There’s something romantic about the outdoors. People going on vacation say they “want to get in touch with nature.” For city folk who spend their hours in front of glowing, blue computer screens, a little time in the country tends to refresh and revitalize.
So obviously, those same city folk probably imagine the life of a farmer is akin to Heaven: waking with the sunrise; lingering over a fresh-brewed cup of coffee as the light hits rows of bright green; petting the dog; and basking in the crisp, clean air …
Ah, yes, so romantic! Living the dream.
But what if those images are completely wrong? What if the white collar idea of “farmer” is nothing more than a warped version of grass-is-always-greener?
We have to face facts: being a farmer is not a Norman Rockwell painting. Being a farmer is hard, demanding work, and all that work can be destroyed by no fault of your own. Consider the dark side of farming …
1. You versus Mother Nature.
You might think she’s a pretty lady in a fairy costume, but to us, she can be one seriously grumpy old bag. Adverse weather can literally destroy a farmer’s livelihood. Plus, yes, butterflies are pretty, but what about aphids or white flies? As an organic farm, we can’t rely on conventional pesticides and herbicides. In extreme cases, a crop can be completely lost to pests. And sometimes, hungry birds just swoop in and pull plants right out of the ground!
2. There’s no such thing as a vacation.
That image of the farmer calmly sipping his morning coffee? Not so much. Taking a day away from animals and crops isn’t an option; without care, these things will die, which means less time for the farmer to spend with family and friends.
You can only talk to your plants so long before people start thinking you’re sort of strange. Seriously, though, farming is a very isolated profession. In the words of farmer Jake, being alone for too long can be downright alienating: “Sometimes you get a little too lost in your own thoughts. Being by yourself, you suffer a disconnect from people.”
4. The Earth is not always your friend.
If the nutrient levels in the soil are even slightly off, a crop will not thrive or may not even grow. Because of this, frequent testing has to be done. Blue Sky pays a scientist who specializes in soil health to keep the soil healthy. But sometimes, things go wrong. Farmer David remembers with horror, “Last year, we voluntarily shut down the entire farm and preformed a recall of all of our produce after we received test results saying we had a conventional pesticide in our soil. It turned out the test was incorrect and had been compromised in the lab, but the financial loss and sleepless nights nearly took us down.”
So okay, it’s not easy being a farmer, but due to love and passion, we do it and will keep doing it.
There’s nothing better than knowing the worth of a good product and being able to share that product with customers. There’s nothing better than hearing, “You have the best produce!” at farmers markets valley-wide. It might not be easy, but easy is overrated. Sometimes the biggest reward comes from hard work, dedication, and dirty boots.
<Photo credit: aivas14 / Flickr>