For the most part farming and raising your own food is a joy. There are times when your patience gets tried and you begin to wonder why you do what you do. Most of these times are brought on by human intervention.....or the lack of.
Today we picked up 11 lambs from the processor. Several were pre-sold, but I had a couple of extras that weren't spoken for. I generally don't operate that way, but I had these females that I didn't want bred. When I say pre-sold, this means that someone has confirmed verbally that they want one. For the most part, people keep their word and I am paid without any problems. For whatever reason, this time around I've had a couple of "no responses" and an actual "can you hold it for me for a month?" HUH? Do these people know what we go through to get this fine product to them from start to finish? I won't even go into the work involved in raising animals. I'll just start at the day they need to travel the 80 + miles(one way) to be to the processor for slaughter the following day. They must be "rounded up", which means fed in a small area so they are easier to catch. It typically takes 2 people to catch, hold and man the gates and doors. Once they are all sorted and loaded, a stop at the local farm supply store will get us a $2.00 trip permit, which is required to take sheep across country lines. Hefty fines await those who don't have the permit! The 80 mile trip typically includes a stop at the gas station and lunch along the way somewhere. Sheep are delivered and the farmer has just taken a farmer vacation.....gone and back in the same day.
Then the waiting begins. This time it was almost a full month. Granted, we did have some pork sausage made this time as well, but a full month? In the mean time you're answering emails and phone calls from customers wondering when their lamb will be ready. You are totally at the mercy of the processor. Do I call and ask? Shall I bug them again? I hope they don't think I am being a pest.
Finally! The day has come to pick up the lamb! Your hope is that you can deliver most of them on your way back home quick enough so that the GIGANTIC check you just wrote to the processor won't go through until you've collected enough from your customers to cover it. Barely slipping by yet again, you sit and wait and wonder why the rest of the customers won't return your emails and phone calls and be very thankful it's darn cold outside.
From here on out, a deposit will be required. I hate to do it, but that's what it has come to.
Did I mention the $1200 worth of hay I had to buy to get us through the winter? Maybe I just need to sell my ram.