I'm a farmer by marriage, mostly. I guess my farm roots actually go back to my childhood when I would spend part of my summer staying with my Aunt Vick on the Lane of Elms Farm in Harford County, MD. Probably the most memorable thing I learned from those summers was how to spell their name, Reimenschneider. Wew! I'm glad I have a simple name!
I enjoyed those summers immensely. Her sons who were about my age were into 4H, so I went along on trips to meetings, fairs and elsewhere. They raised Holstein dairy cattle. Those were great summers. We built a treehouse, roamed the fields and even helped out a little.
We would sometimes help feed the animals, pick rocks from the fields, load hay and mow the grass. This was a far cry from my "real" life back in suburban Dundalk. I remember one summer my uncle picked some sweet corn and we kids put up a table on the roadside and sold it. I guess I should put that on my resume'!
Years later when Cindy and I married and we moved onto her grandfather's farm I felt like I was coming home again. It's hard to explain, but there was never any question that we'd try to farm the place. It had been fallow since her grandfather got too sick to farm.
Since it had been a truck farm it was only natural that we thought of raising vegetables. We really only had the use of about 5 acres on that farm since the county had taken most of the farm a decade earlier for a school complex. But Cindy's father owned a much larger property just down the road.
I continued with my job as a park ranger, but Cindy quit her job as a park technician for the State and began her farming career the year after we were married. I knew almost nothing about growing vegetables, never having even had a garden.
For 17 years this great learning experiment continued. It was a challenge working the farm work into my already busy schedule. Farming was Cindy's full-time job. From March thru October it's was a dawn to dusk commitment. I put every spare moment into the farm.
For a couple of years I served as market manager for a local Maryland Department of Agriculture sponsored market, Jones Station Farmers' Market. Keeping up with that market and our own on the farm just got to be too much. We stopped selling at that market but I served on the Board of Directors and keep the books for the market for a couple more years.
Another little diversion that we experimented with at about the same time was a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organic plot. We had about a half dozen share-holders for two years. The logistics of managing the CSA, serving as market master at Jones Station and running the farm as well as working full time just overloaded my circuits. We scaled things back and eliminated that enterprise as well.
Until the fall of 1999 we're tilling about 10 acres of which about half was double cropped. We sold everything at our roadside market. This was still a bit much, but manageable. The market business was still growing beyond our means to supply it, so we did occasionally buy in some local produce to fill the demand.
Being there every day Cindy supervised the daily operations of the farm. I handled most of the planning, purchasing and the majority of the tractor work. Between us we usually got things done, but it's wasn't unusual for benign neglect to set in when we get overloaded....
As the millennium came to a close we discussed ways to scale things back and re-think the whole operation. In the fall of 1999 we did just that -- in one life changing swoop we sold our last tomato, sold off all our unneeded equipment and set about building a new dream. Dun-Pikin Farm was born. We literally re-built the place. We had a shell of a barn built and finished it off ourselves. We built thousands of feet of board fence, a sand arena, and purchased tack, horses and all the accoutrements of a horse boarding/lesson business.
By the Spring of 2000 we were back in business, the horse business. For a decade or so Cindy handled this new farm operation herself and I enjoyed quite a respite from my previous involvement with the produce farm. There was still plenty for me to do, but it was nothing like trying to grow and sell produce. And in 2012 I retired from my county job which give me time to get more involved. Gotta go now...stalls to muck, fences to fix ....
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