Harvest of dreams
PHOTOGRAPHY: Chris Gardner
(page 3 of 3)
For the first three years we lived in the “mother-in-law" cottage while remodeling the main house, creating the greenhouse and main vegetable garden, and planting flower, herb, and berry gardens. Ongoing was the restoration of the orchard, the reclaiming of pasture ground, the raising of chickens, turkeys, and lambs (one year only, thank god!), and the marketing of the farm’s produce and products. The overall plan is to continue to enhance and beautify the personal setting of the farm and build and maintain the health of the soil that it sits on. And to make a living from the fruits (pun intended) of our labors. We are not there yet. Both of us work part–time jobs elsewhere; and together, with my son David, own a small publishing company, Silver Creek Press, which produces wildlife calendars and for which we work in the fall and winter when the farm is dormant.
Like many in the Valley, we have both held a variety of jobs. Tona at one time was a partner in a Ketchum restaurant, worked in many others, and gardened for herself, as well as other people; I have had experience in the saloon, restaurant, and construction businesses. Our main purpose in moving to the Camas Prairie was to find a place where we could combine our individual skills and knowledge and make a lifestyle both creative and self-sufficient, in a beautiful setting. Much of what motivated us was the simple desire to make each day’s work contribute more directly to the life we wanted to lead. Rather than work elsewhere to earn money to buy things, we prefer to make or grow them ourselves. Or at least sell what we produce directly and use that money for our needs. If you want eggs, raise chickens. Want jelly on your toast? Make it. And make the bread for the toast. Most of us figure we haven’t got time for that stuff. But remember, you are trading your time for money to buy it, so why not go the direct route? It’s much easier than one might imagine, on a smaller scale than one might think necessary, and the rewards are tremendous. Sounds too idyllic? Well, it is possible.
Converting a “passion" or “dream” into a business can sometimes be an exercise fraught with pitfalls. The most dangerous and common of which is blunting that passion or dream with stress, and the sometimes drudgery of transforming a romantic idea into reality. So far that hasn’t happened to us and our advice is to keep perspective, maintain a long–term vision; yet, set shorter–term, attainable goals, and constantly monitor whether or not you are enjoying the process as you go. Remember what you started out to create.
When we talk about the lifestyle we have chosen at Fair Mountain Farm to friends or even strangers, Tona and I remark that often the response from our listeners is a soft, faraway look in their eyes. As if we had tapped into a secret longing or a private dream. Perhaps the same dream that was first attached to this land. It is a look we are both familiar with. For we both still get that same look when we talk about how much work we have ahead of us.
And how much of the dream we have yet to harvest.
Clarence Stilwill is a writer who has lived and worked in the Sun Valley area for 35 years.