Next year

Can I put my byline somewhere on these, or … ???

HEY! I’m still no longer am employed as a journalist. My former Workdad sent me an email the other day. He didn’t write to tell me that, but, I mean, sometimes I forget how far my star has fallen. It’s been more than a year now since I the pulled the trigger on Fulltime Homestead Transition. And can you believe that I’m blogging less? ;)

My absence is a real shame (ALWAYS!) because I’ve learned more this year than I have learned during all the years of my pathetic existence combined. I could have passed that savings onto you.

But I didn’t. Craaaaaap.

In case you weren’t clued in by the pig semen discussions on my Facebook wall, my transformation is nearly complete. I am emotionally unrecognizable to my former colleagues. I come up for air long enough to make fun of Mitt or to check out the Dipsatch when someone texts me saying that John Kasich is out in Reynodlsburg building an exotic zoo or something, but for the most part, I am completely disconnected from all things daily and Ohio and political. I probably will regret that one day. But not these days.

These days, I am working so hard that I long for the sweet taste of death by exhaustion at age 40. There is a correlation I had not been made aware of until recently: Each additional galaxy you can spot with your naked eye on a clear summer night requires corresponding hours of physical labor per star. It’s kind of refreshing, following a starless, sedentary life for the first 28 years of my life.

Red Swan Beans are one of many things on the ranch that require standing.

The culture out here is surprisingly fast – everybody wants more animals, more land, more rows of corn, better fences, bigger grain storage, bigger tractors, more implements YESTERDAY … although there is a great deal of lag time between acquiring these things and eating the food that all of it is used to make. It takes at least two years to get beef. And that’s just from the first day the baby calf puts his little hooves on the ground. Don’t even get me started on the time requirement of rhubarb pie. Or sauerkraut. I’m looking at you, parmesan cheese!!

Planning meetings for this salad began in 2011.

Maybe that’s part of the urgency. We better start now if we want to eat in five years! But I still can’t figure out the phenomenon where we all talk about the prices of things all the time.

For some reason, the sole icebreaker out here is the cost of the things. How much did you pay for that fence charger/non-GMO grain/piglet/seed/pressure canner/feeder? In the city, no one talks about how much money they spent on things within eyesight. Even broke-ass journalists. But out here, that is like the first thing anyone ever talks about. Sometimes the only thing. I guess everyone is looking for a good deal. So if I come to the city and start asking how much your patio furniture costs, that is why. Oh. And I automatically start setting up the outdoor Obama effigy pretty much everywhere I go. Sorry. I’m not trying to be rude. I’ve assimilated.

That said, I believe it would be advantageous if the farm section of Craigslist was open only from noon to three. Limited access for farmsteading types could save a lot of productivity. Maybe it would cool the fire a bit. Because eighteen months ago I had one goat, and now I have 2 cows, 2 soon-to-be-steers, 9 pigs, 6 chickens … Clearly I have been swept up in the rural tide. I’m constantly talking about “next year,” where we do it bigger, better, more efficiently. With better fences and bigger feed bills. It’s just that there is so much to learn and do and try and there are eggs in the incubator that need to be flipped! And the prospect of growing almost all our own food is within reach! We might even be able to grow more food for OTHER families!

Next year we will have 100.

But, as a warning, I’ve come to the realization that you must devote your entire life to this addiction. No vacations!!! Otherwise, if you want good food, you have to pay people like me to stay roped into the lifestyle while you see a coast or two a couple times per year. Otherwise, you could just go to the grocery store. That’s fine, too. It is whatever you want! There is room for all!! It’s a wonderful world!

These apples cost me zero dollars. You won’t be so lucky.

The most practical lessons of the year came in the following order: Parenting, garden pests (good bugs v bad bugs), cooking, preserving, cheesemaking, home appliance repair, pasture/grass nutrition for animals, artificial insemination, auction buying, cuts of meat and – oh! The selling! Of the veggies! – I learned so much about selling vegetables and meat. Mostly what NOT to do.

Actually, I didn’t really learn anything about selling meat because I posted the word “bacon” on Facebook twice and reserved all my piglets, so. I anticipate harder times ahead. Also: Roasts. I know a lot more about cooking a good roast now than I did in 2011. Seth thanks me for not ruining perfectly good hunks of meat on a regular basis. That, and Havarti dill. Those were my biggest accomplishments in the kitchen.

Food comes in a variety of colors. WHO KNEW?!

Gawdgolly, I wish I had remembered to write down all my “ah-ha!” moments for the next guy. I suspect I will not be the last person to abandon a career for … well … whatever this is. A very expensive course in How to Keep Yourself and Your Family Alive Without Leaving The House EVAR 101, considering feed and hay prices are literally the highest they have been ever in the history of ever. Sigh.

But I was too busy parenting, gardening, squashing squash bugs, caring for pregnant animals, caring for newborn animals, making cheese, milking cows and selling vegetables to record this for the Internet.

Missed opportunities.

Next year. NEXT YEAR!

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