Can’t get this passion out of my head
Probably by now you have gotten to know this guy some. Your experience of me has helped to form an opinion of me and my motivations. You know I would be more fulfilled and certainly a little more content if I was farming full-time. Farming is like catching dream that you never wake from. I dream perpetually about the what The Barry Farm can be and am very proud of what it is currently. This ability to thrive in the tension of this space is what makes the Smith family unique. We see this farm for what it is: Art. The art of taking the risk of following a call that leads to imperfection and in that imperfect space finding purpose and joy. Did you follow that?
a weighing machine not a voting machine
We know full well that our Art is being judged. We like it that way. Judgment is welcomed and a natural process of transparency, which is what the barry farm is in the business of. Transparent animal husbandry, transparent grazing practices, transparent profits, transparent feeding programs, transparent relationships. Each interaction we have with friends family customers supporters is not a punch of the voting ballot. That would be to simple to reduce us to a black and white yes or no judgment whether we are good or bad.
The farm artists at the barry farm are rather judged on a weighing machine. Practicing the art of tipping the scale toward having the ability to change the conversation. It is too easy to reduce the conversation to eggs. I don’t want to be an egg producer as the work that it requires on the chickens and our behalf is not the joy of my life. Rather the egg is the sunday school object lesson that transforms lives. When new customers want to buy eggs from us we most of the time ask them to meet us at the farm to join or discuss the process further. Most of our customers have done some research on the internet, seen a food documentary or have had some experience that makes them seek out people/farms like us. The art that the barry farm practices is not a simple recitation of the truth of what local family farming is and it’s benefits. We wish to create a story of the barry farm with you included. A story that has the ability to create change, and sure we can trade eggs for the inclusion of you in the story.
The story of going to far.
Renee has been away the last two days at the last of her H.M.I. meeting in Johnson City. I’ve had a lot of time to be by myself, which I really don’t mind at all. There are so many questions that bounce around the corners of my thoughts and so few quiet places to answer them back in . I was trying to answer the question these last two day “just what is it in you that makes you want to farm”.
In my experience with working livestock I know this to be true about getting them to move out on pasture. If you approach or stand behind a sheep she will walk or run straight away from you. If you stand in front of her she will back up. if you approach from the side she will stand still and neither go forward or backwards until you invade her personal space.
I’m not much different from range sheep. When pressed with threats to my heart or soul I move. I reorient my position in the direction that will relieve my discomfort out of both a desire for it to stop being uncomfortable and to try to prevent being in that situation again. That picture of layla looking at that ewe lamb almost brings me to tears. Can you imagine to a dad how precious this picture is to me? My evening shadowed, unicorn shirt wearing, gentle lamb holding little girl feeling so happy and free in that moment. She was recently excluded at school from being with some other girls because “she was not fashionable enough.” I’m so glad I could put a lamb in her arms to heal that wound just a little. Our farm goes to far all the time. We started it as a reaction to injustice when life wasn’t fair and when fear abounded in our family. The smith family responded by putting the threat at our rear and let it push us forward. Seamus was recently diagnosed with a life threatening peanut allergy and was about to start school, or as I call it peanut butter and jelly hell. Nothing was safe to eat, we hovered over his every move and contact. We interrogated our friends and families when meal time came or they brought food to eat around him. We were terrified of just what could happen if he was exposed to peanuts. Forced into a little bit of a corner our anger and fear made us tell people around us “we insist that you care about our family”. We demanded humanity and engagement from them and for some of them it was just too much to ask. Upon taking a hard look at myself and my demand for others to treat us with compassion and humanity I began to see just how much I was not living the life I wanted others around me to live. I put this behind me and let it push me to a better place. Push me from selfishness to generosity, from fear to hope from consumer to producer from waster to grower from tough to gentle. Seamus opened the path to the art of going to far. Pursuing the good in this world with all my vigor. Chasing down the story of just how great a community can be when they are inspired to see their kids the way I see layla with that lamb.
Free Range Kids
I cannot possible isolate the motivations to farm from my desire to not fail at being the best dad seamus could have. He quite frankly deserves a better chance than I honestly feel I can give him.
Seamus is inquisitive, a natural problem solver, not interested in routines or rules (which I love about him), doesn’t mind a little risk or dusting himself off after failures. Trying to help seamus be the best he can be would be severely hindered if all he could be is a spitting image of me. I don’t want him to be like me I want him to be like him. In my quest to love him like no other man could I find myself coaching myself to let him be as big as he can. Often I let him down by limiting his young mind.
I feel that this runs the risk of
crushing his spirit and then by default will just end up like what he sees around him. The farm is not just a physical place that seamus gets to be at it is a tool in my kit to help break down the rules that I impose on myself and my kids. Fighting the temptation to hold them back from the world until a right time has come or until he is ready is so wrong in my opinion. Seamus and Layla make my life worth living and have changed me for the better. Should the power of innocence be contained? Should we be without their benevolence or delay their generosity? I’m done waiting for the magic on and off switch for trusting layla and seamus. Life doesn’t work like that….the switch is always on.
Applause is never at its loudest at the beginning of new things.
The art of making life about beauty and changing the conversation is on! Fear and anger are past and hope guides us into new things. Seamus and Layla are the center of my motivations and I endeavor to get out of the way and to let them be as big as they can be. I trust them to be a blessing to others just as they have been to me. Lets take what looks like eggs and share our lives the way communities used to be. Lets turn bacon into BLT’s for lunch that our families have together. Lets take that forgotten lot at the dead-end of the street and turn it into a place where our kids swing and make tree forts. Thanks for your support and even more for listening.