There is no more rewarding feeling than producing your own food. That feeling swells in my heart each morning when I make breakfast, because breakfast for me is the most farm-fresh meal of my day – eggs with goat cheese, goat milk, gluten-free toast and homemade jam, and a cup of tea. I grew this. I fed the chickens, raised hay for the goats, milked the goats, made the cheese, and made this meal. I farmed and I ate.
I’ve been accused of not being a farmer. I don’t grow enough, I don’t have a tractor, I don’t make a profit, I have an off-the-farm job, whatever. The reasons go on forever. Let me tell you what, though, I know that I am one. You know how I know? I know, because if I wasn’t a farmer, I wouldn’t know what I am. I’d be completely without an identity. Farming is not my job, it’s my life.
There are traits I don’t have, sure. I don’t know how to drive a tractor. I have driven my buddy’s tractor at the steam show a couple of times with some heavy coaching, but I wouldn’t remember how to do it if you plopped me on the seat and told me to go. And those big green tractors that take up the whole road? Never been in one. No desire to, either.
I don’t grow cash crops, I don’t make money off of what I do, and I do have to work off the farm to support my “hobby.” That doesn’t make my lifestyle any less important, I’m just not on a big scale, and that’s OK. I don’t need thousands of acres of corn. What would I do with thousands of acres of corn? I can’t eat that!
There’s that term “hobby.” “Hobby farm.” And see, here’s where we’re going to get to the nitty gritty of it. Farming isn’t all completely fun. Is this a hobby, when I’m on my knees, sweat dripping down my nose, pulling weeds out of the garden? When the hail pounds down and destroys my hay field, do I shrug and say, “Well, thank God this is just for play.” Tell me, as I’m holding a dying newborn rabbit in my hands, bracing myself to take its life because it’s suffering more than living, is that a hobby? Who labeled me a hobby farmer? Who lived this life, and then told me that I don’t do enough? Who decided that my farming isn’t as important or real?
I am not a hobby farmer. I am not a redneck, a country girl, or a farmer’s daughter. I am the farmer. I live it, I work it, I breath it, I am. I raise my food, I work the land, I am the farmer, and I challenge anyone to try to convince me otherwise. Tell me, sure. Argue, fight with me, do whatever you think necessary, to tell ME that I’m not what I am, but you will never convince me.
(the view from my office)