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  • Beth Hoffman

Farm Planning Hangover

Updated: Jan 14, 2019


So our latest struggle is not John’s dad - he has actually now agreed to lease us the farm for five years (yay!...I think?). We held out for the five year lease because in order to really make any changes to the farm, to try to switch to a grass fed cattle herd, or to organic anything, it takes time. Two years of growing without chemicals to, in the third year, be able to sell it as “organic” (provided we start the process asap and pay for the certification). So five years, we figured, would allow us to make changes that we would not have to then worry would just be erased if John’s (now 86 year old) father did not “like” what we were doing.

No, that has been somewhat resolved (although now comes the actual legal documents to be signed!! Stay tuned…). Now our issue is ourselves. After all this time advocating for this move, of talking about it (even if I have been outwardly hesitant, but intrigued at the prospect); after all this thinking, can we actually get our act together? Can I move? Make a living? Be happy on a farm?

To make an obscure (for most Americans) and an overly dramatic reference, our situation reminds me of a famous speech made by Vaclav Havel. Havel was a writer and political dissident in the Czech Republic, who spent years in jail but who also led the country for ten years after the country’s “Velvet Revolution” (a revolution that overthrew the communist government peacefully).

In a speech he made upon taking power after the “revolution,” he pointed out that doing is far more difficult than complaining; dealing with reality is far harder than dreaming about the future. He gave the speech known as the “Velvet Hangover” on the one year anniversary of the end of Communism:

"All this is certainly reason for heartfelt joy. It would be a dangerous self-deception, however, if we took today's anniversary only as a reason for joy. It is not only that. For us it is at the same time a very serious summons to very serious reflection about ourselves.

...The...changes which seemed to us even a few months ago to be within reach are taking place slowly and with difficulty. Disquiet, dissatisfaction, intolerance and disappointment...are growing….The world observes us with ever greater hesitation and ever more frequently expresses the fear that our ability to build a new system lags precariously behind the ability we demonstrated in the destruction of the old system.

I am convinced that everything will turn out alright in the end. At the same time, however, I presume that if everything does in fact turn out alright in the end, it will be only because we will find within ourselves the strength to look ourselves straight in the eyes, all our previous failures and all their genuine causes, including those which are rooted in ourselves alone and in our negative qualities.

In other words, what will happen when we take over? Things will inevitably move slowly, agonizingly slowly. Will all the neighbors, and John’s dad, look for us to be successful in a year? In three years? Ten? What if it all doesn’t go to plan? And what is our plan??

It is time for us to “look ourselves straight in the eye” and to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise our failures will likely be of our own making.

#farmplanninghangover #vaclavhavel #grassfed #farmlease