Friday, October 5, 2012

Accumulation of Insignificant Acts

It is 9:15pm. I just came in from finishing my barn chores which I started at 7pm. My hair is an awful mess since I just shook my braid out but didn't bother to brush the darn mop since I suddenly HAD to sit down and write on this here blog. Messy hair can wait. Blog posts can not. 

Today, while flipping through one of my old "farm notebooks" that has all sorts of scribbles, notes, calculations, phone numbers, and ideas, I came across a two-page list. It looked like nothing particular at first, it was handwritten in a slap dash scrawl and looked something like this:

9-14-'10: Ordered syphonject for pasture management: $27.90
9-20-'10: Ordered 20 Deleware pullets
9-21-'10: Syphonject came in mail today!
9-25-'10: Bought a Champagne De' Argent buck for $25
10-5-'10: Deleware chicks came today!
10-8-'10: Bought electric fencing and put goats in new pasture!
10-12-'10: Got my first heifer calf!

Two entire pages that look like that... It's all dated, and it marks down things that happened at that time. What is it? It was a simple list I started to help me see where things were going. That's what it was.

At the time I started that list, I felt like I was spinning my wheels. Like I wasn't getting anywhere. So I started this list and tried my darnedest to put something on that list every single day. The above sample isn't a complete list; I kinda' picked and chose to give you a better idea of what it was, but the real thing has almost every day written down for two solid months. Every day I would tell myself that SOMETHING needed to be done to put on that list. I mixed compost, I ordered a seed catalog, I watched a webinar... And you know what? Doing that simple act of WRITING each day, some sort of small accomplishment made this farm come together in ways I never would have imagined. Seeing that list, that long, long list of accomplishments was fuel enough to make me get out of the rut of spinning any wheels and really got me chugging down the track of success. 

Another powerful, but extremely simple thing I like to do in situations where I feel like I'm not getting anywhere is to spend 60 minutes, a full hour, doing really tiny acts concerning my dream, or the project I'm working on, or whatever. If I'm feeling frustrated that the farm isn't getting anywhere, or that I've hit a roadblock of sorts, this little trick does wonders. Dear Heart, more often than not it isn't the big things that make us move forward in life. It's the little, tiny things. It's an accumulation of insignificant acts. Anyone who has animals will attest to this. It takes feeding, watering, cleaning pens/cages, medicating, watching, praying over, and daily acts of care just to get that meat, or that milk, or eggs, or wool, or draft power. It's the tiny steps that get you places. 

Sixty minutes of tiny acts... Seriously. This goes hand in hand with my list above. What did I accomplish today? If you're dreaming of dairy goats someday, then why not start with the little things: check out books at the library, watch a Youtube on how to milk a goat, print out cheese recipes, join the ADGA membership, bike to a local farm and offer your time to help clean pens, buck hay, and feed goat kids! I don't care if you live on the very top floor of an apartment in NYC; if you truly want something in life, then start small and watch what happens. Dream big. And I mean that with all my heart. Dream it, think it, and then do it. If you lack money then apply for all the grants you can find (and search for grants on! There are hundreds of them!). If you lack land then ASK for some! People want to see their empty land being put to good use other than growing blackberries and teasel. They really do. If you never ask for anything in life, then your answer will always be 'no'. I ask for a lot of things. Sometimes I get told 'no', but other times I get a 'yes'! 
If you lack experience then find a place where you can learn, hands-on style! Try looking through WWOOF to find a farm nearby and shoot them an email or a phone call. WWOOF has every state in America and quite a few countries around the world with people who have opened up their farms to allowing people to learn how to farm. Whether you go for an afternoon, or a whole season, there are opportunities abounding.  

If you have questions, then ask. If you don't know who to ask, then by Jove ask me and I will see what I can do! My email address is over on the sidebar (or you can find it by clicking HERE.) and while there are some days that are a little busy and I thus can't reply to you immediately, I will do my best to get to you ASAP. 

Little steps. They don't need to be perfect either. As Joel Salatin says, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first". Oh how I love that saying... Let your first try at anything be done knowing that you are still learning. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just enjoy the learning experience, and enjoy knowing that next time it will be even better! I also love Joel's illustration of a small child learning to walk... The little tyke wobbles, takes a step or two, and then falls down. Does the child give up forever after that first attempt? No! That stubborn, determined tot gets back up and keeps trying! It's those little, wobbly steps that eventually take that child to walking and running. It didn't start out with that though; it started out small. And wobbly. And it fell over a lot. There were bumps and bruises. But that child did it. By an accumulation of insignificant acts that child got what it wanted. And now it's our turn. 

Dream your dreams my friends. Even if they are "crazy" to everyone else around you, just know that those of us here will understand and we will nod our heads in agreement as you agonize over which breed of chicken you should start out with, or how many basil varieties you should grow next year. Dream your dreams and doggedly pursue them. When you feel you are stuck and spinning your wheels, then do what it takes to get out of that funk. Go outside, write a list, or visit a farm. And know that it's the accumulation of insignificant acts that get us places. 

And may your dreams some day come true, my friend. May your animals be healthy, your gardens green, your dog loyal, and your inner fire always bright.


Erin W said...

So many thoughts after reading this but I think I'll stick with Thank you.

Head Farm Steward said...

Ugh. Worth doing poorly. I do like that saying unless it means animals suffer because of my ignorance. Still, you have to learn. So, I have 250 catfish now and no idea...

Goat Song said...

Um -- Catfish??? Okay, I gotta' hear the story on this one! ;)

Jenny said...

Thank you so much!!! :) Just had my first visit to Polyface today and every day my husband and I look at each other asking "Can we do this?" As we dream of our own farm someday in the (hopefully!) not too distant future.

This was sooo encouraging. :)

Emilee said...

I'm curious. What is your GOAL with all of this? You say that you want a big farm, lots of animals, and dream of being self-sufficient. But you and I are almost the same age, and it seems to me that you are still very much dependent on your family, you come across in your blog as being a very independent minded woman. Have you sat down and figured out how you're going to move forward with that goal? I can't imagine the goat milk and broilers are going to bring in enough money to buy that farm you want- reading through your blog you have enough trouble providing food for all the animals through the winter. Have you thought about a career on top of your farming activities so that while you're living at home you save money for that dream farm?

Thanks for a wonderful blog,

Wendy said...

Thanks. I love the "worth doing poorly" part. In fact I reread this just before going out to try my hand at driving a tractor. Boy did I do poorly ;)

Stacey said...

Thanks for this post. I needed it. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. I'm such a girl at times. While most people believe that I can succeed at my dreams, there are still the naysayers that make me doubt it. Thanks again for a great post!