"Why do you do this?"

October 2011


Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to share information about the farm with many folks including customers, researchers, food editors, sustainable farming writers, etc. A question that always comes up is, “Why?” “Why did I choose to farm? Why do I continue to choose to farm? Why am I motivated to do this?” These questions come after all of the “how” questions; “How are the chickens rotated to new pasture? How are the eggs washed? How are the hogs loaded for processing?” The order in which these questions come has always been amusing to me…as if after understanding “how” I run the farm, the next logical question is “why”…as in, “Why on earth would a rational, sane person capable of doing anything else choose this?” In the busy season I don’t often have time to reflect on this question, but now, when the farm is in its winter rest, answering this question is a good exercise to go through before sitting down to plan out the upcoming growing season.


So…here goes…


Farming allows for a fulfilling lifestyle, rich in simple pleasures.


With farming, if I did the same thing the same way every year, with all the variables out of our control, the results would never be the same. The farm offers me a constant dose of humility.


I love being accountable for what I get done in a day, and sometimes, what I don’t. There is no punching a time clock or pushing work off on the next shift, as I am the next shift!


I love waking up in the morning with a plan for what needs to be done that day, and part of me loves when things don’t go as planned, as it forces me to adapt, think outside the box, and grow in my knowledge base.


I love the simple gift of nurturing the animals on the farm, seeing that their needs are met, that they are thriving, and as silly as it may sound, that they are happy.


Strangely, I love taking animals to be processed. Let me explain, when I decide to take on the responsibility of raising an animal, I do so with a commitment to provide for its needs until processing time. When I take an animal to be slaughtered, I do so knowing that I have made good on my end of the deal, that I have done right by them. There is a very raw sense of fulfillment in that.


I love orchestrating an improvement to the land. Enhancing soil fertility, forage quality, microbial activity, and so on, all by the management practices that are implemented is a true measure of our success.


I am blessed beyond measure by my friends and family, who through their commitment make what I do here possible. How sweet it is to share work you enjoy with people you treasure.


The community of customers, farmers, chefs, and business owners I have become a part of has enriched my life abundantly. At the start of a new season I want to pause a moment to say thank you for being a part of the “why”.