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A day in my life: 15 miles and one noisy cat

Derek in stream_cropped

By Derek Emadi, Emadi Acres

A day in the life of this farmer can vary, but since I began farming full time, I wake up in a great mood. I can usually get a few giggles and smiles out of my pre-coffee, drowsy wife, a feat in its own right, I assure you. But I digress. I understand fully how blessed I am to live the way I was meant to, which undoubtedly correlates to my happiness as a human and as a steward of planet earth. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like—torrential rain, freezing temperatures, or Texas’s famous sultry heat—am always excited to go outside and take stock of things.

It may sound crazy, because I am here at the farm all the time, but getting up and seeing what did or did not happen during the night is interesting. Of course there will be days where staying in bed under the warm covers is more tempting than throwing on layers of clothes just to feed the animals, but it has to be done, and I don’t mind it. Ever.

My first breath of fresh air on the porch is always greeted by three waggling tails. The dogs are the first to know when I am awake, but they are always willing to wait patiently for my appearance. After they get some good pats, we all begin chores together with the two shepherds leading the way. These companions of mine are such pros at being farm dogs, they can show most humans how chores are done. As we walk toward the barn to get feed for everyone, our barn cat, who I unfortunately trained to meow to communicate with me, begins her attention-seeking behavior. So while I get the feed, I hear nothing but deafening meows. She only quiets down when I leave the barn area, so I hurry.
Derek with dogs crop

My first chore is my favorite and something that easily distracts me: checking on and feeding the tilapia in my aquaponics setup, which is housed in the first greenhouse we built. I love the air in the greenhouse: humid, warm, fresh, and no wind. A completely different world from outside. I like the quietness, the warmth, and the sound of running water. I get so distracted because I enjoy watching the fish, feeding them the duckweed they helped produce, pollinating the tomatoes….

But I can’t stay in the greenhouse all day. When the cat begins her meows, it lets everyone know their human is up! Currently, the chickens, ducks, and pigs are all in the same general area, so if one group hears something, they’ve all heard it. Once your presence is relayed, the chorus of quacks, crows, and squeals begins. I can definitely admit I am not a fan of the pig squeals, so I rush to feed them first. After the pigs, I let the ducks out of the quackshack. At times I feel like the ducks have conspired with the pigs to see who can be the loudest, which is why they are fed second. Chickens, for the most part, are quiet, so letting them out and feeding them is no rush or bother. The proximity of the animals to each other changes through the year, but when they are as close, animal chores are quick and easy.

Thanks to a handydandy app, I can track my activity as I move around the farm, although the app doesn’t count slow movements, like when I’m sowing seeds or digging holes for posts or shoveling mulch. I walk at least 12 miles on a slow day and 15 miles or more on an average day. Farming keeps you fit and healthy but also causes wear and tear on your body. Work hard, but be smart.

Farming smart requires planning so you can be efficient with your time. The agenda for most days is predetermined the day before, sometimes weeks before. There are no vacations in farming. My time is generally split between essential and nonessential tasks. There will be days when all the necessary chores are done—animals fed and moved, rows planted and weeded—and that’s when another project can begin or be finished.

Diversified farming reminds me of digging a tunnel through a mountain. It won’t be finished in a day, but everyday you get up and chip away at that rock is progress toward your ultimate goal.
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