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I was asked what I’d do if I won the lottery. The answer came readily – I would find life’s balance by continuing to live and work at Topsy Farms.
I can’t imagine living anywhere else. The land, animals, and very air are as much a part of me as my skin and fingernails.
There is utter peace and stillness inside and out. You can’t put a price on that. This small Ontario sheep farm life doesn’t fit into any neat box that any career counselor could understand. I get bored too easily by static routine; I wasn’t designed to sit in an office. Here, every day there is something different:
We are surrounded by the things we fixed the day before. That’s a potent thing, a reason farmers keep getting up and digging out of snowstorms or rebuilding machines that others have discarded.
As my farm apprenticeship continues, I get more independent, picking my own tasks and timing, which increases my ability to lose myself in a job.
There have been no hassles with the generation relations, probably a tribute to them. I feel I am respected as a man now; and for skills learned elsewhere. The older farmers are surprised and amused when I know how to do something they didn’t expect.
However, ultimately I struggle with idea of struggling – a small independent sheep farm will never make a decent return on labour. It makes me wonder, can a small farm be profitable?
Some folks may continue a mindless struggle all the time, working 10 -12 hrs/day and never getting ahead financially. I need to seek a way to balance living and work; to find a better business model that isn’t just dependent on numbers of sheep or blankets sold. I want the mental freedom, life’s balance, of occasionally playing golf or going to a concert. I need not to feel that a dollar spent on myself is a dollar less for the animals.
It’s such a huge commitment. I won’t consider taking on the farm without my brother’s involvement and at the moment the farm can’t afford to pay us both. The decision to become a farmer feels sort of like joining a monastery: giving up most of my worldly possessions for the betterment of mankind. Lots of days I don’t feel that generous.
And yet, I want to raise my boys the way I was raised. There is zen in this as we improve the land and the buildings and the animals and machinery – they improve us.