Friday, November 16, 2012

Well hi there!

Hey, remember me? The guy with that blog about farming? Yeah, I'm still here! Needless to say, it's been a busy few months. And when I say busy, I don't mean busy as in my tennis lessons went over an extra hour or my favorite TV show is back on the air. I mean busy as in this farm stuff is hard work!

Thankfully, Sarah, the girls, and I are still moving forward with our dreams of making this place what we want. At one point in August and September, I was working three jobs (only one of them was full time, though) while taking care of the baby 12 hours a day and doing the household chores. My job situation changed in October, and I've started letting go of that comfort money that was motivating me to work so much. I've now moved to part time on my previously full-time job, left the other job (when they closed down) and farming has slowed down considerably with the cooler weather. And bam! Here I am actually typing away at my computer.

I've thought almost daily about what I'd like to write here for the last few months, but by the time I'm alone with my thoughts, I usually think of some other project I'd like to work on. That's not to say that this expressive personal writing isn't a priority, because I think about it so much that I remind myself that I need to sit down and get this stuff out of my head more than I do.

But anyway, you probably want to hear about the farm, right? With the garden safely tucked away in a mess of dead plants after the recent freezes, it's time for me to take a look back at how this first year has treated us, and what we're going to do next year.

2012
In September, it had been one year since we first moved to this farm. In that time, we've learned about raising goats, geese, more about chickens, more about rabbits, and even a bit about donkeys. We've made and sold soap and eggs at our local small farmers market, and even sold some eggs to a local restaurant.

We found out that the native weeds in this area are quite stubborn and aggressive, and they can take over a good chunk of your garden if not dealt with on a daily basis. That was one of the hardest parts because I'd look out the window at our messy garden but knew I had 4 or 5 writing projects due by the end of the week, so tending to the garden wasn't possible. There were several days each week during the summer when I hadn't even stepped one foot outside.

We have a freezer stocked full of chicken, rabbit, and pork from a successful year of raising our own pastured, organic meat. We have dozens of jars of canned vegetables from our garden (before the pigs broke loose and ate the rest!). And most importantly, we've already made some great friends and connections in the local Chattanooga food scene.

2013
We have several goals for 2013, but the biggest of them includes a CSA. We have a few interested customers so far, but I'm encouraged by the new ideas I have for the spring garden. I won't go into too much detail yet, but our 2013 garden will be 4 times larger and incorporate much more natural fertilizer that we just didn't have starting out.

I'm not under the illusion that we'll be able to support the family with our farmers market or CSA income just yet, but I'm much happier working part time because it gives me the time to spend with my family and on getting this farm working more effectively. I may never be able to leave my part time job, but I'm OK with that. I'm a FIRM believer in living on less, and we hardly have many bills in the first place. When you break that dependency on working 60-80 hours a week to afford a certain lifestyle, you can enjoy a much happier life. Jetskis and boats and 70-inch flat screen TVs aren't what make a life full. We don't have a dishwasher and we hang our laundry out to dry, we don't have central heat or AC and we don't have cable or satellite TV. How do we cope? By putting on an extra shirt in the winter or reading a book. You'd be surprised at what you can do without when you put your mind to it.

But this leads into another goal of mine: doing even more to reduce our dependency on the non-essentials. I'm not against entertainment or relaxation occasionally, but no one's life should revolve around either.

Oh! And we have another baby due at the end of February. You might think we're crazy for having more kids at this point, but I never look at children as consumers of my time. They're the reason I do what I do, so having more doesn't complicate things; it adds to the motivation.

And with this update, I leave you with a promise to write more, and this 6-part video series I found on YouTube. You may have seen it before when it was on the BBC, but it's essentially the first ever reality show about families living in a recreated Iron Age experiment. Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. Glad to see the blog back... lots of development going on at your place.

    I am curious about your comment in regards to making friends in the local food scene. Are you working towards supplying restaurants directly? There is a nice movement towards that method of supplying kitchens here in Baltimore and it really helps out the small local growers.

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  2. Mostly, we're networking with people who are promoting local food in the Chattanooga area. Places like Gaining Ground (growchattanooga.org)are doing a lot to help connect farmers with consumers and restaurants. We went to an event of theirs a few months ago and connected with a small local eatery/gym that has been buying our eggs.

    Last weekend we participated in a pie contest where the pies had to all have local ingredients. We used local pumpkins from someone we met at a farmers market, lard from our pig, and eggs from our chickens. Those are the kinds of events I want to make sure I'm participating in as much as I can.

    I'm not really looking to do much more restaurant supplying because I've heard that it can be hit or miss with when they want certain produce. Like, they may want 100 lbs of carrots one month and then 100 lbs of tomatoes the next. The growing schedule (and our limited land) doesn't really allow for things like that.

    But right now we're still in a networking stage so I'm willing to meet and greet anyone. It's been really fun so far!

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