Sunday, January 6th, 2008
Though the season is technically over, I’ve decided to stay open year round. Why not? The people are lovely and my sanity is intact. As this venture has proved fiscally viable, I’m also exploring ways to expand the inn.
This will involve renting my eco-Airstream, and doing a small renovation to another space on the property. I am running into all sorts of red tape—outrageous insurance, obnoxious zoning laws, states disagreeable to grey water systems. These obstacles, which range from minor inconveniences to bona fide problems, prompt another ride on the ol’ what-do-I-really-want rollercoaster.
A glimpse at the inner dialogue: I have embraced the B&B idea, and will more so once I can offer accommodations that are diverse. But when people ask me what I do, I’d rather say I’m a farmer than that I run a bed & breakfast. Yet I don’t want to produce commercially, no matter how small the scale. Right. As usual, it’s easier to answer these questions in the negative, as in, I don’t want to not be anything. At the moment, I’m certainly not a farmer, and having a one room B&B doesn’t quite make me an innkeeper, either. So the compromise is a real B&B and a fake farm.
The work of becoming a fake farm is way more fun than that of becoming a real B&B. First of all, real or fake, a farm needs animals. So the chickens will arrive this spring. I’m preparing by imagining the lot of them ravaged by coyotes. Acceptance of the cycle of life is not innate in me, and I am, by any measure, sentimental when it comes to animals. But I’m ready for this foray into my “gateway” animals, inevitably leading to more intensive four legged species.
Happily, Woodstock will have its own farmer’s market beginning in the spring, so my fake farm will not be supporting a farm stand. My garden will be strictly for sufficiency, and it has been a joy to plan it as such. Putting it to bed this fall has brought me almost as much pleasure as seeing it at its height. Dorky to say, I’m brimming with promise for the spring, giddy both at the thought of all I can grow, as well as all I’ll have time to experiment with come spring.
Back in 2004, I took a class on starting a land based enterprise. During the business planning section, the speaker pointed out that a small farm that doesn’t make money isn’t a farm, it’s a hobby. The influence of that statement in my own life is becoming clear, as I realize I have been bizarrely using it as a measure of my worth and commitment to local agriculture. I want to be part of the small farm community, want to be part of that energy and impact, but I do not want to farm.
And man, it is hard to let go of that vision of myself, and hard to shake the feeling (which is akin to shame), that I am pursuing a hobby. But I’m learning to reconcile those dreams I had for myself and my future with my actual desires. I am an innkeeper who keeps a large garden and a dozen chickens. It doesn’t have quite the ring I’d like, but, boots on the ground, I hardly complain.