As I am reading the book You Can Farm, I reflect on the image of farmers. In the first two chapters, the author discusses the downtrodden, sad, and meager life that many associate with farming. However, it doesn't have to be like that at all, and often isn't. The agrarian life is, like any other, what you make it.
Friends have made both positive, negative, and inquisitive comments towards me and our chosen lifestyle. Most focus on the idea of work. "Wow, how much work is it to keep up with your farm?" "How can you farm and have a job?" "Do you ever leave?"
Admittedly, we have yet to have a child, both work, and run the farm at the same time. So far, we have found our farm doesn't take as much time (or money) as many might think. Josh spends a few minutes in the morning watering the gardens. We have a system of soaker hoses and splitters ran, so he just turns on two spouts outside. He then lets out the ducks and chickens, fills their water and feed and then checks the donkeys water. In the evening he refills the waterers and puts the poultry in.
The majority of farm "work" is purchasing, assembling and maintaining. The expenses and necessities can be divided into existing, start-up, maintenance, and improvements. For example, we purchased our farm with a barn, chicken coop, corral, and fencing all in place.
Existing: barn, chicken coop, chicken run, pig pen, corral, fencing, rough trail, pond, flower bed, wild berries
Start-Up: 5 raised vegetable beds, seeds and plant starts, chickens, ducks, donkeys, bought horse trailer
Maintenance: clearing the trail, cleaned out and painted the chicken coop, weeding and mulching flower bed, (paid to have the) field brush-hogged, cleaned up several trash piles, cleaned out the pond, cleared brush, well serviced
Improvements: fruit trees, blueberry bush, compost pile, clothesline
This week we painted the chicken coop and cut down a lot of the overgrowth around it.
We also weeded and mulched the flower bed.
These were two huge chores and I truly feel like I have "worked" this week in the truest sense. At the same time, we didn't wake up and grudgingly trudge outside and make ourselves finish these jobs. We can 1) easily define what needs to be done, 2) know why it needs to be done 3) clearly look at our finished "work" and know when it's finished and 4) be proud of what we have accomplished. I think that's quite a bit more than most people can say about their "work."
For now, we still keep our "day jobs" and I love teaching and find it very rewarding and I believe Josh feels the same way about his work with the farmer's union.
But work on the farm is very, very different. It is ongoing but at the same time it is concrete, and I find that incredibly rewarding.
*I'll come back and add pictures to this post Saturday. I forgot to get the "after" pictures of the garden we've weeded.
Here's Ben in a lemon-patterned diaper that I traded for on Diaperswappers. I think it's a little more girly than I expected and I think it might go back in the trade pile.