For some reason this topic has been resonating in my head for the past week. I would imagine this is because spring is coming and I have so many things that I am working on, and almost none of them provide that feeling of instant gratification. In fact, most farm-related activities do not provide that feeling. I think this is something, especially in this day in age where technology allows for instant contact, access, and gratification for many things, that deters many folks from farming and traditional methodologies in general.
Time. Farming takes time. Whether you’re raising chicks or eggs or growing crops or animals to slaughter, almost nothing during farming is instantaneous. I started some seeds this week, and of course they’re taking their sweet time to sprout. Am I worried? No. Is this normal? Yes. When working on a relationship with nature, one is forced to slow down and remember that success does not come instantly. When I breed rabbits, I have to wait a month for offspring. When I plant new trees, I have to wait months or even years for a yield. When I purchase meat chicks, I have to wait weeks for them to be able to butcher.
Even the daily chores associated with farming and upkeep of a farm seldom provide an instant outcome. I have been cutting English Ivy off of our trees, the ivy takes time to shrivel up and die before you can see the difference. Digging holes for the fruit trees took time, and then I added some aged straw, weeks before we actually planted the trees. I finally got my second row of cages hung in the rabbitry expansion, but even this is not finished, as I still have to add a watering system and feeders.
Farming is a process. It’s not like baking a cake, it takes time; more like aging fine wine. That’s what makes it so sweet when you are successful, the time it took and the hours you put into it. That’s also what makes failure so much more painful, the time it took and the hours you put into it. That’s why when one of my rabbits loses a litter or ends up not pregnant, I feel very disappointed. That’s why when we lose a chicken or even the herbs in the herb planter that it leaves me unsettled and upset.
I think that many people are turned off to farming simply because the large amount of time and input often is not worth the output to most folks. However, this is exactly why I love farming! I love working hard for an outcome. I love taking time every day to make sure the chickens are healthy and fed and can provide us with eggs. I love breeding and raising rabbits, and planting veggies, and farm upkeep. The gratification may not be instantaneous, but it does exist and it makes me feel so much more powerful and accomplished than baking a cake ever has. If I had one piece of advice for anyone delving into the world of farming, I would say this: take your time. Start small, pick 1 or 2 things that interest you, and learn them, really really well. Expand slowly and keep learning and improving as you go. Eventually you’ll get to the point that the gratification starts pouring in, whether it’s your first egg or your first cucumber off the vine you started from seed, or your first hog gone to butcher. Trials and tribulations exist, and they make a successful outcome that much sweeter.
The above set of photos shows our ex-pig pen with our new fruit trees planted. They’re difficult to see, but we ended up with 2 apple trees (Granny Smith, Pink Lady), a pear (Improved Keffir), peach (Babcock), and American Elderberry. We also added 2 cabernet sauvignon grape vines, and 4 each of blackberry & raspberry bushes. The little yellow tags show our baby trees. I hope they thrive in their new home!