It has been eight months since my last post and I would like to say that we have made a lot of progress developing the farm, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Although, there have been a number of shifts important to that end. Looking back over the past year, the pattern is one of wrapping up and giving up long standing projects and work relationships that distract from long term goals.
From 2012 to 2017 our primary task was to renovate and make mortgageable our new property. What I haven’t mentioned in previous posts is that I was also enrolled in a PhD program that was put on hold at the end of that time period, as well as considerably slowed over the whole duration. A little more than half of last year was spent attempting to finish, while becoming increasingly aware that the degree no longer made sense for my direction. In the end I realized that I had to walk away. Although I still feel this was the right decision it wasn’t easy and there is still regret. At the same time, Lynda has been working on a doctorate in education, which she is wrapping up now. In our re-enactment lives, we committed ourselves to what turned out to be a considerable amount of time. Although it was well worth it, it’s good to be able to reduce our time commitments. In addition to all of this, there is regular work.
A good thing that came out of the PhD research was exploring the rural entrepreneurial literature. From that, we were inspired to hold brain storming sessions with our neighboring farm owning friends in which we laid out independent and collaborative possibilities. These occurred in the early part of the year. With the onset of Fall, I looked back at how little progress we were able to make towards those goals. This caused me to wonder, just what does it take to shift direction and create something new while we are preoccupied by the routine of daily life. Which it turns out, is pretty demanding. How do we jump out of our ruts?
First of all we need to decide what our long term goals are and what we can do to promote them. To that end, I sought out employment that would support our long term goals rather than distract from them. I found it at our local fiber mill, Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill. At first I was very part time, at only two days a week. However, the effects of the government shut down provided an opportunity to consider moving away from my former employment all together and I am now working there nearly full time. What I hope to achieve beyond a pay check is support for our farm through connections with people, access to information, development of skills, and an immersion in the world that is my occupation. The point of this is not to write a personal “tell all,” but an effort to describe what we are finding it takes to reposition ourselves to make a serious effort to farm. Obviously this process isn’t limited to farming, but is common to any attempt to follow ones passion.
My first job at the fiber mill has been the assembly of a spinning frame that was bought from a mill in Portugal and sent here by ship. It came without instructions of any kind and it has been quite the learning experience. The lead on this project is a retired engineer and degree holding physicist whose wife is a professional weaver. In my next post I’ll talk about our visit to her weaving studio through which we hope to eventually make cloth from our own wool!