And, for the last time (we absolutely mean it), we have switched farms.
After our trying search led us to accept a position at the fantastic-sounding Seven Meadows, we got a second phone call from a place called Mesa Winds Farm. Located in Hotchkiss, Colo., and run by the wonderfully named Max and Wink (Max is the wife), MWF sits on the beautiful Gunnison River and lies in close proximity to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Delicious scenery aside, the farm itself is focused on its fruit orchard for market selling and CSA, as well as a variety of vegetable crops both for the house and for sale. Wink is interested in agritourism and would like help developing a marketing program. And they will be taking on sheep this spring mainly to help trim and fertilize the orchard. (Plus, obviously, there's some fishing to be had.)
Oh, and they offer nearly five times the pay of the stipend at Seven Meadows, plus workman's comp.
Now we had previously said that what was important to us above all was the education. Since Seven Meadows has a farm-to-table dining operation, which is our ultimate goal, and because of their work with "earthship" construction and rotational farming and a number of other factors, not the least of which was a fantastic vibe that we got from talking to Laurie who interviewed us, we thought, you know, this was the place.
But five times the pay and workman's comp insurance? It's a lot to consider.
When we had done our conversations with Max at MWF, she seemed more serious about it, treating it like a job. I looked into their education program and the first statement is that they don't have a set curriculum. All of this was a little off-putting, and it seemed like Seven Meadows was still our best option. But, reading the entirety of what they offer in education, I noticed that MWF does get in guest speakers, offers resources for independent study, conducts discussions on what we're learning, and provides field trips and trades to other farms so that we can broaden our base. Seven Meadows does most of this too.
But five times the pay and workman's comp insurance?
So we thought about it and decided that, starting out, it might be better to work where we can save. After all, we are going into this with virtually nothing and we'll likely be coming out the other side with only what we manage to keep our hands on. Seven Meadows seemed more appropriate for college kids with a safety net waiting back home.
I'm making all of this sound a little presumptuous. After our second phone interview with MWF, we weren't automatically accepted. In fact, we weren't supposed to hear back for another week. And I started getting jittery again. Yeah, the worst that could happen would be that they would say no and we would go on to Seven Meadows, which was still an awesome place to be going. Still, I was also thinking about, well, the money.
I'm not wrong about this, am I? Money is kinda important here. We're not talking about living like kings. We're talking about surviving winter.
I knew the most likely hurdle to us getting a place at MWF was coming as a couple. So Lindsay and I talked about the idea of splitting up for the summer. Would it really be so bad, we thought, if one of us went on to Seven Meadows and the other to MWF? They're only a couple hours apart and then we'd be learning from two different styles.
I wrote MWF and told them that, if they needed to, they could consider only taking one of us.
Apparently, this is what put us over the edge. Max wrote that they had made their decision and our "offer to 'divide and conquer' proves our commitment to farm no matter what." And so we have been accepted to Mesa Winds!
Which comes with a sad little p.s.: They don't want us to bring our cat. So now on to that dilemma.
(The photo at the top comes from the Mesa Winds photojournal of friends of the farm.)