OK, I will admit it, 2011 was rough. More then once, I came very close to selling off all of the livestock, letting the grass grow over the garden and calling it quits. Really. I was frustrated and depressed about the future of small farming and of my small farm in particular.
I was talking about quitting to my hay man, a dairy farmer around the corner from me, and he said, "But what would you do?" I gave him a laundry list of all of the various positions that I had held over the years and he just looked at me and repeated his question. Then I knew what he meant. What would I do NOW, in this economy? Would it be meaningful or just a job? And would it make one iota of difference in a world that needs people who want to make a difference?
Luckily, I am stubborn and I do not give up easily and I REALLY believe in what I am doing. I believe that our systems of farming have to change in order for us to have safe, nutritious, humanely raised food. I believe that we need to leave the land better then we found it and not poison it and use up every bit of resources that it has to offer. I believe that animals harvested for food should be treated with respect and reverence for what they provide us. I also believe that we need to teach others how to farm this way so that good farming practices don't die again. We need to bring our communities back together and start helping one another again as neighbors like we used to do before people started coming home and shutting out the world around them.
I love the animals and the land. I love growing good food for people. Yes, I need to sell the products from the farm in order to keep the farm going, but I also want the farm to give back more and more each year in other ways too. I want to have more people out to the farm and to have more discussions about why this type of farming is important. I want to spend more time teaching and sharing. I also want to start a "grow a row" program where we find needy families with children in the community and supply them with fresh produce for a season and perhaps even with the seeds and knowledge to grow some of their own food.
I believe that our lives should be about more then trying to see who can make the most money and acquire the most stuff. I believe that there are riches far greater then those that can be deposited in a bank account. A new year and a renewed enthusiasm for the safe, delicious food that this little farm can produce is spread before us. I look forward to sharing great food and my love of farming with all of you in 2012!