Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ideal Farm

A glistening drop of moisture drips onto lap as the tangy taste of the lemonade washes over my tongue. Birds scatter as the squirrels chase each other around the one of the leafy maples in the front yard. I lean back in my rocking chair and survey the bright green, weed free pasture. The lambs playfully run from the yearling calves as their mothers lazily chew their cuds. The soft sounds of horses are heard from the freshly painted barn and a rabbit is sighted sitting on the edge of the garden. I wonder if he is nibbling in the rich thick lettuce or on a bright green giant head of cabbage. The sun settles low in the western sky. I consider clipping a pest free rose from the trellis for my lovely wife.

Nice picture isn’t it. Unfortunately, it’s the cover of a small farm magazine, not my farm. Can I get an amen. One of the first mistakes that I made when making the move to our simpler life was painting a mental image that was unattainable. While you certainly should plan and set goals, you have to keep it real. Those pictures sell magazines, but they don’t always reflect what 99% of us face on a daily basis.

The ideal image created by many companies (trying to sell me something) and by some bloggers (trying to make themselves feel better), causes two very big potholes on the road to simplicity. The first is mental anguish, with the second being financial anguish, which by the way, leads to more of the first. While dreams are useful and goals are necessary, unrealistic expectations can become burdens. The constant frustration with the real farm never reaching the unattainable bar that you’ve set will eventually lead to burnout and just plain giving up. There will more to follow on this subject in several future posts about expectations, priorities and purpose.

Anyone reading this that has attempted to make all or part of their small farm look like the magazine covers, you know what I’m about to talk about……money. Simple lifestyle it may be, but it still takes money to make it work. There are definitely some things that can be accomplished on the farm with minimal funds, but if you want it to live up to the ideal, you had better have a rich uncle close to death. The subject of money will also be explored in more detail as I go along. It is a very a complex part of the simpler lifestyle that must be analyzed piece by piece.

While I wouldn’t say that we have tried make the cover of a small farm success magazines and journals, I would say that I’ve often made myself crazy trying to achieve many of the ideal philosophies espoused by small farm/self-sufficiency experts. Julie would say my anal type “A” personality doesn’t help, but I figure if you’re gonna do something, do it right. The problem I’ve run into is figuring out what is right for us.

Check back over the next few days, and throw your own opinions and observations in as we go.



Unknown said...

miss u julie but i agree with michael. i've gone thru more of my stock than planned trying to achieve the simplicity of listening to the birds singing early in the morning or watching the deer nibble on freshly mowed hay. oops there is my timer to get ready for work so i can make more money to live without it?

Rafeal and Stephanie said...

I love your posts! I have followed this blog for a while now. I was soooo sad to see Julie was putting this blog on hold.

Thanks for writing Micheal! I love reading your posts and can't wait for more!

Hopefully Julie will pop in too! We all miss her!

Thanks :D

idigpotatoes said...

wow you could be living at my house! we are hard workers with big ideas and very little money. my husband specializes in the big ideas, and i hate popping his bubble but the we always grow from each big idea, failed plan or plan b. we learn together and laugh together.

regina said...

It so nice to see that we are not alone in this endeavor to live off the farm...and the struggles that go with it. We are hoping that one day we can retire to the farm and still be able to take care of ourselves. We will just keep plowing through the weeds and work and hope those birds leave a few tomatoes for us!

Glad you are taking up the slack for Julie. I do miss her.


TNfarmgirl said...

What a surprise to find you writing - a good surprise! I HATE those farming magazines - they make it look so easy too! Rarely would my farm be "picture ready" but I find that many people expect it to look like the magazines - and they look cross-eyed at you when it doesn't. Notice none of the people in those pictures are really working - we know that because there's no dirt on their clothes - even if they are holding a spade or a rake!
Miss you guys!

The Hill so Green said...

The perfect farm is the one you live on (few can). It doesn’t matter how much you are getting out of it or how much you are putting into it. It is getting your hands into the soil and tending to God’s creatures. It is the character building aspects of the hard work and the fruits there of in shaping our children’s lives. It is the obvious lessons from God that this work brings.
Mike-Julie I miss seeing you guys. It was this regions loss when you left. Here is wishing you all the best of the holiday season. If you find yourselves in the area please give us a call or just drop in.

Jerry & Connie

mitsy said...

I've enjoyed following this blog for some time now. Saddened that regular posts are not feasible at this point in time, but please know that you have eager readers looking forward to more farm-related thoughts, inspiration, and musings!

Cheers from Boulder Creek, CA,

Unknown said...

Keep checking in to see if anything new has posted. I have loved reading this blog. Sorry I never told you before. Especially while Julie was doing the posting. No offence Michael.
I hope your family is well and I pray you have a most joyous Christmas and a very Happy 2011! God bless!

WeekendFarmer said...

Hi there Michael,

Loved the 1st paragraph. You are quite the writer : ). yes...it does need $ to make things look and feel like a piece of paradise. I must admit some folks that I have seen make it seem so effortless. However, I failed to achieve such a nirvana. Time and $ is always a rare commodity around here. Hang in tight. Enjoy the holidays. Wish you and the family simplicity that you are seeking and tranquility!

WeekendFarmer said...


I was reading one of your older posts from Thursday, February 28, 2008. I was amazed by the spirituality. I dont practice the same faith as you, but the soul's language is universal. You should write again to share these thoughst : )

Happy holidays!


Carmen S. said...

I too keep checking for any new posts, I miss reading them and hearing of Missy's adventures:( I hope all is well with everyone!

mitsy said...

Just wanted to let you know that updates from 3FC are greatly missed! We know from your writings that regular blog updates are close to impossible for y'all at this point in your lives, but do know that you have somewhat of a following amongst wannabe homesteaders/small-scale farmers/whatever you want to call it.

Cheers from Boulder Creek, CA,
Sarah Noce