I dreamed of living on a farm my entire life. Six and a half years ago, my dream came true. What are some things I have learned in the past six and a half years? Here are the non-negotiables in the life of a farmer.
First things first. You better be good with building and maintaining fences. Your animals and your farm depend heavily upon your fence-building skills. It is a constant battle. We have barbed-wire fences around our pastures, cross-fencing dividing our pastures, wood and panel fences around our animal pens, and electric fences around our gardens. We have well over a mile of fencing on our property and our farm isn’t even considered large compared to most farms! We also have a lot of animals and a lot of trees. Those two things test the fencing on a regular basis. We regularly have an animal get on the wrong side of a fence or have trees and large branches fall on the fences. We are constantly repairing and changing fencing on all sides of the property.
Secondly, you better enjoy cleaning up and dealing with lots of animal poop. We have over 120 animals that go to the restroom multiple times every single day. We either have to spread it out, pick it up, relocate it, compost it, or deal with it’s presence. Those are the options. There really aren’t many other options so choose the one you like. It’s that simple.
The third thing. Nature is a beast. You will have to deal with the rain, the lack of rain, freezes, droughts, storms, heat, and cold. You can’t control the weather so it is best to just watch it, be prepared for it, and go with the flow. I can definitely see why older people-who most likely grew up on a farm-were so overly concerned with the weather. It can make you or break you, to be sure. We have had three extreme droughts in the past four years. The droughts have been hard on us both physically and mentally. We have watched our lush, green grass turn crispy brown in early summer three different times and it means that our animals rely on us alone for their nourishment and water. We have to be consistent with providing feed and water for our cows, donkeys, horse, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats. They cannot survive without water for even a day so we haven’t been able to go on vacations during these seasons of drought. Thankfully, we have always found a good supply of hay for our animals and we sell our baby piglets and other baby farm animals to pay for the abundance of hay that we have needed during those seasons.
The final thing I want to mention is this: IT IS ALL WORTH THE EFFORT!! I just spent over a week in New York City with Miss Sunshine and, even though we had a wonderful time together, there was nothing like coming home to our peaceful life on the farm. What did I miss the most while I was away from Green Acres? The Outdoorsman, of course. Followed closely by our menagerie of cute animals and the spectacular views on Green Acres. There is nothing like those things to soothe my soul and make me feel at peace. During my vacation, I prayed a lot because the crowds of NYC made me really anxious. Even though I was thrilled to spend time with Miss Sunshine at Columbia University Teachers College and to visit my dear childhood friend, my heart yearned for God to safely bring me back home to see The Outdoorsman, Green Acres, and our animals.
I am so very thankful for this crazy, busy life on Green Acres. We work hard to take care of our animals and our land, but every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears is worth it in the end. After all of the work, we have the satisfaction of spending time outside with our farm animals, raising our own food and eggs, and enjoying the beautiful scenery all around us.
We are grateful to God for our beautiful farm and for our peaceful life on Green Acres.