Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Need for Balance

I am not sure why I thought that this would not be the case, but I am quickly learning that life on the farm is full of the same lessons that I learned in the “real world.” Perhaps they are more poignant and noticeable in the situation that I am in here at the farm, but they are the same lessons. Take, for example, one of the first “rules” that I learned here at the farm: Have Priorities. Being the perfectionist that I am, it was difficult and stressful for me to learn that there is only so much time in a day and too many things to do. I don’t have to make too much of a leap to extend this to other areas of “real life,” which undoubtedly require us to have priorities.

The lesson that I have been learning recently here at the farm is the need for balance. This applies to many aspects of life here. For example, we have to be balanced in our approach to raising animals “naturally.” What does that even mean? For us, it means raising our animals in such a way that they can express their natural characteristics and thrive off of their surroundings with as little help and input as possible from us, the farmers. For this reason, we don’t give the sows farrowing huts, because we want them to develop the genetics to birth and raise piglets without them. In some cases, this has been a really hard decision to make. Many of the Berkshire sows that we have lack the natural mothering characteristics that we believe need to a part of our animal’s genetics, and many of them have lost full litters in a matter of days. The response for many people in this situation would be to just give them farrowing huts and that would solve the problem. Perhaps it would, but we would never be giving these animals the chance to develop the characteristics they need to survive and reproduce naturally. On the other hand, we have to remember that this farm is trying to mimic natural processes and that these are not wild animals. The cows and chickens are given a chance to express their natural tendencies, but they are still managed by us. So we have to remain balanced in our approach to taking care of these animals. We want to take care of them and protect them, but we also want to encourage them to develop natural characteristics.

In the same way, I have been learning a lesson about balance for myself. Somewhat foolishly I decided to take my one day off last week driving 8 hours in a 24 hour span to go visit some friends up in NC for an Oktoberfest/Self-Sufficiency celebration they were having at their house. While I had a great time getting to visit with old friends and learning how to make sausage and apple cider, I did not get good rest and take the time to prepare for the week ahead. By failing to balance work with rest, I set myself up for a very hard next couple of days. In addition, I spent most of my day Tuesday running around trying to get things done and didn’t spend any time recovering from my weekend. Finally, nature or providence has caught up with me as I was forced to take another day off today because I got sick, probably with a mild case of food poisoning but I am not sure. Hopefully the rest that I have gotten today will leave me more prepared to take on the work that we have the rest of the week and Farm School this weekend, an event where we will have 25 aspiring farmers here all day Saturday to learn about our farming methods. Either way, I have learned my lesson about balance and look ahead to the many things that I will have to learn in my farming experience.

Meal(s) of the Week(s)
Top: Made from scratch wheat pancakes with
Nature's Harmony honey, Ossabaw sausage, and coffee.
Below: Slow-roasted sirloin with sweet potatoes,
risotto bianco, green beans, and homemade salsa with chips.
(not pictured: sauteed okra with oven-roasted tomatoes)

Amos with some homemade sausage at Oktoberfest 2009


  1. Kerry, I don't know if I'll ever learn as much as you will in this short year.

  2. i would put that ossabaw sausage in cheese grits next time. mmm.. delicious. Aunt jan tells me that y'all had a waiting list of 100 for your turkeys. yee haw!
    Sorry you got sick... hope the Farm school went well. I'm going to call you soon and hear all about it.