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The Life I Never Knew I Always Wanted

| 4/9/2009 11:21:00 AM

Becky, Andy, and EllyI saw a bald eagle flying over our farm a few days ago, and it made me think ...

We’ve been here on the farm for almost a year and a half now and the transition has been interesting to say the least. Toss a toddler and a new baby in the mix and life turns into a train on its own track. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that there have been many ups and downs, successes and failures. We’ve spent a lot of time getting things cleaned up and tried to develop an operation that is both profitable and efficient, it has not been and continues to not be an easy venture.

I look back at these short 18 or so months and am in awe of the trek. The grand plans that we started with were blooming with ideals but not rooted in experience. This has proven to be a boon to us. We were not wed to the convention of old but rather allowed to take the best of what was available and discard the rest. This put us at odds with many of the paradigms that must be in place for most traditional farm to succeed. To say that bigger is not necessarily better and that the “economy of scale” builds a house of cards caused many people to look at us as a hobby farm or just some city kids playin’ farm.

Deep down though, they know we’re right. They’ve seen their farms ravaged and plundered by the government. The ideals and goals that they had when they were kids sitting on their daddy’s lap drivin’ the tractor have been replaced by an unprofitable dairy, crops that the government pays for, and the sad realization that their friends have sold out and they are the only ones left.

Most of us will never know the ecology of farm life 30 years ago. The story was very common here in the Midwest but its tale is echoed all across America. Farms thrived. I mean REALLY thrived, not just getting bigger to stay in business. You farmed, your brother farmed down the road, your cousin farmed in the next town over. You split the farm with your brother when your parents hung up their spurs just as they did when their parents passed on. If you had a question or were in a tough time people rallied around you. When you had an out-building that needed to be raised, the men-folk put in the work and the women crafted high summer meals and drinks when the day was done. Large gatherings of friends and family were the norm, not the exception. All that is left of that era are fields of corn and abandoned homesteads. The only “farmers” left are the ones who adapted to the “agribusiness.” They are wildly popular and have thousands of acres that they purchase as each little family farm dries up. Get big or get out.

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