Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TBF 034 :: I Don't Know How to Farm, Farm News, and a Hard Lesson Learned


While we were in the middle of the summer and I was busy mowing and raking hay, taking care of the farm, and doing the farmers market (as well as a few other odds and ends) I thought maybe things would slow down in the "off-season". Well, we are getting closer to the theoretical off-season and I have to say that I don't think things will be slowing down that much! I'm choosing to be encouraged by that though because on many levels it means that things are working ... and when they are working it means good work! On today's episode I spend a bit of time updating the various happenings on the farm which include both good and bad things ... which is life on the farm. But, I also wanted to take some time to answer a question that came in on e-mail from a young man with an interest in farming.

Last week I received an e-mail from Barrett who basically said, "I have wanted to farm since I was ten, but I don't know how to farm". That statement that I related to on so many levels that I just felt like I had to share some thoughts on the subject ... because there are plenty of times still where I think, "I want to farm, but I don't know how to farm"! My answer can simply be summed up by one word ... Apprenticeships! Knowing what I know now if I could go back to the time when I was 17 and getting ready to enter college there are a few "apprenticeships" that I would have included in my summers, weekends, and free-time in general. There are so many "hats" that a farmer wears each day and if you can go into your farming journey with at least a little experience in each of these "hats" then I think you have a leg up in the game!

Here are the apprenticeships I would consider ...
  • A Farm - This is the obvious one, and it is very important. Work on a farm ... any farm ... even if they don't do everything how you would do it, because you will learn a lot!
  • A Mechanics Shop - It doesn't matter if it's a tractor shop, a car shop, or a mower shop ... a background in mechanical things will help any beginning farmer.
  • A Welding/Metalwork Shop - I don't know how to weld and this is one of the things I most wish I knew how to do ... it literally could save me thousands of dollars over the life of the farm.
  • A Meat Processor - You may never have your own on-farm official processing facility, but the knowledge you gain can help you not only in your processing for your own use but also in marketing and working with customers.
  • An Electrician/Carpenter/Construction in General - There is always something that needs to be built, plumbed, or wired on the farm. Having the knowledge on how to do it ... at least the basics ... will always help.
I'd love to hear your thoughts ... what apprenticeships would you recommend to a young beginning farmer?

Links mentioned in this episode ...

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The Beginning Farmer ShowAs always, I want to thank you so much for listening and supporting the show with your encouragement and reviews on iTunes! I am continually working to produce a better show, and I'm thankful for all of the listeners sticking with me as I learn. If you do enjoy the show, don't forget that you can subscribe on iTunes and leave a five start rating and review (by clicking the link or the image on the right). If you are an Android phone user you can also subscribe on the free Stitcher App. It is so very encouraging to know that people are listening and enjoying the show!

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(if you are interested in the music in this episode check out my brother's record label, Historic Records) 

3 comments:

sailorssmallfarm said...

Great podcast, as always. I think I would change the priority on your suggestions for someone wanting to prepare themselves for farming, and put construction/carpentry much higher, maybe up there with mechanical work. I don't think there is a single day here when I don't look at some broken thing and wish that I was competent with power tools, knew when to use screws vs nails, basic stuff. If you were going to make the list longer, I would add in some retail or marketing experience - learning how to work with customers, sell products, deal with rejection or disinterest, suppliers, expenses, etc.

Fork Right Farm said...

This is the second time you've mentioned it on a show and I'm interested to know more about your energy free, frost free waterer.

Can you share a link or reference for those of us who haven't seen one?

Rich said...

I more-or-less self taught myself how to weld. My dad showed me the basics about arc welding and then turned me loose.

Those basics are: the thickness of what you are welding determines what welding settings you need, clean metal is easier to weld, to get the right amount of weld penetration you need to chamfer the edges of whatever you are welding, always wear a good welding helmet, and since it's only metal it can always be rewelded if I messed up on my first attempt.

I practiced those basics on simple projects and repairs, and slowly built up my skill level by finding more difficult things to weld.

I'd also suggest a similar path to becoming a farmer to anyone that asked.

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