PART II: IAN THE INTERN: In His Own Words
I came to The Simple Farm like most other people, curious as to how a farm could function in the middle of a concrete wilderness. Michael and Lylah welcomed and showed me how they are not only defeating the odds but thriving by educating the public on the importance of locally grown food and sustainable animal husbandry. Yes, these are the all famous Michael and Lylah Ledner from Where Women Create Business Winter 2014 Issue featuring The Simple Farm and Lylah’s ultra creamy goat milk sea salt caramels.
My name is Ian Horvath and through persistence and hard work I have officially become the Unofficial Dairy Herd Intern.
I am suffering from a beautiful illness, Wanna-be-a-farm-osis. The symptoms are as follows: desiring to start a farm followed by willingness to work long, hard hours and most commonly accompanied by a deep appreciation for the earth and all its inhabitants.
The only known cure is to pursue a life dedicated to respecting animals, the land, and others. I have one goal for doing what I do at the farm, to soak up every ounce of knowledge that Lylah and Michael give so freely. That knowledge is then transferred to notebooks where I plan out my future farm, noting the positives and negatives of each system.
I knew nothing about farming, growing up for the most part in Scottsdale, disconnected from my food source and what it meant to produce what I consumed. I only recently started helping in November of 2013 but in the last few months I have absorbed exorbitant amounts of information. Before this time I had never milked a goat, herded animals, built fences, chicken runs, checked for signs of kidding, driven posts into the earth, assisted in kidding births, shoveled out pens, repaired broken engines, identified plants, processed chickens, reinforced pens against predators, bottle fed kids, cleaned up after messy kids, knew the difference between alfalfa and straw and oh so many more things associated with the farming lifestyle.
So what is a day like on The Simple Farm? Well it all starts early in the morning, 7:30am early. The ladies (the herd of 5 Nubian Goats) know when it is time to be milked and fed, and will not take kindly to a missed alarm clock or another push of the snooze button. Once milked and given a cookie for good behavior on the milking stand they return back to the herd and live the life of queens eating and ruminating all day until they are neatly packed away with fresh straw and ample amounts of alfalfa for the night. For myself, the rest of the day is completely different, If it is Monday through Friday I am off to work my day job from 9-5pm. Then I rejoin the farm around 5:15pm and put in another hour or until the sun sets. If it is a Sunday I arrive early afternoon and put my nose to the grindstone working on one of the many farm chores that needs to be completed from clearing out pens, to bringing discarded alfalfa to the chickens and watching them scratch through it in a furious manner. It could be shoveling off a few inches of top soil in a new roaming yard for the goats in hopes of clearing out every last toxic Oleander leaf (a leaf that could kill them if they ingested the smallest amount), or it could mean being doubled in half weeding a garden bed for hours. Yes, there is time between wheel barrel loads to the compost heap to stop and smell the lavender and mint, to pet the livestock guardian puppy Winnie and snap a few “selfies” with the goat ladies.
At the end of the day when the chickens have fallen into a listless haze and Gracie, the resident farm cat, is on the prowl for gophers and hares you stop and wipe the sweat from your brow and ask yourself, what is it all for? Who cares if you know where your lettuce comes from, or you are able to name the goat that filled your glass with milk and provided you with the ingredients to make the fine Gouda cheese you are about to devour? I do. That is why when I go to bed tired and sore, broke from the hours of work, knowing tomorrow I will be rising early to do it all over again, I smile. Soundly falling asleep, dreaming of goats and basil and potatoes yearning for the night to pass so I may do it all over again and learn as much as I can the next morning.
In September of 2014 I will be moving to the Pacific Northwest, to start looking again for my new “Simple Farm” willing to teach and nurture my continual desire for information, so I may eventually have my own farm with a dairy herd of cows and goats, chickens and hogs, and most importantly honey bees.