The Dark Side of Farming

by Susan on January 20, 2010

When I’m asked to give talks to farmers about blogging and social networking as a form of marketing I always tell the attendees not to focus on the negative. “People don’t want to read about the bad stuff,” I tell them. Be positive. Talk about the good stuff. People want to read about your successes, not your failures.

And as a rule, I’ve always tried to follow that advice on this blog. But tonight I find myself longing to write the unvarnished truth. To show you all the other side of farming.

Like everyone else, my business has been damaged by the bad economy. People aren’t spending money the way they did two years ago or even in the first quarter of last year. It’s not surprising at all; yarn is a luxury product and luxuries are the first thing that goes in an economic downturn.

The farm was hit hard but not as hard as some people and I have been grateful to be able to carry on, grateful to be able to farm full-time and still make ends meet. But not an hour has gone by since I started this business that I didn’t worry about money. Probably not even a minute.

My farm was under-capitalized from the start, as most farms are, and even in the best of times I was carrying a large debt load, as most farms are. But several things happened in the last six months that made things even more precarious than usual. First, extricating myself from an unhealthy and unsustainable situation and the move that followed wiped out my savings. The move was absolutely necessary and I have never second-guessed the decision, but it was a big blow to my balance sheet.

Once we moved it took longer to get the shop back up and running than we anticipated. There were several mistakes made during the shipping of the Spring shares that cost me a small fortune. They were honest mistakes and I wasn’t angry with anyone, but it really hurt. The holidays weren’t as good as we expected but probably could have been worse. January is always a terrible for sales and this year was no exception.

I was living very close to the edge but there didn’t seem to be any alternative. Perseverance has always been my strong suit and I knew that if I could just hold on, just work harder and juggle my bills and watch every single penny, we’d be okay until things picked up. Unless something terrible happened.

For some reason, in my worst moments, I thought the something terrible would come in the form of my getting sick. I haven’t had health insurance since we moved and I just can’t afford it right now. So I worry that I’ll be diagnosed with some terrible illness that will wipe me out completely. In the past few weeks I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, my heart beating loud and hard, after dreaming my appendix burst or I found a lump in my breast.

So when the something terrible finally did happen today, it didn’t come as a huge surprise. I was checking my bank balance- as I do hourly these days- and saw a huge debit from the vet’s office where I took Lucy last week. My first thought was that they had made a billing mistake, charging me more than 5 times what I should have paid for an office visit plus a round of vaccinations. But it made me nervous enough to call the farm to make sure everything was okay.

When no one answered I called the vet’s office to ask about the charge. “Are you calling about Lucy?” the receptionist asked, “She was hit by a car.” The next few minutes were torture while I waited for a vet to come to the phone. Finally the receptionist came back on the line to tell me that the vet was unable to talk to me but that Paige and Erin had brought Lucy in. She was alive and needed specialized treatment, so they had stabilized her and sent the girls and Lucy to another animal hospital.

I hung up and called Erin’s phone. No answer. Same when I dialed Paige. I texted Erin asking her to call me immediately. The next twenty minutes were interminable. Finally, Erin called from the second vet’s office to tell me that Lucy was doing okay, but the x-rays had shown bruising on her lungs and she was having some difficulty breathing. The vet came on the phone and walked me through Lucy’s condition, said they wanted to keep her on oxygen for the next two to five days and transferred me to the front desk where the receptionist asked me for a credit card number. The vet’s best estimate put the charges between $4200 and $6000. Lucy had already wracked up nearly a thousand dollars in charges in the 20 minutes she’d been there. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t even think when the receptionist said the numbers. Finally I told her I’d have to call her back.

I spent the next few minutes doing the most horrible, hateful math I’ve ever done. Before I even knew she’s been hit, the vet bills incurred at the two offices had already cleaned out my bank account. I just flat out didn’t have the money. I called the vet back and asked her what my options were. And I have to say, she was just awful about it. “Can’t you put it on a credit car?” she asked. No, my credit cards are maxed out. In the end, she said that the next 24 hours will be critical. Erin and Paige were to watch Lucy and bring her back to the vet tomorrow for another check.

Lucy is home now. She doesn’t seem to be in much pain but her breathing is labored and we don’t know if she’s going to make it. The next couple of days will be very telling.

As far as my financial situation is concerned, the next few weeks will be very telling. All my cash reserves are gone. Unlike many farmers, I don’t have a spouse’s income or benefits to fall back on. I’m almost surely going to have to go back to work full-time until things turn around. It stinks, especially since I haven’t taken a salary in months, but I’m out of options.

Most days my blog is full of funny stories and pretty pictures of animals. I get a dozens of emails a week from readers who know all our animals by name and who tell me I’m living their dream. And, you know what? I’m living my dream, too. But this is the other side of farming. The scary, ugly reality that most farmers live with. Farmers live in a world were a bad crop, bad storm, bad break can mean financial ruin.

No one is entitled to the life they want. I know that. But I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last two years in my dream job. Building my flock, watching lambs come into the world, living and working with my dogs. All of those moments were precious gifts. And even if I lose it all tomorrow, I wouldn’t change one moment of it.

If you are the praying kind, please pray for our Sweet Lucy. I’ll keep you apprised of her condition.

LATEST NEWS ON LUCY’C CONDITION: Lucy made it through the night but her breathing is still labored. Erin is waiting for the vet’s office to open so she can get her back in to be seen by a vet.

EDITED TO ADD: Thank you to everyone who made a donation to help cover Lucy’s vet bills. You all have been so generous and we can now cover the cost of all the medical care the puppy will need.

{ 83 comments }

1 Lori aka knittingfool January 20, 2010 at 12:18 am

Bless you, Susan, for your courage. I know that was the hardest blog ever. Praying with every cell of my body that Lucy know healing, and comfort, and love. Praying for Paige and Erin as they watch over her. Praying for you, so far from home. Praying for what will be. Love, Lori

2 Scott January 20, 2010 at 12:35 am

Poor, poor puppy, and what a horrible way to find out about the situation. I pray that she gets better, and doesn’t any more expensive vet treatment. It always seems that the biggest emergencies happen when one is away from the farm. I will pray for you all. Scott

3 Melissa L January 20, 2010 at 12:38 am

I am so sorry to hear about your situation and sweet Lucy. I will keep you both in my thoughts and hope that there will be a positive turn of events. You so deserve it.

4 Susan January 20, 2010 at 12:39 am

Tell us how we can help. I don’t have a lot to spare but would be happy to donate to a Lucy fund. Keeping Lucy in my prayers.

5 ritsuka January 20, 2010 at 12:49 am

I am so, so, sorry, Susan. I’m thinking good thoughts for both you and Lucy in the coming days.

6 Sarah V. January 20, 2010 at 12:49 am

I agree with other commenters – I don’t have a lot, but I’d be glad to contribute whatever I can manage, to help.

Thanks for your honesty and candour. Both are qualities that make your blog and your business so special. I hope there is a small measure of peace in the midst of this craziness and stress. And, money stress really is the worst.

7 Lisa January 20, 2010 at 12:53 am

Poor Lucy. Just remember that she is a young, otherwise healthy animal, and they can be amazingly resilient. Rest and the time to heal may be all that she needs. Just hang in there.

8 Lisa January 20, 2010 at 12:57 am

Check to see if the vet accepts Care Credit. It’s a specialized credit only for veterinary bills–you can apply online at http://www.carecredit.com

9 JacobsReward January 20, 2010 at 12:58 am

Susie… I’m praying for a miracle. For Lucy, for you, for the farm. Praying for a big one.

10 lauria January 20, 2010 at 12:59 am

OMG, Susie. I’m so sorry. Good thoughts and prayers coming your way. I know how hard this time has been for you and I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately and wondering how you were getting by. I hope that Lucy is going to be okay. I can imagine how heart-wrenching this is for you.

11 Marscha January 20, 2010 at 12:59 am

I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.

12 Betsey January 20, 2010 at 1:03 am

This is just heartbreaking. I will keep you, Lucy, and the farm in my thoughts. Lucy ist the most precious puppy and I have to believe that her awareness of everyone’s love for her will help her pull through. ((hugs))

13 Kelley January 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

I am so sorry for your heartache, and for sweet Lucy. I have been debating purchasing some Aran yarn and a full share for a few months now, and with this blog post I knew that my money was going to the best possible place. I’ll be lighting a candle for you and your sweet pup.

14 Judy January 20, 2010 at 1:14 am

Susie,
I want to donate to a “Lucy Fund” or a “Juniper Moon Farm Fund” or whatever you want to call it. Please tell me where I can send the money. Will your email work if I send it through Paypal? I can’t read your email and not do anything. My heart is breaking for you.

15 Riaknits January 20, 2010 at 1:40 am

I’m so sorry, Susan. I’m not exactly the praying kind, but I’m praying for Lucy right now. And for you.

16 quinn January 20, 2010 at 2:45 am

Lots of good thoughts coming your way, for Lucy and your entire farm family. I know what you are going through with the vet situation; been there. Fingers crossed.

17 Katja January 20, 2010 at 3:28 am

Oh no, that can’t be true! I’m so, so sorry!
I read your blog here at work (every day, it’s just that I don’t comment). I have tears in my eyes and it feels so sad just sitting here and there’s nothing to do. I keep you and the cutest puppy in my thoughts. May fate have mercy this time.

18 Adri H. January 20, 2010 at 4:41 am

Hang in there. Lucy and you all are in our thoughts… If it’s comforting for you to know, there are people thinking of Juniper Moon farms near and far and we’re all praying for Lucy’s recovery.

19 Heather January 20, 2010 at 5:43 am

My thoughts and prayers are with Lucy,you, and the farm.

20 Anna Marie January 20, 2010 at 6:11 am

Susie, you are a strong person and I admire you. You will get through this, I know you will. Lucy is a puppy and they are amazing at healing. My prayers are with you all.

21 becky January 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

oh god, susie. sending you all my wishes for strength and healing. please let us know if we can do anything. hold on… it will be ok.

22 Kris January 20, 2010 at 6:53 am

I’m so sorry that this is happening to you. You’ll be in my thoughts.

23 Jennifer King January 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

I’m so sorry about all this Susan. I’ll be thinking of you and Lucy and hoping for the best. From the pictures you’ve posted anyone can see how precious she is, I can’t bare to think of her hurting. As for your financial problems, you’re not alone. I too have taken on way to much debt to keep my business going through this tough time. There are days when I can accept it’s going to take years to dig myself out of this, and then I have days where it all seems impossible. I’m working very hard to stay positive and keep going. I know from experience that things can change in an instant and opportunities that you never thought possible might be right around the corner if you’re open to them. It’s hard to do, especially for you since you hate change, try and be open to it, sometimes change is exactly what we need. I’m thinkin’ of ya, Jen

24 Jennifer King January 20, 2010 at 7:37 am

Hey Susan, I hope my comment doesn’t sound preachy… You’re probably thinking “damn girl, I’ve had my share of change recently” and you have, that’s for sure. I just think you’re a fantastic person with a great vision and you deserve great things to come your way. I’m just keeping the faith that good things are around the corner for you. xo

25 Vickie January 20, 2010 at 7:38 am

Being a dog owner of five dogs, I know you are struggling and it hurts to have to make such a hard decision. Please know that all of us out here in cyberland feel your pain. It is not horrible to ask for help when it is needed. From a fellow Texan to another, our donation and prayers for Lucy are on the way.

26 Kay Slaughter January 20, 2010 at 7:59 am

As another fellow texan, owner of mulitiples of canines, and former horse rancher, I do truly feel you pain both emotionally and financially. The decisions are gut wrenching. I do pray for the best outcome for sweet Lucy and for a good answer for you and your farm.
Kay (friend of Kenny, Diane, and Cindy T.)

27 Mary Cooper January 20, 2010 at 8:13 am

I am praying HARD for Sweet Lucy.

28 Tanya January 20, 2010 at 8:34 am

Life isn’t always sunny and happy and we should see the good, the bad and the ugly of farm life. I keep you, Lucy and the entire farm in my thoughts and prayers. (((Big Hugs)))

29 suzy January 20, 2010 at 8:38 am

Susie, you know how much I love you and the farm and sweet sweet Lucy. I am thinking healing miraculous thoughts and hoping and praying for all of you. I wish I was there right now to hold your hand and hug you for your courage in posting this.
XOS

30 Heather January 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

Take the money, Susie. You are right — you can’t let your pride get in the way of her health. We went through the exact some dilemma a few months ago when my in-laws offered to help pay for (a second) surgery for our dog. First I said no. The I looked at her and realized I could deal with the guilt and shame if it meant she had less pain. It is OK. We do what we can, when we can, and when help comes our way, we pay it back and forward as we go along. Hugs to you, Erin and Paige, and kisses to Lucy

31 Donna January 20, 2010 at 8:58 am

First – I am praying for Lucy. It’s awful when something happens to our pets. The worst part is having to make the decision as to how much you can spend on the situation. Our vet looked at us like we were murdering our 13 year old cat because we couldn’t afford the $1500 for a special radiation treatment. He got pills instead and went on for another few years.

Second – thank you for your honesty about farming. Those of us who are thinking about going into farming in the future need to hear it.

Peace…..

32 Sara January 20, 2010 at 9:01 am

Oh dear God, Susie… I’m praying… with everything I have. And I feel so bad because I want so much to help Lucy out and I just can’t financially do it. Know that I love you SO MUCH… I love the farm… I hope that things will be ok.

33 Pam January 20, 2010 at 9:21 am

We are so sorry to hear about Lucy and your worries. You are an amazing woman who has given so much of yourself to us through sharing your expriences. Thank you for your honesty. We are sending good thoughts, love and light.

34 Lorraine January 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

Good thoughts to you and Lucy.

PLEASE let us know how we can help.

35 Katie January 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Sending healing thoughts to Lucy and hugs to you, Erin and Paige.

36 Steph in Canada January 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

Donated to Lucy’s medical care in memory of our sweet Barkley (June 10, 2006 – Oct. 28, 2009).

37 Laurie January 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hugs for Lucy and Hugs for you too :(

38 --Deb January 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

Oh, God. Poor Lucy! Saying fervent prayers.

39 Puddytat purr January 20, 2010 at 10:03 am

Omigosh, I’ve only just read this – how dreadful! I hope Miss Lucy pulls through and fully recovers.

I’ll be watching your blog and twitter stream for more news

40 Julie Roads January 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

I love you, Susan. With all of my heart. You are one of the best friends that I have ever had. The first time we met – it was like we’d known each other our whole lives. And it was extraordinary.

You are brave. You are a fighter and a thriver. Everyone here knows how much you love your animals and how much you love that farm. Right now, you are surviving. You can’t take care of those animals if you are not first able to take care of yourself. Please let yourself off the hook – you are and have been making the best decisions for the farm and for yourself all along. They’ve been hard. But you’ve made them – and you’re doing it now.

Sending you all of the love and support I have. Trying to get myself down there to you…

xox

41 Lesley January 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

I’ve been a farmer for a significant portion of my life and tragedies seem magnified on a farm, when life is so bright generally and money is so tight everywhere. But, one of the things that always stands out is that community holds the people going through their crisis together. I’m glad you’re letting us help, in a small way. I am sending my love to Lucy and y’ all.

42 Kathleen January 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

I don’t know you or Miss Lucy, but I heard about the accident on twitter. I too am a fairly new small farmer and understand. I am so very sorry about Lucy’s accident and hope she is doing better today. I will be sending a small donation. Please realize that when people send something, it is NOT charity. This is like a barn-raising–all who can donate something, however small or large. The community looks out for itself that way. You would do the same for others.
Get better Lucy!
If everyone who reads this could give an average of $10 it probably wouldn’t pay the bill, but it would be a nice chunk of the first installment. Counting me, I see 42 comments and I’m going to retweet the message I saw.

43 Joan B January 20, 2010 at 10:53 am

Susan – sending prayers and good thoughts your way. You have the support of all who know and love you. You are an amazing woman.

44 woolies January 20, 2010 at 11:00 am

Fervent prayers for Lucy, and for you too.
You and I are a lot alike; I feel like we would be good friends. And I’m sending a small donation in memory of our beloved Sylvester.

45 nicole January 20, 2010 at 11:06 am

Sending good vibes in your direction, and to the farm as a whole, as well.
Crafters in general are a helpful and thoughtful group of people. If good thoughts, prayers and hope from them could cure, there would be no more suffering in the world.
I hope everything goes well.

46 Lori aka knittingfool January 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

Susan, I am So glad you decided to let us help with OUR farm…sometimes a puppy needs prayers and medical attention. And sometimes a shepherd needs help from the loving community she has created.

47 Carol (chackler) January 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

Susie – you are such a wonderful person and I’m honored to live a part of my dream through you and your blog. I chipped in a little for Lucy’s vet bills, I hope it helps. You and everyone on the farm will be in my prayers.

48 Heather January 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

Susie — I would also call around to any vet hospitals and rescue organizations and the local SPCA to see what aid they can give. We ended up taking Tashi to a vet hospital for her first surgery, as they were willing to take a deposit for her care, rather than the total bill up front. Feel free to contact me privately if you want to brainstorm — heather at sereknity dot com. As I said before — been there!

49 Dragan January 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

Oh Susie, Erin and Paige- I am so, so, so, so, sorry to hear about Lucy. She is such a bright and wonderful addition to your farm. I am hoping for the best. Losing an animal is hard enough without financial worries, what a terrible combination to heap on you. All my love to you.

50 Carole Ogram January 20, 2010 at 11:51 am

you and Lucy are in my prayers

51 Chelsea the Yarngeek January 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I have sent what I can and hopefully it will help in some small way. And yes, it says Susy and not Lucy. One should not write things early in the morning before having coffee… (Please forgive the mistake and get a giggle out of it. :) )

52 Jenn C. January 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

My heart goes out to you right now. I’m so sorry that your wonderful little girl has had this accident. I sent a little donation to you to help pay for her care. Know that we’re all praying for you both.

53 dina (dinaknitsinmd) January 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

OMG! I am so very sorry this had to happen at all, nevermind happen when you weren’t home. Thankfully you had Paige and Erin there to make sure matters were handled properly.

There is no shame in accepting help from the community you created and I am very glad you wrote this post and allowed us to share in the dark side of your farming life. I think farmers are so very brave in the risks they take in general and you are so terribly brave given your love for the animals in your care.
I think we all want to be there for you in any way possible. I’ve had to hold off on some travel and luxuries since, shamefully, my credit cards are maxed out too and I DO draw a salary. (That’s the shameful part!) Nevertheless, I will send what I can and remember to send more when I can send more.

I hope you can enjoy the weekend and bask in the warmth of those who joined you for this weekend.

Am sending healing waves of energy and prayer down to Lucy and to you/Erin and Paige as I know this has pained you all terribly.

Love!

54 Linda S. January 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I sent a little to help–I’m also sending good thought y’all’s way. Time is good with this kind of injury–the longer she holds on, the better her chances for recovery. Hang in there and keep us posted as you’re able.

55 Karen January 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm

OMG!! Susie, when it rains, it pours. I adopted shelter cats Nov 2007 who were (unknowingly to me) riddled with intestinal parasites. Within a few days, they had infected my 12 year old-unvaccinated-indoor cat so badly we almost lost him before Christmas. That bill was $2800 for 2 days in the vet hospital. CARE CREDIT took the hit and saved me. If you don’t have that card, apply for it today. I am sending all my positive thoughts to Lucy for a quick recovery. And a small donation. Puppies are resilient. We love you, Erin, Paige & all the animals so much!!

56 Kristen January 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Oh Susie! I’m soo sorry to hear about poor Lucy’s accident! I’ve been there, with the dog needing surgery and having no $$ to pay for it. You are doing the right thing to accept the help of the loving community that you have built around the farm. I’m sending a small donation to help, in honor of Clydemore, who taught me more about accepting help and love from others than anyone.

I’ll be sending all my strongest healing vibes to Miss Lucy, and peace and strength to you. You’ll get through this, you’re strong and resilient and loved by many.

57 Jenny January 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Oh, Susie. Thank god that farm has such an amazingly strong person as you at its helm. My thoughts and prayers are with you. This has been such a terrible time financially, and it (plus other factors) just seems to hit you 100 times worse. If there is literally ANYTHING I can do to help you, please let me know. My heart goes out to you, Erin, Paige, the dogs, the flock and especially Lucy right now. Also, THANK YOU for sharing this with us. It’s incredibly personal and brave. You’ll do what you have to do, it’s what you do, and keep in mind there is no dark without light. It’s definitely coming. Love you a lot!

58 Katharine January 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for accepting help from the community on behalf of your dog. It makes me very happy to know we can help in a small way. Our best wishes for Lucy’s speedy recovery.
Aarne & Katharine

59 mixette January 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Thank you for allowing us to do something for little Lucy. You do *so much* for us by having this blog that being able to pitch in during a crisis allows us to do something from afar. Because we can, and we want to. Positive thoughts and healing vibes to all of you.

60 Shelley Noble January 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

There’s no such thing as money per se. It’s all made up. What you’ve got here are many people who support you giving you these units of support that won’t harm themselves at all but will show you how much support you’ve garnered with your daily sharing of life.

Off to make a small donation…

61 frances kenned January 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I don’t have time to read all the comments but trust me when I say all the pleasure I get from following your blog and the antics you capture of all the critters with your camera are priceless to me. Please accept my donation, it has already been paid in full.

62 Maureen January 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm

You are not the only person to have made similar calculations and have felt similar guilt. I’m sorry.

63 Karla January 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I donated to Lucy’s vet fund because I realized that nearly every day, I read your blog and learn something that’s important. Today’s post made it crystal clear to me how multi-faceted this farming lifestyle of yours is, and I admire the honesty it took to write it, and the courage to face this, every day. More than you could possibly ever know, you have helped me understand my own work and life better. Since I have benefited from your education, I feel it is only right to give something back. And if that giving back is in dollar form, that’s perfectly appropriate. As my grandfather used to say, put your money in your head and nobody can take it away from you. And as my 8 year old emphasized last night when I explained this to him, “that’s because nobody can rob your brain!”

64 Melanie January 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

So much so well said by your readers.
We are all interconnected and giving freely always comes back to us multiplied.

I just had a discussion with my husband about how glad (and lucky) we have been to be able to pay the big vet bills that have kept the animals we cherish in our lives. Sending you financial help in the spirit of community and thoughts and prayers for healing and comfort in great measure.

Melanie

65 Nancy January 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

A donation for Lucy as a small token of thanks for all the pleasure you have given me by sharing your wonderful animals, the oh-so-good photographs and your life. Lucy is in my thoughts.

66 rona Thau January 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm

susan,
just getting here reading this news
omg
my prayers for you and miss lucy
and the farm
i relate to a lot of what you are saying
and
i don’t have much but i’m going to make a (sorry small) contribution to miss lucy’s med fund
i’m so sorry to hear about this incident
it sucks
beaming love and prayers your way and to everyone
erin, paige and of course miss lucy.

with much love,
rona

67 frances January 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm

A donation to the Lucy fund has been sent in memory of all my babies, past and present. My thoughts and prayers are coming your’s and Lucy’s and all the babies’ way, and Paige and Erin too!

68 rona Thau January 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

holy crap
i JUST realized that it is lucy the PUPPY and not lucy the sheep that got hit…omg…i was wondering why/how a sheep would be out of the pen.
crap
little lucy is strong and i am praying for her.
lots of love again and again
rona

69 Andrea B. January 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Poor Lucy. I hope she improves soon! It’s so hard when our animals are not doing well. I am also struggling with vet bills for a shelter kitty we just adopted that (unbeknownst to me) was sick. It’s shocking how fast the charges build up.

Incidentally, as a reader and shareholder I don’t want to hear just about good stuff and successes. In fact that makes me just wonder “I wonder what else is really going on?” because I’m aware that farming is a tough business and that things go wrong. (Perhaps that was behind all of the inquiries you received about Miss Linda, which led to the hilarious proof-of-life photo.) I think your community gets that and can hold up to taking in the good with the bad.

70 Bill Horvath January 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm

We’re really looking forward to coming to the farm for Shepherding Camp this spring, and I understand what it’s like to go through the crucible of running your own business. Please let me know if we can pay the second half of the tuition(?) now, instead of the week before our visit. I’d really like to do whatever I can to help.

71 wendy January 20, 2010 at 5:01 pm

What I’ve learned recently is that people want to help – all you have to do is ask. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your sweet puppy and the vets who will care for her.

72 Jane from Maryland January 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I am so sorry to hear about Lucy getting hurt – makes us all weep a little for her and with you. Let me know if I can help in any way. Hugs to everyone!

73 Maureen J (mljan) January 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Oh Susie, what an awful, terrible thing to happen, and being away from home makes it so much worse. You must just feel like a punching bag some days. I have fallen in love with Lucy from far away, and I certainly want to help take care of her in this emergency. She is such a sweet puppy. You’ve given me far more than my shares have cost, in your wonderful blogs about the farm and your life. I do worry sometimes that you give too much of yourself away.
Please take care. Maureen

74 Sharon January 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Oh, Susan, it hurts me to hear this. This must be such a hard time for you as you wait. My thoughts are with you and Lucy!

75 Mujercita January 20, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I just saw this today.

I am so, so sorry about what happened to Lucy. My thoughts are with you and your farm family.

76 Leslie in California January 20, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Susan, I too have Lucy and you in my thoughts and prayers. God speed.

While we all in one way or another envy your farm and your life, I don’t think that anyone of us thinks it’s at all an easy life. What I love, admire and envy is your guts to do what you love. I do love the photos, I love how cheerful you write about worming the lambs, almost making it seem like fun, when in reality it’s hard work. I love your writing style, how you tell of the daily events on the farm, how you decide on color ways, how you decide what wools to blend into the next farm share of yarn. The fact that you live the life you want! I’m so impressed, and awed by you. I hope that you keep on plugging away at your dream and continue to share it with us, who stand by and like me wish I had the courage in my youth to also follow my dream. I will follow my dream, but first I have a commitment to care for my mom and ensure that all her remaining days are happy and she feels loved.

Thank you Susan for all your hard work and for allowing us to peek in and watch the wonder that is Jupiter Farms.

77 Sarah knitcrazybooknut January 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Susie, I’ve reposted on my facebook status, and have already seen one ravelry member destashing for you. I have often wanted to join your CSA, and hope that our financial situation clears up to where that dream becomes a reality. (We just bought our 2.7 acres in the country and are trying to build our own farm. Thank you for being an inspiration!)

As I said on fb, I become more and more convinced that the world is made up of two different kinds of people: those who understand and know in their bones what it’s like to truly live and die with the land, and those who have never experienced the joy, heartache, love, stress and tears of raising animals and food as their life’s work.

My best to you and your wonderful animals, especially Lucy. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this tough time. Best wishes from my husband and five kitties, too.

78 Linda M Keefe January 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Hardest thing I have read. Susan your courage inspires me . I pray for you and Lucy

79 Georgia N. January 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Hi Susan – I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with you and Lucy. I really hope that she makes it through. I completely understand your situation financially. I too am in the same boat… The past couple of years and saved up a bunch of money to begin a business and was so excited when that day came. This past summer my dog developed pneumonia and ended up he had a hiatal hernia…all in all the bills racked up to over $25k. More than I could ever imagine. I sat down and would look at the numbers and had no idea how I was going to make it through. But, as you said today, you have to watch every penny and take it day by day.
All of this I say to you because I wanted you to know a couple of things, since I have just experienced all of this.
1. Ask for itemized estimates that are printed out.
2. Ask what is necessary and what is not – it will help cut costs.
3. If Lucy is prescribed medications – ask if there is a comparable drug that you can buy at Walmart or something. I mention this because we had explained to our vet that we were at our end financially and couldn’t afford any more $400 medications. Come to find that a $220 medication my dog needed was replaced with a comparable drug from Walmart for ONLY $4.

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to explain to your vet and the doctors you deal with about your financial struggle. Ask if they have a plan and if they can keep the costs to a minimum. Tell them you need to keep the costs as low as possible. It may sound horrible at moments (the look in my vets eyes sometimes were telling me she thought I had no care for my dog!) but believe me it is worth it in the end. If you let them do whatever they want, the costs you can incur will grow exponentially.

I hope this helps somewhat. I wish I could help more. Let me know if you have any questions. Take care of yourself and know that you are surrounded by people that love you and care about you.
-Georgia

80 Karin (knitlessinseattle) January 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I only just found out about Lucy tonight. Selfishly I’m glad I didn’t find out until today. I was in tears reading everything even though I got to read the updates before I read what had actually happened. Susan – I’ve said this before in comments, your strength and willingness to share in times of weakness are an inspiration to many who read your blog. Your beautiful photos of the animals paint a picture of what I, a tax accountant living in Seattle, envision life on a farm might be like. A little touch of nirvana in the country. Your words paint the picture of the difficulty of running a working farm. Your ability to blend the two is why I read your blog. It is why I wanted to own a little touch of the nirvana. And it is why I wanted to contribute to helping Lucy get better. In difficult times, lean on friends to help you through. You’ve built this network of friends because of you and your message. Let it help you in the difficult times as well as the good.

81 writerbug January 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I know how hard it can be to write these dark, honest posts. And while it may be true that people generally want to hear the good, I personally feel that it’s a moral obligation to share problems, too. Otherwise readers are left their wondering, am I the only one who worries about XYZ? Everyone else’s lives look so perfect. What’s wrong with me? So I applaud the post, and am keeping you and little Lucy in my thoughts.

82 Beth at Mountain Hollow Farm February 2, 2010 at 11:50 am

Susie,
Thank you for writing this post. We started a cashmere goat farm 2 years ago and it’s been a financial challenge. In spite of diligent financial planning, we have spent all our savings and are living paycheck to paycheck (my husband has a fulltime job). Our goal is for the farm to support us and I believe that will happen, but it is not easy. I love this life and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it is definitely not as romantic a lifestyle as many of my friends seem to believe. I’ve been planning to write a “Now, the Rest of the Story” post for my blog (http://bit.ly/MHFblog) about the chaos associated with starting a farm and living in a fixer-upper. It is good for our readers to realize that life on a farm is not all perfect, and it’s good for me to know that other farmers face the same challenges that I do.

I am glad that Lucy is doing better.

83 ROSE August 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

YOU are entitled to the life you want. You get to know this. It is true…now live it.

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