I use these couple-times-a-week missives to tell you what’s happening on the farm, how we do something specific or just how much I love my wife. I really love that woman. I can’t think of a post where I’ve simply gone off about something someone else has done. It may exist. I hope it doesn’t. We depend on our customers and consider most if not all of them to be friends. I don’t complain about my customers nor do I expect them to worship and adore me for doing what I do. I depend on our suppliers and most if not all of them bend over backwards to help us even when we forget to plan ahead. I am related to all of my neighbors. If I have a problem with them, this sure isn’t the place for me to say it.
I see a lot of folks using Facebook or other social media as a place to complain loudly. I hear co-workers constantly complaining about X, Y or Z. The radio constantly harps about those derned Demopublicans. Enough!
So that’s what I try to do…all while keeping it real…but from a “glass is half full” perspective. I am not a victim. I am responsible for my own mistakes. And I make plenty of mistakes. When I go on the attack, I go on the attack to correct problems here at home. Problems I have created or enabled.
The original incarnation of this post was, according to Julie, “…very real. Very raw.” I want to tread carefully here. I am only so willing to expose my own failures publicly…but that’s kind of the point of the post. Some of our failures just hurt too badly to discuss. I am not interested in bleeding in front of you but I think I can help you by telling you about a few old wounds. There is no teacher like failure and there is plenty of failure to go around on this side of the fence. There is no need to be critical of others. I don’t even have time to time to be critical of others.
I make it a real point not to attack other farmers on my blog. I may use other farms to illustrate points but I work hard not to do so in a negative way. Confinement and monocrop agriculture are the current reality. That’s how it’s done right now. That’s how we attempt to “feed the world”. I could use this platform to preach against acres and acres of apple trees but…well, who does that help? In general, the kind of people who bother to read this are already in the choir and the people who put in 3,000 acres of corn don’t read this blog. And all of us like to eat rice and beans…which are grown in big, monoculture fields…the very kind I would be complaining about. Besides, nobody wants to grow commodities anymore, there’s too much competition (sorry Yogi).
I don’t worry about other people. Instead I tend to be introspective. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Why did I bother to get out of bed this morning? How well am I really accomplishing my goals? What did I screw up today?
I need to ship several cows that didn’t breed last year and a heifer that’s just a poor do-er. I torture myself will all kinds of questions about those girls night and day. Are they too thin? Do I move them enough? Give them enough pasture? Will the meat be tough? Will those customers return or will they hate me? (Please don’t hate me Chera!) Am I contributing to the bad name grass-fed meat has gotten? Did they fail to breed because of my management? Is the white heifer a poor do-er because of something I did? Would she be healthy if Steve had raised her? Yes. Then again, Steve loses calves sometimes.
Hot weather is more of a problem for us than cold weather. We had some real problems on triple-digit days with layers and heat stroke a few years ago. We have had trouble keeping cool water available to pigs on pasture. We have cattle like the white calf above that did not shed out and would die if left in the full sun of a summer day. These were hard lessons we had to learn…and the education, at times, came at a high cost. There has never been a how-to book written about my farm.
We have had freezers fail. We have also failed our freezers. We lost I don’t know how many pounds of meat when we didn’t completely close an upright freezer last summer. Not only did the meat thaw, it defrosted and drained onto the floor. Yuk.
This past spring we moved 150 Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets to chicken tractors. Good looking birds. They were in tractors for two weeks before it cooled off considerably and rained 4 inches. I didn’t even check the birds in the morning. They were on top of a hill, hadn’t been eating all the food we had been setting out, the birds were big and healthy and I couldn’t imagine them having a problem with the rain. I was busy that whole day and didn’t get there till the afternoon when I found 50 dead birds just laying there, drowned by a rainstorm or smothered by their peers and unloved by their farmer.
What about the three SLW pullets that were given to me by a little girl? She found out she couldn’t keep them in town and asked us to take care of them. A raccoon got under our fence and ate two of them one night. Dad and I took turns camping out in the field to catch the masked bandit but we never even saw him.
I have mountains of junk I need to get rid of. Old, broken barbed wire wrapped around posts, weeds out of control and trees I would rather you not see. I cut more firewood last winter than I could stack and some of it is still laying out where I cut it. There are tree tops around and in the way waiting to be burned or chipped. A tree at the yellow house fell down several years ago and guess what? Big chunks of it are still in the yard. We just work around it.
I don’t have to look across the fence to see failure. It’s right here at home. I don’t have to alienate my neighbors or prove my superiority to my readership. I would be a fraud and a liar. I am the worst farmer I know. So that’s what I work to correct. Every day. I hope I can spare the reader from making some of my mistakes. How silly would it be for me to point my camera across the fence or down the road at that other guy?
I don’t have time to hunt down the injustices of the world. I have to do better here at home.
I can’t waste time preaching about my dream of utopia. I just have to create it…even though I will make mistakes along the way.