Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 1st, 2011 - Spring is in the Air!



My enthusiasm is back around farm living, after a few months of discouragement. If you remember, my father decided to sell the farm for I was decided to go back to my city life somewhere in America. I was heart broken, and all I wanted was to find my self-worth elsewhere. In the midst of all this, my father suddenly got ill and passed away. My brother came from America on a quick trip basically to tell me that he wanted nothing to do with the farm and left. My sister didn't want to take our bedridden mom to Sao Paulo city into her tiny apartment. But I had already decided to stay, take care of my mother, and fight to get my heart healed now for two big losses. So the adventures on the farm continue in this hot and dry beginning of Spring.
A big era ended in my life - of care-free living. I finally grew to be an adult? I took over the farm; I am now solely responsible for my mother's care and still having to raise a 10-year old girl. I have six dogs, four of them I chose to adopt in the last three years, and a male cat left by my father.
Many people got afraid for me as we are just three women - a frail elderly, a child, and myself - living on a rural area, where violent crimes have been reported. But I chose to remain on the farm and I chose not to be ridden by fear. I installed an alarm system in the house and am careful to come in and out. I have studied adopting a more aggressive dog such as Rotweiller, but I am unsure about my authority over him.
I was able to rent the pasture and with it, I got all the fencing fixed. With the weeds low, the danger of fire also diminishes. Today I witnessed two blazing spots and two other smoky patch along the road within a few miles from the farm. That was scary. But we are expecting rain for the next few days, and this should ameliorate the situation.
The pasture rental doesn´t pay me much; of course, much less than if I had a cattle myself. But it is so worry free that I actually like that I can make money doing nothing. The renter is a successful vegetable grower in town. I had met him a couple years ago and from whom I got my crazy Border Collie mix.
The chicken coop is still being rented to the same man for years. Nothing changed. Now, I have only the coffee plantation section to be taken care of. I know that I may get even less than renting a pasture, but at least, someone will care for what my father put so much work, money and efforts. A neighbor told me that my father confessed him "I know that I am not going to live another 50 years. I am working hard to leave the farm productive for my daughter." I am so sorry I can't harvest coffee another year. It takes investiments and human labor I am not apt to work with. My only option besides selling the farm would be to rent them out. That's what I am doing. I feel somewhat ashamed to tell that I didn't chose to fight against the odds and throwing myself into a rural enterpreneurship.
When we think about differences between city and farm living, imediately comes to one´s mind the tranquility of bucolic lifestyle one can have on a farm. It is still true, but to me, the brutal difference is that the city skills that I have are almost of no use here. It´s a whole new way of thinking and solving problems. Being a woman, I get no much respect by employees who are used to deal with male bosses, when we get to hire any. A man who was fixing the fence works for my tenant, and I wanted to hire him to do the fence around my house. Even though this worker knows me, he just disappeared into a thin air. My tenant told me of this man´s resistance to work for a woman, even though he offered to give him a ride everyday and assist him in fence building. During harvest, I would have to deal with at least six to fifteen people, many of them men. I am supposed to be the old fashioned authoritarian boss, but I was educated to be democratic. Of course, there is a difference between being a good leader and a weak one, but it is not part of my personality to force one into doing something. The rural workers are rejected ones from the workforce for lack of education and skills. Those aspects also make them very difficult to deal with. I have a temp worker who does little jobs for me who is completely illiterate. He doesn´t sign his name, doesn´t read clock hours and doesn´t know money. Thank God he is a docile man that resembles much the gardener played by Peter Seller´s in "Being There" or "The Idiot", a Dostoevsky´s character. Of course, instructions are almost useless. He doesn´t understand them, specially if I give him a sequence of work. I need to work side by side, so the work progresses.

The farm is about 40 acres, divided into chicken coops, coffee plantation, the pasture and the house. So my new playground are the house and the surrounding area. It is still pretty large. I have an orchard, a space for vegetable gardening, a front yard for flower garden and so much more.
If I sold the farm, I would get only a house the size I have now in town. Right now, I have electricity and water included in my tenant's account; I have several fruit trees I planted a couple years ago. Some of them I have been already harvesting fruits. I prize also the silence and solitude in the countryside. But I don't feel isolated. I drive to town twice a day, a house helper comes every morning, I chat with my neighbor almost every day. And, I have an internet access - that's my door to the world. Besides, I always find something of my interest to develop.
I am working to turn my dream into reality: to have a wood fired oven; my house fixed up; to build a rustic sauna and a hot tub. My latest interest is sourdough starter! Today I baked rosemary foccacia in my regular gas stove. But I have tried my second hand purchased pre-molded oven with pizza making. Also, I bought a very old metal stove, wood burning, and have tried to bake some. But the lack of chimney makes the oven cool quickly, so I have put it aside for a while.
This is the scenery of my current farm life. I am not growing vegetables, raising free-range chickens, pigs, or cows. I only have pets. The great part of income comes from my father´s pension and my mother´s retirement, besides the child support money. A smaller amount comes from the lease. I don´t have a single thing that comes from the land that I turn into money. Or no food that I feed myself on. I feel like I have a suburban lifestyle.
I am trying to figure out if I am a fake or not, or if I have succumbed into a new economic reality in my country. I can´t survive out of the small land. I don´t have a large family, the skills, the bank loan, the government support. I could get knowledge (as I have been getting through classes), but knowledge alone won´t plow the land. More on this subject sometime later.
I just came to say that I am well, happy, and with many projects I want to share with you.
Have a great Spring! - at least here, down the Equator.

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