Nearly two years ago I called my grandparents to confirm the rumors that yes, we were starting a farm. My grandmother’s response:
“Now is the time, when you’re young and stupid.”
On March 9, 2012 Chris wrote this as we were in the early days of starting our first urban farm in Lemon Grove, CA:
“There is a reasonably large chance that we will give it everything we’ve got and find out that we haven’t got enough.”
My sister Anna sent me this vintage postcard in the days leading up to our move to our trailer on the ranch.
A barren field in the background and a man and woman in the foreground, praying (a prayer of gratitude?) over a harvest that was promised, but never came to be.
We had talked about the high likelihood of failure before starting Psalter Farm, tried to prepare for it, chewed on it. Neither of us had truly failed at anything before. But then again, we had never taken such a great risk before.
We delivered our last CSA box this past August, ending our season 6 weeks earlier than last year. The fence we put up in August did nothing to deter the rabbits; they simply squeezed their way through, consuming thousands of starts for our fall CSA that we had cultivated from seeds in our greenhouse.
Our rodent losses prior to that are too large to even count. Midway through the summer and at the height of San Diego’s summer drought we could grow next to nothing. The plants the rodents wouldn’t even touch in the spring- onions, pungent herbs, those from the nighthawk family (tomatoes/potatoes/tomatillos), were now choice morsels to the starving.
We tried everything with the exception of poisoning and building expensive 100% enclosed (unnatural) infrastructure, only to find that we can’t grow here.
We are failing farmers and are broke from trying.
And now that we are here, failure doesn’t taste as bad as we thought it would.
We are buying a two-bedroom house and moving back to the city, near our chosen professions (the hospital for me, the church for Chris). No more 55-minute gas guzzling commute. No more ten minutes of driving down a dirt road that is destroying our cars. No more living far from our community of friends and our church family.
We started two farms in two years. We downsized and lived in a tiny home powered by solar, wood heat, and well water. We learned to raise pigs, Nubian milk goats, heritage ducks, and heritage Bourbon Red turkeys, and to grow the majority of our own food…all in less than a year.
We’ve learned how to soil block, start all of our vegetables from seed in a greenhouse, BUILD a greenhouse, and lay drip irrigation. We’ve eaten pig liver (and rattlesnake), rendered lard, come face to face with coyotes, hatched chicks the natural way, and made soap. And we lived in a very beautiful place.
We are failing farmers. But we have no regrets, and we are thankful.
And one day, God willing, we will farm again.