There was a lady at the farmer's market that we go to that asked me why my meat was more than the meat at Wal-Mart...she honestly thought that all I did was take the animals that my animals gave birth to on our farm, to market. After all, these animals don't cost me anything right? First of all, comparing my meat to what WalMart offers is apples and oranges. I don't know where their meat comes from, and don't like how most of it was raised or processed but she doesn't realize this and was asking an honest question because in her mind, Old MacDonald’s Farm is an actual place.
Yesterday was the perfect day to ponder this question and set the record straight. My day started with a phone call from the bank about a customer that had bounced a check thereby requiring me to come up with enough money to cover it. A phone call to the customer comes up as a disconnected number. Shortly after that, while doing chores, one of my pigs was starting to farrow. This heat has been brutal on them and of the 15 babies that she had, four lived. Heat for two to three weeks before farrowing will result in a higher percentage of stillborn babies. Our heat indexes have been in the 100's for the past several weeks. There is not much I can do about the weather and so I watch with a heavy heart as my poor Charlene passes stillborn piglet after stillborn piglet while rejoicing as the 4 living babies root for Mom's milk. After two hours of this I am covered in anything BUT clean new overalls. It is still in the lower 90's.
Meanwhile, in the backyard pasture I have been trying to train my goats to stay behind an electric netting fence so that I can move them from place to place while keeping them safe and in one area. I have found that they tend to leap forward as the shock from the fence hits them. The fact that it is net should give you pictures of goats tangled in a web, much like fishing net catches fish. Because of this reaction, I must unplug the fencer each time so that my nets don't continue to shock the trapped goat. They say that goats train to this type of fencing quickly..."they" are wrong. I sat there all day long in the heat plugging in and unplugging the fencer, fixing my broken net and getting loose goats back in confinement...in the heat...in my not so clean overalls wiping the sweat off of my face with my token little hanky. Three days of trying and they still weren't getting the hint. A good friend of mine came over and helped me get the message across to them. I don't want to go into how we did it but I am fairly certain that my goats consider me insane and stayed away from the fence for protection from the crazy lady on the other side of it.
In my poultry run, I find that 3 of my smaller turkeys are missing...pulled under the fence by a "cute, fuzzy little raccoon" that has decided that my poultry house is its own special little grocery store. So I set live traps.
In the pasture, my cows munch on grass as the calf lays in the shade nearby. That is until some idiot in an airplane decided to "buzz" my place and send them in a panic through a fence into the neighbors property. I have one bunch of frightened cows to round up and another fence to fix. When rounding them up and getting them back into their pasture, I come across a cloud of biting gnats. I am bit in places that I am too embarrassed to scratch and if the pilot does it again, I swear that I will bring one of his wings in for identification!
While making supper I check my emails. The man with the bounced check has written apologizing. He has hit upon hard times...alot of people have. He says that he will make it right. I choose to believe him. I have been there and it isn't a comfortable place to be.
I going to have to hussle to get to my paying job at 8pm.
All of this happens in one day and not all days are like this, of course. Some days are better, some worse.
Needless to say hobby farms are so named not because they are a hobby as such but because according to the IRS, we don't make enough money to live on. By the time I buy fencing, build or repair buildings and sheds, buy feed and give bedding to my animals and provide them with the best environment that I can, each of my pigs could never have litters large enough to cover it all and I don't expect them to. I do chores at least twice a day in rain or shine, 100F degree days and -30F days. I haul hay to bunks and buckets of water in the winter. I check and repair fence, trap predators and put up hay in summer.
My animals count on me for food, shelter and protection from idiots in airplanes and cute fuzzy raccoons. I count on them to help me provide clean and healthy meats for my family and our customers. This blog is not a pity party for me but to help people understand what the "hobby" farmers go through to provide people with good food that comes straight from the local farm and not hundreds of miles away (or more). You have to love this life or you just couldn't bring yourself to do it day in and day out but it can be disheartening and exhausting.
Tomorrow will be a whole new day. I will get home from work in the morning, do chores and check my baby pigs and my traps. I will move my goats to the electric netting fence again and then take a nap before I start all over again. Tomorrow will be a different day. I probably even catch myself humming a few bars of Old MacDonald had a farm because now I can't get that song out of my head...EIEIO