From BETH GREENWOOD
Well, first, I don’t know if what I do is really farming. Out here in the west it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re raising crops, raising livestock or raising both; the tendency is to call it a ranch. There are almond ranches, prune ranches, cattle ranches, hay ranches… But on our place we have horses and pigs and cattle (milk and beef), chickens and sheep. We have orchards and ponds and fenced pastures; we cut out own wood and try to raise as much food as we can. So whatever you call us, our activities include a lot of things traditionally called farming, as well as some things that aren’t, such as the firewood business and the custom wood milling business and the free-lance writing and the blog.
As to the why: my husband grew up on an Idaho ranch, I grew up in town but was horse crazy by the time I was five. My parents were doctors who eventually bought a ranch to have a place for the horses and because it was a good investment. I only got to live there for about two years, as I got married and moved back to town. I hated it. I missed the space, the green, the wild animals. I couldn’t just go out to the barn and have a friendly conversation with my saddle mare when I was having a bad day. I had to buy produce – even though I tried to grow a few things in my postage stamp plot. Most of all I missed the peace.
I farm/ranch/do what I do to ensure we have the best possible source of food, to be self-sufficient, to have daily access to beauty. I like to be able to give a one-fingered salute to those who would try to tell me what I can and can’t eat, to outsmart the Monsanto crowd by saving my own seeds, and to instill the same spirit of cussedness in the grandchildren. I want to have as much independence and freedom as possible. I get tremendous satisfaction out of knowing that among the four of us adults (husband, daughter, son-in-law), we have the skills to handle just about anything that comes along.
When the food on your dinner plate is the beef or lamb or pork you fed and watered every day, then butchered as quickly and painlessly as possible, and the vegetables were growing in the garden a few hours before, you are rich no matter how much or little money you have. Add in the warmth of the fire from wood you cut and stacked yourself, the counters and cabinets milled from your own lumber, the quail chuckling outside the window and the three point buck or wild turkey wandering past as you eat – it’s official: life doesn’t get any better than this!