There’s something romantic about living off the land, earning your keep by the sweat of your brow, and providing the community with good food. But people who dream of becoming farmers, unless they grew up doing it, often have no clue about the amount of work it entails, nor the amount of investment required. An overview of how to get into farming tells us about the risks and rewards, and ways to get started. Highly recommended is the internship: working on someone else’s farm as a hired hand in order to see if it’s really for you. Jesse Hirsch talks about his internship.
During my stint at Hill Hollow, I often wanted to throw in the towel, when farm work seemed like sheer drudgery, tedious tasks stretching out to infinity. I shocked myself multiple times on electric fencing. My sunburnt skin took the shade of a country ham. Everything hurt. I spent one long day on my knees in the mud, mounding up long rows of soil. That night I lay awake on a foam mattress, miles of dirt streaming behind my eyelids. Another day, I had to muck out the deep crust of piss and shit from a sweltering pig barn. Sheer force of will kept my breakfast down.
And yet — I felt great. There were moments of transcendence: watching piglets frolic in a pasture for the first time, or quietly weeding while honeybees buzzed about. But even beyond that, there was something purifying and warm about all the hard work, something that washed away the static in my head.
(Image credit: Julia Rothman)