There's a moment of shock when I see that someone has sent in a $100 contribution.
Some Cryptogon readers like to contribute here and there, when they can. DE decided to let it rip in one shot.
Then we have Miss GW. She's been sending $25 donations for months. This month, she kicked it up to $30.
These contributions (and all of the others that have been flowing in so generously) are impacting our lives in very tangible ways.
You guys are buying Becky and me time. You're giving us the chance to get our income streams flowing. We don't need to make much money off of this land, BUT, we have to make some money. The property tax man never stops calling, electricity, autofuel, galvanized nails, heirloom seeds, a pitchfork, etc. etc. This path is heavily laden with expenses. When you have a fixed sum of cash and it's only going one way---out---the pressure is definitely on. The Matrix has us, even out here. While its grip isn't as tight as it was back in the U.S., it has a grip on us nonetheless.
Becky and I are trying to get our heads around how expensive it's going to be to buy the dairy cows. We're going to be risking a substantial (for us) pile of precious cash on those cows and that venture working out.
Paul, of bacon
fame, has a few cow legs hanging up in his tractor shed. I asked, "What's the story with that?"
"Ah, a cow got pinched in a gate. Tore up a nerve along her spine. I had to turn her into $600 worth of dog food."
That made me think pretty hard. Paul has something like 120 cows (many of them now in calf). Occasionally, bad things happen on farms. Becky and I, well, we can't afford an outcome like that if we only buy two cows. We have to be able to raise calves on them. We have to be able to sell those calves later on when they're on pasture.
I'm getting that same knotted up feeling in my gut that I used to get from playing the markets. In other words, we're back to risking capital to make profits. THERE IS NO WAY AROUND THIS. (Well, of course, there's always the option of getting a job again, once my immigration status is sorted out.) When that property tax bill shows up, Becky and I can't offer the warlord a side of beef to clear our account. Nope. That thing demands the coin of the realm. It's that simple.
We're having to invest some our cash in a venture based on unpredictable biological systems that A) we really don't have much experience with, and, B) in some ways have been damaged by insane behavior (overbreeding, overcrowding, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, poor stewardship). I've been reading, Organic Dairy Farming: A Resource for Farmers, by Jody Padgham
, in a desperate attempt to get a clue!
There's a sane way to do it, and there's an insane way to do it. There's a dairy industrial complex that has sprung up around trying to make insane practices viable and profitable. And that thing is everywhere. Most farmers don't know any other way. We're basically going to be rolling the dice on cows that have been brought up under the insane paradigm and hoping that we can transition them to our low density, low impact, heavy metal and petrochemical free operation.
Unfortunately, some of the practices in diarying damage the calves in the first days of life, necessitating pharmacological treatments later on. Padgham's book, and my experience with the steers, seems to indicate a simple point: trying to do it outside of the way nature intended is stupid and futile. But here we are.
Why not just buy organic cows? Organics (especially livestock) really isn't that big where we are. Dairy operations up here are (as far as I know) exclusively conventional and go hand in hand with pesticide use and a jab schedule for the beasts that is, quite simply, incredible. (At least these cows are on pasture, unlike in the U.S. There are no feed lots anywhere up here.) It seems like dealing with anything organic means an initial doubling of costs. Potentially, we could buy organic cows, run into problems and be out double what we would have spent on conventional cows.
Am I complaining? Absolutely not one bit at all. Would I prefer my cubicle, headset and multiple computer systems whirring away in front of me, making some ghoulish corporation's stock holders even wealthier? F no. That wasn't living, in my opinion.
The point of me telling this story is, quite simply, that it will be easier for Becky and me to go into that dairy cow purchase with a few extra coins in reserve.
Thanks, DE and GW.