Part of farming that I have come to understand is that the difference between farming and having a farm is all about selling. If your "farming" than most likely your selling hopefully the crops that you've been raising. If you have a farm, either someone else is farming it or you are simply enjoying it, This is where I believe the term hobby farm comes in. Not having to be stressed about the farm bills. Your income doesnt depend on what the farm produces. Usually the person who has a farm also has money and the person farming does not. Its really strange but to the best of my experience this is how it is. I suppose some folks out there might have both.
I do not have a farm. I farm. simply put I lease land and I try my darnedest to eek out a living from it. Maybe this sounds totally ridiculous. Maybe I'm over thinking this a little and what is my point anyway? But my dirty little secret is I want both. Someday I want to own the land I farm, someday. not today this year or next just someday. I love it here, I mean this is an amazing place I couldn't be any luckier, just saying. But I'm a long way from that right now. Each year gets better and I get a little wiser.
The last month has been pretty difficult. The work load is enormous and unfortunately I've fallen very behind. I am catching up finally and that feels good but its taken three straight weeks of 12-15 hour days 7 days a week. On Saturdays we wake up at 3am so we can milk, feed babies and load up for the farmers market. On farm table dinner nights its a 20 hour day. Tonight there is no farm table dinner. I've already worked an eight hour day and there is still so much to do, but in all honesty I'm too tired to lay irrigation tape, pound in a grounding rod for the electric fence, clean house or any other productive things, so I decided when I woke up with a really bad sore throat it was time to let these things go for today. So here I am writing. trying not to sound overtired and overwhelmed.
For a multitude of reasons the intern that started a month ago is gone this weekend. She had other plans that needed tending to and the demands of this level of farming was truly challenging, big lessons I'm sure for the both of us indeed. Next week an Animal Science student from Purdue University starts and for this I am giddy. Having someone who grew up on a farm and knows her way around goats is going to be a great blessing for us. I've decided not to take a second intern and just hire a friends daughter to help with barn and animal care. This is what I really need. So things are looking up and I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The sheep are doing well. I've had some real challenges with the rotational grazing. The dry weather was producing a very skimpy pasture. At one point I was rotating the sheep daily and that just became too much so I finally just broke down and let them run the whole acreage. This worked until they slipped through the barbed wire and wound up in the garden. Back to the rotation. Even though my heart and mind is behind the whole rotational grazing thing, don't let anyone tell you its easy. Its not, its work and its management and to do it right you have to be on top of things. It has been a real challenge for me this year with so many more animals (80ish lambs) and I've been running to keep up with the rate of their eating.
In spite of being totally exhausted I do feel good about things. I have gotten so much accomplished, and I do see that this year is the turning point. Farm table dinners are getting a lot of attention, animals are good, things are growing. I feel like there are some real possibilities here.
Last week I had a ewe get sick (barber pole worm) I treated her and she started making a recovery by was too week to get up on her own. She was eating and chewing her cud but just very week. I was rushing around in the garden trying to get ahead before the rain came, when I felt a couple of drops I went out to get the sick ewe under a large tree for shelter as I lifted her the sky opened up and just poured. I managed to get her under the tree, I sat over her making sure she didn't get stepped on by the other 30 ewes who wanted to share the shelter of the tree with us. There we all were nose to nose, tightly knitted together. The storm raged loud with high pitched thunder and bright lightning and we sat quite as grass. The smell of warm wet wool and grass filled the air, I was getting drenched. The ewe laid with her head in my lap and we waited out the storm. I felt so very happy.