So with all of the visitors and travel lately, I didn't have a chance to mention that we have now passed our 1 year on the farm. On January 15th, 2012 we moved into R'Eisen Shine. We didn't get in here without the help of so many friends and family. From words of encouragement, to helping hands, to customers buying our goods, we didn't get here alone.
We started looking for a farm thinking it was going to take us well over a year to find a place that would work. We partnered with the Columbia County Land Conservancy and started touring places available for lease. We looked at a lot of duds, including folks who had large backyards but were not prepared for intensive farming operations. But then we got the chance to tour this place, and meet with the landowner. I tried so hard not to immediately fall in love, to become intoxicated with the potential here. I was so scared it wouldn't work out.
But it did. We took over a farm house that hadn't been lived in for years, and was kind of a disaster. But it was a place to start. All we need is a foothold, and we will take off running. So we did. We painted, cleaned, stripped wall paper, fixed pipes, installed heat, patched the roof... and that was just the start. We've run fences, bought a new barn, fixed the old barn, put up a crazy looking hen house, plowed the fields by hand, grazed sheep on leads, built chicken tractors and raised 60 holiday turkeys. We've worked until our hands bleed, watered plants using a 40 gallon tank in the back of a pick up and a five gallon bucket. We've crash coursed in irrigation, converted a porch into a greenhouse and built a root cellar out of up-cycled post consumer materials. We've fought predators, drought, toxic fires, hail storms, deep freezes, huge boulders. We've dug out springs, given vaccinations, processed hundreds of chickens by hand.
We bought draft horses.
There have been tears (even from me), injuries, heart break, near budget disasters, actual budget disasters- broken trucks and heat exhaustion. There have been crop failures.
We did it because we love it--because we were determined to make it happen. We don't want to go to an office, work ourselves to death for someone else. We want to build something here, we want to make this farm a place of good food run by good people. We want every customer who partners with us to taste the difference in our work. We want to do right by the land and by ourselves.
So many times people look around at their lives, and think about what they'd rather be doing. I know that it's complicated, I know that it's messy- but no one is going to make your dreams happen for you. People often comment that they'd love to farm, that they'd love to change their lives. So after a year I can tell you this- there will be suffering. There will be days that feel impossible and hopeless. But it's worth it. If you want it- if you want a life filled with that farm purpose, the knowledge that you are part of this natural world- it's worth it. If you want dinners filled with food by your own hand and a life so full of intention and care that it rises up through your body- it's worth it. And it's possible. We don't have money. We've never had money. But if you want it, if it matters to you- get it. No one is going to do it for you, but your intentions and your hard work will help you find hands to raise you up. We couldn't have gotten here without the help we've had. But we also would have never gotten here without shear will power and hardened nerves.
After listening to the key note speaker at the NOFA conference this weekend I had a realization.We're not the the kind of farmers who are gently tethered to the planet with airiness, sweetness and good vibes. I admire those people, the ones who find flowery poetry in everything they do, are about the beauty in a butterfly's wings and write a song about it. It's not us.
We're the fighter breed, the earthy people. We're grit and blood. We're crass and rough. We see the beauty in the mess and drama and it makes us whole. We are cynical and shrewd and sometimes quite dark. We seek for a life full of purpose after years of chaos. We desire to be needed by the world we create here. Everything we do is with intention and that's where we find peace and beauty.
So whatever you want, whatever you desire- I hope you go get it. I hope you sacrifice and suffer and find solace in your efforts. But mostly, I hope you do it. Don't let your caution get the best of you. Be smart, sure, but don't put your passions aside for the sake of convention. Get messy and sometimes miserable and often wonderful and find your purpose.