In past job interviews, I remember getting asked “what’s your 5 year plan?” Employers want to know if you’re planning to have kids next year, go travel the world for a few random months, or buckle down and become a dedicated worker. They can’t straight up ask these things, for fear of discrimination….but what IS your 5 year plan?
You will only have one go at this life and this thing called living. What do you really, truly, want to be doing in 5 years? And what about in 10? And most importantly, how are you going to achieve it? No offense, but get your butt in gear!
After working on business plans for the farm, I know every person could benefit from making a “business plan” for their life goal(s). I don’t mean an itemized budget necessarily. Having clear goals isn’t just about income and a to-do list. It isn’t just that cheesy list of all the things you some day hope to do. Make your plan clear so you can follow it to the end you’re desiring. Start somewhere, write it down, and do something. Only you can propel yourself forward.
I had a plan to be farming by the time I reached 30. I practiced and learned on my own for a long time previous, learned to keep strict expense and profit logs, and after much trial and error, I knew in my heart that this was my true calling. My farming endeavor paid for it’s own way- I brought in enough money from my farm products to cover all the farm expenses. However, there was no way to grow the business up to a point where I could also pay my own personal expenses. There was no potential for be to be making a salary from my farming. I had to figure out the next step.
Enter Andrew, my friend, who now is my husband. He’d helped me set up a farm website back in the day, and without gagging you with sweetness, in spring of 2010, suddenly we realized we were falling in love and were destined to farm together. We made a business plan, incorporating all I had learned about various farm expenses, what types of products together we would grow and raise, and projected income potential. With the help of some amazingly beautiful connections, we found our farm and began truly farming together this spring. We did not reach anywhere near our projected potential income, but we made it through the first year wiser and more well equipped to approach 2012.
Our farm has a 10 year plan, and now we are in year 9. At the end of ten year plan, we’ll be mortgage free. We set up aggressive payments so our farm would be paid off in ten years. This was our goal, and now we must continue on the track we’ve laid down. Succeeding on the farm is paramount, but if we have to, we’ll get dayjobs while our funds are low. Sending all our profit towards paying off the farm feels wonderfully satisfying, but being broke all the time is not fun. Stick with the plan, no matter how hard.
What will we do when we have paid off the farm? Well, let me tell you that we’ll still be working hard. We’ll still be farming. We’ll still need to bring in farm income to pay expenses. Most likely the world will be a very different place by then. We can’t worry about the future, nor race to get there. Our farm will be OUR farm then, and that will be a great place to start from for the next 10 year plan.
Indian summer continues——after a gorgeous breakfast of fried potatoes, fried cabbage in bacon fat, a single duck egg each, sprinkled with parsley and a little bit of bacon, Andrew went to work at the Pumpkin Seed Oil Farm nearby for some cash money.
I moved some of the duck compost onto the field, in prep for tilling before winter comes. One of our neighbor “farms” is hauling their shelled corn from rented fields. Back and forth they go past our place, all day long. I raise a hand to wave a few times, realizing how ironic it is- the scale difference. I am pitch-forking organic duck poop compost onto our garden rows, one forkfull at a time. They are driving huge machines back and forth to pick up their conventional, most likely GMO corn for dry lot feeding their dairy cows, who are completely invisible to a passerby. Confinement dairy neighbors….barf. But I did the neighborly thing and waved anyway.
One bed had some failures in it- tiny onions who actually set seed. Fail. Next to the onion skeletons was a row of spindly, weed-infested carrot tops. I planned to take the compost to that row next, but figured I’d take a peek to see if the carrots were worth harvesting. YES they were! Giant beauties, you’d never guess it based on the tiny, scraggly tops. I had much fun digging up the startlingly flourescent roots, filling a five gallon bucket after removing the greenery on top. It’s safe to say we have TONS of carrots to harvest. Maybe hundreds of pounds even! Yippee! My crazy obsessive seeding worked!!!
Checked on the homemade wines, but I think they are all now safe to say- homemade vinegar. Not a problem. Bottled up the grape/red wine jars, this would be Wisconsin Organic Red Wine Vinegar. We’re actually thinking about putting together a unique Winter Shares. It’d have all kinds of cool stuff like this, and maybe stewing ducks, applesauce, dried beans, root vegetables, Christmas soaps, dried herbs, sauerkraut, pickled green beans, etc…
Had a “Farm Girls” Meeting at a friends home nearby and we did a food swap. The hostess was very organized about it, and it was very fair compared to the other model I have been a part of. Super fun social time as well, there are such kick ass ladies out here! And…I came back home with Andrew’s new project- 2 rabbits. We did a swap of bacon, etc for them and their cages. There’s a boy and a girl, just at perfect breeding age, but unproven as of yet. The female may have been bred in the morning, and we’ll try again tomorrow. Andrew says I have goats and all that, he wants to have a something all his own to work on. Isn’t the tractor that? Just kidding….and tractors don’t really bring in any potential income.
Yesterday was fantastic. One of our customers came over to learn all about canning tomatoes. We just rocked those tomatoes, cleaning and processing and chatting all the while about life, learning, living. She’s about to apprentice with a nutrient dense CSA Kitchen on the west coast. So excited for her! I’d urged her to explore her the passion for these essential foods. She’s always sipping homemade bone broths and taking our chicken heads to make stock, and is in my eyes glowingly healthy. And she loves to prepare this type of food, and loves to talk about how important it has been in changing her life.
There was an interesting parallel between my sister and her, some similar things they both have gone through. it makes me wonder if my vegan sister isn’t having problems BECAUSE she is vegan, and missing so many important nutrients. Not something I’ll bring up to her though, without fearing the wrath.
Before she arrived, I packed up her last share box – the best one of the year I think, and the last of her monthly installments. Inside: baby spinach, arugula, red cabbage, cucumber, winter squash, radishes, turnips, parsley, napa cabbage, apples, kale, garlic, tomatoes, apple honey syrup, duck eggs, goatmilk soap and some aged dry cheese. We have a killer CSA if I do say so myself.