Jude, the Accidental Farmer

Accidental farmer, huh? My Skype name might better be resistant farmer! How it happened that I came to live on 5 acres of property which now contain, a raspberry u-pick, 5 sheep, 40+ laying hens, a huge vegetable garden which I avoid at all costs, and an aged horse living out his days in the lower pasture, I really cannot say. In other words, “damned if I know”!

When my daughter and her husband and I decided to pool our resources and buy a house big enough for the 6 of us, the fact that it was situated on 5 acres  with a huge vegetable garden meant nothing to me. The fact that the previous owners were prepared to hand over to us their successful dog daycare and boarding business did.

I was so excited at the prospect of having an in-home doggy daycare where I would have dogs all around me all day every day, that most of the rest of the details of combining my life with a family of 5 flew completely over my head!

We had agreed to keep the 30+ laying hens that were in residence just to see how we felt about continuing to sell and enjoy super-fresh eggs.

Needless to say, that oversight cost me dearly in terms of adjustment, angst and anxiety. Eight months after we all moved in together, I collapsed in a heap of pain and immobility.

That was the wakeup call that lead to discussions of things like: Who does what? My participation on the vegetable garden…none. Cleaning this rather large house…can you even imagine the drifts of dog hair that accumulate in a day? Could we consider closing on e weekend a month? Could we change the meal prep arrangement?

It turns out that my son-in-law, Lee, is a farmer. Who knew? He’s been a lighting man in the movie industry as long as I ‘ve known him. He still is, but the lure of the earth and the potential of 5 cleared acres stirred something in his soul.

He wanted to provide good food for his family (and possibly his community) so the vegetable garden developed and grew into a co-op, he added a small flock of sheep including Willy, the ram. Willy doesn’t live here anymore  (have you ever tried to co-exist peacefully with a ram?) but we still have ewes and lambs.

Then came the meat birds and being inclined to provide the best possible environment for all livestock, Lee built rolling pens so they could have fresh grass and bugs for their 8-9 week existence.

He found a hole in my resistance when he asked if I could help with the processing of the first 140 birds. I agreed to be at the processing table at 6 a.m. and proudly joined the ‘evisceration team’! What’s more I did it again the next year when the numbers doubled. Clearly, this is the part of farming I find tolerable. Perhaps it’s because I like to eat?

At no time in my life was being a farmer on my bucket list although I will admit that at one time I thought a farm vacation might be fun.

Fun? Perhaps for a vacation but it’s still not a lifestyle I would choose.

Six years on…

The old horse still hangs out in the lower field with his buddies the sheep and the tenants’ dog (oh, did I forget to tell you that we now have a couple who live with their dog in their tiny house in the lower field?).The raspberry u-pick produces abundantly each July thanks to the ministrations of Farmer Lee in February. I love the zucchini from the garden which I will go and pick despite having had no part in its cultivation. Several flocks of hens later, we still sell and enjoy super-fresh eggs. The ewes leave today for their annual conjugal visit and while they are away their offspring will find their way to the freezer. There will be more lambs in the spring. We have processed over 400 meat birds and 20+ turkeys and the doggy daycare and boarding that had me in its thrall right from the get-go, flourishes under my daughter’s ownership. I assist when I am here but that’s not often as I found my way out of having to resist farming by becoming a house and pet sitter.

Accidental farmer? You bet! Resistant farmer? Also true. Proud chicken eviscerator? Yes sirree. I wear that badge proudly!

Jude, the proud eviscerator!

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