Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Best of Times To Start Farming...

Actually the quote by Fred Kirschenmann was, "It's the best of times and the worst of times to start farming". I just decided I was going to hang on the "best of times" idea since I aspire to be a glass half full kind of guy. This quote comes from an article on www.DakotaFarmer.com titled, "Advice to Beginning Farmers". I must thank Kelli of Sugar Creek Farm for finding this article and posting it on her blog. Lately she has been doing some "ag speed-linking" and she always comes up with interesting articles. Make sure you check out her blog!

But, back to the topic at hand ... I agree with Mr. Kirschenmann that it is a good time to start farming and that it could be a potentially bad time to get into farming. It all depends on what your definition of farming is. If you would like to get into commodity grain farming I'm not convinced that it is a good time to begin. Yes, grain prices are high now, but that is mostly based on the ethanol movement as Mr. Kirschenmann points out in the article. At any moment some scientist much smarter than I am could come up with a much less expensive form of energy and then all those corn acres wouldn't be nearly as valuable. That would make it a bad time to begin farming and the possibility of slight repeat of the farm crisis of the 1980's is possible.

On the other hand I think it is a great time to begin farming if you have the drive and determination to do something different. Mr. Kirschenmann, who spent time working as the director for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, admits that if he was moving back to his family farm today he would have 50% of the farm in row crops and 50% in livestock. He would diversify! Beyond that he would strive to make his operation as energy independent as possible, free of chemical fertilizers, and he would direct market his livestock and grains to the consumers.

I thought this quote would be an encouragement to any beginning farmers out there. "It's a good time to get into farming, but you'd have to be smart, you have to anticipate the shift that high energy prices and a shortage of water is going to have on agriculture," says Mr. Kirshcenmann. It is a good time to jump in, but you must plan ... you must think differently than the establishment ... you must work with nature rather than against it ... you must build your farm based on connections and community.

It is a good time to be a farmer, and not just because of $5.00 corn. It is a good time because people are starting to desire quality food that is local and sustainable to the land and the farming family!


IDigDirt said...

I have a small garden on my deck and was wondering what the best way is to keep small animals away from eating my plants. Someone once told me that putting human hair around your yard will keep them away, but I am hesitant to do that, as I like to sunbathe and don't care to lay in human hair. Do you have any other suggestions?

Steven said...

I don't think that they mean to just toss it around. You can hang it on trees or onyour deck by putting it in a woman's tights or stockings.

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

There are a couple of other options besides using hair too.

You can try some visual methods, such as hanging foil strips around the garden that will wave in the wind - this motion sometimes is enough to keep them out. If your garden is small enough, a gazing ball might reflect their movements and spook them too.

If they have found a favorite plant, try mixing tabasco sauce with water and spraying it on your plant. This also works with flowers they might be eating. If you do this, make sure you test a small portion of the plant to see how the plant reacts to it. You might have to dilute it a bit more if it seems to be too strong for the plant. You might have to reapply after a few weeks or after a rain, but sometimes one taste is enough for the season.

And of course, you can always try a chicken wire fence if you don't mind the looks.

Best of luck!!

Organic maven said...

Hi guys, Just come across your blog and we love it. We are beginning farmers on the other side of the Pacific on Australia's eastern seaboard. I'm a horticulturalist, and we're setting up a mixed farming enterprise, initially with a large market garden to carter to a CSA and local markets, and then start with some Dexter cattle.
The plan is to base the who venture on biodynamic principles, and to be as sustainable as we possibly can be. We've subscribed, so look forward to following your progress.
You might like to check us out at www.1466group.com/biodynamic_treechange

IDigDirt said...

Thanks for the info! I'll try those suggestions!

Ethan Book said...

Organic Maven,

Glad you found the blog and thank you for the link. I hope you join in the discussion from time to time and lend us some insight from the other side of the world.

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