Today is just your average, every day, winter morning in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, it is raining. Yes, it is cold and yes it is relatively dark outside at 6:00am. Attempting to remain positive, I don my winter gear and my rain gear and head out. The dogs are looking at me as if I am completely bonkers and remain steadfast on the porch.
While I venture to gather the birds’ daily ration, my brain registers a large branch straddling the electric net fence. I sigh, reverse my direction and make my way over to the offender. This branch has lodged itself, partially breaking on either side of the fence. As I attempt to remove the piece of branch closest to me, the piece on the other side breaks free. Instinctively I grab for the inside piece and Wham! I get the wake-up call that no one wants with a 110 volt electric shot to the chest. I am rocked to my core and fall right on my tush. Again, I sigh. After collecting myself, I saunter over to get the birds their food and open their gates.
Days like this beg the question, “Why do I do this?” Oh, I’m not alone. You too will have your moments. So why do this? I have many reasons. The first is that God placed me on this earth to farm and provide for my family. Another is that I love animals and it matters to me how I care for them. I love my family, my friends and my community. As a family we desire to be self-reliant. What we mean by self-reliant is to be independent of the “System”. We will always rely on each other and be a part of a community which helps one another and we are always reliant on God and His grace. A bad morning cannot dissuade me from my mission. This bad morning has taught me a great lesson to always be awake around an electric fence.
Why will you do this? I hope for some of the same reasons I gave and many, many more. But one thing is for certain, it is wise to know why you are embarking on this venture before you start. It is an immense amount of work to provide food for your family and community. Dollars certainly are not worth the effort. It must be something far deeper. It is physically, emotionally, and intellectually taxing. Working so hard that it feels like you have the flu is difficult. Butchering your first bird is difficult. Watching a young animal fight for life and fail is difficult. Problem solving when lives are on the line is difficult. It is also personal growth. Farming, to me, is an act of abandoning our doubts and casting our nets into the deeper waters of our spiritual life. It is a connection to God and His creation. Homesteading isn’t convenient, easy or painless yet it yields a large catch. You will be inspired, grateful, respectful and humbled. Connecting and being a part of God’s creation is awe-inspiring. Your flock will be one piece in that puzzle. Your flock provides you, your family and your community with food. Your livestock receives from you a good life and a good death. The cycle of life unfolds around you.
It is worth it always.