There comes a point in every farm wife’s life when she must put her money where the corn is.
In short, there comes a time when she must buy land. At least that’s what the Dairy Man told me.
Buying land was a rite of passage for our farm life. I still remember the jittery feeling in my stomach back when DM and I first went down this path.
After months of research, loan applications, bargaining, and stacks of paperwork, Dairy Man and I took our first large step towards personal investment into the dairy: buying farmland.
This land-buying venture represented our first foray into deep, personal dairy investment.
I was just getting the hang of regular old farm life. Sure, the hours were long and the work was never-ending, but I hadn’t thought about the point when DM would want to invest our hard-earned dollars into the farm.
Silly me. I thought that money was accruing for a fabulous Mexican vacation or a paved driveway.
But dairy life and personal life are inextricably intertwined. I’m slowly learning that there isn’t a big difference between “family money” and “farm money.” Somehow it all ends up in the same pot.
This means that every dime we earn, every choice we make, has to take the dairy into account. Annoying. Does this mean my desire for new flooring might get trumped by the Dairy Man’s desire for new cows? Yes. Not an easy concept for a city girl to swallow.
When Dairy Man and I started discussing the land deal, it was easy to hide behind obscurities, generalities, and “somedays.” But eventually the time came to talk numbers, dollars, acres, a closing date. It was scary. I felt levels of resistance similar to those I felt before DM and I got married and moved to Smalltown. I secretly resented the notion that we had to deplete our hard-earned savings to buy something as un-sexy as dirt.
Because that’s all it is. Dirt. Buying land requires a down payment similar to that of a new house. But instead of four bedrooms, crown molding, and a walk-in closet, you get dirt. Instead of remodeling the bathroom, you get to spread poo on your new purchase. Thrilling.
Dairy Man tried to soothe my fears with land adages farmers rely on:
- “Land is our retirement plan!”
- “Land is a gift that keeps on giving!”
- “Buying land will make us rich … in equity!”
- “When the apocalypse comes and the world succumbs to chaos and lawlessness, the landowners will be king!”
Even my desire to become a post-apocalyptic czar was not enough to convince me. I was scared. What if we had a terrible drought? What if it snowed in July and our corn babies froze? What if the field was trampled by a herd of rabid water buffalo? What if there was a plague of corn-loving locusts?
Farm life is a good exercise in letting go. I’m still getting used to a farmer’s reliance on the land and weather. So many things are outside of our control. This could explain why Dairy Man is so annoyingly optimistic and flexible. My type A personality strains heavily against the lack of control that comes with farm life.
But ultimately I trust the business acumen of my scruffy Dairy Man. This is the life I’ve chosen and these are the educated choices we must make.
Because, really, life itself cannot be controlled or predicted. I can thank farming for teaching me this. I’m constantly learning and gaining flexibility and patience. Plus, I don’t even go into hypovolemic shock when I get my shoes stuck in the mud.
The dairy is growing. I’m growing. DM is so proud. I know our lovely land parcels will be a good investment. I’m well on my way to being a feudal land baron and I’m excited to watch this dairy ebb and grow. Land is good.
Even though I can’t buy new shoes with equity.