Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confessions of a part-time farmer

I need to confess something that’s been bugging me for the past little while. To tell you the truth, real truth, even after all the creatures we’ve collected over the past year and all the new things we’ve learned, we are still not farmers. Not really. I have gum boots and a cow coat that may smell the contrary but I’m not sure we’ll ever be classed as true blue farm folk. I mean what kind of real farmer puts a leash on his cows and walks them to their new pasture. If I was a real farmer wouldn’t I saddle up my old trusty horse and send my well trained cow dog to herd the animals down the road?

You see, I have a job. A good, full-time, sit at your desk all day type of job. And it’s real difficult to be a real farmer if most (OK, I’ll be real honest) all of our income comes from my regular off farm job.

And unless we cut all ties with my current job (I really can’t see that happening) and make a go at farming full time we will always be part-time farm folk playing around with farm-like animal.

I really should look at our motivation for building a simple farm.

The main reason we have ventured into all the farm like activities we have is because we think the food we can produce is far superior to the food we can purchase otherwise.

That’s it. That’s the motivation. I can spout off a dozen other reasons:

1. Self sufficiency

2. Live closer to nature

3. Give our kids real work

4. Get out of debt

5. Self worth

6. Live closer to family

7. Learn about caring for animals

8. Get to drive a truck (the Yota is technically considered a truck)

9. Get to shoot a gun

10. Get to stay in shape

11. Learn about what our ancestors went through

12. Be in a position to help friends and family as needed.

(I struggled getting a dozen but you get the drift)

But our main reason of trying to be farm like people is to produce our own high quality food. If I could purchase food from people that would grow it like we do I think I’d do it in a heart beat. It certainly would be easier. I do like being around animals and I really like harvest time. But it sure is a lot harder than simply paying a reasonable fee for quality food. If you really count all the expenses including labor involved in producing quality food the price paid to buy quality food is relatively small.  (Most consumers never consider the amount of labor needed to produce the food they eat. Unless you are a big time farmer with lots of equipment that cost thousands of dollars there is a lot of labor involved.)

Maybe it being hard is the whole point. If I wanted easy I’d still be eating bland carrots and peas from the unnamed grocery store that caters to the masses.

Maybe that’s also why I like sharing our adventures here at The Simple Farm blog. I suppose many of you will look at the things we do and say “if they can do it surely we can?”

Which is very true. There’s no doubt in my mind that anyone can produce a portion of their own food no matter their circumstance.

There’s no way you’d consider us real farmers but here we are with three cows and a bunch of chickens. Maybe one day I’ll buy that horse and dog and pretend I’m going on a cattle drive. Just stay off the sidewalks as I don’t really know how to steer horses and my dog will probably chase cars rather than cows.

1 comment:

  1. It's alright! You don't have to be full time to be a farmer. In the US, our government labels you a farmer when you make $1,000 in a year or more from farming activities! So we're farmers too!

    But there's no shame in farming part of the time. In fact, it's good that many people do it only for the reasons you listed! Otherwise they'd be crunched to make a profit from it and might do a much worse job in taking care of the whole deal. If your income doesn't depend on it, it gives you the freedom to make decisions based on things without necessarily considering money 'made'.

    That said, we're aiming to farm full time. But for us - it'll be a decade at least. We're very anxious for that time, but it's a process to get there, let me tell you!