Oh, I could take this post a lot of directions. A lot of directions. I’ll start with generalizations then make this about farming at the end. I pinkie swear.
We are very fortunate. Very blessed. I have always had at least one job. In college I worked at McDonalds (everybody should work food service!), polished floors overnight at WalMart, mowed grass, worked in the labs and greenhouses on campus, did an independent research project, worked construction and did odd jobs anywhere I could including painting little toy soldiers for some hobby shop in Indiana. Having hit the bottom of our checkbook several times and being too proud to ask our parents for cash, we learned quickly to spend less than we make. We play strong defense with our cash. We are a one-car, no cable or satellite or TV at all family who don’t send their kids to karate, ballet, gymnastics, swim team, baseball or even scouts. We budget carefully making sure we distinguish between wants and needs. It was only recently decided (after lengthy discussion) that a no-contract cell phone was a need.
And now, after years of sacrifice, I am at a place in life now where, thanks to the miracle of credit and a near-perfect credit score, I could buy anything I wanted.
Anything I want. But not everything I want. I can’t afford everything I want. I have to be selective.
Now, I already understood that completely without really giving it any thought. In fact, it wasn’t until I heard my parents discussing a similar topic that I realized what it meant…how simple yet profound it is.
Let’s make a list. First, I need to buy another 40 acres…and soon. I need cattle to help generate revenue and keep the grass mowed and the pasture fertilized. I need a new perimeter fence to keep the cattle contained when a deer runs through the paddock fence. A milking parlor would be nice. OOH! and a bobcat! Heck, an excavator and bulldozer would do wonders for the landscape and future water supply. The barn needs some repair…well, quite a bit actually. The yellow house needs…well, let’s just skip that. My house needs to be skipped too. The machine shed should be replaced. A real garage would be nice. Sure would be convenient to buy a few thousand trees instead of collecting and sprouting the nuts. A walk-in freezer would be a life saver but would probably require a backup generator. And once the farm starts shaping up wouldn’t it be nice to buy that piece of ground just across the fence? Or a place to snow bird in Florida? Or even just a second vehicle?
But we can’t do it all. Even if we could, we shouldn’t do it all. I have a limited amount of money and a very limited amount of time. I have to get the most bang for my buck because I can’t have it all. Each day I make decisions and live with the consequences. There is no time for second guessing. I just have to go. When I make wrong choices I have to work extra hard to make those bad choices work out anyway. There is no looking back. I just have to do it…whatever it is. If I could have everything…if I could do everything then I could do it right. But I can’t. I just do the best I can with what I have.
And that’s enough.