Monday, October 09, 2006


This morning as I sat at my desk early in the morning at the church and contemplated the fact that I was the only one in this large building a question popped into my head. Why farm? A while ago when I was working and talking with my uncle he told me that I should not try to become a farmer just because I felt like that was the only other thing I could do. Sound advice from a sound mind with many years of experience on the farm and helping beginning farmers. So, this morning as I sat in a fake leather chair, facing a computer monitor, and all alone in an empty church I pondered that question... Here is what I came up with.

1. The opportunity to live and raise our family in the country a little further from the hustle and bustle
2. The ability to work together as a family unit each day
3. To continue the family tradition of farming and hopefully the history of small farms
4. Self Management = Independence
5. My love of the outdoors and hard work outside

1. The cost to return ratio can sometimes be troubling
2. Long hours through out the year in many different weather conditions
3. Volatility of markets, harvests, and livestock (a farmers livelihood)
4. Self Management = Lots of pressure for a someone supporting a family
5. High amount of start-up costs
6. Lack of certain skills and knowledge
7. Higher risk of failure than some other jobs
8. Leaving a comfort zone

As I put together this list I realized a couple of things. First of all I found that it was easier to find negatives than it was to find the positives (as you can see by the lists). But, that really wasn't surprising because in times of quiet reflection I am pretty good at finding the negatives. The second thing I realized is that most of my reasons for wanting to farm could be considered, "romantic" reasons and my reasons for not farming were rather practical. So, is it bad that I want to farm for "romantic" reasons? Well, yes and no! I'm sure that doing things because it feels good or right can get you into all sorts of trouble ... especially financially. But, I am also sure that we need to follow our hearts at times, and that there is nothing wrong with being a good old fashioned romantic at times. I would like to farm because of the lifestyle. I would like to farm because of the history. I would like to farm because of the connection to the creation. I would like to farm because others before me did and they loved it despite all of the stresses, pains, and troubles.

Just a few thoughts from an early morning in an empty church...


The Blair Family said...

Hello Farmer Joe!

Becca told me to check out your farming adventures!! I know nothing about farming, but if you're interested in turkey farming Dave has some relatives that farm that we could get a few questions answered for you.

I'll be interested to keep reading all your findings!

John Mardlin said...

Hi Ethan,
I'm not sure if you'll ever notice this post here, back in the archives. I've been following your blog for about half a year now. I found it shortly after reading Salatin's "You Can Farm". My partner, Jill, and I are beginning an apprenticeship in March, and going after our own farming dream. I've just started my own blog at Only one post to date, but another one, similar to this one of yours, is almost ready. I'd love it if you'd follow me and provide your insights from time to time.

Ashley said...

I understand that this is a very old post, but wanted to say that this post was great for me. I'm in the midst of mulling over, researching, doubting, and worrying about the possibility of becoming a farmer. Most of my reasons are likely considered "romantic" as well, but I'm wondering what positive reasons for beginning to farm aren't? Anyone who says "to make money" as a positive is incredibly unrealistic!

Anyway, looking forward to reading through your archives.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ashley. I, too, am researching options of leaving my fabric covered box (cubicle) for some land that is my own. The practical negatives are daunting, and I'm not certain how I can overcome them with the romantic positives. But despite all reason that screams to the contrary, I can't think of a better existence on this earth.

To the pro's list, though, I would like to add my children's appreciation for what they have. This recent Christmas, they were happy about their gifts, but I could tell they don't know how to appreciate them. If they work for what they have, and see me work for it, I think that will make a huge difference.

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