Draggin’

Here it is the beginning of July and I’m dragging instead of running. I’ve had a flare-up with my Crohns the past few days and just can’t get much accomplished when I’m sick and hurting. Over the past few years I’ve learned to live with it, but I’ll never quit hating this disease. As long as I don’t eat I can take it. I’m weak and the pain is pretty bad, but I’m tough. I can take it and pretty much bluff my way through it. After so long with no food I get too weak though and will have to eat, and if I eat it gets bad. So bad it doubles me over in pain, it feels like rats inside me eating their way out. It takes my breath and I can’t help tearing up and sometimes i want to scream. It’s bad. I try to eat and before I can finish a plate of food I have to excuse myself and run for the restroom. Sometimes I even make it. It is so embarrassing and it truly keeps me from having any quality of life when it happens. It makes me ashamed to go anywhere or be around anyone. I’m always scared I will have an accident. Luckily, with proper diet and luck, I can control it to a point and the flare-ups seem to come less often than in the past. I’m not complaining. Lots of folks have bigger problems. But it sure isn’t pleasant.

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I started working on a special rabbit hutch this week for my friend Pat since I couldn’t leave the house. She needs a very large one because she has Flemish Giants and she spoils all her critters. They are already in a cage that most would consider adequate. This one I’m building out of lumber off the sawmill, all custom cuts. It will be eight feet long and three feet wide when I’m done. Between the storms and the Crohns I haven’t been able to finish it, but I’ve got the base ready and most of the frame cut and am working on getting it sanded down and dry fit. I think it will turn out pretty nice. I also have a lamp table I’m working on for her that I need to get finished this week if I can find the money to buy the varnish. It’s made out of a rustic round of white cedar with a bottlebrush post that is covered in burls. The top will be a second piece of white cedar. I’ll try and remember to post pictures of them both when I get them done.

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I’ve been trying to get some of my paperwork done for the farm. Figuring crop plant dates, materials lists, seed orders, trying to figure out a contract for the CSA shares, worrying over harvest dates and variety numbers and other fun stuff. Emily is stressing over money again, so I know I’ve got to get things rolling so she will see and understand I’ve got this. I know what I can do, I’ve just got to get it going.

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My biggest expenses starting out will be just staying afloat and paying my bills until the crops come in. The tree service is always dead during the hot part of the summer. Next will be getting the beds built and the soil brought in and amended. Other stuff like the clearing, cleaning, seeds, a few tools and such will be fairly minor expenses. Some of it will be a heck of a lot of hard, backbreaking work, but won’t cost all that much money.  I know I want to start delivering the first week in October but I need to decide on how long the season will last. I’d like to do a 40 week season, from October through June, but It might be better to break that into two seasons, Fall and spring. So many choices. I’m still thinking I want to stay with $25.00 shares, but I might be better off to go a bit higher and do either bigger shares or more variety in a share. From my research, the biggest reason people are unhappy with a CSA is they get too much stuff. Doesn’t make any kind of sense to me, but that’s the number one complaint I’ve read. I’d prefer to give too much though as to not give enough.

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I really don’t want to get rich. I only want to make a living. To be able to pay my bills and buy what groceries we can’t raise. To keep some kind of roof over our heads. I’m a farmer. I’m no stranger to 12 hour days and being poor. Like everyone else though, I have to provide for my family. I know once I get going I’ll have sales at the farmer’s markets, a few animal sales, sales of incidentals like eggs, milk, butter, cheese, fiber and I even have a market for any vegetable trimmings for animal food. I plan on as soon as I can adding cut flowers, herbs and spices. I’ll have my woodwork, my cages and animal enclosures and any side work I do. My main goal is my garden though. That’s where it all starts. I’m thinking if I could get around 25 customers I could make a go of it. I already have 5 steady customers, so I would need at least 20 more. Can I get them? And can I get at least a few to pay the fee up front like most CSA’s instead of by the week? I really want to keep it accessible to everyone. I know a lot of folks just can’t afford to pay up front, and I’m ok with that. I do however need enough to get going and I refuse to go around begging for a loan. I’m damn well not going to do it. I’ll either make it or not on my own merits. If I can’t figure out a way to do it without begging like a dog for a bone I’ll just raise enough for my family and my new friends who are renting me the place and forget the rest. I’m going to figure it out though. I’m stubborn that way. I remember many years ago when I first opened my auction my brother came to see me. He sat and watched me for a while then told me he finally figured out why I always made a go of whatever I tried to do. He said “you are just too stupid to know when you are beat. You never quit, so you always make it work”. I guess he was right. I know I’ve never been a quitter.

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I’m hoping I’ll get this illness under control soon and get back to work. I’m so excited to get started, to see things start coming together. It will be a happy day when I can post pictures of current crops instead of these pictures of my last garden. I know in my heart I’ll wake up one morning and be able to just breathe again. I’ll know my family is taken care of and that I’ve got my crops and my critters so I never have to worry about being without again. There are so many things I still need to do, but it’s getting there. I’ll just do this like you eat an elephant… One bite at a time.

I’m happy. Life is good.

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