The view from Sisyphus’s hill

Whether raising crops or livestock, farmers spend a great deal of time negotiating the proverbial Sisyphean hill. I know that all work is work but farming is particularly difficult work. It can be emotionally draining (some of the time), physically demanding (most of the time), and requires self-motivation and self-sacrifice (all of the time). Although we are not fulltime farmers, we know something about the hardships and rare rewards of working the land. In particular we have come to experience the ecological and economic challenges of sustainable livestock husbandry.

Not wanting to make this post overly negative let me point out that there are times on the farm when one can indeed pause atop Sisyphus’s hill to take in its steep, precipitous, cliffs and appreciate the green valley floor below. One of those times is afforded by an appreciation of harvest; a hay mow overflowing, a silo filled, or (as in the case of the current photo) a full crib of ear corn. Such times are also afforded by views of cows with healthy calves, ewes with lambs, and by geese with following goslings. Finally, they occur when one’s table is replete with farm-raised product. Eating what you have produced is eating locally in the extreme and allows one to minimize their carbon footprint.

I have always described life on the farm as an oscillator. If you expect farm life to unfold as one is lead to believe it will by so many printed periodicals it will surely disappoint. On balance farm life is, at its best, a break-even proposition. This life is difficult to be sure, it also has immense rewards. One must grab these as they present themselves and savor them as one would make a hard candy last a very long time.

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