Sunday, July 13, 2014

Futures Planning: The New Merit Badge

The Child is home from her first year at university and with a little over a month of holiday left, she cannot wait to get back.  Cannot blame her.  She came home from school in May and had 2 weeks to “chill” before leaving for Sweden for 5 weeks.  Art department study abroad trip; two classes in Sweden with weekend jaunts to Copenhagen, Oslo, Gothenburg and Stockholm.  Oh to be a college student again!  The excitement, the challenges, the social life- all that learning to be had.

Which leads me to ponder, why- in my 50’s- do I suddenly feel like “Yah- I finally know how to do stuff now.  I know how things work…  I am prepared.”  Like The Child, I got it by the ass, so to speak.  I can fix things, cook things, grow things and balance a checkbook.  And do taxes.  So why does it take a good 30 years of precious clock-ticking time to become adept at daily tasks and more, only to do so on the “supposed” midlife point of life?  Who lives till 100?  Is it really all downhill from here?  Did it take me that long to become a competent person?

I certainly hope not.  Looking ahead to another active 25-30 years would be great.  Really. The challenge now is planning ahead for that future and it isn’t exactly the way we planned for things when we were younger.  Need to look a little further than this weekend’s beer money.

We are getting the farm inspected for two animal welfare organizations and that entailed making a written “farm plan” which covers everything, including disasters.  That activity made me look at our own personal plans, consisting of a poorly-written will that was made almost 20 years ago.  Things have changed now; The Child is grown, we live on a farm and spouse is retired.  Are we really prepared for the future?  What if one of us kicks off, or both?  How loose are those loose ends?  The thoughts are downright scary- it would be a mess.

However, I am not one to sit back, hope for the best, and wait.  The new updated will is almost complete and like the farm plan, we have to force ourselves to look ahead, plan for disasters, and ask, “Where do we see ourselves in 20 years?  Will we be able to farm as we do now, as 92 and 72 year olds?”

The logical answer is “hardly,” so we need to make an exit plan for the farm.  Emergency algorithms.   5 Year Plans.  Cutting back little by little till it would be very manageable for one of us to manage the livestock and farm, or even perhaps to have all the livestock gone by X-date.  Older stock would retire, young sold off as replacements.   Hard to think about it, really, but it need to be done.

Passwords are being categorized, financial documents and accounts all gathered and listed.  Trying to be as efficient with “end of life” planning as well as I made that year-round livestock grazing plan.  No, I am not planning on exiting any time soon, but it does seem mighty morbid.  Part of me wonders if my friends have already done this; am I late?  Who cares?  It is getting done and that is the important thing.

Already I am feeling a bit relieved with the efforts.  It is like cleaning out a cupboard one shelf at a time.  Eventually the job/plan will be done and I will be able to look at it with satisfaction, and a bit of relief.  We have put this sort of “forward thinking” on the back burner for quite a while and now that the job is being tackled, I feel like I can sew another merit badge on my Sash-o-Life Accomplishments:  Perhaps an icon of a donkey with the legend Got it by the Ass. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lessons learned (sort of) when planning a holiday

Holiday... Vacation... Whatever you call it, I love to take a trip.  For me, a goodly part of any holiday fun is the "thrill of the hunt;" deciding where we want to go, when to go and then the stalking begins- hunting the best deals to make our dream a reality.

Yosemite Valley
I have used many travel sites, discounts and airlines promos but never a real travel agent. That might change one day, but for now I can happily stare at computer screens and with scraps of paper all around, make note upon note until I am ready to pull the proverbial trigger and "purchase."

This has worked out very well and I cannot say that we have had any major problems using the internet to book a holiday.  Except there is a problem.  The problem when planning a holiday is one that unfortunately I keep making;  planning too much activity. I have heard the words "forced march" on more than one occasion. (I won't go into details about a certain trip to Walt Disney World where the pedometer read 10+ miles and 4 parks were visited in one day..)  Best laid plans, trying to pack as much in as we can, "as long as we are this close, let's go do/see this..."  Hours spent driving hither and yon.  I cannot seem to help myself, we are always short on time. 

The root of the problem is we are farmers, and farmers should not be off the farm.

Animal husbandry is just that- being wedded to the animals.  They depend upon us more so than we depend on them; in sickness and health, for richer or poorer.  With no live water on the property, they drink from tanks we supply.  With our grazing program, the livestock are given new paddocks to graze just about every day.  Leaving for a weekend is no problem, 4-5 days is doable, 10 days is definitely pushing it and 14+ days unimaginable.  No, not exactly- I can very well imagine being off the farm for two weeks or more, I just don't see it happening at this point in time.

South Rim, Grand Canyon
As we get older, we are getting smarter.  Fences are rebuilt and reinforced.  Water supplies have back-up options.  We are even timing the breeding of the livestock to anticipate when the young are born; a no-brainer but it did take us a few years to see the benefit of such a "novel" idea.  We do have neighbors willing to check on the critters for us, but we don't like having to impose on them- they have their own farms to watch and are busier people than ourselves.

So where does this leave us?  Back to enjoying shorter holidays but also learning that we can take our time.  Some locations work well with this, but some still do not and yes, driving might be involved but it does not have to be 6 or 7 hours one way. 

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

I will see how this New Deal plays out on our upcoming trips.  Curtailing some activities, not driving all over hell and back, being able to take our time and relax.  I know some driving will be required in Vancouver this summer, but that is ok- it is a metro area and we will be ready to get out of the city for a day if I know us.  Glacier National Park will also require some driving (duh- The Going to the Sun Road) but that will be broken up with hikes along the way.

Until we are at a point when our husbandry obligations are lessened, we will hope.  And plan.  And look forward to the next great holiday- a vacation that won't include a forced march...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

After a year's hiatus....

Too many irons in the fire or are there just not enough hours in a day?

I started this blog in 2010, made 26 posts in 2 years, ignored it, and it has laid fallow since.  Weeds grew up, a few old ideas fell over, things were forgotten.  I had begun writing a blog on the farm's website but that became repetitious as many posts were just taken from the farm's FaceBook page.  Social Media prevailed as snapping a picture and adding a comment took over as the preferred route for quick communication;  it is quite easy- and fast.  I still do it.  However, it is not very satisfying...  Like snacking all day instead of preparing a nice meal.  I like to cook and enjoy the process.

Therefore I am pulling the weeds, reestablishing the borders and firing up the original blog.  Time for some more substantial posts- no more snack food.  In the future I will write more regularly as I am also blogging for another site, and will use Life on the Farm to expand my subject range- not just farming and food posts for Mother Earth News.

Many ideas are spinning and want to get down on paper.  We will see, we will see...

 In the meantime, the grass is green and growing.  Baby calves and goats are born, the garden is awaking and it is time to start cooking a decent meal.