Dashed dreams?

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.

Lucky girl

Lucky girl

So this dream I’m *not* giving up on? Yes, that would be our dairy.

Little Brown Farm

Little Brown Farm

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.

None.

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.

If 4 is lucky - this must be Damn Lucky

If 4 is lucky – this must be 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.

Skipper going for a piggy... I mean goaty-back ride

Skipper going for a piggy… I mean goaty-back ride

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.

Vicky/Victoria

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!!

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About Chief Milkmaid

A former executive, now goatmilker and cheesemaker, I am the Chief Milkmaid of the Little Brown Farm.
This entry was posted in About the Farm, It's Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dashed dreams?

  1. Gillian Marrah says:

    BEST OF LUCK!!! Dear Vicky. I look forward to hearing about the unknown gifts on your precious path. Gillian

  2. Deb South says:

    You are indeed lucky to be able to fall back as they say into an off the farm job. At my age (60) that is no longer a possibility. I had not planned to stop working when I did but the economy had other ideas. I raise my goats. We garden and I sell the excess veggie plants. My husband is self-employed (lawn maintenance) and has no employees (can’t afford to pay them) so he does it all by him self. I run the farm all by my self. My senior life is not supposed to be this hard.

  3. Jan G says:

    Vicky, we love you a lot and wish you only the best. I love what you are doing and know that you will be able to do both and do them well. And I’m glad you are making good decisions for yourself and family. With you all the way.

  4. Bob T Panda says:

    Well, actually I don’t like that you have to add to your work load in order to be able to keep farming, but I admire your ability to recognize and do what you need to do. I sometimes wish I could do the same. The problem is I am not qualified for any job that would make a lot of money and besides, it’s not like I can hire someone to do my paintings for me. 🙂
    I admire your resolve and believe you are doing what is best for you, Tom, and the farm. Good luck will abound. Pandy promise.

  5. Michael Brown says:

    Most couples have to have two jobs in order to maintain a house now. That is true in Japan as well, but it is an apartment that looks like your cheese room. You have been working too hard and not getting enough rest, and the body doesn’t like that after a while. I think you are on the right track to give yourself a break and get back to enjoying your husband, daughter, and the rest of your furry, four-legged family. I just hope that you are not adding to your list of duties instead of taking some away. You are very lucky and look at what you have accomplished. It is amazing that you not only bought a 5 acre farm on Whidbey Island, grew a herd, built a dairy, marketed that dairy so that your cheese is in some of the finest restaurants in Washington, all while trying to maintain a home for your family. That is a lot and it is time to share that burden with others. You have my love, prayers, and support in all you do. Good luck in getting that awesome job. What do you put on your resume for the last couple of years? Chief milkmaid and executive fromagerier? Whatever you put wont do justice to all the work you put in let alone the salary you paid yourself. Is there a monetary value to goat love? All our love and support, Mike and Peggy.

  6. You will find your way. You just will. 😉

  7. Joanie H says:

    I believe in you. I believe in your dream. You have inspired me to take first steps toward my own dream of farming. Thank you for being real and sharing your challenges with a community of people who truly care about you. I am praying for provision and that you’ll be back on the farm full time soon and very soon (without working those crazy long hours)!

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