Every morning, I step outside and pause at the blackberry bushes growing by the deck. I pick all of the ripe berries I can find, relishing each one. Anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen fresh berries greet me each morning. It feels like an ad for something low in calories. Sunshine warms my hair and a bit of sweat starts to trickle. I know I am going to roast in the sun today, but I don’t mind.
Fresh out of school, before I started farming, I remember how much time I spent walking on hard concrete, rushing to get to my office chair and longingly gazing out through a slim window at a tree by the street near my building. I felt badly for folks out working in all weather, but at the same time, I yearned for more physical activity, less sitting, more action.
I think about this when visitors at the farmer’s market ask about sheep farming. I think that visitors to my booth assume that I’ve been farming my whole life. Since many who farm are following in family footsteps, that’s natural. There’s not a concise way to express that I gave up my feeble efforts at climbing up a career ladder because I wanted to be outside, moving.
Farm work offers a different set of tradeoffs versus office jobs – I’m never restless and I’m seldom bored, but sometimes I am frustrated or exhausted by animals or economics. Sheep as coworkers are not always direct communicators and don’t readily ask for help. Nevertheless, they never gossip and they seldom take my lunch out of the fridge. Working with Matt also brings an incredible intimacy of teamwork and additional challenges of being so fully in each other’s space at all times.
It’s the same as any work that takes place in all weather- there are good days and bad. Sometimes I am soaked to the bone, but I never again yearn to sit in an office wishing the sun were shining on me.