Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Whole Truth

I was recently questioned why I post some of our negative experiences on our blog.  It sort of caught me off guard.  Was it being implied that I am a whiner?  Because that certainly hasn't been my intention.  Was it out of concern that it may not be good for business?...something I hadn't considered.  Was the blog perceived as being negative?  All of these questions danced around in my head.

The reason I post some of our negative experiences is because I want to be honest.  I want people to have a well rounded idea of our farm life.  Of course we enjoy sharing our positive stories and at the same time we aren't afraid to share our negative experiences.  Raising animals is something our family enjoys.  But animals are living creatures and susceptible to predators, weather, sickness, their own mischief etc... To present ourselves as a perfect farm where nothing goes wrong would be far from the truth.  We want our customers to have a real sense of where their food comes from.  To use the trendy term, we want to be transparent.  Our hope is that we offer the opportunity for people to connect to their food and even us as the farmer, if that is their desire. 

Some of our failures have been from our lack of experience.  We enjoy acquiring our experience.  We were not born into this lifestyle.  Well, Hollie grew up raising apples.  But I think most would agree that is different from raising pigs! : )  There are times I wish I did grow up on a farm.  It would likely mean that I would have inherited the farm or at least have access to it.  That really would have made things easier.  Think about it, little or no mortgage to pay, plenty of equipment, many more years of experience, good sources and contacts, good established farm ground, and family familiar with our operations that could lend a hand when needed.  But at the same time, I know I wouldn't appreciate what we have like I do now.  I also would likely do things the same way my dad had done things which is the way his dad did things.  This is good and bad because I would likely have continued to make the same progress as well as the same mistakes that had been done for generations.  Instead we have tried (or rather been forced) to take a fresh approach.

Some of our success stems from our non agricultural experience.  For example, Hollie has a degree in Business and has worked for several years as an office manager.  This is critical in keeping track of our growing list of customers and our accounting needs.  I have been employed as a business manager for 10 years.  This has given me lots of experience in marketing, customer interaction, dealing with vendors and so forth.

Other failures we have experienced are just part of life.  Even the most experienced professionals encounter new obstacles or are subject to the ever active and evolving world of biology.  Our little farm has its own unique ecosystem that we learn more about every day.  We prepare the best we can and make every effort to learn from past experiences.  It is a journey.  We hope to have more success than failure.  And hopefully sharing this journey with others will contribute to our success as well as the success of others.

As we share bits and pieces of our farm life, keep in mind that what we share is the truth.  How would we be any different from the large factory farms if all we did was portray this mythical nirvana of a farm?  We would be trying to pretend that we were something other than what we are.  We will continue to share our farm experiences both positive and negative.  We will present our farm exactly as it is.  No rose colored glasses, no fluff, and no sugar coating.  Who wants to connect to that?  From us you can expect the whole truth and nothing less.      


Rose said...

Failure is part of the equation. If all you publish is the good part, then you will have beginning farmers who wonder why they fail when you have it so easy. You will have fellow farmers who know you are glossing over the down times. And I think many customers do enjoy hearing the full story. There are many challenges to overcome. Of course, that is what makes it interesting. Having a vast monoculture may have challenges as well, I don't know. The mix and constantly learning new things is what makes me get up each day loving my farm. I enjoy your blog because I can relate to the peaks and the valleys that come with the territory.

Jesse said...

I appreciate the honesty. I would have thought I was doing something wrong and quite by now if I didn't see that it is a struggle for other farms too. :)

I like to think that at some point in the future we'll all be able to look back at these times of struggle and see how it was just a small obstacle on the path that eventually lead to success and sustainability.

Keep up fight.

gerry said...

Having grown up on a dairy farm, I can very much relate to the stories shared on this blog – and I encourage you to continue. As you mention, farming of every type contains many variables and most of them, like the weather, are out of your control. I can remember many a morning waking up to a broken water line in the barn, cows breaking through the fence, dealing with a difficult birth, or weather ruining a crop. When you overcome these obstacles, it is very rewarding. When you don’t, you must learn from your experience and be better prepared for the next day.

We are fortunate to live in a time when farmers such as yourselves are offering locals an alternative to industrialized agriculture. Not only is our health better off for it, but we can also support a local small business! In my case, it brings me back to my roots as I appreciate the direct connection to where my food is produced. If it wasn’t such a long drive to your farm, you might also see me show up on occasion to pitch in (as I did over Thanksgiving at my sister and brother in law)!

Alice said...

I'm glad you share all your experiences, good and bad.

We're so grateful to have a choice- to be able to support the local economy and buy ethically raised animals!

Thanks for all you do!