Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rules For Farming...

So, now that we have been beginning farmers for a little while now I thought it would be a good time to share some of the "rules for farming" that I have learned (most often by doing it the hard way). I would love to hear some of your rules that you have learned over the years so that I can make sure to follow them. In my experience if I would have "known" these rules to start with I could have saved myself a little frustration (most of this will be tongue-in-check). So, here they are:
  1. Never Make Plans: Coming up with some goals and general deadlines is nice, but I have found that on the farm my plans never work out. Everything takes longer than I think it should and if by the grace of God I'm getting something done on time then without fail something will break!
  2. Use Two People When Needed: I cannot count the number of times that I have tried to do a two person job by myself only to realize how much pain it causes me. Take yesterday for example ... I needed to move in a big round bale for the cows and this is a good job for two people, but I didn't want to wait for my wife. So, as I drove the tractor in ... the cows ran out. As you can imagine it ended up being a two person job anyways (a longer one at that).
  3. Consider the Wind: Maybe this rule only really applies to me because I live on a hilltop with no trees, but it seems like I am always misjudging the power of the wind. It has blow away tin, knocked over the chicken coop multiple times (and destroyed it once), blown hay in my face, and even toppled me over a time or two. Now whenever I build something I like to think about what impact the wind can have on it.
  4. Watch for Mud: Stuff gets stuck ... 'nuff said.
  5. Be Future Minded: This rule really applies to us because we are starting with a blank slate, but really it fits all farmers (or non-farmers). One big thing we have been trying to keep a handle on is what we want the farm to look like 10 and 20 years down the road. That doesn't mean that we won't change our minds in the future, but it does mean we want to be at least thinking about the possibilities.
So, there a few of my "rules for farming". What can you add to the list?


BlueGate said...

Besides the rules you mentioned, a couple that we have experienced are:
"Make hay while the sun shines"
That's been an important lesson for us, mostly having nothing to do with the hay.

The bigger your hurry, the more things that will go wrong.

Art Blomquist said...

You've got the start of a "Zen and the art of manure maintenance" manuscript here!

One of mine is: "slowdown - work faster; which is related to the old Saw: "haste makes waste..."

Anonymous said...

1. Measure twice, cut once
2. Never haul an unrestrained, grown pig in the back of your plumbing service van. (Goats do okay +/-)

John said...

Rule number 4 is my life! Got stuck so many times last year that whenever I returned to the house with out the tractor, the wife would say "Stuck Again???" Usually she was right..

Another rule, don't rope a 500 lb. calf on foot unless you know what you are going to do with it. I have a gentle one, that I thought I could lead around a bit. As soon as the rope was on, I thought I was in a rodeo!


Rich said...

"You have to eat an elephant one bite at a time".

You should always make plans, but they don't need to have concrete deadlines. Plans should be prioritized, the higher priority ones can be immediately focused on, while the long term plans can be worked at little by little when time permits. Even if it takes longer to achieve long-term goals, if the goal is still met, what difference does it make if it took more time?

"Train hard, fight easy"

Always build on your skills and knowledge and it will become much easier in the future to reach your goals.

"Stay calm"

If the cows get out, it isn't the end of the world, it just means that they got out. If the tractor gets stuck, it just means that the ground is too soft to drive over. Minor setbacks are just obstacles that need solutions, and solutions are usually only apparent after encountering and overcoming obstacles.

Jean said...

Always check around you for children when operating equipments.

Be willing to put extra time on getting safety in place first. Teach your children on this also. Less regrets that way.

Everything have its own place. Be consistent in putting it away. That will make a job smoother and quicker. This may means obtaining extra tool to save couple footsteps. For example, one shovel per building?

I cannot emphasis on this enough. BE FLEXIBLE!! It does wonders on keeping stress level down!

Blair said...

This is definitely farm related, and a thing I see happen all the time. Don't buy a piece of equipment unless you have a definite need for it more than once a week all year round. And don't "make work" for it just because you have it! If you rent a piece of equipment and something breaks, it's not your problem. If you have a brush hog that sits around for 45 weeks out of the year there's a great chance that when you need it you'll have to fix something on it.

The less machinery you have, the easier and more enjoyable your life as a farmer will be. Personal lesson: We bought a hydraulix post pounder to go on our 4020. Any time we use it we have to take the implement off the tractor, get another person to help to get the post pounder hooked up, then drive to where we need to use it. Because of this it hardly ever gets used! It wasn't cheap either, but at the time we easily talked ourselves into it...

Brad said...

Rule #3: Wind is my constant enemy. I have learned wind really dislikes ducks. Although it has messed with our chicken coops, gardens, demolished the barn once and took off half of the house shingles, it destroys the duck hut at least once a month it seems. Every time we re-build or repair theirs they look at us like we are the 3 little pigs contractors who have not past the learning curve on the brick construction yet!

Rich said...

I left out one of the most important rules in my previous comment, "Ask plenty of questions".

When I was buying some of our initial equipment, I got into the habit of asking the sellers, "Do you happen to know where I could get 'this or that'?" You would be amazed at how many 'hard to find' items you can find by just asking.

So I started asking educated questions (very important to educate yourself before you ask some people questions) about different techniques, farming practices, seed sources, available livestock, etc.

The more specific my questions are, the better results I seem to get.

Alison Charter-Smith said...

I've learned this the hard way - don't try to take on too many projects at the same time. (i.e. raising sheep lambs & kidding does while trying to bottle feed their kids, and all while you're working a full-time "city" job.

Dave said...

Don't wait 'til tomorrow!!!

Still working full time, having one farming activity at my in-laws, and getting things going at my place makes this one an easy for me to do. But I am learning (you would think I would learn faster) that the "tomorrow" stuff just never gets done.

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