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.