by Lynn Miller
Inertia: It’s more important than most of us imagine. Right now we are struggling on the ranch with a damaged irrigation system. Lightning took out the well pump motor and panel. Lot’s of work and expense to get it replaced with fingers crossed that insurance will cover it all. And now the county is dragging their feet to send out an inspector so we can turn the power back on. Up til this happened we had an outstanding spring with tremendous results. Hope abounded that this would be a great summer on the ranch; then the breakdowns. Now the hay crop burns up in the field and it’s all I can do to manage my depression over it all. It makes me just want to say “what’s the use” and take long naps. But that is worse than bad. That’s the death of inertia. The way I stay ahead of farming’s calamitous nature is to keep working, keep the projects flowing, stay out ahead of myself. Late in the evening is time enough to measure how these things can sometimes result in better days and ways. Right now, its time to repair a gate, fix the buckrakes, tighten up that wheel-line motor, put a new throat-latch on Prince’s bridle, and grease the implements. Right now its time to stay ahead of the game, stay ahead of the farming, because it will always get better.
Irrigation system back up now for just over a week. Repaired a couple of gates and put in a new corner fence. Weather has turned to glorious perfect summer and the grass, tomatoes, mint, brussels sprouts, baby peacocks and young horses are growing full blast. With any luck we’ll get our old house repainted soon and continue with farming and construction. Glad to be on the thankful side of fortunate.
Work you love: Yesterday I had a root canal redone. Nasty stuff. They said I might not be up to much for days or more. But the ranch is a steady drumbeat of work, most of which I love, and it helps me to forget minor pains and discomforts. That’s the ticket, really, work you love. Work that calls on you to get it done. Worked one of the young gelding teams today, hauling fence posts, mostly just wanted them to get legs back under them for the mowing that should commence full force next week. The horse work helped me to put the bad taste out of my mouth that came from arguing with an insurance adjuster about whether or not they were going to pay for the irrigation repairs. Tomorrow with any luck I’ll have both teams going through their paces. Yo ho, yo ho, the farmer’s life for me.
What’s a Small Farm Anyway? Couple of days ago I had to drive over the Cascade mountains to pickup an old piece of farm equipment I had purchased. Had me driving through parts of the Willamette valley I hadn’t been to in years. I saw several dozen new “small” farms – small in acreage – hosting vineyards, nurseries, wineries, and market gardens. Most were fancy places which seemed well-oiled and somewhat free of the usual struggles for new farming ventures. Gave me pause to wonder how these folks will contribute to their communities, how they’ll fit along side the usual run of hard scrabble farmers. That forty acre farm that has been built over night with tens of millions of dollars in the operating fund, how does it fit against that 60 acre goat dairy that was built from three families pooling their hard work and life savings ($65,000 towards land, livestock, seed, equipment, etc.)? How will those folks sit together at school board meetings, church socials, and summer picnics? Do they have more in common than not?
Yesterday took young four year old gelding team out for first time on mower. Dancing on toes in the beginning but listening and responding all the while, we settled down to mow for two miles before I noticed that one of the collars was aggravating the horse. Took them back to the barn to be refitted. All of it reminded me of the value of solid foundation in the training. These two youngsters behaved admirably. And, I think, so did I giving patience the upper hand.