Monday, February 22, 2016

Careful what you wish for

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, light breeze, blue sky. Perfect late winter day. Perfect spring teaser. 

In fact, we've recently had several lovely days of just this sort. Perfect days for working outside in the paddocks, in the barns, with the animals. 

Have I done that? Have I worked outside? Caught up with the barn work? Enjoyed the lovely respite from the brutal storms of January and early February? 

Um, no. 

A big fat shaking my head and stamping my feet no.

No, I was inside, reaping the rewards of my wishing. 

Let me say, before I go any further with this rant, that the tone I'm going for here is one of wonder and excitement, wrapped up in a hefty dose of frustration, even if it comes out sounding like a plain old whine. My writing skills only take me so far.

Why was I inside on such a gorgeous day? 

Because I was packing orders for my new farm shop on Etsy. 

Yay and ugh. 

It's a darn good thing I actually like the fiber I'm selling, 'cause I find myself elbow deep in fiber and locks pretty much every spare moment I have. If I thought I was busy before, oh how wrong I was. 

On the one hand, I am thrilled that an Etsy shop can actually make money. Even a little bit. I have to admit I was skeptical. We are almost, not quite, but almost, to a point where the sheep can pay for themselves. But I am horrified at how much work it takes, above and beyond actually raising and caring for the animals. (Cue the shaking heads and knowing chuckles of everyone who has slogged up this track before me...)

I did some rough counting the other day and realized I'm spending a minimum of 50 hrs a week on the livestock -- caretaking the animals and selling their fiber. That's on top of my regular job, which thankfully is extremely flexible. And this doesn't even come close to accomplishing everything that needs doing, never mind anything else in life. Everything else has had to take a back seat. It would be an understatement to say I'm a little tired. 

This explains why the house hasn't been cleaned in months, why the teenager is eating take out food, and why I wear the same two outfits to work, week after week after week. At least I'm not wearing my barn clothes, right?

But the most ironic unintended consequence of this fledgling success? 

It has sucked up ever spare minute I had for my own fiber work. No weaving, no dying, no felting, not even any spinning to speak of since the shop took off. For the first time in several years, I've had to give up my weekly trip to the arts center downtown to weave and hang out with other fiber folk. 


Clearly, this is not ok. I will be working on how to speed up the washing, packaging and shipping process (um, sheep coats come immediately to mind), how to optimize the return on the investment of my time and effort, and how to get back to my own fiber work. 

It will require some big changes. Eventually, the teenager will finish school and I will no longer be tied to either my day job or my ridiculously expensive property taxes. Then the world is my oyster, or something like that. 

That gives me about three years to figure it out. 

Better get cracking. 


  1. Whoa! I didn't know you had an Etsy shop! Tell me about it -- I have bags of fleece that need skirting and cleaning. Bags.

  2. I was doing the happy dance when I found your shop this morning but so sorry it's so much work for you. When people tell me I should be selling my soap I just laugh because I know the quickest way to ruin a hobby is to start taking money for it. Having said that, I am thrilled to find your fleece. Feel free to just shove mine in the box and be done with it. I'm not picky. I usually buy the dirtiest stuff you can find at the fiber fests. I like happy sheep and they are never very clean!