The Truth About My Current State of Farming
Buckle up because I'm about to give you the WHOLE truth about my current state of being farmer. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have started and stopped writing this blog post multiple times these last couple weeks. In fact, more times than I can count. I've tried to come up with the perfect wording while out working on the farm. I've even discussed it with many of my farmer friends, something I never feel the need to do when creating farm-related content. I wanted to get it just right.
But you see, that's the thing, if I try too hard to make sure I explain myself just right then I'll lose my authenticity and that's what this whole thing is about in the first place. The truth about farming.
Maybe it's the heat or maybe it's because it's August (known by many in small-scale agriculture as 'Grumpy Farmer Month') or maybe it's just that it's so damn hard to be a farmer these days. At least through many recent conversations I've now realized it's not just me.
Two weeks ago I disappeared from social media, which if you follow our farm on Facebook or Instagram, you might know 'radio-silence' isn't really my thing. I'm out there. All. The. Freaking. Time. Part of my mission behind being a farmer is to share my story and the stories of other farmers in my community. I want you to know the people behind your food.
However, last week it all just became too much. Now please don't close the web browser thinking this is going to be one of those poor-me posts begging for your financial support and asking that you buy our products -- This is simply me following my goal of transparency in our business. And, please don't think I'm not fully appreciative of the fact that this is the life I get to live, because I truly am.
But, farming is HARD work for so many reasons and if I don't share them then I think I'm doing everyone, myself included, a big disservice.
A couple days ago I posted a question to our followers in our Instagram Stories, I was curious what drives people to follow the journey of our farm. The outpouring of positive feedback I received was so overwhelming and unexpected and with it was a reminder that people are following me for the truth, because they either want genuine connection with the people who produce their food or because they themselves are farmers or hope to one day be one.
You trust me to give it to you straight.
Well here it is, this is my truth and the truth for most of the farmers I know. Farming at the level that you need to be at in order to make a living wage puts a pressure on your shoulders that can become almost unbearable at times.
Agriculture is this crazy industry where farmers judge their success by the number of mouths they feed, the improvements they’re able to make in their soil, or the quality of the products they produce but rarely on the amount of money they make.
People often make comments to me about how many different things we do around here at Central Park Farms unsure of how we balance it all -- From four weekly farmers markets, to long table events and cooking classes, selling wholesale and retail, the list goes on and on.
The truth is that with modern small-scale farming you have to, it simply isn't a choice.
Central Park Farms is my full time career and my business is also lucky enough to employ my mom Sharon full-time, and you know damn well I'm paying my momma a living wage because lord knows she invested enough in me through the years. But no one in small-scale agriculture is getting rich out here, I promise you that!
To put things into perspective, let's take our grass fed Black Angus beef for example. We've had our herd for two years now without a single penny of revenue, since we've yet to have any animals old enough to butcher aside from our breeding stock which don't go to market. Our last hay shipment cost me just over $9,000... Just one single expense for that portion of my business cost more than my first three cars combined and it's a consumable. My bull Brad, as a high-quality registered Black Angus bull, set me back $4,500 plus a trip to Alberta and back to pick him up. I don’t even want to mention the cost of that first herd of eight pregnant heifers we bought that started the cattle portion of our farm back in 2016, because I'm worried you'll call me crazy.
Now imagine how hard you have to push a farming business to make numbers like this work.
I spoke with a farmer friend — who shall remain nameless — earlier this week and confided in her that the pressure became so overwhelming the week before that I had to go underground and allow myself a moment to get my feet back under me.
Her response? That for the last couple weeks, every night after a long day farming she has a good ol' cry in the shower.
So with a laugh I asked her, 'then why the hell are we doing this?'
She couldn't have given me a more perfect answer. She replied without hesitation as if she's been asking herself that same question for days, 'because for that one small moment every day when things are perfect out on the farm, it makes all the hard work worth it.'
And, she couldn't have been more right.
I went for my evening walk around the farm last night to check on animals, and as the temperature dropped to a comfortable level, and the sun was setting, and our animals calmed for the night, I remembered exactly why I do this.
I love connecting with my community through food. I love teaching you, and feeding you, and welcoming you into my business and my life. I want to be that teeny tiny change in our food system. Even when it’s so hard and I’m so tired that it makes me cry.
So thank you for letting our family feed yours!
Kendall ~ Boss Chick at Central Park Farms