The Path to Enlightenment is Through the Goat Pen

Editor’s note: Jen Humphrey, a student participating in the blog project by Professor Simran Sethi’s Media and the Environment course at the University of Kansas, shares a personal reflection on farm life. This post was originally published to the course blog on March 25, 2008.

Last night, I returned home late from squeezing in hours at the farm I’m moving to with my partner in June. We spent all day helping her father move new goat kids and their mothers from pen to stall, stall to nursery, nursery to pen. They look like this when they are about five days old:

Baby Goats

It’s hectic, exhausting, mucky, work. About a dozen kids were born yesterday, and another eight today. That means a lot of running around as we help coordinate the many births with the few stalls available for mothers and kids to bond together during their first 24 hours. We learn the new ways of this work via fresh straw, buckets of water, screamin’ baby goats (man they can wail!), and lots of bodily fluids.

We are juggling this farming life with our day jobs as best we can. We are remodeling and renting out our city house while remodeling and buying a farmhouse. It’s never-ending chores, and we’ve only just begun. So I asked myself last night as we drove home, why do this? Why work so hard, when it would be so much easier to get up, go to an office job, go home, watch tv, eat take-out, drink a beer, stay numb and go to bed?

We talked it over, and it comes down to living a conscious life, one where we are aware of the impact of the choices we make. It means having a passion for for that life. For me, that comes from a belief so strong in a human right to have food security, that I am willing to change my life to make it happen – even on the smallest scale, one that is now but a glimmer of a vision for a tiny organic, sustainable farm.

Providing accessible, healthy food for ourselves and others takes on greater significance with every article I read about food security. Right now, there are global food shortages and increasing prices worldwide for the foods many cultures hold dear, let alone need to survive. In Egypt, the cost of bread is up 35 percent and cooking oil 26 percent. The price of pasta in Haiti has doubled. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization expects prices to continue to increase for another 10 years, and the poorest of the world will suffer the most. Already, the U.N.’s World Food Program says it’s facing a $500 million shortfall in funding.

I’m not so naïve that I think I’m solving world hunger or anything like that. But I do think that working this hard for good, local food options is what helps me sleep at night. (Being wiped out from double-duty and all that conscious living helps, too!)

Sometimes I feel like I’m giving up a lot to change my life this much. Members of this blog have discussed several times that sacrifice won’t convince others to join you in going green. But I ask you — what would you be willing to change to reach for a greener goal close to your soul?

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