Successful farm management is two things:That seems like pretty sound advice to me, and the start of a mindset that sees your farm management practices as a tool (also what Mr. Macher is advocating).
- Farming is taking all you can from the soil so you can sell the surplus to make a profit.
- Farming is also putting back into the soil all you can so you can maintain and increase fertility.
This chapter discusses many of the same things you will see in other books of this type. Rotate your crops to help build and maintain N-P-K ... use your livestock to work for you ... know what your resources are ... work smarter, not harder ... gain as much knowledge as possible through reading, discussion, and seminars ... and build reserves of money, crops, and livestock (if needed). But, there were a couple of sections in this chapter that I payed close attention to.
The first section that I read closely was the section on using family labor. Watch out parents/brother/sister ... I'm coming for you! Okay, maybe not that kind of family labor, although their help is always appreciated, but more specifically my immediate family. Mr. Macher talked about he importance of helping your children learn to love the farm. One thing that I have understood from the beginning of this journey was that if my family wasn't behind it then it wasn't going to happen. With that in mind I want to do as much as possible to get the family involved from the beginning.
Even though my children are only 2 and 4-years-old we are trying to get them involved in farming. We have "discussions" with them about our Dexters, chickens, or other things we would like to do this summer (most include Caleb telling me that he is going to buy a cow for a price that he makes up in his head). We take the kids out to the land and talk with them about what we will be doing out there. We have them help name our calves and make sure they see them when the are born. Basically, we are trying to make it fun for them. As the grow older the ways to "make it fun" will change, but the principles will be the same ... and it will always be important that the whole family enjoys farming.
The final thing that really stuck out to me in this chapter was his section on, "Planning for Farm Efficiency". The reason this section made an impression is because we will be starting from scratch with our farm layout so we should do it the most efficient way possible. One book Mr. Macher quotes says that for, "every 100 feet of unnecessary distance between the house and farm adds up to 14 miles of travel a year for each daily round trip." With that in mind I see the importance of laying out our buildings and facilities according to a plan ... rather than just what looks best at the moment. As we have time (and as the grass is either burned or mowed down) we plan on spending plenty of time at the land and planning our layout. No reason to waste footsteps, especially when you are farming in addition to another job!
This chapter was a good overview of some basic farm management principles and gave me plenty to think about. There is only one more chapter left, so keep an eye out for my thoughts on it and then a short review of the book.