“Great, just what the world needs, another dog breeder and hobby farmer.”
Anonymous Reader said that in response to the lovely article in The Keene Sentinel.
Does focusing on heritage breeds who can thrive out on pasture make us a hobby farm? Does having a mere 150 animals to care for do it? Not having a barn? Not buying into the Monsanto way? Not using chemicals, artificial fertilizers, drugs? One of us needing a day job so we have health insurance and pay off our kids’ student loans?
We believe that we need a vibrant farming community in our food shed, and we’d like to be a part of that solution. We are find that it’s both quite rewarding and quite hard to farm, but you have to start somewhere. We should encourage anyone who wants to, to try. The average age of farmers these days is something scary like 58.
What’s a hobby farm? So few New England farms can pay a mortgage. A few tomato plants are a hobby. The King Ranch is not. But where is the line between a hobby paid for by the day job, and the business that doesn’t make quite enough, so someone needs a day job? What about the wannabee author or actor waiting tables? We all win or we all lose.
I’m not going to apologize for breeding Icelandic Sheepdogs. Our farm needs both herding dogs and guardian dogs. Many other farms do as well. All of this litter won’t make good farm dogs, but I bet three or four do. The rest will make great pets.
We are getting our second rescue dog, Buddy, in a couple of weeks. I spoke to the person who is fostering him now, and he sounds like a winner. She says he’s a lady’s man, and thinks he’ll charm Maggie and Disa. This is our second Great Pyr coming up from the south. Farm dogs without a farm to protect, a job to do. We will gladly provide for them in exchange for their help. He’ll arrive here via Rescue Road Trips on March 6th.
Of course the writer is anonymous. Aren’t they always? It lets us project our current insecurities and defensiveness onto them. I think she’s a vegan PETA-type, happily eating organic veg flown in from California and Chile. Frank thinks it’s a CAFO operator who feeds his caged chickens GMO corn. If the only choice was eggs from those cages, we’d be vegan too. It’s not a binary choice, though.
The article in the paper has brought far more good than one snarky comment, of course. There have been many phone calls, emails, and visits, and it’s helped us meet all sorts of people we have heard of but hadn’t met. We also got a lovely hand-written letter from Ann Sawyer from Jaffrey, NH, a fifth generation dairy farmer. She said “I really respond to your love of the animals and the land. Go for it!”
We’re delivering a couple of hundred pounds of our wool down to Jaffrey for The Yurt Alert, as soon as the snow stops. (Ha.) We will definitely stop by their farm to say hi. I can’t wait.