Friday, October 27, 2006

Money in Farming?

This is a question that was posted on a message board that I read every few days ( It is also a question that has been on my mind recently. Of course there is an easy answer to this question ... yes, there is money in farming! But, the bigger question for me is whether or not there is enough money in farming to cover your production costs and provide for your family?

According to statistics I have read in magazines and on the internet small farms are experiencing somewhat of a comeback in the United States these days. But, how many of these farms are providing the bulk of the income for the farming families? There are many part-time farms or hobby farms out there opporating on a small scale, but how many small scale farms are producing and bringing in enough to provide a living for a family on the farm?

These are some of the questions that I am researching, thinking on, asking about, and just plain day-dreaming about. If you want to see what some other people think about the answer to this question you can follow along with the discussion at Money in Farming? at

Monday, October 09, 2006


This morning as I sat at my desk early in the morning at the church and contemplated the fact that I was the only one in this large building a question popped into my head. Why farm? A while ago when I was working and talking with my uncle he told me that I should not try to become a farmer just because I felt like that was the only other thing I could do. Sound advice from a sound mind with many years of experience on the farm and helping beginning farmers. So, this morning as I sat in a fake leather chair, facing a computer monitor, and all alone in an empty church I pondered that question... Here is what I came up with.

1. The opportunity to live and raise our family in the country a little further from the hustle and bustle
2. The ability to work together as a family unit each day
3. To continue the family tradition of farming and hopefully the history of small farms
4. Self Management = Independence
5. My love of the outdoors and hard work outside

1. The cost to return ratio can sometimes be troubling
2. Long hours through out the year in many different weather conditions
3. Volatility of markets, harvests, and livestock (a farmers livelihood)
4. Self Management = Lots of pressure for a someone supporting a family
5. High amount of start-up costs
6. Lack of certain skills and knowledge
7. Higher risk of failure than some other jobs
8. Leaving a comfort zone

As I put together this list I realized a couple of things. First of all I found that it was easier to find negatives than it was to find the positives (as you can see by the lists). But, that really wasn't surprising because in times of quiet reflection I am pretty good at finding the negatives. The second thing I realized is that most of my reasons for wanting to farm could be considered, "romantic" reasons and my reasons for not farming were rather practical. So, is it bad that I want to farm for "romantic" reasons? Well, yes and no! I'm sure that doing things because it feels good or right can get you into all sorts of trouble ... especially financially. But, I am also sure that we need to follow our hearts at times, and that there is nothing wrong with being a good old fashioned romantic at times. I would like to farm because of the lifestyle. I would like to farm because of the history. I would like to farm because of the connection to the creation. I would like to farm because others before me did and they loved it despite all of the stresses, pains, and troubles.

Just a few thoughts from an early morning in an empty church...
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