After 2 years working together, Paul and I are parting ways. It’s always difficult when you care about someone to admit that you’re on different paths in life, but we’ve both come to terms with it and this will be an amicable parting of ways. Upon closing, Runamuk and I will move to the Hive House, while Paul will continue building his own farm at his location.
We’ve known for quite some time that the purchase of my own property for farming would inevitably bring about a change in our relationship status, but I’ve hesitated to share that information on the blog for the whole world to read. This story has never been about the men in my life, or my relationships with them─I’m the farmer and this is my story of trials and successes in agriculture. However, the men in my life have had a significant impact on my farming journey that cannot be denied.
I’ve faced all the same challenges male farmers face: access to credit and land, as well as the sharp learning curve that comes with being a first-generation farmer. Yet I’ve also faced challenges specific to women: a hegemonic, patriarchal society steeped in an invisibilizing mythologic perception of agriculture and the disproportionate burden of domestic responsibilities that still pervades global culture even in this modern age with it’s growing Female Revolution.
THAT─is a big can of worms to be explored in an upcoming article I’ve been working on about women in agriculture, and I’m not prepared to delve too deeply into such a controversial topic in this post. Check back soon for more about the challenges facing women who farm.
I do not regret the time spent with Paul, and living at his remodeled trailer has provided me the leg up I needed to be able to invest in the farm-property I’ve been dreaming of. In turn, I’ve inspired him to take up market-farming and Paul has joined the Madison Farmers’ Market under the name of “Oakenshire Farm”; he will be selling gourmet mushrooms and farm-fresh eggs, working his land to earn his living.
But what does that mean for Runamuk? How can I farm without a man by my side? Will I be able to keep up with the workload? And won’t I get lonely?
For better or worse, I’ve more or less farmed alone since I first aspired to make an income from my agricultural pursuits. Over the years I’ve developed the Runamuk operation in such a way as to allow me to manage the majority of the work on my own─without expensive machinery and without help. And for the most part, I intend to continue to do so.
This new property is going to provide the infrastructure I need to really grow Runamuk. I’ll be able to establish the systems that will allow Runamuk to shine in it’s own right: annual and perennial gardens that produce food for the farmer, and medicinal herbs for the apiary, an apothecary where I can dry the herbs for infusing into oils that will later be mixed with beeswax to make my herbal salves, and a kitchen that will qualify Runamuk for a Home Processing license─opening the door to new markets and wholesale distribution.
My boys are now 15 and 11─old enough to be contributing to the home and to their own subsistence, skills which I devoutly believe will prove beneficial to them in their adulthood. I’ll recruit their help these next few years as I cultivate the pollinator conservation farm I have long envisioned for Runamuk. And my darling sister will be moving in with me, we’ll lean on each other for a while, til she and Runamuk each find their footing.
Really, I don’t have any concerns about keeping up with the workload. I can work long and hard; I know how to manage my time and how to strategize a plan to get things done. I have the support of friends and family around me if there comes a project that requires more hands─or should I want some company.
As a creative type, I’ve never been one to mind a little quiet solitude. I find those periods of isolation are perfect time for artistic exploration, self-reflection, and an opportunity to focus on the things that are truly important to ones’ self.
What’s more, as I get another year closer to my 40th birthday (2020), taking care of myself first and foremost has become paramount. This is my story─I’m the one with this fire that burns within my soul─compelling me to build Runamuk, to grow this pollinator conservation farm, to work with bees, grow my own food, and to propagate a sense of community through my work for my local farmers’ market. I don’t expect anyone else to have the same level of passion, and I don’t want anyone else to do the work for me─that would cheapen the journey and rob me of the experiences of my own life.
Paul and I had some good times together, and I think we each learned a lot from one another. We’ll continue to be friends, for one can never have too many, and I wish for him a happy and self-sustaining life.
Check back soon for more news on the progress of my loan request with the FSA. Be sure to subscribe by email to receive the latest posts from Runamuk directly to your in-box!