We farm. That’s what we do. It’s not who we are. It’s not what we’re about. It’s what we do. I try to use this blog to write about what we do…not who we are. I could start a Family Blog-O-Rama if you want to read about me but I think that sounds boring. However, sometimes, in order to add meaning to what I do, I have to tell you about myself.
My name is Chris. I am abnormal. Abnormality is necessary for doing what we do. Based on peer interaction and lack of dates as an adolescent I must look abnormal but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about being. Not looking. Not acting. Being.
To be absolutely clear, I’m not weird. ”Weird” describes somebody’s uncle or that really, really hairy neighbor who mows the lawn wearing only a speedo. (I grew up near a man who mowed his grass in a red paisley speedo. Yeah.) Not only do I actively avoid wearing a speedo under any circumstances, I don’t mow my grass. (And isn’t it weird that someone with a riding lawn mower would also own a treadmill?)
If we were normal we would be average. Average Americans have $15,000 in credit card debt, owes $25,000 on college debt, owns 2.28 cars, a home in the suburbs and are divorced. The average American man is 5’8″ and weighs 195 with a nearly 40″ waist. I don’t fit that description at all. I don’t want to be average. I am not average…not normal. Abnormal. I didn’t watch football Sunday afternoon, I told cows where they could eat.
I feel safe suggesting that if you’re going to take on this whole farming thing then you’re abnormal too. “Normal” meat comes pre-cut, wrapped in plastic and is magically created moments before the grocer places it in the cooler for sale. It is absolutely abnormal (in the current era) to brine a wood surface before cutting(!) a chicken with a sharp DANGEROUS knife, let alone kill a pig in your back yard. I know, right? It borders on weird to, like, ruin your lawn so you can, like, grow, like, broccoli or whatever. Like, sometimes, there are, like, little green worms crawling on the broccoli! Gross! But that’s what you do when you are abnormal.
Now, you ready for the hard part? Even among farmers I’m abnormal. Normal farmers don’t grow broccoli or butcher chickens. In fact, normal farmers don’t grow food – they raise commodities. They certainly don’t tell the cows where they can eat! Normal farmers play cards at the coffee shop. Normal farmers collect big, expensive hunks of metal. Normal farmers shake their heads when they drive past my house. It is obvious that we are abnormal.
Sometimes life on the frontier can be lonely. Do it anyway. In some ways, the more abnormal (maybe even weird) your idea is, the more likely you are to succeed. However, as you are chasing down your own specific abnormality (even if it is not farming), don’t overlook the need for community. Maybe that’s why I blog. I suspect there were some seriously crazy people out on the American frontier. We’re not shooting for crazy. We’re just stepping away from the herd to do things as they should be done.
So that’s what it takes. Step away from the herd. I may talk more about our own lengthy transition to farming sometime but it starts by doing something abnormal. Not weird. Maybe not even smart. Just abnormal.
So now for a hard question: What do you do when your own specific abnormality is no longer abnormal?