I went up to College Station Friday to visit with my son, and figure out how we were going to handle housing while he was in college. On the way from Brenham to College Station we passed a lot of fields on highway 50. Lot's of harvested, and about-to-be-harvested cotton farms out there. It made me realize that we are really in Harvest time now, and it made me want to take a look back at how the Cromwell Farm's harvest is going.
The problem with too much land, it takes too much focus to maintain it.
Back in the winter of 2016 I decided to focus the farm on fewer fields. The idea was that there were several fields that were under-performing, and costing too much to keep them running. The studio space in Houston was one of the lots on the block in fact. I started setting up a studio space on the farm proper, and moved items from the Houston space to the farm.
Also, in the winter it was realized that the upkeep for the tenant farms were making them too costly to keep. I needed to adjust the budget in order to keep them going. These farms used to produce more than enough to cover their expenses, but the cost of taxes and maintenance keeps going up.
In the end, the budget adjustment has been enough to forestall the land loss. This makes me kinda happy, but I know it's only a matter of time until the whole thing turns back around again. If it's not being maintained, then it's just going to end up costing money with nothing to show for it. Next time cutting expenses might not be enough to avoid the problems.
Back to the Harvest
It's the busiest time of the year of course. If you leave things in the ground too long, they are lost. If you don't get them to market in time, they are lost. If you don't collect enough seeds for next year, then you'll have nothing to plant (and no harvest next year).
All the worrying about land, meant that not much got planted. I'm trying to harvest an art show right now, and the work is slimmer than I would have liked. Furthermore, I am having to generate framing right now for the work, and this is cutting into production time. So, I'm sure some pieces are going to be lost in the ground for this season.
Due to increased taxes and a major investment in the tenant farms, there is nothing to harvest from that land. I'll be paying into it for some time before I break even again.
Not all Gloom and Doom
I do not want to give the impression that this has been a terrible year. There are certainly some things that were harvested, and were good. I was able to get my first book printed. This is a new way to harvest from my work in the art fields, and I'm hoping to do more of these.
Upkeep work is being done on the tenant farms, hopefully making life better for those tenants and helping them be more productive.
Also, I've been adding to my reserve of seeds for next year's planting. After a thorough cleaning, I discovered lots of art material for new projects. I have a few months before I have to worry about this, so I won't go into details here.
Basically, we are going to be able to pull it off for one more season, and that's better than not. This way of looking at things in seasonal time (like a farm) definitely has advantages. I like being able to say that 2016 was minimally successful without having to wait until January 1, 2017.
This Tiny Plot of Land
I like the fact that even though some debts will still be with us, we can put the problems of planting and managing and harvesting into a book called 2016, close the cover and walk into the future. Therefore, the tiny plot of land that is this blog and what it represents, has had a positive harvest.