Sunday, February 13, 2011

TAL Presents: "A Farewell to Horns: Not Without My Sweet Feed"

Today the reign of terror ended. After months of bribery, violence, manipulation and attempts at disembowelment, Queen Patience has been ousted. Many thought of her as a bad goat - bossy...a bully, even. She pushed the others around (literally). It was her way or the highway. But she was simply misunderstood. It was and the cruel, cruel world that made her what she was.

Just a plucky, curious youngster.

Things started off so well. She was a sweet kid - brave, outgoing, friendly. She hung out with her mother, carefree and happy. Soon however, her world was shattered. Her mother was taken away. Other goats came and she was forced to share her Eden. She wasn't much for sharing. She was forced to labor, day in and day out. Her life was one of endless toil and injustice. The degradation was simply unspeakable. She took control wherever she could find it. She ruled the barnyard with an iron hoof. Any man, woman, goat or dog who dared look askance at her paid for it with wails of pain. Soon everyone feared her. She was IN CHARGE. Her newly elevated status caused her to view her incarceration in a new light. Perhaps it wasn't so bad. "I have them all cowering in terror! I can do what I want" she thought. Her subjects tried to avoid her, but she sought them out to torment them. They tried to flatter her, but to no avail. They answered her every beck and call, but she was never satisfied.

"I am my own goat."

After a time her subjects, once fearful, became angry and rebellious. "The Queen has gone too far!" they cried. "She must be overthrown!" Tensions in the barnyard reached a tipping point...there was conspiracy...secret meetings...whispers. As a distraction, her subjects treated her to a fine morning at the spa. She had a nice breakfast and a mani-pedi. "What a lovely morning" she though to herself. She suspected nothing, until strangers tied her up and put her in a truck! She was taken away - banished to the outlands to live with an indigenous herd of meat goats ("MEAT GOATS?!") for the rest of her days.

What will be her fate in this new unknown territory? Will they break her? Will she find her place among them and fade into the obscurity of a normal life? Or will she rise again, claiming the power that she knows is rightfully hers?

Yeah, probably.

Friday, January 21, 2011

just do it.

While I always intended for this farm to provide for us, the question of whether or not it would ever provide an income was always a gray area. I thought it would be nice if our labors earned us a bit of pocket change, and to that end I started selling extra eggs just as soon as I had them to sell. But I didn't have any sort of grand vision beyond that. Nor was I certain what direction I might want to go. Honey? Cheese? Broilers and eggs? So many choices. I had to see what stuck, what felt natural to me, before I could hope to turn it into a business. Any business I wasn't 100% invested in emotionally would never fly. So I spent a solid year selling eggs to coworkers, trying out soap formulas, trying to grow nice vegetables, sharing homemade cheese with friends, doing research, raising broilers. Testing the waters.

It happened slowly and organically, as all good and proper things do. Every Saturday last summer I visited the farmers market in a neighboring town to pick up my CSA basket. I had become friends with Marilyn, my veggie grower (I always do this somehow) and had also gotten to know some of the other market vendors. The atmosphere at this particular market was better than most I'd seen - welcoming, laid back, cooperative - very much a farmer's farmers market. One day around mid-season, I decided I wanted in. This was the place for me. I became determined to get my affairs in order, get some product, and be there on opening day the following season in my very own booth. I spread the word. I let everyone know that I was interested, partly to keep me on track, but also for the foothold. When you put your intentions out there, somehow people rally to your cause. If you have a dream and a plan, tell everyone - friends, relatives, others in your field, anyone you can - they'll be ahead of you clearing the track so that you can forge ahead unhindered. I have no idea why this works, I just know that it does, and it never fails to humble me.

And six months later, here I am - an entrepreneur. I have a tax permit. In the next couple of weeks, I'll have an assumed name certificate and a bank account. Equipment is being procured, a website is in the works, and product development continues. I'm not getting in over my head. I'm keeping my day job (for now). All I want to start with is for the farm to support itself. I'd like my farm sales to cover things like hay, feed and seed. Would I like it to pay some of the bills? Of course. But that can be saved for another day. I figure I'm doing all these things anyway - why not let them pay for themselves? If I can reach a point where not a single dime of my paycheck goes to farm expenses, I'll consider it a success.

There is one thing I know for certain, though. This is what I'm meant to do, at least right now. And it will work. Because...well, because it just will.

* The title of this post has become my mantra, and my most-often-repeated piece of advice. It couldn't be more heartfelt.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

big mama

Holy goat, y'all...

What's going on in there? I think she might be starting her own kindergarten class! This girl isn't due to kid for another two and a half months. She's right at the halfway point of gestation and already as big as a house. Hmmmm. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?