Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beginning Farming...

There are lots of good ways to begin farming. You can find rental land, start small with low input cost operations like gardening and poultry, hook-up with a retiring farmer, form a business plan and put it to work, find an apprenticeship and really learn the task, and even get a job on farm so you can pay the bills and learn at the same time.

Then there is the way we decided to begin farming … Save up money through frugal living and sacrifice, purchase cattle (even more than you planned), find bare ground and buy it, buy pigs when you weren't totally ready, purchase a 50 plus year old tractor, build a house when you have no building experience, not get as much done as you had hoped to be done, and learn by tons and tons and tons of mistakes.

I would recommend one of the options from the first paragraph rather than the way we did it. This winter has been tough in so many regards as we have tried to scratch a farm out of nothing and continue our full-time ministry work. We have lost more of our Dexters than I could have imagined, things that I thought would get done didn't, our pork didn't sell as well as we had hoped (but we are blessed by people who are buying some), and now the tractor sits dead (most likely really dead) in the middle of the field.

It's hard … really, really hard! Just when I think the cattle are taken care of one gets sick and we have to hurry to try and nurse it back (it doesn't always work). And, just when I finally break down and buy a brand new bale spear to make the job just a little easier I totally clobber the tractor and the engine seizes up.

Like I said, it's hard … really, really hard! Yet my son still thanks God for the "wonderful" day (the same days that cows die or the tractor gives up it's life) at prayer times and even though I want to quit and give up there is still a desire for me to farm. My advice though would be to go about it a little differently than I have…

16 comments:

Dave said...

I've said many times about some of my endeavors, farming or otherwise, if I would have known b/f hand how hard/painful/expensive/embarrassing it would be I wouldn't have done it. Thank God for the naivete He has placed in our simple minds and the fact that hope always seems to creep back in. Without those things we probably wouldn't accomplish much and we surely wouldn't learn to become successful through our missteps.

bdinkins said...

I love your blog. I should be closing on 60 acres in Tn at the end of this Feb.

It has a house that will need work but the land is beautiful. The current owners are leasing the land to a neighbor for his cows.

It will take us a little more time to get setup but we have started our dream.

Thanks for keeping us posted on your experiences. It does help.
Bert

Anonymous said...

A few words of Divine Wisdom-

Where there are no oxen, the stable is clean; or as one commentator paraphrased - where there is milk there is manure.

sm

Frank D. Myers said...

Ah, but just think of the stories you'll have to tell when you're full of years with productive acres and grandchildren spread out before you (or when you sit down to write the book). My folks started out with nothing other than faith and dreams, too, in the Depression and with extreme frugality and hard, hard work became successful, although quite small-scale farmers the width of Lucas County south of you. They never thought they were successful. I did --- and do and call them blessed daily. Keep the faith!

Jena said...

Keep your chin up. We have seen our dark days too as we just finished our first year here on the farm. We've had heartbreaking struggles with family members and neighbors who don't like what we're doing, we lost months of hard work in a couple hours the day of the fire, and my husband has worked harder than I ever wanted to see him work.

I would suggest you regroup and "go back to the basics". When we have hard times we assess the bank account balance and narrow it down to what is really important. Sacrifice where you can but do the important things that have to be done to make life livable. Sometimes we have found really good ideas, on accident, when we were forced to improvise.

Hope this helps a little.

GreenRanchingMom said...

Don't give up! I would do what you did every time! We started the "other" way with literally 500K in debt. We din't like it either. Then you truly are slave to the lender. We have gone back to ground zero and started over again, just to get away from the huge amounts of debt.

You did it right. You did it His way and He will reward you, and he is teaching you along the way.

BTW, don't feel bad about the tractor. Ours died this past winter. It had a rapid oil leak when I was taking hay to the cows, and it did sieze up. It happens, but we still don't have to like it.

Keep going, don't give up! Talk to others about your cattle issues, and unfortunately you may have to reconsider your breed choice due to the lack of hardiness.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up! Your blog and your ministries are a help to so many people. You are an encouragement and the Lord is speaking through you.

hhenry

sarah D said...

I would happily buy meat (and my mom wants too also) but I am not sure if you have ever received my email about it.

We are enjoying your blog. I'm sorry to hear things have been so tough lately!

gregscott80 said...

Keep your head up. I understand what you are going through. I want to start farming someday and I haven't reached the point you are at, but I feel your pain. My father just had surgery and I am taking care of his cattle and farm for the next two weeks. Our new tractor is siezed up because of the bitter cold here in Iowa and it seems nothing can go right. Just keep your faith and know you have so much more than you can image; your family, a community, lots of love and your own farm!

Abby said...

I have gone through many difficult experiences as well as we go about starting our little farm (not far from you, actually). It's hard, but our country makes it difficult to even know where to start. I read gads of books, even grew up on a small acreage with a few animals and huge garden, and yet we went from gung ho a couple years ago, to family turmoil and bumps, and unforeseen business dilemmas that we have had to go back to square one and relook at what we are doing and try to take things much more slowly. But we love what we do, we love having our kids out here and we are learning. I think learning and love are the most important factors in this business. Keep with it!

BlueGate said...

Yep, we started the "other way" too. Makes for some crazy challenging days. But the sun will set, even on the bad days, and the sun will rise the next morning, even if we dread it. The kids have it right ('cause they aren't the ones who have to deal with the tractor!) At least its getting warmer : )

ablom said...

I've had my own problems with second hand equipment. It can drive us nuts.
Take my advice, I don't use it. Sometimes I just have to breath and do the next thing. And I can pray to find out what that is.

Hang in.

Just a thought: I was in Flin Flon Manitoba this summer and went to a fish plant that processed local fish - and made money shipping it all over the place. If you can ship Fish..

Tom K said...

Etahan, Sorry about your bad luck. You acomplished a lot of good things last year. Concentrate on improving on your accomlishment and identify the things that did not work.

mommymommyland said...

We all learn by trial and error regardless of how much book studying, internet scouring, or family family members we ask for guidance. It's part of life and it makes what we eventually build that much greater than if we had gotten their with out any setbacks or struggles.

Anonymous said...

As someone who hasn't yet had a chance to start living my farm dream, I really look forward to your blog entries - and I was really moved by your struggles, and how much they are taking a toll on you.

I wish you good luck and I hope things start to turn your way soon - I believe they will.

MJC

Chuck said...

Been following your blog for a while it has meant a lot to me to watch you grow.I'm 51 and want to farm when I grow up.btw you didn't by any chance pray for mechanical knowledge did ya?sounds like the Lord may have answered your prayer. "Please Lord, GRANT me patience, don't TEACH me patience!" look at it like He has blessed you with the 'opportunity' to rebuild a tractor engine!The shipping pork thing could work with the correct angle...don't youth groups do fund raisers anymore? ex.I buy the hog...(I'm in Augusta,Ga)you and the youth BBQ it...serve a dinner to the church @$$ a plate..Bingo! fund raiser,kids learn to serve -Stoneyfield sold a hog-I've provided an offering (tax deductible)Soli Deo Gloria!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...