Thursday, October 6, 2011

I am a Sundowner

It’s often frustrating to have to split my time between the farm and my day job. While a part of my brain is fully aware that one wouldn’t exist without the other, it becomes painfully obvious at times that there are advantages to farming full time. Sadly, one of those advantages is NOT being able to pay the farm mortgage, and so I continue to have a day job!

Fortunately, I love what I do each day. I have a career in something that I enjoy, and am passionate about. Some mornings, I do feel odd as I put on my office hat and take off my farm hat – or literally take off my coveralls to hop into the car with my suit and heels on! The one hour commute allows me to disconnect from the farm and provides time for me to focus on the day ahead at the office. Vice-versa on the route home I begin to leave the office behind and think of farm tasks that wait. The commute becomes my decompression time – or my preparation time. Depending on how you look at it.

We spent quite a good deal of time this year preparing our Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). As a part of this program, bursary’s are available to farmers to assist in implementation. As new farmers, any sort of cash flow is a good one, and we were quite excited about it. We spent many hours preparing our plan, used vacation days to attend the in class EFP training, and were eagerly awaiting the final submission date.

But that’s where things did not go as planned.

You see, the way the funds are allocated is that all farmers within a county must show up in person, bright and early in the morning, and line up for the funds. Funds are distributed until they are gone, which often takes only an hour. Some farmers line up at the crack of dawn to ensure that they receive funds. That’s not so bad, right? Well, for those who work a day job it is a challenge. This distribution happened on a weekday, during business hours. Unfortunately, neither of us was able to get the time off work – and since our day job is important in terms of the overall success of the farm we had a choice to make.

That day, as I sat in a meeting at the office my mind wandered to the scene that was likely unfolding at the Agricultural centre. I longed to be in that line up with our EFP. I felt that I deserved a chance to implement some of the environmental solutions that we had worked so hard to create. But as I refocused on the task at hand, I realized that part of being a “sundowner farmer” is the unfortunate fact that it is not equitable. Full time farmers will always have the advantage.

But that doesn't mean we won't do our best to be included.

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