Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Ten years in the trenches

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, though the story has been going on. It’s also been ten years since I took on running this farm as my primary occupation, an event that deserves at least some remark.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I stand right now. As with most things, my views on farming have evolved with experience and are less likely than ever to fit in with most people’s preconceived notions about an undertaking they know, at best, by proxy.

At its simplest, I still believe passionately in what we are trying to do, but I am less convinced than ever that it can actually be done, mostly because a decade has taught me that our expectations as a society no longer match with what it takes to engage in small-scale agriculture.

Nearly every practitioner of that kind of agriculture I know, including my wife and myself, have had to seek out other forms of employment to cover the financial gaps farming won’t pay. This isn’t just a function of wanting more than we can afford either. Subtracting the cost of operating the farm itself, we literally live below the federal poverty rate, which fact is buttressed only by the fact we grow some portion of our own food.

I don’t say this as a troll for sympathy. Rather, it’s an observation of sheer fact. Despite the fact that every person living needs a farmer to survive, farming itself is a financially losing proposition in America in 2018. Already less that one percent of us do it. Already the average age of a farmer is 58. Already the average farming couple works 2.5 jobs.

I know this all sounds terrible, but I believe somebody has to tell the truth. What sits on your plate any given day has a cost you’re not paying. Those of us stubborn enough to keep doing it pay the difference because we believe in what we do, but sooner or later, passion alone won’t pay the bills. And then what?

In the meantime, we’ll keep trying until the mountain gets too tall to climb and land prices get to the point where the only logical thing to do is sell. The funny part is we’ll probably just buy a smaller place and try again. It’s in our blood that way.

DLH

Read more at my Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater site...

Worldview: And you call yourself independent…

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. — The 9th Amendment to the US Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. — The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution

Once upon a time, the United States was founded on the principle that the best way for people to live was to maximize their liberty and minimize their governments. In an effort to ensure that state of affairs, the founders of the United States crafted a Constitution and ten amendments designed to ensure that the federal government was bounded and that the liberty of the people was unbounded. Certainly, that founding document had glaring flaws, left certain things unresolved, and failed to anticipate things that have since occurred, yet the principle ideal was sound then and is sound now.

At least, it is sound in theory. Unfortunately, over the intervening 235 years, many Americans have decided that the liberty granted them by foresight, determination, and blood was just too much for them. They have traded their liberty for security, are deserving of neither, and have lost both.

Most Americans see no irony in the fact that they have allowed their government to violate the Constitution by allowing it to force them to pay for unemployment security, medical security, and retirement security; every one of which programs are failing to deliver on their promises while simultaneously bankrupting even those who do not want to participate in them.

And that last part is the real rub. Certainly, it is possible under the ideals of liberty for a group to decide to cede their liberty, but what has happened, especially in the last half of the 20th century, is that some groups have  forced all groups to give up liberty.

So, what are you celebrating if you celebrate independence today? How do you exercise your independence–not just the several liberties guaranteed by the amendments but the innumerable ones not enumerated there? If you are dependent on the government can you even celebrate independence?

These are hard things, and they are supposed to be hard. Liberty is hard. Freedom is hard. The things the founders did were hard. The things 235 years worth of patriots did to secure our nation were hard. Now it’s our turn, and if we do not get to work, we are going to lose what they secured for us.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...