I heard a song by The Smiths today and the title of my post was a lyric from it. It struck a chord because I was percolating this post.
It’s become clear to me over the last year or so that my main - probably only - dream will not come to pass. That’s a very tough thing to have to accept, but I'm almost there. I think this post will be the last stage in my acceptance journey.
I’ve often spoken of my dream to run a smallholding, a proper smallholding, but the more I think about my life, the support structures I have in place, and the likelihood of success, the more I have come to realise I have to let it go as it will be a stressful failure.
Smallholding are tough to run. Very tough. I realise that now. The more I read, the more 12-14 hour days in all weathers without a break do not appeal. To run a completely closed system, that is a self-sufficient system, would require a lot of constant work to maintain. I would have to produce and consume everything in a constant balanced cycle if I go with the John Seymour theory of smallholding. I don’t think that is realistic or likely given the enormous amount of regulations and strict rules now involved in keeping animals that were not around in John's day.
If on the other hand I run a semi-open system and abide by all the rules and regulations, I need money. A fair amount too. That either has to be from a profitable business, which I’m sorry to say smallholding rarely is, or a job that takes me away from the smallholding. Employed income is better for the hours worked, but I will still have the smallholding tasks to complete afterwards. I’m sure there are lots of things that can be done to provide an income from a smallholding, from producing food for consumers to writing books and articles, but I have heard enough smallholding tales over the last 10 years to know I will work long hours and just about financially keep my nose above the water until I’m exhausted.
Talking of exhaustion, that’s the next thing. Support. There are two people living in my house and only one of them is interested in smallholding. The scale of the work required to run a smallholding is a lot for two people, let alone one on her own. That means if I can’t enlist hubby’s help with major tasks I’ll have to get help in. Cue more money required. I know him well enough by now to know if he is not interested in doing something he won’t. That happens more often than I care to admit if I’m honest. Both sets of our parents are elderly so there is no help from that quarter, and my sibling has her own life, as do her kids, so no go there. I am well and truly on my own with smallholding desires, and I will be well and truly on my own if I run one.
Finally, animals. I can’t kill them. I rescue worms from the chickens. I prefer to allow flies to leave the house under their own steam than swat them. I can’t even mercy kill an animal obviously dying in distress. I do not ever think I can get to a point where I can mentally thank a chicken for its sacrifice and lop its head off. When the van leaves for the slaughterhouse with the pigs in, I’ll be clinging to the back bumper all the way up the street. Every. Single. Time.
So there we have it. The idea of killing things leaves me feeling I have a big black hole in my stomach that can never be filled. I’m clearly not cut out to have animals as anything other than domestic pets. I’ve heard that people become detached and used to it, but do I really want to? I have a very detached personality anyway and can turn off my feelings about most things at the drop of a hat except, I think, my inability to kill animals. Given that is the one thing I seem to have strong feelings about, do I really want to take it away? I like to think my feelings about animals is a gateway to me one day being whole-hearted (a whole other topic!).
The dream about the smallholding has to go, is almost gone.
I don’t know what will take its place.