MILKHOUSE

Farm & Dairy

On Being A Farmer

Three years ago we lived in a row house a five minute walk from downtown Kingston. We worked and studied during the week, had evenings off, went out for dinner with friends and needed nothing more than to keep ourselves and our black cat fed. Maybe to splurge on a new pair of shoes now and then. We shared bills, chores, laughs, ups and downs with room mates.

We surprised everyone and mostly ourselves when we considered moving home to farm. It took months to take the leap.

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It took a long while for us to feel like farmers. We spent a lot of time cleaning, building, and fixing in the first two years and we still do. We got a lot of funny looks from the old-timers at the feed store when we told them we wanted to milk sheep and make cheese. Seemed like a crazy thing to do.

Year round our days start and end with the animals. There is no such thing as sleeping in, staying out too late (at least not without paying for it later), or jetting off somewhere warm in the middle of February. Of course we could arrange for sheep sitters but that doesn't happen very often.

On the other hand, we see every sunrise and every sunset. We spend much of our time outdoors - rain or shine. We have learned to appreciate and look forward to the change in seasons and new routines.

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Instead of staying up late watching crime dramas like we used to we try to stay awake until 9PM most nights. From May - October we wake at 4:45AM every day to make it out to the barn half an hour later for the morning milking. If we need to leave the farm that day we'll get up even earlier, pack the car, our lunch, feed the sheep, clean the barn. Just make sure to be home for the evening milking at 5:30PM.

As a kid we were once three days late to a week long family reunion due to some farm-related disaster or another - I think it was a bull that had escaped that time. The farm has some uncanny ability to time its ups and downs according to how much you're rushing to get somewhere - on Easter we had a very sick little lamb and were late for Christmas eve celebrations due to some other minor disaster. Never mind trying to get to a dinner party on time!

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We were inspired to farm for a number of reasons. Wanting to live in the country, no commute to work, being able to focus our hard work to build a business for ourselves, a love of good food, and looking for a sense of community.

These days we are lucky in a lot of ways. We have the space (and occasionally the time) to grow much of our own food. What we can't grow ourselves we can barter for, or buy at the farmers' market. Our job is interesting, challenging, and stimulating. We have a quirky flock of sheep who are thrilled every time we take a moment just to be with them. Assuming everything on the farm is running smoothly our schedules are flexible enough that we can run to the city for dinner or a drink with friends. It just takes a little planning that's all.

As it turns out being a farmer isn't all that bad. In fact its pretty great, hard work and all.

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