Sunrise at choretime
I’ve been rather absentee around here, haven’t I? And when I am here I mainly write fluff.
It’s not that there’s nothing to write about. It’s more that we’ve fallen into a rhythm here that’s become semi-conscious, like when you’ve driven the same route to work for so long that some mornings you can’t remember how you got there. It’s a rhythm of morning chores, day job, afternoon chores, supper, homework with the kids, and bed. The rhythm is broken by various kid activities – school open houses, volleyball games, soccer practices. The end of the week is punctuated by 2 farmers markets, still. And somewhere in there we manage (sometimes more successfully than others) to get laundry done and dishes washed and maybe, just maybe, the checkbook balanced.
This time of year, in some ways, is like the top of the inhale. We’re building, building, building to the coming harvest season when we’ll let go of our held breath, a huge sigh of relief at having brought a bevy of animals all the way to butchering time. Of course that sigh of relief gets intertwined with the sigh of regret for those that we weren’t able to get to this point.
In other ways this time of year is the opposite, more like the bottom of the exhale. For me it’s one of the more stressful times, in my position as farm money manager.
Income is at it’s yearly low. In truth this is a good thing, because it means we’ve sold everything we have to sell. It’s always a guess as to how many animals to sell on-the-hoof, and how many to butcher for farmers market and other retail sales. But we hit it pretty much on the mark this year. With 6 Friday’s left at one market, and 4 Saturday’s left at the other, we’ve sold everything but a couple dozen pork roasts, a couple dozen hams, and 3 or 4 dozen chickens.
The question is, did we sell it at a high enough price to cover our costs?
At the same time income is low, expenses are at their yearly high. We’re feeding all of these animals at the peak of their appetites, plus trying to build stores of hay and straw and cornstalks for winter. So we’re exhaling, exhaling, exhaling, hoping we get to butchering (and income) time when we can breathe again, before we turn blue.
My goal is to someday get our cash flow to the point where we’re not robbing our personal savings to keep the farm going. Maybe one of these years it will happen, unfortunately it’s not this year. I admit I get more than a little cranky sometimes, thinking what that money could have done. Vacations not taken, our old farmhouse not to the point of renovation I thought it would be when we moved in 11 years ago. Is it that I believe so much in what we’re doing, or am I simply too stubborn to admit failure?
I hope the jury won’t come back with a verdict on that question just yet, whomever that jury is. Our family? Other bloggers? Other farmers? Friends? Neighbors? I imagine all of these parties to have an opinion on us. For sure some do, others don’t no matter what I think they might be saying about us. But ultimately it comes, each fall, to a meeting of only 2. Farmer and farmer’s wife, in the kitchen of this old farmhouse after the kids are in bed. A meeting that usually includes missed expectations, hurt feelings, some yelling, some tears, and some hope that next year we’ll do better.
Interesting, that hope has so much weight so as to tip the balance away from all those other things and keep us from throwing in the towel for at least 12 more months.
3 years ago:
2 years ago:
1 year ago: