Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Woman's Wisdom Blog

The following was re-blogged from -

Meet Short Story Author and Hobby Farmer – S.A. Molteni

If you would have asked me twenty years ago what I would be employed at when I turned fifty, I would have answered that I would most likely be a computer programmer working for a big company.

I really had no idea where my employment skills and education would take me when I was thirty years of age and certainly did not think that I would become a partner in a hobby farm with my husband at age forty-five. But, fate has a way of intervening in one’s life, especially if planning an early retirement was one of the top priorities when I was younger and newly married.

When my husband and I first wed, we decided that we would not have children.  That was a decision that we both fully agreed upon.  We would, however, revisit that decision several times in our marriage over the past two decades, but it always came back to staying childless.  For us, this worked and I do not regret not having children.  However, I always felt that I had a strong desire to care for animals and would one day do just that.

Back in 2000, I had just moved to Seattle from Florida and was working for a wonderful company as an information technology person (a.k.a. computer geek). I enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle.  My husband also worked for the same company and we literally were never more than a hundred yards apart from each other for the ten years that we worked there together.

Fast forward to 2009 when my husband’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and his father endured a bout with colon cancer at the same time.  We were thousands of miles away and felt the need to be near them in their senior years and in their failing health.  If that weren’t enough, in January 2010, my own father unexpectedly passed away, leaving my elderly mother living alone in Florida.

This is where fate stepped in.

My husband left his job in Seattle in the latter part of 2009 to be closer to his parents.  While I continued to work in Seattle.  A long-distance marriage was not great for us and we both agreed that we would need to decide which coast we were going to live on.  When my father passed away, it was really a no-brainer for me.  I would move back to Florida to be with my husband, his parents, my widowed mother and my other family members.  I resigned from my wonderful job in Seattle in 2010 and jetted to the east coast to start a new life.

During this tumultuous time, my husband and I found a fifteen acre farm that was in foreclosure located within a short drive to both my in-law’s home and to my mother’s home.  We had always talked about having a farm, but it was mostly a distant plan sometime in the far off future.  But, this property was at a perfect location and had so much potential that we did not hesitate to purchase it for what we thought was a song.

Overshadowed by the euphoria and newness of home ownership, we did not realize that the property  needed quite a bit of work done to the home and to the outbuildings in order to have a functional hobby farm.  It was not anything too drastic, we thought, so we dove head first into our new farming lifestyle.

After we purchased the farm, we went through the house and the property with a fine-toothed comb to derive at the major projects that would need to be done.  The well pump that provided water to the home and properly only worked part of the time, so a new one was needed. There was an old barn/garage that needed to be torn down and a new one erected. There was a chimney and fireplace that was separating from the back wall of the house which needed to be removed and the wall re-bricked in.  The cement patio under the chimney was deeply cracked and needed to be replaced.  There was a hole in the roof where the chimney had torn free that needed repair.

The list went on and on.

My husband and I were not working at “real” jobs at the time and decided to undertake the projects that we were capable of doing. It soon became apparent that the repairs to the homestead were not trivial in either time or expense and I soon found myself taking on a computer consulting job to pay for the projects. Thankfully the job allowed telecommuting, so I worked from home. With my husband overseeing, we “farmed” out some of the heavy manual labor projects to building contractors and  had no issues with getting the jobs completed on time and on budget.

Once the barn was in good enough shape to house farm animals and the fence line was properly in place, we purchased our first groups of cows.  There was Jersey Girl and Jersey Boy along with Angus Girl and you guessed it, Angus Boy (a.k.a. Bubbee) – pretty original names, I know.

Our intention was to have these  two pairs of cows breed and once their calves were born, we would have all the beef and cow’s milk we could possibly want to make butter, cheese and other dairy products. Just an FYI – Angus are beef cows and Jerseys are dairy cows.

Oh, we were so naïve and had no clue what we were doing back then. We have yet to get any milk from any of them.

Well, to be fair, Jersey Girl and Jersey Boy were sold to a neighboring farm before they were mature enough to breed.  Angus Girl and Angus Boy did breed but we could never get close enough to Angus Girl to milk her after her first calf was born.  No one told us that Angus cows were so skittish, we learned the hard way … getting kicked by a ton of angry beef on hooves!

Raising cows was a long process and we learned quite a bit from the experience.  Namely, just because a cow has had several normal births without issues, does not mean she or her offspring will make it through unscathed in every pregnancy.  This became painfully obvious when Half Calf, the daughter of Angus Girl  became pregnant with her first calf.

It was a gut-wrenching time in my life on the farm and the first time I had to witness the death of one of my beloved pet cows.  To deal with the grief of this event, I wrote a short story about it, called Her Name was Half Calf.  This was my first foray into self-publishing.

Once I recovered from the trauma of that event, there were more farm animals that we gathered over the next few years. There was a goat we rescued and fostered until she decided that she no longer wanted us as her human parents. There were the Cochin bantam chickens that we raised from hatchlings to full grown, beautiful birds that would occasionally get harassed and sometimes killed by our resident hawks. And lastly, there were the two sweet Jersey calf babies that we are currently bottle-feeding and hoping that they will grow into healthy, happy cows that we can milk one day.

Which brings me to today.

I have been retired from Corporate America for about a year and have become a full-time working partner in the farm with my husband. We now have a menagerie of farm animals – three Black Angus cows, two Jersey calves, four ducks, four turkeys, thirteen Cochin bantam chickens and one very lonely female pig who has just recently lost her male partner due to a ruptured hernia.

The past five years have been a great learning experience, not only in the workings of the farm, but also in the relationships we have nurtured with the animals that we raise. In reality, we have an entire farm of pets, each one having a distinct personality and unique idiosyncrasies.

Since the death of Half Calf in 2013, I have written and continue to write about the highs and lows of hobby farming. My latest book of short stories is now available on Amazon. It is called Chickens, Hawks and Grumpy Goats: Five Years on a Farm.

If you would like more information on hobby farming and leaving Corporate America for the rural life, please take a look at my Facebook farm page – North Florida Farm and Garden.
About the Author:

S.A. Molteni is a retired systems engineer. She is also currently a hobby farmer, avid traveler and an author of several award-winning short stories. She lives on a small homestead with her husband and a menagerie of farm animals.
S.A. Molteni can be found on her website, Twitter and Goodreads. Click on the book covers above to buy from Amazon UK, or click here for Amazon US.

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