Saturday, July 6, 2013

Desk Job

It is hot and humid here. The whole world outside is wet. The amount of rain and heat seems downright tropical. Here is the northeast we are used to hot summer days and high humidity but it feels as if Ma Nature has cranked the amp up to ten. It has been a blessing for the garden, that's for sure. Between the weather and the lack of snacking vermin this year (the paddock I put in for Merlin must have displaced several groundhog lairs) I have some beautiful veg out there. I am looking at it from my office window right now, listening to a rooster crow from the tailgate of my pickup. I can't blame him for his positioning. I think it's the only dry spot in the yard!

It's Saturday morning and I'm at my desk for most of it. There's a lot of work to do indoors. I sometimes think the blog gives the impression that all I do around here is play with animals, practice and pursue my hobbies, and write this blog. In truth those trail rides and morning chores are just small parts of my day and since they are the most exciting parts they get all the blog glory. I really don't want to write a series of posts about web marketing, design, and ad sales. I don't want to write about paper cuts and agent phone calls. I want to write about what gets my blood pumping and heart racing, and that is all romance and hope to me. So you read about fast arrows, heavy horses, chicken dinners, fresh bread, fireflies, and wishful thinking. Stories that are literally lifted on hawk wings. And if you aren't reading that you are my therapists. I write about my fears, stresses, loneliness, and angst. To those who don't know me outside this blog you are left with a bi-polar soup of broke and manic farm slop. Makes for great daily reading but I fear gives you a false impression.

The truth is Cold Antler Farm is a desk job.

It really is. The only way I can work here is to keep my but firmly planted on this claw-foot piano stool and write at this hand-me-down iMac. But just because I don't write about the office stuff doesn't mean that isn't the bulk of my day. I spend most of my daylight here at this desk. I do write on this blog, of course, but I also have to spend time every day writing and editing books, pitching new projects, responding and writing to work-related emails, trying to catch up with non-work-related emails from you guys, selling ads, working out deals, hunting new jobs, designing freelance logos, and hitting my daily word count and page edit goals. I do this between my archery instruction gig at the Equinox (which takes a few days a week now) and the for-profit ventures here at the farm. By that I mean things like expanding the pastured pork, teaching individual classes, selling breeding stock, getting wool skirted and sent to the mill, and the usual local work and trade barters all the local farms around here do.

I am grateful and happy to have this desk job. It never stops, and I am finally my own boss most of the time. I make a salary comparable to any office job I ever had, the reason things are struggling now is my business model is built on agriculture, even if it is mostly done at a desk. And like any farm some years are good and some years are bad. Last year was better. This year the income stream keeps dropping. Folks aren't clicking on ads or attending workshops like before. I haven't been paid out advances yet, and my bi-annual royalty checks are less than a truck payment for six months of sales. And If I went out and got an office job again I would actually make less money, since having the time to market, sell, write, and network all day is what makes it possible to keep this place running. I would have health insurance, but that seems like a bad tradeoff right now for a life lived the way I feel makes me happy and keeps me healthy.

So I am keeping my desk job at Cold Antler, and I do apologize for the recent posts being a little dark or stressful. It will pass. I have no plans to lose this farm, none at all. The more people tell me I am going to lose it the hungrier I am to keep it. Yes, things are scrappy right now and yes I am scared. But being scared isn't the same as being defeated. You've watched me cross the nation, start a Vermont homestead, buy my own NY land, quit my job, and now you are going to see me keep this place. I promise you that much. I will keep it going and I will get it to turn into something comfortable and profitable. And you will know when I have hit that happy plateau because suddenly there won't be any fuss or second guessing in my writing. There won't be constant reminders of pork shares and workshops. There will be just straight out grateful joy that I am still among the living. I will be a woman on her horse, a hawk on her fist, a black and white hound trailing behind in the tall grass, and a thrilling October sunrise. Human, hawk, hound and horse. Who knew it would take 30 years for me to join 4-H?

Thank you for your encouragement, patience, and understanding.