Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Follow Up on Yesterdays Post...

Yesterday I mentioned an article from the New Farm website and threw out a few quotes that I found interesting after one quick read (I didn't have much time for a post yesterday ... so I just threw that up). If you didn't have a chance to read the article I would encourage you to do so by clicking on the link above. But, I also said that I would take some time to day to share a few thoughts that I had after the article.

The folks at New Farm asked one of their interns (who worked in the communications department) what it might be like if she and another English major (like herself) were asked to start an organic farm. It seems that they told her that she would start with $10,000, internet access, five acres, and the friend. What followed was her thoughts on whether or not they could make it ... in a nut shell she felt that it would be tough to do and probably take several years of failure to make a profit (something Rich addressed in the comments yesterday).

The author said,
"I can see that farming is a huge undertaking, and I simply don't possess the skills or knowledge to pull it off. Interested as I may be in the concept of organic farming and feeding people, the scope of work that would be required by such a mammoth task would be too daunting."
I have often said (I have heard it lots of places) that you have time for what you want to have time for and money for what you want to have money for. For example people who complain about never having enough time find the time to watch plenty of TV, or people that worry about their lack of money somehow can find a way to have a few cell phones, internet, satellite TV, and much more. To an extent if you want it you will find a way to have it.

Now, I'm not saying that is true with everything because I'll never be a starting shortstop for the New York Yankees (something I would like), but it is often the case. When it comes to farming I think it is something that is obtainable. Of course you have to have certain abilities and there will always be people that are just GREAT farmers, but if you have the passionate desire to pursue a life in farming I think it can be done ... no matter how daunting or mammoth the task may be.

I do believe that the author was right on when she talked about how she would go about things if this was something she was going to do. She mentioned that she would read as much as possible, try to learn from others doing what she wants to do, find classes and other educational resources to help, and learn from the mistakes. That is a lot of what we are doing as we continue our journey into the life of beginning farmers/home builders/everything else.

One last thing... Up in the introduction to the article the editor's note says,
"Her things-to-learn list and honest assessment shows the wisdom of a prudent person recognizing that this is one undertaking where experience and confidence are the foundation for being able to use even the best information and financial incentive."
I think that is a very true statement ... as long as we understand that experience and confidence can be cultivated. I have life experiences that lead me to believe that I can tackle tough problems and think on my feet. Those may not be farming experiences, but they can help me as I grow into farming. Also, I have confidence that I can learn and can succeed if I am willing to sacrifice, work hard, and be humble.

I agree that becoming a beginning farmer is a very tough "row to hoe", but I don't think that means it is impossible. At least I hope it isn't impossible...


Anonymous said...

Read the article. It was very nice, I do not think that girl would have trouble farming at all. She is way to pretty. Any farmers in her area would be more than willing to help her out.

Anonymous said...

I like that you think anyone can be a farmer if that is what they really want. I'm a junior in highschool but want to major in sustainable agriculture and possibly do some culinary arts and nutrition on the side. Everyone's telling me that there is no way a 16 year old girl that doesn't have any farming experience can start her own farm. I can't stand by and watch the sad condition our health is due to processed and industrialized foods. I want to make a difference.

Walter Jeffries said...

Another thing to do to learn is to model. Make a small version and try out ideas. With pigs, get a couple of feeders and raise them up over the summer. With gardens, try five plants in just 20 square feet of garden. Make small mistakes so it is easier to learn. Then as you master skills you expand your models moving toward your goals.

To build our house I did drawings, made lego models, built table top plaster models, then concrete models, then concrete animal shelters, then finally a house. It turned a very complex project into small manageable chunks that we could bite off and process.

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