this post. Sometimes it's the simple little things that keep us afloat. Not sure if this will help but some of the smallest of hobbies and ideas launch some of the most useable and lucrative home businesses. For example, I have seen people who cut wood for their firewood take small slices of that same wood and use burning and etching and cheap little clock assemblies bought for a few dollars and some time/patience to make clocks for sale at local flea markets. Some people take chicken eggs, drain them, then turn them into decorative pieces. Again, just trying to help, what hobbies do you have that may be "coveted by the locals" something that you do very well. Take care, God Bless and I hope things turn out well for you!!! Keep up the good fight, I'll be joining you after my retirement here in a couple years from the Air Force!!! You're a source of inspiration to people like myself. Thanks again

carpenterwilson said...

Stay strong Ethan.

agirlonafarm said...

I don't have any job suggestions, but I just wanted to offer a virtual hug for you and your family. I also don't have any words of wisdom, but just wanted to show that there are people rooting for you and the farm!

David N said...

I found myself in the same boat a little over a year ago, that is looking for a new job and possibly a new career to keep the family going and our dreams going. Have you ever thought about writing? Obviously you do now with the blog and such, but really making a career of it? I know that you can get some good side work on elance.com or odesk.com as a free-lance writer, or writing articles or blog posts for other peoples blogs. After working mostly manual labor type jobs I found myself without a job for almost three months, and was blessed with an off chance job as an administrative assistant for the VP of a small local company. It was totally out of my league and I hated it (and i wasn't that good at it, ask the VP :) ), but it was a good job. I used that as a stepping stool to management where I am now, which has afforded me steady hours and better pay to help start our little farm and keep the family going.

I guess I am just saying pray hard, and think outside of the box!! I am thinking you are probably looking for an 8-5 steady hour job so the world of the Dilbert cubicle might be an option, even though you are obviously trying to get away from that :).

I know I dont know you personally but this topic hits close to my heart so I will be praying for you that God would bless you with that job that will allow you to continue your ministry on the land and to your family!

Ethan Book said...

Thank you all for the support and comments!!

Yeoman - I'm not sure if the question I've been asking is "should I quit" as much as it has been "can I financially continue?" There have been some rather major financial changes lately and those are greatly impacting the life of the farm.

So, really I'm just trying to process what the next step is ... if it's moving to a different spot in ministry that probably means selling the farm and moving on ... if it's getting a job in the area to keep the farm that means working in a job I probably haven't ever done ... if it means farming full-time then I need to figure out some other source of income as things get ramped up ...

So ... hopefully the question isn't should I quit, because I'm pretty sure I don't want to quit :)

Steven said...

Ethan,
We're thinking about you. Keep your chin up, as you said, and know that there are plenty of people hoping that your farm grows to the point of sustainability. If it be God's will.

Marie said...

Ethan,
I've been following your blog for a while now, and left a few comments. I'm just another voice saying keep praying, and keep plugging. Remember the parable about pruning the vines? Not the way the vine wants to grow, but the way the grower wants it to. Sometimes, it's a 'renewal' pruning, cutting all the way back so that the vine can flourish anew... And that's hard.
Keep your chin up.

BTW, have you investigated ways to monetize the blog? There are ways...

Jim said...

Not sure if this is still a valid offer, but Ken Scharabok was giving away a book he had written on generating extra income in rural environments. Here is a link to the forum with the offer.
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=34881
I have it in a Word document format if you would like it emailed to you. I wish you the best of luck in solving this problem.

Jim said...

I'm not sure if he is still doing it, but Ken Scharabok was giving away a book he had written on the subject of creating your own rural employment some years ago. The link to the offer is here.
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=34881
I have it saved on my computer in a Word document format if you would like it emailed to you. it might be helpfull as it is quite extensive.

My own experience and age is exactly the same as earlier commenter Yeoman, except I own a computer company in metropolian America. I do know some good Lawyer jokes however...I'm sure he's heard them before. Much like him, I followed a career path against my nature, but one that pleased others, and would not have taken me same path given a second chance. It is very difficult to go back to farming if you do decide to leave.

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