Brooding On

So, you want to be a farmer?

From the Fall 2014 issue of Modern Farmer:

"Farming dreams are a modern seduction.  For city dwellers, the vision of making a living from the earth salves the psychic wounds of a day job, and acts as an antidote to urban malaise.  If you could just get out there on the land, far from spreadsheets and stress, cubicles and car alarms, things would surely be different.  Eating overripe tomatoes fresh from the vine and bursting with juice.  Cavorting with goats. 

"This is the life you were meant to live.  In your heart and soul, you're a farmer.  

"But there's a big difference between ogling barn listings online and standing knee-deep in pig manure.  As farmer and agricultural consultant Rebecca Thistlethwaite -- who gives 'bootstrapping' seminars to aspiring new farmers -- puts it, the vision of 'sitting in a lawn chair, overlooking the pasture, raising a glass of wine' is fodder for a rude awakening.  How do you negotiate the gap between farm fantasy and reality?"

There are times when I am just in awe of how picturesque our farm life is.  

That sunset over the chicken field can stop you short and take your breath away.  The adorable kitten sitting in my lap as I milk, hoping the next squirt will miss the pail -- just too much!  The sight of our kids all geared up and ready for adventure, heading off into the woods -- what it's all about. I try to take mental snapshots of these type of moments.  And, I think it's these types of moments that lure many into thinking farming is the life for them.  

The goats as they kept me company on a recent trail run.

The goats as they kept me company on a recent trail run.

But, sometimes on the farm  . . .

The dog murders your beloved pet chicken.  

Chickens poop.  On your head.

You crank the farm truck engine and kill the family cat who was sleeping there.  

A goat goes into early labor and miscarries the twins you'd been anxiously awaiting.

You catch a hawk mutilating a chicken and then have to discard the disemboweled carcass.

Your male goat mistakes you for a breeding partner and marks you with his pee.  

The three-second rule has to be abolished because there is visible chicken poop on your kitchen floor, nearly every morning.

You marvel at the beheaded chicken's ability to squawk both from the body that is running around the yard and the head that is lying at your feet.

The goat has to be milked, even in the dark, early morning hours of winter when you can't even wrap your mind around taking your gloves off to do it.

You find yourself up to your elbow in your goat because she went into distress during labor and may have a baby turned wrong.

The neighbor's cow gets into your field and has to be herded out right then, even though you're on your way to an important meeting and are wearing heels.

Chickens eat their own eggs.  It's cannibalistic and awful, but they do it.


There have certainly been lots of moments I'd rather not photographically recall.  And there will be many more.

So, you want to be a farmer?  


If you're serious about it, it's well worth the less-than-picture-perfect moments.   But, be sure you take the plunge with eyes wide open.  If you expect it all to be sunsets and kittens, you'll be greatly disappointed.  But, if you've got it in you to trudge through the death and disappointment and poop . . . my, that sunset sure is sweet!