Last year was our best year ever when considering our visitor numbers and the financial success of the farm. So why step out now?
Over the years we have gained much joy and satisfaction from the farm and our visitors. The decision to give that up was difficult and took some time and reflection on my part.
As many of you know, last year I fell down a flight of concrete stairs, fracturing my spine and partially collapsing one of my vertebrae. I feel fortunate that there was no obvious nerve damage. With persistence and commitment to following my physical therapy routine I got back onto my feet and dove back into the farm work. While in some ways I feel stronger and more able than before, the effects of the injury still linger. Last year I dug down deep and pushed through the farm season with a lot of support from family and friends. Some long-term staff stepped up and took on new roles. I found new staff that did outstanding jobs. I came to the end of the season relieved that we had all done so well and feeling optimistic about the following year of farming.
At the beginning of this year I fully intended that the farm would come back better than ever. I selected a number of new activities and projects to build to add to the fun. I started ordering seed and updating my supply ordering lists. I built my work and goals calendars for the year.
Part of the farm planning is taking a realistic view of how much work would be needed, how much I could expect to carry out myself, how much I would have to hire out, and who would I find to help fulfill my vision and create the Dr. Maze’s Farm experience our visitors have come to expect.
The deeper I got into planning, the more I came to realize how much the success of last year depended on guts and luck and coasting on the success we had built up over the years. This is not a long-term successful business strategy. Neither is it a joyful or satisfying way to live my life nor is it fair to my family. I finally came to realize that I needed to release the farm dream while it was still a positive.
So what is next for the farm? We rent the land and I fully expect there will be one or more farmers doing something else here next year. I look forward to seeing what is grown here in the future. Meanwhile we will be selling stuff. If you want that big “How tall are you?” signs, some fence posts, or something else that caught your eye during a visit then watch for upcoming sales announcements.
What is next for “Dr. Maze?” I have already started preparing for my next career. I am joining my wife Carol’s tax preparation and representation practice. This past Saturday I took the first of 3 four-hour exams required to become an Enrolled Agent, admitted to practice before the IRS. This may not be an obvious next step from farming, but then farming was not an obvious next step from my prior career as a scientist.
I greatly enjoyed farming these last seventeen years. I expect that the tax practice will keep me going just as long.
Thank you for all your support to the farm. You will never find another place just like Dr. Maze’s Farm but there are many other great farms and farmers. I urge you to seek out and support them this year.
Roger Calhoon, “Dr. Maze”