This morning? Well this morning I woke late (7am), was worried about a couple of the rabbits yesterday so had stayed up late after having not gotten home for the day until nearly 9:30pm. There was also something in the yard last night, the dog woke me around 2am growling and running to the back door. So being accepting that the dog hears things I don't I got up grabbed some clothes, slipped on my lime green sloggers and met him at the back door. As soon as I opened the door he ran out across the yard, up my compost pile and jumped over the fence, all without a sound. GGRRRR. So back through the house I went into the front yard - only slightly more awake - to find him standing in the middle of my front yard looking quite pleased with himself. But nothing to show for it! I still have no idea what he had gone after.
So anyway .. . when I finally did wake up this morning it was to that panicky feeling of being late. I know your saying: "it was only 7am you couldn't have been that late!" Normally by 7 I am up, have had my coffee and computer time and am outside milking the goats. And besides, today was CSA day - harvest day! I had food to harvest, package and deliver by noon. So I threw on my clothes, woke up my son and ran to get started, only to be stopped cold - literally.
After milking the goats checked on the rest of the rabbits and saw that one of my other does had made a huge nest of fur in her box, but no babies in it yet. I took a big handful of that fur and we snuggled the babies down in that.
By now is was 8:30ish so we (Jaeden is my master assistant on these of all days) left the box of warmish baby bunnies on the kitchen table and drove the 7 miles out to the farm. Harvested Kale, Chard, Lettuce, beets, flowers and collected eggs, fed the chickens and watered the greenhouse. Am frustrated everyweek at how little I have to offer my members, but more on that later. Loaded everything up in the car drove back to the house. Jaeden harvested the rest of the flowers and started making boquets while I finished up the rabbit chores, filling waterbottles and making sure everybody had food. Still no babies in that second nest box.
My intern had arrived while we were out at the farm and she helped me gather all the herbs needed for the CSA bags. I then showed her how to flesh hides and set her to working through a bucket of hides that needed to be processed. By now it is 11ish.
Jaeden & I put together the CSA bags for delivery, combining what we harvested with what other gardeners donated and loaded up the car. One more bunny check: Spinners litter of nine are holding their own heat, Miko (the one that pulled all the fur we borrowed) still didn't have any kits. Quick email off to the CSA group, then left to deliver actually deliver. Arrived at the CSA drop site at Noon - most of the members were already lined up outside with their bags in hand. They really are a great group! Its a quick drop off, return trip home and arrived before 1.
Switched gears and headed out to help with the hide cleaning. We worked through 11 hides by about 2:30 at which time I remembered (thanks to alarm settings on electronic calendars) that I had a 4 pm meeting. Somewhere during all of this Miko had her babies - 13 of them . . . well, maybe. There most definately are 13 babies in the nest box, but 7 are black & white, 6 are solid. It is possible they are all hers; she is a White New Zealand and I bred her to a Black Silver Fox . . . but, her roommate is due tomorrow night - with full blooded American Chinchillas. It's hard to say right now, but I am thinking that Nia, Miko's Am. Chinchilla cagemate, had her babies early and just made use of the huge nest that Miko made. So while I cleaned up from the cleaning hides, Jaeden did bunny checks, passed out cold ceramic tiles to everyone and refilled water bottles.
I know this is getting long - I never claimed to be a good writer - but really, keep reading I will get to the point. Besides isn't it great to see what is considered a 'normal' day for someone else?
Shift gears again - a little bakground: back in January I started taking a business class. Specifically a Agri-prenuers class. Yep, somebody (an amazing group called Enterprise for Equity) had the bright idea that maybe they should teach farmers, ranchers and all other foodie folks how to actually run a business. Great plan, really intensive class that is designed to make folks like me that don't like to commit things to paper or work out the details do exactly that. They end product of the class? A business plan, with projected incomes, expenses and all the details of "You want to do what? How are you going to make that work?" The class ran through March, we had into April to turn in our business plan, tonight was a followup and prep for our graduation (a community event) the is the 21st of August. Tonight was when we got to tell everyone what inspires us in our business, what we see for the future and what our needs are. Tonight is when I cried. Tonight is when I told this group of sucessful and struggling, strong and independent business people, friends, that I might well lose the very thing that inspires me.
I spent three months grinding out details, making a plan, pushing for a goal. . . .I spent three months struggling and watching it start to come apart at the seams. The end of March I had to stop taking medication that helped control my bi-polar episodes (a story for a grey winters day) and experience what stopping a narcotic cold turkey is really like, and then learn to manage life without the drugs (an ongoing process). By the end of April I was in the midst of a divorce and trying to manage major changes at home and maintain some sense of stability for the 13 year old that looks to me for it. I allowed these struggles to divert me from my schedule; planting that should have been done in March and April didn't happen until May and June. I managed to make bills (through gifts and grace and savings) for 3 months while I played catch up, working long days to try to get everything back on track. According to my business plan I won't be pulling a wage, even if I had done everything according to plan, for another year at least. I can break even - I can pay for feed and some general expenses, but thats not a living wage. Thats not paying rent or keeping the lights on, the water running, all those little necessities. I can put food on the table - that doesn't worry me, but the rest? The rest I consider an epic fail. I fear I might lose this place we call home, this is a rental. . . I don't own it and can't pay for it. The owner has every right to tell us to move on . . . I have gracious friends who will allow us to live on their property (at least temporarily) with all our animals . . . but what then of Crosstown Farms? What of Urban Ag and producing your own food in an urban environment? What of my constant statements "you don't have to have acreage to grow food!"? How does that work if I am living on acreage in the country? What about that vision, our future? So tonight at class did I say all this? No. When I tried to articulate what inspires me in my business, what I see for the future and what my needs are . . . I cried.
And got nothing negative back from anyone there. They know. They struggle. They have family, needs, bills. Is their journey the same as mine? No. But they've been down their own path with all the pitfalls.
After class I talked with several members of the group individually and explained my stumbling blocks, my failures. And got back encouragement, suggestions, leads and work. Not for pay, not yet, but this time for produce - a swap, or partnership really - I work for them for extras for my CSA folks. Its a win win. I learn how they managed their schedule and methods, they get free help and an outlet for extra produce and possible new customers, my CSA members get other types of produce that I wasn't able to grow.
Left feeling hopeful.
I still have a ton of things to do that I didn't get done today, they will still be there tomorrow.
Checked the animals, milked the goats, collected the eggs, the rabbits are doing good - even the babies! There were 22 born today, 7 yesterday and 4 a week ago.
I re-learn everyday that there is a community out there! There are people that care and support and struggle right alongside each of us. Sometimes our paths cross daily. Sometimes we may never meet them in person. But they are there, walking step for step . . . not in our shoes or on our path - that is meant for us alone, but in their own parallel struggles and joys.
There is always hope for the future, I can't wait to look back from some tomorrow and be able to point to today as the starting point.