Monday, July 7, 2008

Farming with Nietzche

"Was mich nicht umbrignt, macht mich starker."
(What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.)

-Frederich Nietzche, 1888

Well, the big news from our farm is that we are going to be having to move in the not too distant future.  We have been fortunate to have over five great years here on this beautiful and historic property in Seaside, Oregon, but times and needs change.  We do not own the land we live and work on, we have been renting it, which is not necessarily a bad thing, many farmers do quite well on land that they rent.   Sadly, we have just not been able to work out a good long term arrangement for keeping our home and farm business here in a way that would allow it to grow and prosper in the way we believe it should, and give us the kind of long term security we need.  Our farm has reached a point where we need to expand in order to survive.  We want to plant more of everything- more flowers for cutting, more catnip, (Eddie the Cat is so excited), more herbs, and also more edible stuff- blueberries, fruit trees, annual and perennial vegetables. We want to keep chickens for fresh eggs, and begin trying to meet the demand for fresh, local produce and flowers that is strong in our community, and only growing stronger. All of these plans are just not possible where we are now, so we need to find our own farm now.

I'll be honest, it's pretty scary out there in the real estate market for a couple of small farmers with big plans and small savings.  We somehow didn't get the part of the farming plan where you are supposed work for years in the high tech industry first, retire early, cash in your stock options and then buy a place to farm with lots of nice capital in the bank to get you started.  We thought the whole 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps/building slowly and steadily/learn as you go/ hard work' farm model was the way to do it.  Boy is that a tough lesson to learn.  But I am optimistic, and I believe that our way has taught us many invaluable lessons that will make our new farm stronger and more sustainable.

The challenges of the last few years have been daunting, but like our friend Mr. Nietzche observed,  they have not destroyed us, and we are stronger for the experiences.  Or we will be stronger if we can just make it over this last hurdle, the one that has us trying to buy a new farm in the middle of our busy market season.  Neither of us has ever purchased property before, so that makes for a nice steep learning curve right there.  Then add in that we are trying to buy it as part of our farm business, so that means polishing up the old business plan, working on projected future earnings, and trying to figure out just how much of a down payment we can come up with, and it is all keeping our heads spinning.  It is challenging to keep my brain in bookkeeping mode when all I really want to do is focus on transplanting and weeding and seed starting and watering and harvesting and deadheading.  Hard to be trying to choose which is more important, working on the things that will keep giving us income right now, and thus keep our farm alive, or work on things that will hopefully mean our farm will live beyond this year.  Because unless I can figure out a way to stop needing to sleep, there just isn't always time for both!

But we keep working to find the time, because this is important to us.  We believe in what we are doing, and want to keep on doing it, and expand to make it even better.  We have a great vision for our new farm, which I will share in another post soon.  

We have had such phenomenal response to our 'Help Us Find a New Farm' sign that we have up at our market booth.  All of our customers have turned into real estate agents, scouring the north coast for likely farm properties.  We have one in our sights that offers so much of what we want, and even more, with a few quirky challenges to make it interesting.  We are working like crazy to get all the paperwork stuff sorted out so that we can make an offer on it, but it is good to know that there are backup options out there as well.

It is very heartwarming to hear so many people say that they want us to keep going, and that they are keeping us in their thoughts, and wishing us all the best.  We have a lot of people saying prayers for us to find a new farm soon, which is an odd sensation, and a very nice one.  It helps me get through the difficult moments of massive insecurity about it all.

Local farms are a good thing for any community, and I think more and more people are realizing it.  We are lucky to live in such a great area, where people value such things, and we will do all we can to keep farming alive in our county.   Keep your fingers crossed for us, and send good thoughts our way if you can, we need all the help we can get right now.