Reeling in the Costs or Knowing when to say "Uncle"
There’s a saying that goes, “Pick two: good, cheap or fast. You can only pick two though. You can’t have all three.” And it’s true. Oh it’s true.
When we bought the dairy I, stupidly, thought we would blow through it just like we do every other project. Nick and I built our entire barn in the evenings after work and on weekends in just two months.
What we didn’t account for this time was Gizmo.
Our daughter, who just turned 9 months, is already standing on her own, walking from furniture to furniture, into everything and, WITHOUT A DOUBT, the best thing that has ever happened to us.
Suddenly our time isn’t ours. Every spare second we have feels like its on loan from her…the tiniest dictator (and the cutest) that ever lived. Even though Nick is home full time as a father and farmer, he’s mostly a father. And when she does nap it’s not like he can go run outside and run the chainsaw or tractor (I mean, we’re not going for parents of the year here but we are trying to be responsible).
We waited a really long time for Gizmo, and now that she’s here, the last thing I want is to have no memories of our daughter’s first year of life because we were too busy working to play with her.
And so we made a very big decision.
I’m drying my girls up. Currently I have 13 girls in milk. Every morning and night I milked them by hand, 3 hours of work a day. Add this to the cost for oats on the milk stand, and the pressure became too much.
Every time I bought another bag of oats I felt a twinge of anxiety, a whisper in the back of my head planting little seeds of doubt. This doubt affected me personally. It strained my patience, it robbed my sense of humor and, I firmly believe, it started causing me premature wrinkles.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Drying up the girls buys us some time. I’ll hopefully be in milk again, and licensed, in January (which if you think about it is still just right around the corner). It removes the unnecessary stress, it allows us to keep searching for good deals on dairy necessities, and it allows us to keep doing the work ourselves. Most importantly, it gives us the time to enjoy each other and our farm.
There is always work to do on our farm, ALWAYS. But last weekend we did something really radical. We woke up, did chores, brought three more goats onto the farm (which their previous owner generously offered to deliver so that she and her husband could check out the pigs) and had 200 bales of alfalfa delivered.
Then we quit for the day.
And then we got pedicures. Both Nick and I, while Gizmo sat in our laps (she did not get one, let’s not get out of control here).
It was luxurious.
We were in a bad cycle where we justified our stress because it was for the ultimate goal. The enjoyment was slowly weeping out of the process as the doubt became insurmountable.
So we made a promise to ourselves to take more afternoons off—to use our pasture for picnics, to go on more walks in our forest just because (not because we're searching for a rogue goat who we know is off giving birth) and remember why we started a farm.
The Farmstead Creamery is my DREAM. I am so incredibly lucky that I get to build my dream from the ground up (this is the positive me talking, the negative me likes to lament about not being one of those kids who inherits a farm). I want to enjoy this process. I want to spend time picking out what light fixtures I want in my Milking Parlor (yes, my first choice would be a chandelier, yes I know it’s not practical) and getting excited about the Creamery’s logo (which by the way is fabulous, I can’t wait to share it with you). Those “silly” things were getting lost in the real work of researching trench drains, electrical power grids, and dairy wall coatings. Plus, there’s the manual labor aspect of it...
Henry David Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
At the rate we were going The Farmstead Creamery was going to bankrupt us.
THAT. Is not an option. What is an option is a cheap (relatively, of course, since there is nothing cheap about this) and good operation. It won’t be fast, but that’s okay. I have two very special people who are more than happy to pass the time with me.