Why We Farm

September 5, 2015 | Author: Jan

alpacas chickens

As we move forward on our farm venture, there have been a few people who have asked me why we’re doing it. They have said things like, “You guys have good jobs and you have pensions from your military service. Why on earth would you want to put so much time and effort into something that can’t possibly make much money? It can’t possibly be worth your time…I just don’t get it.” I find it difficult to answer them.

It’s not difficult because I don’t have a good answer. It’s difficult because what I just don’t get is how to try to answer this question in a way that communicates with someone coming from such a different perspective. They just don’t have any sense of how priceless it is to know that you are capable of fulfilling most of your physical needs for food, clothing and shelter with your own two hands? (Truth in advertising, we don’t come close to doing this, but we have demonstrated that if we had to, we could do this!) And they don’t seem to have a sense for how compelling is the feeling of producing something that someone else wants to purchase. Even when I’ve charged a price that put my labor rate at the minimum wage, or even lower, I’ve felt well compensated.


We are compensated again and again as we work on the farm even without any customers. Our animals compensate us with their eagerness to get attention from us – sure, a lot of it is eagerness for food, but I’m convinced that many of them have a real attachment to us as well. They depend on us for so much and we are rewarded by their greetings and the chance to watch them explore and play. They amuse us and they challenge us to learn and grow on a daily basis. And when springtime rolls around most of them give us their winter coats so I have plenty of fiber with which I can play and create products from which others will also find great value.

snow fence farm farming

Our crops compensate us by responding to our experiments in tending. They’ve provided us with a whole new area of learning. The challenge to develop expertise sufficient to keep plants alive and thriving is very real and our brains benefit from it. I’m convinced that the constant need to observe, research and plan is helping my synapses stay young. And then we get to eat, use or sell the results of our education. That’s a far cry better than just getting a grade on a paper or a test.

Just being on the farm has value – the walks in the woods, the sitting on the porch watching the sunset, the cooking a meal with food from our garden. You can’t put a price on this stuff. These things give us our connection to time and place. They make us more sane and more appreciative of the things we have and the people in our lives. They make us happy. It’s just not about the money, it’s about so much more.

Hmmm…I guess that’s my answer!

hay  farm farming