Late last week I said some words that rolled off my tongue, but as soon as they were said I realized what I had just uttered. I caught my breath for a moment. I think that the person on the other end of the phone even noticed, but politely carried the conversation for a moment.
Those powerful words… “I’m too young to give up on my dreams just yet.” I continued the thought, “I may need to regroup but I won’t give up.”
The bottom line is I am ridiculously lucky. If you’ve been following my blog or my facebook or my conversations, you know just how lucky I am.
If not, I’ll summarize:
I have spent most of my life working for amazing bosses and exceptional coworkers in interesting, well paid positions. I have the most incredible child a person could hope for, who incidentally at the time she was being a… teenager, introduced me to the passion that I am pursuing now… goats. I have an amazing mother – who is turning 80 soon and recently got her martial art gold belt… yes, my mom CAN kick your butt! I am married to the man of my dreams… okay, that’s a lie, he is NOT the man of my dreams… I could have never dreamt a man as wonderful as the man I am fortunate enough to call my husband.
My family – pretty damn awesome, and I’m lucky enough to live in the same community as one of them, who happens to be the best living stone sculptor in the US (and perhaps abroad but I haven’t traveled a lot recently).
I have some amazing friends… supportive and loving yet ready to kick my butt when I need it, and not one of them dull or dimwitted.
I have animals – the most delightful animals. I have dogs and cats, goats and sheep and never at a shortage of a 4-legged animal wanting to offer affection or play.
I’m a lucky girl.
So this dream I’m *not* giving up on? Yes, that would be our dairy.
Our dairy has been supported by us and even had an infusion from our community (our successful Kickstarter project!). It isn’t just my dream. But it has become unsustainable. The years of delay bogged down waiting for funding for a farm plan from the County Conservation Service and the following delays at the Planning Department ate up our savings, our reserve that was supposed to get us through those first years of our business. It’s gone. We’ve been struggling, working 18-20 hour days. Hiring help when we couldn’t do it and survive any longer… then struggling to pay the help.
We can’t do it. If we keep at this pace we will lose the farm and the livestock. I’ve tried everything I know how. I’ve tried to open a classroom and teach classes – we’re just waiting for a few little details to be done to get our final inspection signed off or convert our cave so I can start selling our aged cheeses now bursting from our refrigerated space.
There’s no energy left for fighting it. I can’t do it myself. Tom can’t do it from Texas or Michigan or California or wherever he will be next week.
I’m done. Spent. At the end of the rope with no knot on the end… slipping…
But I can’t NOT do it. You’ve heard of me talking about the ‘can’t not’ farmers before right? A little quote I stole from fellow farmer Georgie Smith of Willowood Farm.
However, if you know me, and by now you must at least feel like you do, you know I have a plan… I always have a plan.
My plan is to return to what I know. I have always said that if I can’t run the farm the way I want, with the care of my goats as my highest priority… if it ever became about just making money, I would get to a job, where I don’t need to work 18 hour days and I can actually make money (in part because it turns out I’m pretty damn good at what I do off the farm too).
So as I sit and try to decide which of my precious girls I should send for meat (not that I don’t sell my girls, and not that I don’t approve of animals going for meat… just not my girls I’ve been milking twice a day for almost a decade), the decision is made for me.
I am getting a job (I hope). I will return to the workforce and my luck will continue in the vein it has always been – I will land an exceptional position (hopefully soon) with a team that I love working with and can contribute great things to.
I will bring in a steady paycheck that will support the farm, help dig us out from under the start-up costs, and allow us to keep up with the skyrocketing costs.
How can I do that? Because I’m lucky. Damn lucky.
I am so lucky that I have been able to find and cultivate the most amazing support team on the farm. THEY can maintain the farm while I’m off at work. We will scale back some, but we will keep up. I will still get to oversee what is going on and I may even get some time to enjoy the farm.
So as we continue to prepare for our fall markets, as people still forage out for their last prospects of local goodness before withdrawing to pull from their larders for the winter season.
Today I will also begin the job hunt. In earnest.
Wish me luck.
PS Kickstarter “thank you’s” are finally making it to the address envelope stage! Thank you, thank you, thank you for support and your patience!!