Some things take me a few years to do. Are you like that? Sometimes it is a matter of finding the time. For the past decade and a half, most things that I thought about doing didn't get done because of family priorities. Now that Julia is older, I can actually do some of the things that I have wanted to do. Funny that one of them has to do with a weedy plant your see all over our area.
Today is the 4th of July and it is pouring down rain. This means I do not have to feel guilty about not weeding the garden which is now almost knee deep in weeds after the hot, incredibly humid weather we have had this past week. We can't move the sheep today either. Oh well.
Farmers markets are in full swing. I do the Noho Tuesday Market, The Farmer does the Amherst Saturday Market and Julia is doing the Bernardston Saturday Market (her first summer job - more about that later). Market stands are now spilling over with abundance. Veggie and flower farmers work so hard growing things. The market stands brimming with flowers, berries, veggies, and greens are a major miracle. It is a very difficult way to make a living but they keep at it.
|Picking the flowers off the stems|
I also meet a lot of young people who are in college or just out of college that want to be farmers. The idealism that is in their faces overwhelms me and I wonder if I was so naive when I was young. Yes - I surely was. I worry that as they go into farming, they won't be able to buy a house and won't be able to afford having a family. It is a real worry for sure and one I am positive their parents are thinking the same thing as their kids choose a career path. But that is the beauty of youth - they do not see all the complications and real life ahead. And thank goodness for it.
|A flower is made of hundreds of little flowers|
Whenever anyone new comes to the farm, both The Farmer and I state flat out "Farming didn't pay for this place." We were rather calculating when we worked on our dream of owning a farm. We both knew we wanted to be here in the Pioneer Valley on a farm with an old house one day but we knew we couldn't afford the place that we wanted if we began our careers here. We worked for 16 years - living in the eastern part of Massachusetts, saving money in order to be able to buy this place. If Julia hadn't come along with her complications, who knows when we would have bit the bullet to move here full-time. Now, we work hard to keep our farm and wonder how long it will be possible. As I weed my garden, I look up every once in a while and thank my lucky stars I landed here. I get rather overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of our hillside and the history. But every time the tax bill arrives, I cringe! Fingers crossed we can keep it all together.
|Soaking the flowers with lemon slices|
Yesterday on The Modern Farmer blog, there was a post called "Stop Romanticizing the Farm." You can read it here. I do agree with several of the points the author Sarah Searle makes but I also know how difficult it is to just keep a farm going. No matter how much money comes in, it is all spent on fixing equipment, feeding animals, and keeping it all going. We have no choice but to do other things to help make a living. That's why I started teaching here at the farm in 2009. It hasn't been that much of a success financially but it helps. At this point I am really not interested in making our place be an event space. We have friends who do that. Raising sheep is a dirty business - no matter what. There is poop, heavy equipment, buckets, hay bales, rusting old equipment that might be able to work one day, overgrazed pastures (it happens) that look nothing like manicured lawns, all matters of things to "decorate" a space which are not at all photogenic and are looked upon by non-farmers as a mess. None of farming is at all romantic when you are deeply involved. It is all work and busyness and trying to keep animals alive. I am not complaining..... just making it real to those who are interested.
|My brother in law David's trucks at Sunbrite Farm - their dairy farm|
I'll be back with progress on the elderflower cordial and share the recipe soon. Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans. Boom boom! XO