Monday, April 18, 2011

Nice plug from a CSA customer.

Amber and her family came to visit Skeeter Farm last year in November. She is an avid blogger and wrote a nice little story about us.

Thanks Amber!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The farm - our other, needier, life partner.

A couple of years ago...before we really knew what it was all about, we probably would have answered "access to land or equipment" or "how to actually grow things" as the answer to what our biggest challenge is (a question we find we are asked frequently).

These are challenges that are certainly present for new farmers, but in our case, have been relatively easily overcome. They are challenges that you can do something take the steps to gain the knowledge you need to confidently plant a seed in the ground and take it all the way to market. Accessing land and equipment, well, yes it is a challenge if you don't know where to go to find it, but in our experience there is no lack of people willing to help a new farmer out. So if those aren't the biggest challenges...than what is it?

For us, it is time. Hands down.

Time is what limits our ability to do the things we do, restricts how much we can take on as farmers as we dream of bigger and better things, meddles with our ability to have a normal social life, be spontaneous, and spend time with the people we want to spend time with.

When we started out farming, we made the decision to do so on a "part-time" basis. By this I mean that we decided to not quit our day jobs (part-time in quotations as 50 hrs/week on the farm has not been uncommon). In a lot of ways, this was the right thing for us to do. For one, starting a farm while continuing to work another job has allowed us to alleviate the risk involved with taking the plunge into farming by continuing to receive a steady income while we learn how to farm and be profitable. We have relied on our own incomes (i.e. no loans or outside sources of funding) to get our farm going, and it feels good knowing that we don't owe any money.

On the other hand, not fully taking the plunge has resulted in a crazy last few years and some frustrations with not having the time to do things carefully, and in the way we want to. We feel like we are always playing catch up....and it's pretty clear to me that this means of farming will not be something we will be able to continue into the future. At some point there will need to be a decision made: grow vegetables full time and really make a go at it OR settle for farming as part of a lifestyle and not a means of income.

Reading back through this post (which I started to write back in March and never really got to it)...this is sounding complain-y, which is not what my intent was at all. The intent was to shed light on an important decision that all new farmers face - start slow and build up the business while supporting yourself elsewhere, or jump in feet first, take on the risk but have time to make your farming dreams come true. This is a decision that we have struggled with, and still do. Finding the balance between achieving our business goals and maintaining our other life commitments seems to be a perpetually moving target.
this photo has no relevancy to this post other than it a pic of the Vedder River by the farm. What I wish I had was a photo of us driving our little tractor to the repair shop (multiple times) last year at 7 am all dressed up in my office work clothes with overalls overtop with Hannah following me in the VW bus. That would have been perfectly relevant, and amazing.