Monday, December 17, 2012

What is a Farm?

    I've always laughed every time my grandchildren refer to our home as a farm. We have six ducks, 10 chickens, 2 pygora goats, three cats, twelve hives of bees, a decent amount of vegetable garden, a strawberry patch, several dozen berry bushes, and little more than a dozen fruit trees.  All of this is crammed into one acre, half of which is covered by big leaf maple trees. So I was a little surprised when I received an official letter from the US Department of Agriculture requesting that I participate in a survey.  As it turned out, the survey pertained to my beehives, stemming from the fact that I had actually sold a portion of the honey they had produced on our "farm".  I looked over the survey and saw that there was an online version so I thought I'd save the government some postage and opted to complete the internet version of the survey.   When I went to the USDA website I discovered that there were two surveys waiting for my attention.  One survey pertained to my beehives and the other survey pertained to my farm.  So maybe the grandkids are right and I really am a farmer after all.

    The first survey was very simple. How many beehives did I operate and in what states. How much honey did said beehives produce?  What categories of honey did I produce and what price did I receive for it.  It was pretty simple and only took a few minutes. Just for the record, all of my honey production qualified for the appellation of "specialty honey" as it was all varietal honey, either Blackberry honey or Japanese Knotweed honey, that could be sold at a premium price.

   Since the first survey was such a piece of cake, I decided to try the second one and see if we really did qualify to be called a farm.  This second survey was quite complex. I answered "no" to lots of questions about various agricultural activities. When all was said and done, I was fairly certain we didn't really qualify to call our home a farm.  While the grandkids may not like that news, I was personally kind of relieved. The USDA survey made farming seem pretty complex which I'm sure it is. I'm not sure I'm cut out for that level of complexity in my life at the present time. I think the bee store, my bee hives, and 21 grand children are sufficient complications for my life. A real farm seemed like a lot more than I want to take on.

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