There is always a crisis: A story about the less glamourous side of farming

The title of this post is a little tidbit of wisdom shared with me by a much more experienced farming friend from BC.

A little history…it was the summer of 2009, which was my first year farming at our old farm. Our friend, who happens to have an awesome pasture raised poultry farm, was headed on his annual family vacation and asked me to take care of his farm for a week or so while they were away. I was thrilled and jumped at the chance to hang out with their hundreds of chickens, turkeys and various other farm animals. I was new to the poultry game, so it took a little bit to get used to the birds and 100 pound bins of feed that I had to tote around, but everything was going great. Until…one night, after spending all day at my desk job, then at my own farm harvesting for the market, then back to his farm to feed the horses and check on the birds, then back to my own farm to finish off harvesting I was finally getting to sleep around 11:30 when the thunder and lightning started. I laid in bed for a bit, listening to the rain pound down on the roof and then the wind howling in the trees…after about 15 minutes, I begrudgingly decided go back out and make sure those silly chickens made it inside the barn (they were allowed free access to the inside and outside all day and night). What I found when I went out was more than just a few soggy chickens… the chicken’s outdoor shelter had been picked up by the wind and had blown up on top of the horse barn! From where I was sitting, the shelter looked fairly mangled, but perhaps salvageable. So after an hour chasing 50 or so wet chickens inside the barn, I climbed up the side of the barn and pushed the shelter back down to the ground. It all ended up being fine…the shelter was easily fixed, no chickens died, and nothing was harmed other than my beauty sleep.

When my friend got home from his trip, I told him about my horrible night  in the storm, along with various other stories about chickens and turkeys escaping from their pastures and he merely shrugged and said “You’ll learn Amy…In farming, there is always a crisis”.

And so, we have learned over time, that this is true. A few (now almost laughable) examples of farm crises of the past…

Having our hoophouse plastic torn off EVERY time Patrick went out of town for the night…resulting in several panicked phone calls between business partners (at our old farm) and several nights off ruined.

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Crap.

Having our tractor stolen, last November, in the middle of the night…never to be seen again. This was quite sad at the time, but we now see it as the event that instigated a whole chain of events that led to us being here in Ontario this season.

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Little Benny was a great tractor!

And more recently…

Putting up our entire hoophouse and then realizing that we forgot the bracing along the bottom – A fix that would require us to unbolt the hoophouse from the anchors, likely stripping the bolts in the process.

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The jury is still out on what we’re going to do about that. I am favouring some kind of improvisation, whereas Pat is considering the proper fix.

Our new walk behind tractor developing a major oil leak (which was quite concerning) on the day that was scheduled for prepping the soil for planting 2000 strawberry plants in the ground (strawberry crowns don’t like to wait around for these type of things).

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This crisis was solved by our friendly BCS dealer. Thank goodness!

And most recently…coming home after Sunday night Mother’s Day dinner in Toronto to discover that our tomatoes that, in addition to being freezing cold due in the May blizzard, were being killed, one by one, by crane fly larvae (a common lawn pest) that had crawled through the pots that had been left and on ground in the hoophouse…and then spending the next two hours picking worms off the remaining plants, still dressed in our Sunday best.

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Delightful little things aren’t they?

These are just a very select few examples of the “crises” that we have come to deal with in our careers as farmers. In fact these little setbacks happen so often, that we don’t really think of them much as crises, but more as ongoing milestones that we must to pass on our way to becoming better at what we do. As time goes on, we are more readily shrugging off the small stuff, learning from our bonehead mistakes, constantly readjusting our priorities based on the needs of the farm at the time and realizing that so much of what happens on a farm on a day to day basis is determined by mother nature.

Don’t get me wrong though, we are certainly not immune to hardship, and there are times when the trials and tribulations of farming have gotten the better of us. In these moments of weakness, it helps to think that however big the crisis seems to be, the plants always tend to grow and are incredibly resilient, the sun will always come out at some point, and that this life we’ve chosen is worth every little bump in the road that we’ve encountered thus far.

With that being said… I am not going to pretend that I didn’t cry a few tears after we finished up 1:30 am last night, only to find that Layla used one of my favourite summer ballet flats as her chew toy while we were out on worm duty.

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Grrr! It’s a good thing we love her so much.

Thanks to you for reading about the less glamourous side of our farm…it helps to know that there are people like you who care 🙂

Until next time,

Amy

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