For a week now I've pondered a reader's question: Do you live off the land?
We eat the chickens, lambs and eggs that we raise; but the grain that the chickens eat is purchased at the local grain elevator; the hay that the lambs and sheep eat is grown on the farm, but baled by another person; both chickens and lambs are butchered by someone other than me.
I eat tomatoes, herbs, potatoes, green beans, onions that were grown in the garden. But I rely on farmer's market and the grocery for lots of other food and produce.
We heat with wood from trees that we have cut and split; but we use gasoline to power the chainsaw and log splitter; we rely on heating oil as a backup source of heat.
As far as income, we could by no means rely on farm income to get by. In good years, it may help pay for taxes and insurance.
But as I walk the cut alfalfa field on a foggy morning, I realize the farm is not just a dollars and cents proposition for me.
How do you place a value on the sweet smell of alfalfa curing on a summer morning? Or that "rock star" feeling I get when the chickens come running to the fence for their melon rinds and apple peels? Or eating breakfast and watching the sheep and horses graze in the pastures? Or watching Trick the Cat nuzzle up to confused lambs? Or the walks with running Border collies through the fields? Or seeing the bluebirds and swallows as they flutter about in the morning?
In addition to some crops, the land gives so much joy, satisfaction, happiness, life. So, in one sense, yes, I am living off the land.