small scale ponderings

pups

Fall brings perfect dog wrassling time. Much of the year I want the dogs to stay close, but not get too close. Now with coolness, I call them over for wrastles.

It’s what I love about big dogs, ones whos hides you can grab by the handfull, and wrangle with. My dogs have been with me a long time, and these days I’m having some puppy love, all over again.

Tonight Little Blue and I went up to the hay field. I LOVE it out there. So expansive and completely different than the rest of our place. Still & tranquil, simple and open. It’s really such a place you can go and get away from it all.

I ran down the path towards the field garden, and Little Blue immediately picked up on it. He chased me, following by my heels. As my feet carried me too fast down the slope, I reached the low spot in between our house and field, the crevice of sorts which runs kitty corner through our property. I felt the 20 degrees temperature drop there. We’re in the midst of a glorious indian summer right now, so this strange transitory area caught me by surprise. Feeling fueled, I darted up to the garden, past the teenaged birch tree stand, and around the bend, back up towards the hay field. Little Blue sometimes runs in front, sometimes gets in my way. Coaxing him ahead, I start jogging again. The tiny bit of moon still in the sky promises a spectacular sight, and we race to the middle of the field.

Out there, we sit. On the western horizon, a last viewing of the sunset has happened already, it’s aftermath hangs there above the tree line silhouette. Little Blue is mostly trying to figure out my next move. He sits by me, watching around us, always an ear turned towards me. “Who’s there?” I tease….he jumps up and surveys for strangers. I push him around, grab his legs from under him, a classic game I started with him as a pup. He knows what’s next but stands stoically. Over he flips onto his side, and he growls as I hold him down. One flip of his solidly muscled back and he’s up again, waiting for my next move. Little Blue loves the wrestling, as long as I don’t carry on too long. Then he get’s concerned he’s missing something, so responsible. He bangs into my legs as he flips over in my lap- he’s too big for that, but he returns to his pup days when we wrastle. There’s growls and barks, and general good times. We play a bit more, the silvery tint on the grass blades making everything look so soft and lush.

When the moon in missing from the night sky, I have found it almost disconcerting to be out in the “wild.” Now with my companion at my side, and a bit of moonlight to see the trail back to the house, I’m in heaven.

small scale

I work on our farm all day, everyday. There is much thinking time. Maybe too much. Allowing your brain to go all over the place can take you down weird trains of thought.  When I get too chatty on my delivery days, I excuse myself saying I mostly talk with animals all day, so having a dialogue with a real live person is refreshingly fun.

Social Media is an essential tool for a farm, and leads to wonderful virtual interactions. On our farm’s Facebook page a woman asked lately “what size is small scale farming?” Wonderful question, and it led me to much contemplation…..Size, scale, scope, sanity.

What is the difference between small scale and large scale farming? Small Scale farming duplicates what homesteaders do—alot of diversity on the farm, aiming towards sustainable self sufficiency. Small Scale Farming is not 10,000 turkeys crowded in a dark barn. Small Scale is not 10,000 anything. Small Scale is approaching a farm as an entity, one which can host and provide for much life, nourishment and diversity.

Now, what’s the difference between homesteading and farming? We’re homesteading alright. Making, growing and raising most of our own food. We keep assorted livestock for their wonderful products, garden like crazy, can, ferment and otherwise preserve foods for winter, butcher chickens, goats, turkeys, ducks, make soap and goat cheese, brew beer, bottle homemade vinegar, bake bread …it’s a homesteading dream life really.

 

However, we’re not JUST homesteading. We are actually farming. Farming means you are trying to make a living raising food. Our farm incorporates the homesteading lifestyle as an integral part of our farming, in the form of workshops teaching these skills. If we weren’t small scale, there’s no way we could include this aspect into our farming endeavor.

The Homesteading Image usually includes things like an ambitious garden, some chickens, a pet pony, a few sheep doing not much, but kept for sentimental reasons. Homesteading is either what one does for fun – being funded by a day job, or it is something you’re doing while you learn about farming, just waiting for the day you’ll make the big leap. I homesteaded for 7 years previous to this year, for fun and as farming “home-school.” Now with my wonderful husband, we’ve made our leap.

Trying to make a living from the land. Farming. If you are farming, bottom line is your profits HAVE to be at least a bit higher than ALL of your expenses. This first year as we set everything up on the new farm, we’ll be lucky to have anything profitwise to show at tax time. We re-invested everything we made into the farm, and, of course, our expenses were higher than expected, income disappointingly less than hoped. What we learned on purpose this year was that in order to make it, you cannot try to be doing everything. This is exactly what we did, and we learned for ourselves why you shouldn’t. On the other hand, we did learn which animals we like to raise and work well with, which vegetables and fruits we can grow well and hence have a focus for next year’s farming. At least we kept our heads above water so we can HAVE another year here. Very grateful.

As next year’s plans begin today, and we want to make a living farming, we’re focusing next year on what we do well- our CSA and our duck eggs. We specialize in selling organically raised duck eggs, our own little special niche. Next week we have a new installment of ducklings arriving. These little girls will be laying for us in the spring, and we’ll continue spreading the goodness of these glorious, decadent eggs from our lady ducks. If we didn’t love duck eggs so much, it would be foolish to try to grow that as part of our farm business. But we do, and this duck egg love is contagious. I do in-store demos where our eggs are sold, introducing our product with joy and enthusiasm. Being a farmer gives me great pride, being a small scale farmer even more so. We’re striving for our personal best on our farm, and will continue onward and upward.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: