Friday, March 06, 2009

Dirt Hog :: Chapter 6 Book Report

Really I should have probably titled this post, "The Exchange of Knowledge". But, since I want to make it easy to find my chapter reports I left the "Plain Jane" title up there. This chapter really was a good chapter though ... especially from the standpoint of encouragement. The author, Kelly Klober, dealt specifically with the marketing of the dirt hog in everything from direct to to the consumer to seed stock. I say that it was encouraging though because Mr. Klober was very upbeat about the opportunities out there for the outdoor producer. Just don't go to this chapter looking for specifics because it is just one section of an entire book ... the ins and outs of marketing dirt hogs could cover a book in and of itself.

Anyways, the reason I thought, "The Exchange of Knowledge", would be a good blog post title is because that is what popped into my mind when I was reading one of the little vignettes in this chapter. This particular one dealt with a few of Mr. Klober's reflections from some of the first hog sales he attended and how the youngsters (as he was at the time) tried to pick out a gilt that would suit their goals. The words painted a neat picture of the time and place, but there was a single question lingering in my mind...

Where am I going to learn to have an eye for "just the right gilt" such as the one that he was developing at the time with the help of his family and neighbors? I believe the ideal path for a beginning farmer, similar to me in background, would be to pull up stakes and just apprentice at a farm for a year or so. Of course you would want to work with someone that is farming as you would like to farm, but the main think would just be to gain as much of that "art" that an experienced farmer has.

Of course that "ideal" situation of aprenticeship is much more difficult when you have a wife and three kids to support. Because of my family (and I wouldn't take this journey without them) we have decided the best way to learn is to do, and then pick up as much "old timer" information as we can along the way.

I may have mentioned this before, but I think it is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Last year we bought my dad's family a subscription to "Countryside Magazine". After reading a few issues he commented on how some of the how-to articles were doing things the hard way, or that they took so many trials and errors to get to and end that he could have told them about. My thought was, "This is exactly what I'm talking about!" Of course they took a long time to solve a problem that an old farmer could have done in a jiffy, but that is because there isn't enough knowledge being transfered...

Anyone have the magic bullet to help keep the knowledge surrounding the "art" of farming alive?



Anonymous said...

"Anyone have the magic bullet to help keep the knowledge surrounding the "art" of farming alive?"

I don't think there is a magic bullet. Not for someone coming into farming from some other way of life.

The internet is a great way to share information, but you're talking about a skill, which comes from doing. Here, the internet falls short.

Perhaps an old-timer would be willing to teach what he knows in this arena to a bunch of neophytes. Perhaps.

Rich said...

When you look at experienced farmers and their accumulated skills, it is easy to fail to recognize how far they have probably came from their beginnings. In all likelihood, over the years they have made numerous mistakes (everybody does), but they have learned from their errors and improved their skills. After a few decades, their system of farming has been polished and refined to the point where they appear to be able to effortlessly operate their farms.

But don't forget that their accumulated knowledge is the end point not the beginning point. Nobody started with all their knowledge and skills, regardless of their teachers or mentors.

The "magic bullet" is a combination of time, experience, observation, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Check out walter jefferies blog @ sugar mountain farm. He raises hogs and has a lot of info about hogs. Also rely on your dad as he has experience.wtb

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