Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Truth About Farming

I loved this comment from Chai Chai so much that I'm interrupting this goat series to give some insights into The Truth About Farming.

Here is what she said:
“I can't help but read this and try to picture in my mind all the chaos going on around you (smartalec goats, mean chickens, crazed geese, wayward ducks, evil pigs, cats and dogs living together!) and wonder what I'm getting myself into.”

It reminded me of when my friend Eliza said once that “evenings on your farm must be so relaxing” and I could tell that she had a perfect picture in her mind's eye of the sun gently setting over a tranquil barnyard....

HA!

As I was standing there talking to her I had chicken poop in my hair, I had a bruise on my leg where I smacked into something while chasing the hens into the coop, I was stinky and sweaty, and my hands hurt so much from milking that I could barely hold the phone. Sun setting over a peaceful barnyard!?!?! Not on your life.

So lean in close, friends, and I'll tell you The Truth About Farming.  They won't say any of this in Hobby Farms or on any of those lovely farm blogs with beautiful pictures of sheep. No siree... There is the 'cover of Vogue' farming...and then the real dirt.

Farming is one crazy ride.

Everyday is exactly the same – and radically different. You'll do the exact same thing everyday. Get up (early), get out there and feed those critters, work that land, feed those critters again, herd everyone up, and go to bed (early). Oh, but what happens in between? You can't make some of this stuff up.  Its all go, all the time.... and success is measured in who didn't die that day.  Step lively now, there is no day off and there is always some kind of skulduggery going on.

Think you won't have a boss if you work for yourself? Wrong. Nature is your boss and the Weather is your CEO – and they won't ever let you forget it.  Your every day is ruled entirely by these two and sometimes its seems like they are out to get you. Think you can get some early spring planting done? Not if you get an unexpected frost ...and then you'll have to start all over. Think those lovely pumpkin plants will win you first prize at the Pumpkin Show? Not if the squash bugs get them first.  Don't even get me started on tornadoes, torrential rain, blazing heat, and this cursed snow...

Then there is the maniacal barnyard where everything and anything can and will happen. You'll never know if you'll go out there and find your best laying hen dead - the victim of some ridiculous barnyard mishap. Or remember our goat Debbie hanging from the feeder?  Don't expect Backyard Poultry to tell you what to do if your turkeys suddenly scatter and you spend 2 hours trying to round them up, just in time to see one of your prized males flying (like an eagle!) over the house, across the ravine, and into your trigger happy, huntin' obsessed, rednecked, neighbor's tree.

Think you are a tough guy? Even the biggest and baddest will shed at least one tear when you find the best chick of the clutch floating lifeless in a water bucket. There is nothing sadder than a dead baby bird, friends.  And while you stand there cursing yourself for letting it happen you'll start to calculate the true cost – not just of one small chick, but of all the eggs she would have laid, and all the layers she would have raised, of all the bugs they would have eaten, and all the compost they would have created,  and...... You see, even the smallest loss has an impact that increases exponentially.

Then there is the mocking by your so-called-friends and family who think you are completely out of your mind. Why would you give up your city life for THAT? Or if you tell a friend that you are so tired that your hair hurts, more than likely you'll hear “All you do is garden all day. Why are you complaining – its not like you work?" Or, part of a real conversation I heard about the other day “Why don't you just get a job so you don't have to grow your own food?”

Its enough to make you want to go out and lay in the compost heap. 

But.

The upside is tremendous. You don't HAVE to grow your own food, you GET to..and that makes all the difference.

You'll learn to work effectively and efficiently, to follow the weather and anticipate her moves, to plan, plan, and plan some more. Gym membership? Nah.. you won't need it.  Need a mental challenge? Its all challenging and the learning never stops. You'll learn you can build a duck garage, pip a turkey poult out of its shell, figure out how to fence in those stupid pigs, and discover a whole world of folks who live their lives by the turning of the seasons and not by the passing of the financial quarters.

Its not simpler but its better.

What are you getting yourself into? Its one crazy ride, baby. So hold on tight, pull on those barn boots, and get out there and make that land work for you. And when you're so tired your hair hurts?  Come and talk to me - we're all in this together.

21 comments:

Chai Chai said...

Ok, now you have me calling my relatives and telling them, "You have got to read the Ohiofarmgirl's blog!"

This stuff needs to be published - really. Heck, if you added cartoon drawings you could challenge Calvin and Hobbes, although - oddly, at times it seems as if it could be part of one of their crazy adventures.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks! Honestly I couldn't make this stuff up....

Stay tuned for more on goats, tomorrow!

Lori said...

You really should write a book!!! I can't wait till I get my goats and then we can swap stories!

Lori

Ohiofarmgirl said...

thanks Lori! Seriously - there is never a dull moment... let us know when you get those goaties!

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Well said... It is a hard/good life!

The YardFarmers said...

"Its not simpler but its better."
Love that quote.
You get to live a lot of "life" in your life when your garden, farm, and raise animals. I guess you live deeper- higher and lower. Keep on keeping on, take lots of pictures, and plan to write your book someday!
YardFarmer Julie
www.TheYardFarmers.blogspot.com

Ohiofarmgirl said...

There is "a lot of life" in farming, Julie - thanks!

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

I love this post! Because it's so true. Every bit of it. If someone had a camera around here and presented the evidence in court, well, we'd be committed. And we love every minute of it. Every stinkin' minute. Rock on Ohiogirl, rock on. (((hugs)))

Chai Chai said...

Your goat posts convinced me that I had to have a dairy goat. Looks like goats will grace our homestead before the sheep arrive. You can see a picture of her on our blog.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Great work on Addison, Chai Chai! She looks like a peach and you'll be extra lucky if she is preggers too. Unless you get a blood test there isn't really a great way to tell if she is preggers until she gets closer... except that she won't be in heat. You'll know if she's in heat because she'll be acting like lovestruck teen. Nigi's come into heat about every 21-ish days. Mark your calendar and then look for ridiculous behavior. Does she have a little friend?
ps for some reason I can't leave a comment on your blog (I think its me!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ohiofarmgirl! It is me BBH, and I am here to tell you everything you wrote IS the truth about farming! Sometimes I cringe when guests show up unannounced. There is total chaos going on at all times. My hair isnt combed and somehow my jeans got ripped.
I love your blog and I can totally relate to everything you write.
I also get the same comments about getting a real job, or how I must have so much time on my hands etc. I'm glad to know it is not just me! ;o)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hey BBH! Thanks for visiting! ohmigosh you shoulda seen what we wore to the feed store today...straight from the barn. I think we hit a new low until we realized all the good folks there were dressed the same way.

I laughed that all the NON-working people sure did look like they were busy.

The Gold Digger said...

I just want to roll my eyes when I read about someone wanting to get a small farm so she can have long hours to read and do nothing. You know - the easy life.

Ha.

My mom and her 6 siblings grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin. There is a reason none of them stayed on the farm. After you have spent your youth milking cows twice a day and baling hay in the summer, everything else is a piece of cake.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Yep, Gold Digger. I keep waiting for that magical day when I can sit around and read magazines. It hasn't happened yet....

Christine said...

I am so excited to post this for our guest blogging session. It is so true! While feeding the cows, the pto goes out of the tractor yesterday, so we have to switch back to the tractor that the radiator is out of an put some coolant in and cross our fingers it holds so we don't break down and get mobbed by the cows. Then we find out that we have a wolf leading a pack of coyotes that has been harassing the cow/calf pairs, that then, at 2 am thunder up and down the draw, bawling right next to the house causing it to shake! It certainly is one heck of a ride, but I love it!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

WOW Christine! All you need now.. or dont need now.. are lions and tigers and bears! Hang in there baby!

crmorehead said...

My friends and family all think I'm doodling around the farm all day, relaxing....HA!!! At this very moment I have a serious rope burn on my hand (stubborn goat buck), insect bites all over my legs and arms, sunburn on my face and neck, back ache from pulling weeds and planting seedlings, and a twisted ankle from falling in one of those holes ducks wittle out with their beaks...OUCH!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yep Cmore - sounds about right. Wait until they start in with the "oh you have the simple life" - HA!
;-)

Liz Beavis said...

I don't know how I missed this post until just now, I LOVE it! especially the one about getting a job so you don't have to grow your own :) I laugh when people say our farm life must be idyllic, its hard hard work, but the food is the best reward, you can't buy food this good! Maybe I should write more about the work so people get the idea...

Anonymous said...

I found it very funny what my friends from the city seems to think of our reality.. They come in summertime often thinking the country must be very relaxing, so they brings their tent and kids. Some don't even bring lunches they seems to think there's a shopping mall around; they do only the first time ahaha!
Really as i explain this summer to a friend that country is a way of living, a choice we've made but it's not like the romantic idea of life in the countryside; like the one she seems to think it is, i mean country and farming is not a Pinterest board with all those pretty farmhouse decor! Those friends we're thinking about living around, and after the little discussion we had on country reality vs country dreaming, they decide that was not for them, too much to do and city is too far.
It's raw life as i would call it, you do something you have something. Real life.

I'm new around first time but not last!

Malvina Girl

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hi Malvina Girl! yep I just keep wondering where they get these ideas... I think you are right - from Pinterest. I think it's one of the few places where you see your results immediately and you can't make any excuses for your failures.. and you can barely take credit for your successes.

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