We are three years into this farming “thing” we embarked on. With a big move 2 hours south of the urban/suburban neighborhood we raised our kids in, we picked up, moved, and immersed ourselves in a totally new environment, lifestyle, and way of living.
We now have a pickup, a farm use truck (our suburban pickup in retirement), a soccer mom van turned rolling tack box/livestock herder, and a $30,000 Kubota(that’s tractor to you- the uninitiated)!
We are in the second year of our vegetable garden and potato patch, 3rd growing hay. We understand fully now, how much work it is, how totally dependent on the weather a real farmer is, and how good it feels and tastes to grow your own vegetables!
We now realize that selling at the local farmers market is harder than it looks, not the money maker it would seem to be, and that there is always alot more to learn. And, that hybrid blackberries, while no tastier than the wild ones, are thornless, way larger, and thus, sell better than their smaller wild relatives! During a dry, hot, almost drought summer, wild blackberries will also NOT produce 20 lbs a day!
We now know that groundhogs are sometimes smarter than the amount of fencing and traps you put out. They may still be cute, but are not as cute as they once seemed while we were living in suburbia. Their view of “sharing” and mine, are somewhat different, when it comes to my garden!
We know that weeds will grow, regardless of how little rain comes thru’, and that hay will not! We understand that we are getting a bit too old to “toss that bale”, especially when there are 300 of them sitting in the field! We now understand the phrase “make hay while the sun shines”. We see how the dust can be flying, the ground can be as hard as a rock from lack of rain, and the paddocks overgrazed and not growing – but white capped mushrooms and other plants that horses cannot and will not eat, will manage to push their way thru hardpacked dirt and dot the landscape.
We have learned that wells must be dug deep (and thank goodness, ours is), that hydrofracking is bad for the environment, and rain is important for everyone.
We have come to understand small town way of thinking, and have learned to love and appreciate small town friendliness and helping hands.
We have learned to support locavorism.
We have learned that to grow a garden organically, while preferable, takes alot more work than does spraying a bit to keep away the bugs. We learned that if you forget to put a little mineral oil on the corn silks, you will have gross caterpillars hiding in and eating your ears of corn!
We have learned that while black plastic between the rows of vegetables will keep the weeds down, the intense heat reflected off the plastic will make midday gardening in the height of summer unbearable, and the puddles of water that accumulate there will attract mosquitoes and cause all the cantaloupes to rot just before they ripen!
We have learned that if you don’t keep up with the rototilling, the weeds will grow to be about 5-6 feet tall in the potato field!! On the up side, those hardy weeds are shading the potato plants from the sun, during a borderline drought hot summer!
I have learned to talk to myself (and my horse) as we ride thru the woods- to let the deer know we are coming – so Bambi and his mother don’t jump out of the woods in front of us and scare the crap out of my horse!
I have learned that hunting is a generations old way of life out here in the Gap, and that said – I only walk and ride in the woods on Sunday during hunting season! Oh, and day glow orange is a good color- on man and beast!
I have learned that hounds don’t sleep in the bed with their owners- they are chained out back next to a dog house til hunting season. They also don’t ride up in the front seat of the pickup, they travel in a port holed metal container in the bed of that pickup, heads hanging out, ears blowing in the breeze, excited about going to do what they were bred to do – track and hunt.
I have learned the difference between cows bellowing at dinnertime and cows and calves bellowing because they have been separated to be weaned. It has also dawned on me, that the reason we have milk on the table, is because dairy cows are constantly being bred, and their babies taken away and sold, so that their milk is in constant supply for us humans. I drink more soy milk now…….no offense to the dairy farmers.
I now know that the chicken one buys from the supermarket, is one of a gazillion cute,tiny, yellow chicks that has been factory or family farmed in towns like these, engineered to grow faster and bigger, to be ready for production in 6 weeks. I have also learned that pickup for these chickens can occur anytime- even at 3am !And, I will never get used to what I interpret as the sad looks on these chickens as they are traveling down the highway, crammed in crates, on the way to the factory……….and, yes, I eat less chicken now. I could never be a real and good farmer, feeling about animals the way I do. But, I am thankful that there are people out there who have made farming their life and do a good job at it!
I know, and am less than thrilled to know, that there are seasons of the fly! Now we are in the bot scraping and large nasty horse fly season. There is NO good season of a fly, in my opinion!
I have also learned that small town folk are the best – willing to help whenever needed, no questions asked.
It helps to have a neighbor with a backhoe when you might want to bury your horse, instead of calling the rendering plant to haul it off. That neighbor might not understand, but he’ll dig that hole.
We have also learned that in small towns, everyone is related to everyone else, in one way or another- so be careful what you say!!!
Small towns are also used to doing things a certain way- it has been done the same way for generations, so why fix it, if it ain’t broke? For this little town, it seems to be working fine!
You can live in a small town for 25 years, but if you weren’t born here, and your family hasn’t been here for generations back, you will always be an outsider of sorts. There is something to be said, for having family living, literally, a stone’s throw away……………
“Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me, land spreading out so far and wide, keep Manhattan (or DC), just give me the countryside….!”
There are many more lessons I have learned in these past 3 years, out here on the farm, but I will save that for another time, another post…………
All is well, in the still darkness of the morning, at Mountain Meadows, at 4:47am…………