You don’t know what you don’t know
Recently I talked to a woman who had zero experience with country living and farm life. In all seriousness she asked me, “Is it sort of, kind of like that show Green Acres?” I paused before answering, waiting for (what I hoped was going to be) a burst of laughter before she declared “Just kidding!!” but she never said that, just blinked at me with wide eyes, waiting for my response. She was a nice lady, but here’s a pro-tip from me to you: never say $h*t like that to someone in the thick of it on a farm. And by “thick” I mean literal shit and I mean mud and I mean life and I mean death. Don’t. It’s not like Green Acres. Not even sort of, kind of. Unless you count that time Jer and I split a box of wine at midnight while installing IKEA shelves in the dairy to a soundtrack of Michael Jackson. That was as close as it gets. Sound fun yet?
My god I love my babies and I love this farm, our broken house, this land that is slanted and impossible, this fickle clay dirt under our feet that is useless, this rain that comes in torrents or never comes at all, these dark nights that cover the horrific brutality of predators until morning, these thorns that pierce the soles of my animals’ hooves, these snakes that steal our eggs, and I love the dairy that is so close to ready but already requires so many improvements. All of it, I love it. But all jumbled together? It can feel like a colossal mistake.
There has been no time or energy to write here, I am writing now because it feels necessary to document the distinct moment I can pinpoint the realization that I truly did not know what I did not know when I blindly and enthusiastically stepped away from my career and stepped onto this path. I did not know. I thought I did, but I did not.
These are not words meant to discourage – my god no. They are simply the best advice I can give if you are considering something drastic, moving from hobby to business on the back of something as uncertain as agriculture. Wrap your arms and mind around every variable you can find, and then embrace the fact that you will never (never) find every variable, until it finds you.
Then be fierce in defending what you do know that you know. That you love your babies, and your farm, and your broken house, the wild variations in the weather, the impossible slant of your land, the fickle dirt that sometimes will/sometimes won’t be steady under already unsteady feet, the gorgeous brutality of predators doing exactly what you do each day – only difference is their greed is primal. Aren’t we all just trying to grip life by the throat? And if not, shouldn’t we try?
I know this is hard, but I also know it is good. There is nothing like spring time on a farm, in all its pulsing, oozy glory to make a person feel tired, bruised, hungry and alive.
Green Acres? Only if I look comical but pretty while wiping goat placenta off my face. So then, sure – sort of, kind of.