8 Things I've learned from farming
Unlike my other half Big Jay, who's a third generation farmer, I've only been farming for going on two years now so I'm by no means an expert but through much tutoring on his part and LOTS of mistakes on my part, I've managed to learn a couple things during this crazy journey.
No matter how long someone's been farming or how pulled together their farm might look, we're all winging it at least part of the time!
I'll never forget going to tour another local farm when I was first starting out and thinking to myself that I'd never have it figured out like they did... only to have the farmer turn around and tell me that she's winging this whole farming thing more often than she cares to admit. And, since that day many others have echoed those same words. Now that Central Park Farms is a couple years in, I get calls from new farmers wanting to come see how we do things and get advice on starting their own farm and I still always think in the back of my mind, 'don't they know I have no idea what I'm doing?' So cheers to my fellow farmers who whisper 'WTF' at least once a day!
Sometimes you just have to take the leap.
While this is a good tip for life in general I've never found it more vital than in farming. With the never ending 'to-do' list that goes along with owning and operating a farm we're never truely ready to take the jump into anything new but I find if we don't just do it we'll never have the pressure to figure it out. When I first convinced Jay to set me up to start raising my own chickens he told me to call a local hatchery and see if they ever have any extra chicks. So on my lunch break at work that day I made a call and within 15 mins the voice on the other end of the line offered me an over run of 500 chicks. Just like that -- with only a few hours to get ourselves ready for our first batch of chickens -- Central Park Farms was born.
A healthy farmer, is a good farmer.
This past year has been a rough one in the health department for me and unfortunately I'm not out of the woods just yet. But, I'm slowly starting to realize that I need to take better care of myself in order to be the best farmer, and well the best 'me' that I can be. After all farmers don't get days off, especially when they raise animals.
There's something very satisfying about producing the food your family eats.
I've said it a million times but before I met Jay I was so detached from my own personal food system, I blindly consumed meat without much thought as to where it came from and how it was raised. While I could always imagine myself as a small business owner I would have never thought I'd be a small-scale farmer. Now that I am, I can't explain how great it feels to know exactly where the food I feed my family comes from. And don't even get me started on how amazing it is to not ever have to buy meat!
There is no excuse for the 'waste' we produce.
Getting involved in sustainable farming has really made me think twice about the amount of waste we produce. The bottom line is there is no excuse for the amount of food waste generated in our food system. I'm very proud to be part of a group of farmers working to reduce the amount of food that ends up in our landfill. Our pigs are fed exclusively using a food waste model and they eat better than many people I know -- embarrassingly enough better than I do some days. Their diet consists of fruit and veggies from local grocers and nuts, grains, and other cast offs from a local manufacturer of granola bars and cereals.
24 hours is about 13 hours short of what I need in a day.
Farmin' ain't easy. And, it surely takes time. One of the biggest issues I've had to try and over come was how few hours there are in a day. I guess more so I just needed to give up the pipe dream that we could do it all without any help. These days we're lucky enough to have a live-on farm hand to help out around here which also allows us to sneak away from time-to-time.
There is a really great community of people out there who care about the food they consume and will take the time and effort needed to support sustainable small farming.
When Jay first told me that if I wanted to raise meat for our family I would need to try and sell some to friends and family to offset my costs I wasn't sure that there'd be any interest. Fast forward even a few months into things and there were complete strangers driving all the way from Vancouver simply to buy our poultry. Thank you so much to all the customers who come out to buy from the farm. It's honestly a pleasure meeting you all and getting a chance to chat with you about why you're interested in taking a more active role in your food choices.
There's nothing else I'd rather be doing.
When I was in my corporate career I felt like it was what I was meant to do -- I thought I loved my job. Now that I'm farming I know that wasn't the case. Raising animals and owning your own business can be stressful but when I need a moment to sit back and be thankful it's nice to be able to get snuggles from the donkeys or go hang out with the pigs for a bit and remember why I'm doing this.
I still have a long way to go when it comes to learning the farming ropes but it sure has been fun so far. Thank you to everyone who've taken the time to follow along!
Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms