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Stability or Stagnation

Garth Brown |

I’ve lately been acutely aware of time’s passing. I do have two young children, who are changing daily, but I actually ascribe my recent preoccupation with the brevity of a year to meditating on cows. Of all the types of livestock commonly found on American farms, cows are the least prolific. A cow has one calf per year, which obviously has a fifty percent chance of being a heifer. That heifer will herself calve a full two years after being born, assuming everything goes perfectly. Since that’s not what always happens, and since older cows can’t stick around forever, increasing a herd is agonizingly slow. I’m sure there’s a tidy mathematical formula that could express this rate of growth, but rather than try to figure it out I’ll return to my original point and say that it’s the kind of pace that makes me idly wonder whether I’ll have the number and quality of cows I want by the time my five month old son is ready to start college.

The cows look positively glacial compared to the pigs. The first two litters, each of ten piglets, have arrived in the past week. Further, a sow can farrow twice each year. Once again, there’s certainly a numerical way to precisely express all this given an estimated average for a few variables, but this time I’ll say that it’s the kind of pace that makes me realize I’ll be up to my eyeballs in piglets by next fall if I’m not careful.

Lately my life has been on more of a cow pace, or that’s how it’s felt. There are numerous writing projects, vague ideas of family outings, house maintenance, plans to be more deliberate, and intentions to keep in better touch with my friends floating around my head, to say nothing of the staggering number of farm projects that need to happen. Yet I feel like the past year, and especially the past six months, has slipped away without my noticing or accomplishing much.

Chief among my lack of accomplishments is marketing. I am eternally grateful to the many wonderful people who already buy pork and beef from the farm. I’m am even more grateful now that I’ve spent a few months trying to figure out how to reach new customers. I have never before felt so acutely the frustration of having on the one hand a product I believe in and on the other thousands of people who would be interested in it if they knew the farm existed, and no clear idea of how to bring the two together. It’s early going, so I can ascribe this failure to my own ignorance and ineptitude, both of which may be fixable, given enough time.


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