By Terri Smith –
The ‘real’ world isn’t easy. The things we are supposed to care about above all else don’t always make sense to me. As a farmer, I have not been very financially successful, which by many people’s standards means that I have not been successful at all. Farming, and market gardening in particular, does not look great on paper. My business never lost money, but neither did it really make money. Road’s End Vegetable Company supported itself and helped to provide my household with amazing food and wonderful people. But come winter I still always needed to find another job. It has been a good life; the food we eat is fresh and vibrant and healthy, my helpers have become wonderful friends, and my animals have provided manure, food, laughter, and comfort.
But in the ‘real’ world, these things apparently don’t count for much. For me, success has to do with how one spends one’s days, and how one feels about how one spends one’s days. To me, success, when you look back on your life, has to do with the people whose lives you have touched and whose lives have touched yours. It’s a bit of a cliché now, but like the Bohemians of the 19th century, I believe in Freedom, Beauty, Truth, and Love. These things are the real Reality behind reality. And Amadeus keeps me in touch with these things.
It’s like that old saying, “No one ever looks back at the end of their life and says, I sure wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
Living rurally is hard. Farming is hard. The wolves are always at the door (just as long as they don’t eat Amadeus!). But Amadeus is my touchstone. I look to him, probably more than I should, to see if things are okay. There have been difficult times and will undoubtedly be more, but when I go out to his pen and see Amadeus kick up his heels and dance over to me, nuzzling my pockets for a treat and pushing his wobbly little head into my face to say hello, I feel alright. I can dig my fingers into his thick fur or pet his soft nose and be in touch with a reality that goes beyond bills that must be paid or the snobbish opinions of government employees who want to know why I’m not making enough money by now with my seven years of post-secondary education to finish paying off my student loan.
I will get there. Slowly. One day at a time, I will get to success by this world’s standards as well as my own. But in the meantime, and until I do, I will not let someone else’s set of standards decide my level of success. I am successful, even if that success is only in my own eyes and in the eyes of a goat. I am successful because I know how to give and receive love. I have brought over 50 strangers from around the world into my home and most have become good friends and I have taught them about growing good food and caring for our planet, it’s people, it’s water, and it’s animals—and that is a huge success.
Amadeus is alive, and he wouldn’t be if I hadn’t been here and that is a success. I have great relationships with my partner, my family, and my friends, and that is a wonderful success. If I died right now, I would not feel my life had been a waste simply because I own nothing much more than a greenhouse, a beat-up old truck, and a slightly handicapped goat. I have a life filled with love, I get to grow and eat wonderful food, and I have a goat who falls over with excitement when I step out the door to see him. To you, I may seem ridiculous; to me, my life is wildly successful!
Terri Smith is a non-certified organic vegetable farmer in the Cariboo. She is passionate about writing, art, goats, and feeding good food to good people. She believes in following your heart, living your dreams, and taking care of the planet.