And I am still a relatively young woman. In the peak of her working life. This is not my retirement or anything, I am not old enough for that – not by a long shot – this is my job. This is not a hobby or just something to pass the time. This is my job of work. It is a small enterprise on purpose. I like to fly under the radar. My food revolution is spreading by word of mouth. My job has impact. I feed people. I invite people to come and experience farming. This is my job.
It is not 9 – 5. It is unpaid. I am self employed with horrible pay. But I did not design this work to make money from the outside. That would be another kind of job. I designed my career to create a self sufficient life, to train myself to live within my means, to feed people all summer long and put some away for the winter. And to write about it. To create a lifestyle that feeds itself and feeds me and enables me to save a little for travel and clothes and boots (and the hairdresser though she gets paid with eggs as often as not!). And to document the progression in written and photographic form. The work and the documenting in this blog are my job. I am amazingly lucky to be able to love my job. Though I did not love it at first.
I start work at 7.45 every day. This is what time I walk out the door dressed in work pants and a warm top and boots. By then I have had my coffee, done the washing, made the beds, planned the dinner, swept the porch, cleaned the kitchen, hung out the laundry and answered my messages. Just like any working woman. By 8am I have arrived at work. List in hand. And we proceed.
At 12 we have lunch, we go on a break, then the unpaid workers take time off until 3pm, while I do paperwork and planning and food (which is part of my job), write the lists on the boards then garden or mow then we reconvene at 3 and work again until 6. Then showers, dinner at 7 and clean-up. I am a farmer so this is my day. (The hard part is being the farmer and managing a house as well – but many working women struggle with that problem.)
This is not an extraordinarily heavy or hard day. Many, many women have harder days. I am not over working and I do not need to take it easy. Maybe when I am 60 or 70 or something I might take it easy but I am a long way from that. This lifestyle is not something I am doing because I cannot work any longer – this is my job. If I chose to leave the country and go back to my former life I could get another well paid job very easily. So I am not farming because I have nothing else to do. The farming,growing good clean food, hosting/teaching young people, the photography and the text – they are my job. It is intensive for about 10 months of the year and in the other two months I travel and write – travelling is an important part of my learning to farm and live better and this is when I have some downtime.
I have chosen this job. It was planned and organised though evolving. Sometimes I do overtime, but usually it is only a 9 hour day. And if you factor your job and travel time in I bet most of you work or have worked a 10 hour day too. I am not elderly neither do I need extra rest. I am still young. I do not need to take it easy. I am young enough to work all day at full steam with ease because this is my job. I will not wear myself out. I am fit and healthy. I am peaking physically. I am a woman we peak for a long time. The animals and plants and earth and pasture and I are a team. We work together. We are roaring along – not always easily, the lessons are brutal but always we move forward. I planned it this way. I love it. I thrive on it. We manage a kind of symmetry, creating a small ecosystem of our own. The animals and gardens and I. I am a part of a whole. A pivot, true, but part of a balanced whole. The animals and I, and John on the weekends and our resident workers in the summer all contribute to this whole. We are a team. We have our systems and rhythms.
I determine my net worth by how many people I feed a year – how many meals I grow – how many plates I fill – how many hot dinners from my fields and gardens, how many salads and plates of scrambled eggs, how many days the animals feed from pasture and food raised on the farm – how many smiles they elicit: not on how many dollars I feed into the bank. I feed the people who go out and put dollars in the bank – I am part of their chain – their ecosystem.
Just because it is unpaid on a small farm does not mean that it has lesser value than a paid job off the farm back in Europe. Just because it is unpaid and menial does not mean that I should not work as hard as I can and give value for my presence every day. Just because it is unpaid and not in the news does not mean that it is not a serious and valuable contribution to the clock workings of the earth. And just because it is unpaid on the Plains of Illinois miles from anywhere with not a soul watching does not mean that I can laze about on a Monday. Whether I feel poorly or not. On a Sunday afternoon maybe. But Monday is a work day. Monday to Saturday. Work Days. And oh when the sun comes out late in the afternoon then BAM – Miss C is back on board.
There. Said. Jumbled. But said.
Hope you have a lovely day.