I admit I am a dreamer, I have stars in my eyes, and hope and faith are huge motivators for me. They have to be, otherwise I would just be completely bogged down by all of the overwhelming sadness, injustice, tragedy, horror, and yes, evil of our current world. Maybe I am more sensitive than others, maybe I am just not as good as filtering this stuff out, but for me, it is a constant process of education, learning what is going on, so I can be part of the change, the solution, instead of the problem. Even if it is something as simple as changing my consumer habits. If we all shopped our conscience, we could put these evil corporations out of business (like Monsanto). There are days when I sit in front of the computer sobbing due to some new heartbreak, some demonstration of how abjectly horrible the human race can be, especially when it concerns animals. Ever watched a video about how fur is ripped off live animals in China? How Dolphins are herded into harbors and mass murdered? How pets are crammed into rooms and killed at "Shelters" by the millions every year? How meat animals are crammed into industrial buildings and stripped of their essential nature, allowed to languish in pain and sickness, psychological torture for all of their days providing something for humans as if they were machines? These things are PAINFUL for me, mentally, physically, emotionally devastating. I grieve for these things, actively, and then I muster up my anger, my indignity, and I do what I can to incite change. I sign petitions, post information, educate thise willing to hear, I make educated consumer decisions and do not support these places, I grow my own food, I shop local, I buy local sustainable meat, I work at a local sustainable farm; small actions, to be sure, but something, anything is better than inaction and apathy. I work tirelessly to add to my knowledge, to my ongoing education, both at school, and on my own, and I share a fraction of it wherever I can.
I have dreamed for years now, of owning my own small sustainable farm with diverse produce, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and heritage breed animals, pasture raised, rotated with the crops for the most effective and ecologically sound management possible, and to be an example for others, a teaching model to show it can be done succesfully. I know it is possible, there are plenty of role models and mentors out there for me, I also know it will not be easy, and that many farms do not make it. I don't really need to be reminded of that on a regular basis.
The big hold up so far has been access to affordable land, with water and housing, where I could implement such a vision... i.e. money. Working at a local sustainable farm is the right thing for me to be doing on so many levels, and is incredibly fulfilling, but they cannot afford to pay much, and the work is seasonal, even on a farm that is open year round, the hours are far fewer in winter. Our sustainable farms are struggling. All of our government infrastructure is set up to support big agribusiness factory farms. For most people it is easier and cheaper to shop at grocery stores, costco, walmart, target, and in this economy, I understand, I really do, but here's the thing; all of those places pull your money out of our local economy. The farm I work for supports at least 14 families, directly, both their employees, and the various small businesses that lease their commercial kitchen, many of whom the farm finances ( ie, they owe the farm money for their use of the kitchen, and pay when they are able). They put their/your money back into local businesses when they buy supplies. All of this creates more local economy, more local jobs. You want to do something about this economy? Shop at your local mom and pop stores, farms, farmers markets, the more successful these places are, the more jobs there will be on a local level. The big corporations have had some of the most successful years ever in terms of sheer profit these past few years, while we are all crushed by poverty, joblessness, underemployment, hopelessness, apathy. The jobs created by these big corporations have been overseas, where they funnel our money and the work that should be available here, in this country. And I see it getting far worse before it gets better. Investing in your local sustainable farmer and local businesses is investing in a more secure future, infrastructure, economy.
My dream of having my own sustainable local farm is many faceted; feeding my family healthy food I can trust, healing our wounded planet by farming in tune with the local ecology, mimicking the ecology, creating new vital habitat, creating a valuable educational model, supporting local economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, doing what I can to change the world for the better. I know that this is my calling, my right path, and I am not wavering in my dedication to achieving this goal, sooner rather than later. I know I am at a grave disadvantage because I am both lacking money, and lacking family land, or access to some sort of subsidy/support/affordable land, but here is the thing; I am not giving up! I can clearly see what this farm looks like, I am completely open to a sustainable village/cooperative idea to spread the costs and labor, and compromising to make it work. I don't need to be rich, just self sustaining.
So now I find myself living in an adorable one bedroom cottage, on acreage, with free water, and the landlord's blessing/desire for me to start a small sustainable farm here, and I can see clearly what potential the property has, I have dreams of diverse crops, a local farmer friend has offered free drip line.... but I have realized I cannot afford the rent here, (plus the added expense of farming infrastructure, a rototiller or small tractor, etc). I am actively looking for a second job, ( made a little more complicated by the childcare thing) So what do I do? Do I pack it in and move to an apartment in the city that I can afford, putting off farming for how many years until I can "afford it"? A lifestyle that psychologically wears me to a frazzled nub? Or do I stay here, and have faith that I will find a job that will support me and be able to afford the rent, while moving forward with my farm plans here? How many years am I supposed to put off my dreams because I cannot afford them? And if I stay here, will I be able to save money to buy my own place in the near future? I have dreams, that fill me with hope and happiness, and then the people in my life insist I am being unrealistic, that I will never be able to make a living in Sustainable Agriculture, never find what I am looking for in Sonoma County at a price I can afford, that I should move ( to a smaller house, more affordable place, out of the county, out of the state, etc). So what does a girl with no financial options do? I have no savings, so moving out of state to a place where I have no family, childcare, job, infrastructure, support seems just ludicrous. I have three dogs, three cats, ten chickens, and a three year old daughter, none of whom are going anywhere- well, the chickens could, but not the other animals, they are my family; most of them have been with me longer than any relationship I have ever had, and you don't just give that away when the going gets rough. I don't have a family that offers free child care whenever I need it, my mom watches my daughter for a few hours once a week, but I always feel guilty for that time stolen from her work, work that stole my childhood from me, and continues to steal her life from her ( She is a waldorf school teacher, and if that doesn't explain the above statement fully, feel free to ask me, and I will gladly elaborate). Plus, she lives in Petaluma, and I live in Windsor, not terribly convenient.
I hate feeling this hopeless, this lost. Just yesterday I was full of hopes and dreams for the future, and today I feel like the wind has been taken out of my sails, or really, like I have had the wind knocked out of me, because I shared my hopes and dreams and ideas, and was promptly knocked back down to reality when people close essentially said I was being unrealistic, that I needed to look into moving into a HUD apt ( which don't accept animals, by the way) or some other shitty apt that I can afford, that my animals are an impediment to finding affordable housing. Yes, I know, I have lived this for 11 years, trying to find affordable rentals that aren't shit holes with my animals, but you know what? My daughter is a serious impediment to me finding full time work where I could completely support myself, and I am not regretting the decision to have her, nor am I considering giving her away or sending her to a shelter or rescue because life is more expensive and more complicated with her. My animals, and my daughter make my life full of joy, companionship, transformative love and laughter. I would rather chew off a limb, or live in my stupid, too expensive, money drain of a vehicle with all the animals and child than to give up on any one of them. And I am not giving up on me, or on farming either, so stop trying to make me.
I need help sorting through my too much stuff, getting rid of unused items, simplifying, organizing, decluttering. Don't just come over and tell me I have too much stuff, and need to do something about it- I KNOW that, y'all have been telling me that for 5 years, ( it is a huge part of why I don't have people over) if I could deal with it on my own without feeling totally overwhelmed, I would. Obviously, I need help, solutions, take my kid for the day so I can get work done, or get in here and help me go through boxes and physically take stuff out of here. Don't tell me I cannot afford my life, I know that, if you want to help, offer some real solutions, like, hey, I could watch your child these days/hours so you could get another job. Don't offer judgement and censure of my life, my choices, without offering a helpful solution. I don't need more of that, especially from my family, I need help. What I need is support, positivity, positive solutions, thinking outside of the box, ideas for jobs, childcare, housing, farming, connections, networking, friendshop and family that will support and nourish us.
I would love to hear more support and positivity about my dreams, about your dreams, about our future. I think that this life would be a lot more bearable if we all supported each other in a positive and nourishing manner. My dreams and hopes keep me going, they make this life and all of the difficulties worth it, because they are a means to an end. I am going to continue to dream big, to reach for the stars, to have hope and faith in the universe, and to push forward against all odds, against all negativity, I will succeed. I will continue to look for creative solutions, to think outside of the box, to create a village of sustainable and nourishing relationships, and farming, always farming, like a beacon in the night the thought of my farm gives me the courage and strength to keep at it, no matter how difficult or insurmountable the obstacles appear.
I don't think it is too much to ask that I be able to both work toward healing the world, sustainable agriculture, local ecology and economy, add to the local food shed, raise a healthy, happy well adjusted child who appreciates my values, and holds strong values and convictions herself; and also make a decent living. I want to send her to a waldorf school, charter or otherwise, and create the best possible life for her. That is what this is all about. I want to pay the rent, save money to buy my own farm, pay the, bills, food, clothes, and maybe, the occasional vacation or spa day, or something restorative. Why does this sometimes feel so difficult, so absolutely insurmountable as a set of goals? I really don't think it is.
What are your dreams, hopes, aspirations? Do you have a vision of hope that keeps you going? I would love to hear about it, and support you in holding your dreams.