November 26, 2013
Conservation Farmer of the Year Award!
We were very honored to be awarded Warren County’s “Conservation Farmer of the Year”. Recognition for hard work always feels good! This seems like a good opportunity to reflect on the past year. Since I like lists (preferably scribbled on yellow post it’s and stuck around my desk like an explosion), I’ll try to share my year as a “list” of lessons that have been learned, those I am still learning, and things that I am very grateful for.
1. Everything takes at least twice as long as you think it will. There are countless of reasons why this is. No matter how hard we try to circumvent this truth, through planning, preparation and/or sheer stubbornness, we are ultimately reminded that nature isn’t very concerned with fitting into our schedule.
2. Develop a thick skin. When you try to wrangle your ornery guard donkey, corral your escapee cattle from the neighboring plant nursery or attempt to catch all those lightening quick lambs for the first time, you will invariably have witnesses. Yes, you look ridiculous. Hopefully your humiliation never finds it’s way to You Tube.
3. Seek out people who inspire you. Having the ability to share and learn from people we admire has been a tremendous guiding force. Thank you to all those people that have given us your time, knowledge and enthusiasm. We are eternally grateful.
4. Smell those roses. We get so caught up working our farm that we have forgotten, at times, to really see it. Last week we packed a lunch and went exploring on our farm. I’m still amazed at the beauty and life we have surrounding us here. Days like that really put into perspective the value of what we are working towards.
5. You are tougher than you think. Jim and I knew we had crossed a serious milestone together. After a long morning of working sheep, we looked at one another, each of us covered head-to-toe in dirt, sweat and A LOT of sheep poop. “Hungry”? Jim asked. “Starved! Let’s eat lunch”. I replied.
6. What you do matters. We care deeply for our animals. How can you care about animals and yet still raise them for meat production? I get this question a lot. Jim and I are passionate about providing the best quality of life for all of our animals. We worry if they are too cold, too hot, if their forage is diverse and nutritious enough, if they are content. It might be hard for some to understand. We truly believe that what we are doing matters and hopefully contributes in some small way to improving current methods of food production.
7. Enjoy. We converted a shed into a smart, new chicken coop. The shed was moved to a picturesque location, fencing supplies were purchased, a door had to be installed, custom roosts and nesting boxes were built. Feeders, waterer’s, high-quality feed and supplements were stockpiled. Chicks arrived and were placed in a homemade brooder in our garage that was dutifully cleaned every 3 days (which still could not combat the smell of an old, wet shoe that had stepped in something bad). After 6 long months I ran to Jim with the smallest chicken egg we had ever seen. “ Our first egg”! I cried, holding my tiny egg up in triumph. I know that unimpressive egg cost us more money and effort than any egg could ever justify. Nonetheless, he smiled and congratulated me on our prize.
Jim keeps a safe distance from my desk area. Littered with those yellow post-it’s, feathers, rocks, pictures, string, it is completely opposite of his tidy, organized space. His eyebrows raise as he passes by but he say’s nothing. He’s a good egg.