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Thursday, July 20, 2006


Sometimes farming sucks. It is hot and very very humid, you have to do hard physical work, things are not selling and than your main fridge breaks with over $1000 worth of produce in it.

That's been the past couple of days.

We have this rather large commercial fridge which has been making loud noises for several months. Eugene diagnosed the noise as the fan by the compressor unit being badly out of center and though he had fixed the problem. it is true that the noise had gotten quieter. But this morning he noticed that the fridge was making weird noises so he went and shut it down and checked the compressor and found that the fan had lost a blade (i.e. it was shot). So we call Lowman's Heating and they will be out later today (at least we have found a local company that will deal with commercial equipment which is a good thing and we will likely be using these guys to install a furnace for the house sometime this summer).

Normally having a broken fridge would be worrisome but not horribly stressful but yesterday we bought a whole lot of produce to sell at the store (sweet corn mainly) from a not certified organic farm near St Paris, OH so we have a fridge full of sweet corn and lots of other produce that needs to stay cold (and by full I mean we cannot put anything else in there until things get sold-it's packed tight). The upside to this is the fridge is packed with produce that did manage to get cold yesterday and as long as we don't open the doors things should stay around 55˚F until the unit gets fixed later this morning (assuming, over night, the broken fan did not cause the whole compressor unit to fail and a part needs to be ordered meaning we have no fridge for the weekend).

On the corn we ordered a lot of corn-50 dozen- and some way huge cabbages (they are the size of basketballs-I was expecting something smaller) and a few other items that all came in yesterday. Because we had a lot of corn we opened the store up (normally we are open Thursday and Sundays) and managed to sell 4 dozen ears and 1 cabbage. This caused us a great deal of stress figuring out where to put all the produce so it would stay cold and not rot on us (otherwise we get to spend several hundred dollars on compost ingredients). So around 8pm we were trying to get everything in the fridge, it was hot and humid, we were stressed and we had not eaten much all day so were literally starving (farming takes a lot of calories and when you also are dealing with your body having to cool itself as well you can get into a physical bind). By 10pm we were eating hamburgers from locally raised pastured beef and sweet corn (which is excellent corn). Than went to bed around 11:30pm so we could be up by 6am (really need to get up earlier but we need at least 6 hours of sleep to function).

I guess it is not all bad we have a beautiful farm, the garden is doing quite well, our sales at the farmers' markets are great and we are getting some help out here. But anyone who thinks that sustainable farming is all fun has not farmed for a living. Farming is hard work with long hours often under adverse conditions and the pay is crap. Even us organic farmers who seem to be charging an arm and a leg for our food are not making big bucks. What you are paying is what it costs for us to make a living wage (or something kind of close to it-we ain't getting rich).

To all you farming wannabes, you folks that have this insane romantic image of farming as being stress free and fun I suggest working full time on a farm for a full season before jumping in. You may find you do not like the grueling schedule, the stress, the sore muscles or the fact if you have livestock you cannot do things like leave for more than 18 hours or take a vacation ever (unless you can find a competent farm sitter and those are about as common as hens teeth). When you choose to farm you will end up married to the farm and all its inhabitants and they will demand all of your time.

Farmers reading this know what I am talking about.

1 comment:

Chandira said...

Aw!! I hope things get better for you!!! Sounds tough. I know our Zookeeper in CA feels like that about the Zoo sometimes, even though he loves all the inhabitants like his own children. It is tough.

Thanks for being real. I like posts like this, as I can't stand that old line, 'Hi, how are you?' 'Great, thanks!'.. so superficial.

Wishing you all the best...

And you can expect the craziness to even out a little in a week, as Mercury (planet of dodgy electrical equipment, missed phone calls and having to do things twice) goes direct again then. Things'll get better...

And you'll have a great fridge that works now.

I always wish I lived by you so I could buy some nice stuff. I do suppot our farmers' market here in Seattle though.