35 Acre Horse Farm Essay Contest

A friend sent this to me on face book as it made her immediately think of me.

It’s an essay contest where you pay $200 to submit a 1,000 word essay and the prize is a 35 acre Virginia horse farm. It has a 5 stall barn and a cottage.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I was tempted to enter. I’ve written the essay about a hundred times in my head.

Each time, it starts like this:

“There’s a saddle that sits in the corner of my living room….”

$200 is two weeks of groceries for us.

Entries are being accepted up until October 1, 2015. They’re hoping for 5,000 entries.

At 200 x 5,000 that’s $1m. I’d say that pays for the farm.

Winning is like pulling a needle from a haystack. Even if my essay would get selected, then the farm still isn’t free and still cost more than $200 entry fee. Thanks to the government, you still have to pay taxes on the value of the farm. I’m guessing those taxes probably exceed the value of our house.

But a loan for the fraction of having a farm like that… is it worth it? Is it worth pouring one’s heart out into words on a paper and hoping beyond all hope to win? Is $200 worth playing the farm lottery?

Because that’s basically what it is, a gamble.

Check out the contest for yourself.

What are your thoughts?

 

Crowd Funding For Farmers

It’s time for this farm girl to get out of town.

I’ve been a backyard farmer for way to long now.

And I know I’m not the only one. There are many of you out there dreaming of both small and large farms of your own.

If only buying a farm were as easy as crowding funding is to filmmakers or authors for movies or books.

It’s so much cheaper to live in the city. It’s also so much nosier and so much more intrusive.

For the past seven years, this is has been my little backyard farm. The only thing I truly love about our house in town is our backyard.

backyard farmI wish it I could take anything about our home with us when we leave here, it would be this piece of our backyard. My dad and brother made the white gate into the garden, and I hate to leave it behind. I remind myself that it’s just a gate and the memory of making it is worth so much more.

As a senior in high school, I wrote up a business plan for our dairy farm. As a member of DECA – Distributive Education Clubs of America – my farm business plan landed me a trip to the national competitions that were held in Orlando, Florida that year. I know for a fact, no one else had a farm plan that year. I spent more of my time explaining the functions of farming then I had to explain and defend my business plan.

I guess it just goes to show that you really can make money in farming, or at least on paper.

Somewhere, I know I still have that business plan. OR at least I hope I do or that my brother kept his copy.

I always thought my brother and I would be running the farm together. How life has a way of veering us from the places we thought we would go, or not go. Yet, I have always carried the farm along in my heart.

Farming isn’t something you just do, it’s a way of life that gets into your blood and stays in your heart. Tweet This.

Our house went on the market at the beginning of this month. I don’t know where we are going. God love my husband, as I do, for going along on this journey. Our fifteen year anniversary is fast approaching, and when we got married he promised me I’d have horses again. I’m still waiting, dreaming, holding onto that promise.

I know there is no place for us on the family farm. Thanks to the new Amish neighbors there is no place for us to buy land or a home. Even if we could afford a farm.

Most large farms cost about $500,000 to $1million. That doesn’t include the equipment or the cows. Horse farms can range around $300,000 and up. Even if I worked full-time and with my husband working to raise our family, reality is we could never afford a farm. I would need to sell more books than I could count, and even though that can happen, (because I do believe in miracles) I also know my husband is allergic to animals. I also know that by the time I could afford a farm I would be too old to enjoy the labor and efforts to see it grow. By then my children would be on their own and have no ties to this kind of life.

Even with a business plan, a bank would never grant that kind of a loan while raising a family and living off a teacher’s and writer’s salary.

Reality bites.

Practacalty kicks in, so for now I’m praying for a 3-4 bedroom house, on an acre or two of land – just big enough for a horse, maybe a potbellied pig, and space to grow a garden that is outside of town where there are no cars flying past the house every minute, or people yelling across the street to one another or throwing trash in my front yard. Just peace and quiet and a little bit of a farm that I can call my own.

Perhaps one day there will be crowd funding for farmers. Instead of offering a signed copy of a book or naming a character it could be like naming the calves, or claiming a cow on the farm (like adopting them but the always stay on the farm.) Or perhaps getting names recorded down the side of the barn to show the support of a community helping one farmer’s dream turn to reality. Or the dream of a farmer’s daughter.

What do you think, will crowd funding farms work or ever exist?

Until then, there are other farmers in other countries trying to expand and feed their families on Kiva.org. This is a place where you can loan like $25 toward the money needed by the individuals there to give them the funds to take the next step in providing for their dreams and way of life.

This story, a woman named Gulshaiyr  caught my attention recently. She’s trying to raise money to buy a bull and cultivate her land so she may continue to provide for her family and see that her children are educated.

It makes my own longing for a farm small in comparison to her simple need of one bull to rise her up another step toward her goals for her family.

So for now, I will live my dreams of farming through those I can help.

Spreading The Love

A couple weeks ago I was nominated over at Sue’s Simple Snippets to “Spread the Love.”

Here are the rules:

  1. Write 10 four-word sentences about what love means to you.
  2. Share your favorite quote on love.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers to join in.

As a teenager, I used to clip out the “Love is” comics from my dad’s Sunday paper. I always loved the cute little sayings about love. I feel like this challenge is kind of like those comics, but will go beyond a smile to warming your heart.

Can you relate to any of these ten?

1. Always by my side

2. Lifting each other up

3. Baking me a birthday cake

4. Smelling like the farm

5. Orangesicles in the summer

6. Always there when needed

7. Holding onto one another

8. Making supper on Saturdays

9. Words of praise shared

10. Cleaning up the mess

Love much… There is no waste in freely giving; more blessed is it, even than to receive. He who loves much alone finds life worth living. Love on through doubt and darkness, and believe there is no thing which love may not achieve.

Ella Wheller Wilcox

Now this is the  spot where I’m supposed to nominate 10 bloggers to do the same. I thought I’d break the rules and nominate you! Can you come up with ten four letter phrases that describe love to you? Post them in the comments below!

A Life Worth Living For

Her name was Sloppy. She was the only cow in the barn that pressed her nose down on the ball of the water bowl then slurped the water with her tongue.

Not only did she make a mess splashing water everywhere, you could hear her drinking from the other end of the barn shed.

She hadn’t been ‘Sloppy’ in weeks. She was the dame who laid down and gave birth to that bull calf last week.

A Life Worth Living For

For the couple weeks and this past week, she drank from a bucket that was placed in front of her and filled until her thirst was sated. She’d lay, chewing her cud, and keeping her chin up.

I clung to the hope that, while she could not stand on her own, she still ate, drank, and made manure like all the other dames in the barn.

Hope is one of those things that no one should easily let go of, nor give up.

Every day, Sloppy was picked up and put on her four hooves to stand. Without assistance she was unable to hold herself up. Her one back leg was stiff and useless. I wonder how many massages it would have taken to regain use of it. However, the number doesn’t matter. I was only able to massage her hip and leg once, but I tried.

Trying never hurt anyone. But we knew before I tried that chances were slim. That’s why I asked her to let him live.  She could have choose to give up and her calf would most likely have died with her.

Her bag never filled with milk. She’d done what she could that morning to bring her calf into the world, and now he frolics amongst the other calves.

I wish I had a happy ending to Sloppy’s story, but she simply couldn’t hold on any longer.

Yesterday afternoon, Sloppy slipped peacefully into Heaven’s green pasture.

Yet, I can’t help wondering if I would have been able to stay there at the barn longer if she wouldn’t have improved more. I’m told the answer is no, but there’s always that what if that lingers inside you. Though living on a farm has taught me that farm animals can come and go, It has always brought me grief when one of the cows dies.  Usually not that often, but often enough that like a beloved pet, you mourn them.

Sloppy was more than a number on the farm, she was one of the dames, and she’ll be missed – slurping noises and all.

 

I Asked Her To Let Him Live

Two days before Easter, I found myself crouched down in a make shift pen beside a very pregnant and very sick Jersey cow.

“Your too late,” my brother had told me. Another momma cow had given birth the night before to a bull calf. They were both healthy and well in a birthing pen on the other side of the barn. But this Jersey cow had laid down a few weeks ago and despite the advice of the vet and the medications to keep her from getting pneumonia, I could hear the gurgle in her breath.

I can’t say I blame her. Had I gotten that big, I think I’d lay down too and get so heavy I couldn’t stand up on my own. Of course, over the stretch of weeks my brother had lifted her to her feet, but she refused to stand.

Now, on what many people call “Good Friday” I ran my hand down over this cow’s cheek and messaged one of her ears.

Easter is a story of life. It’s the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection. Yet, many of us forget it all started with his death.

As I moved closer to this momma cow, I ran my hand down her neck and pressed my hand into her bulging stomach. It pressed back. There was a little life inside this Jersey cow waiting to enter this world. What would happen if this momma died before her baby was born?

So I asked her, “For the sake of the life inside you, please let him live before you die.”

I guess it’s pretty silly talking to cows. No more sillier then a horse whisperer talking to a horse. If they can whisper to horses, I can talk to cows.

Whether it was the words I’d spoken to her, or the fact the next morning marked this calf’s due date, I’ll never know. What I do know is when I heard the alarm and the coffee pot perk in the morning I was ready to stay in bed. Then I changed my mind. Not living as close to the farm anymore, I knew my opportunity to go back down the farm may not come later that day and so I hauled my butt out of bed and jumped in the truck with my dad to go down to the farm.

It was one of the coldest days’ we’ve had since the last snow.

Before I even got into the door of the milk house, my brother was there. “You’ll need to grab some gloves and go deliver a calf. That is unless you want to milk the cows while I do it.”

I grabbed some gloves.

Her water had broken and tiny hooves were pressing out. Momma cow was trying, but she needed a little help.

I won’t go into the birthing details, as I know some of you are a little faint of heart. I don’t blame you. There are some things that gross me out, too.

So here he is.

celebration of life

I didn’t know it would be a “him” until after he was born.

For now, all that matters is that he lives.

To be continued…