Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Growing Pains :: Part Three ...
Because of the blog and other opportunities that I have had to share my farming experiences I'm often asked what advice I would give to someone wanting to start a farm. I think my most shared piece of advice is that people shouldn't do it and I share with them why they shouldn't do it! My thinking is that if they take my advice they probably shouldn't have been farming in the first place, but if they go ahead and farm anyways then they probably have at least some of what it takes to make it past the first couple of years. I digress ... that was just public service announcement and not a discussion of the farms growth!
What I am trying to say is that for the first two years I was just excited to be farming and I wanted it all ... and I wanted it now! There were too many times where I would bring animals to the farm and then begin to build or look for a place to put them and because of that I had more problems than I can even count or recall. In my effort to have the farm of my dreams I sort of acted without thinking and in some ways that may have even set the farm back a little. One thing is for sure though, it caused more stress than I should have subjected on my family!
I would like to think that I have learned slightly from that though. The last two or three years things have grown much more slowly. I had to force myself to slow down and think a little before I acted. Because we slowed down a little bit we were able to focus in on some things that needed to be done as "catch-up" and focus on building a market (which is now the reason we want to scale up). We only added new ventures when we were mostly ready for them (I'm not perfect!) and there are some aspects of the farm infrastructure that work well now.
But, the biggest thing is that we didn't have to borrow anything to do any of this or cut back on our extra mortgage payments. We were able to stick to our financial values and because of that even though I made mistakes along the way there were just flesh wounds as opposed to farm killing things (if that makes any sense). Besides the financial values we were also able to stick with our other core values and even make improvements in some areas.
I guess if I could sum it all up I would say that growth on the farm has been difficult. It's really just like life ... there are times of easy growth and there are times when you learn very difficult lessons and have to learn from them ... and grow!