I know he can get the job but can he do the job?
So. You want to be a farmer. I know you can buy the land but can you work the land?
Let’s paint a picture. Little house…just big enough for the fam but no room for clutter. A cellar for your jars of canned goods. A wood burning cook stove. A milk cow, a couple of pigs, some chickens, a big garden and a couple of fruit trees. Ah, the good life. If you have children, add homeschooling to the mix because you love spending time with your family and you know you can give more personalized attention to the children than they would get anywhere else. Yup. One of you stays at home with the kids and keeps the farm chores under control, the other drives off to the city to actually pay for the farm and get insurance. Those rose colored glasses are already clearing up aren’t they?
Did you know gardens grow weeds? That orchards grow deer? Did you know that livestock die? Worse, did you know they sometimes get sick and don’t die? Can you actually send that steer off to be killed, shoot the pig or kill the chicken? Do you want to sit out all night hoping that ^&*(#! raccoon/mink/possum/skunk/etc. comes back so you can shoot it? Sleeping (well, tossing) in the open air night after night with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Do your children see roadkill and ask if we should stop to pick it up for the compost pile? Have you ever had a hog bite the sleeve of your Carhartt and pull if off of you (and drag it through the mud) while another hog bites a hole in your new rubber boot and the rest of them put their dirty noses against your work pants and nibble at the seams? Then you’ve got manure on your sock, in your boot, on your pants, all over your jacket. You become immune to the smell that lingers and only the other customers at the shopping center notice it. How many layers do you want to keep on your acreage? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY EGGS THAT IS?!?!?!? How many eggs do you think you can actually eat and sell? Seriously! What are you going to do with them all? Throw them at the pigs? (…that’s not a bad idea…)
How about compost? Each day you muck out the stall (horse, cow…whatever) into a wheelbarrow. Then you add it to a pile (probably requiring you to fork or shovel it high onto the pile). Then you fork or shovel the pile a couple of times to keep the compost active and hot. Then you fork or shovel it into a wheelbarrow again and head off to the garden for more forkin’ shoveling! All so you can sneak a few minutes here and there of pulling bushels of weeds and handfuls of produce from your garden that never quite manages to look the way it did when you first envisioned it.
And oh! A wood cook stove! How romantic! You see the nice glow in the stove, you see the lovely wife pulling a roast out of the oven with a pie in the warmer. You don’t see the husband off camera with a hole in his boot wearing a smelly jacket (stupid pigs) holding a chainsaw for his entire week of vacation, felling, cutting, splitting and stacking the wood so he can save a few dollars over just buying propane. Oh, you can get the job. No problem. But can you do the job?
Fresh milk! It’s fresh! It’s raw! It’s fun! (for the first two or three milkings). Then it becomes a chore. Another chore. I mean, you got up early this morning, fired up the wood stove, went mud-wrestling with the pigs, let the chickens out (checking for dead birds), moved the chicken tractors, watered the ducks, pulled a couple of weeds in the garden while getting a beet to feed the cow, somehow managed to catch the cow, squeezed the milk out of her for 30 minutes (oh, my aching everything), strained and chilled the milk and somehow 7:00 turned into 9:30 and those small humans you keep in the house haven’t eaten yet. Oh, and there’s laundry to wash, laundry to put away, summer clothes to pack, fall clothes to unpack, lunch to make, phone calls to answer (your husband asking if you are having a nice day), eggs to wash, sort and sell, somehow you have to make time to teach those small humans to read, write and cypher, the goats managed to escape somehow so you have to chase them down. Then that husband of yours who drives to the city to sit on his rear all day will be home soon and he had the gall to ask what you did today since there is still a basket of laundry that needs to be folded and you didn’t gather the eggs…you know, because HIS TIME IS TOO VALUABLE TO WASTE GATHERING EGGS OR PUTTING AWAY LAUNDRY! HE CAN GO FEED THE STUPID PIGS TONIGHT! Oh, and you totally forgot to work on the applesauce, to pick and freeze peppers out of the garden, and another day passed without watching that webinar for that new side business you’re thinking of taking up in your free time and if you don’t start making cheese soon you’ll have to buy yet another fridge!
You can get a farm. No problem. But can you do the work? Whew!
I’m not saying you can’t do the job. I’m asking if you can do the job. I know you can get the job. I’m not arguing that with you. Banks will loan the money. Interest rates are attractive. But what are you going to do when you get there? Will you miss your manicure? You won’t miss the weight you are guaranteed to lose. You might miss putting your feet up from time to time.
So that takes us to why. Why do we do it? Why do we quite literally work our rear-ends off day after day? That’s a question for another post. I’ll give you a hint: Before the farm I felt like Joe from the clip above walking around the office in his pointless life.