It’s no secret that farming is hard work; you’ve really got to love it to make the commitment to 16-hour days and 24/7 chores and responsibilities.
But what does “hard work” really mean? What is it like to live and work on a diversified farm like Silverthorn?
I asked co-owner Emily Parks to share her thoughts, starting with whether or not she dreamed of being a farmer as a child.
“I remember thinking, back when I was in high school, ‘Why would I want to marry a farmer?’ I always wanted to be in the dental field. I’m a dental hygienist and I consistently work at a dentist’s one day a week, plus there’s a couple of other offices where I sub once in a while. I can’t give it up.”
That said, as it turned out, she did marry a farmer and Emily loves her role as farm wife and mother. “I have children to tend to, so the first thing I do is get up and get my kids ready for school. I have to get them back and forth, and I have a two-year-old to care for.”
Getting the kids involved in the farm is just around the corner. Emily would like to start a small flock of “family” chickens as a project to share with her oldest child. “He’ll learn to feed the chickens, move their coop so they have fresh pasture and so on,” she says. “We’ll have our own eggs and he’ll have a job he likes.”
Although accounting skills weren’t something she ever anticipated learning, Emily manages the farm’s paperwork and record-keeping, noting that inputting data, managing cash flow and balancing the books all come with the job. There’s always work to be done for the farm website and social media accounts, and connecting with customers is crucial.
On a farm you never know what the day will bring. “We had a calf that wasn’t able to nurse,” she tells by way of example, “I had to go out and bottle feed her every day for a long time; it was pretty cool.”
Preserving a portion of what they grow on the farm is also a part of Emily’s routine. “It’s necessary because we need to eat, but I love it. I can go to my cellar right now and pull out anything I want to eat, and I know ‘I did that.’ I spent that time in my kitchen, with my children at my feet and I made that.”
When asked if she and Nate ever take time off, Emily says, “You have to. We never used to, we just went, went, went. But with the arrival of kids, they really come first. Nate is always in at 6:00 for dinner. It’s hard when you have to go back out and work for three more hours, but that’s what you do.”
About the Author:
Lorrie Wehr is a freelance writer, blog contributor and Silverthorn Farm member.