How to Fail at Farming Post #2

by brenda on May 22, 2018

I hope you’re enjoying this series! In case you’ve missed the other posts, here are the links to read them:

  1. A New Blog Series: How to Fail at Farming (Or, Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Succeed at Farming)
  2. How to Fail at Farming Post #2, Buy a Farm without Considering Your Own Personality and Passions
  3. How to Fail at Farming Post #3, Buy a Farm without Considering Your Kids’ Activities

Some things my Farmer and I should have considered and truly hashed out before purchasing the farm were the following questions:

  1. Who are we? What are are personalities and Spiritual gifts? What parts of us will be an asset to this farming adventure, and which ones will hold us back?
  2. What are our big future goals, and how does purchasing this farm fit with those goals? How will purchasing this farm and becoming farmers keep us from the goals that God has put on our hearts?

This is the first post where I start getting really vulnerable, and you may come to the conclusion that I just wasn’t cut out for farming….and maybe there is some truth to that. Let me explain.

Who are we?

First, if you analyze our personalities with a Meyers Briggs test, I am either an INFJ (the Advocate) or ENFJ  (The Consul), mine switches back and forth depending on when I test. Most people think I am an extrovert, but I feel very introvert-ish sometimes.  My hubby is an ISFJ (The Defender), and I tease him that I am an old man (The Advocate) and he is a female nurse (The Defender)…You have to click on the links to see the images to laugh with us.

I’ve also read everything I can about Enneagram personality types, and for sure my husband is a 9 (The Peacemaker). I have not nailed down what I am, but I think I am possibly a 4 (The Individualist).

Here are the important things about our personality types that impacted our life on the farm:

I believe God gave me the gift of hospitality. I thrive on it! 

The farm was a 30 minute drive away from everyone we knew, and our house was small. We were so busy farming, and our money was so easily spent on fixing something all of the time, and we stopped being hospitable. All of my pretty dishes stayed packed in boxes in the barn the whole 4 years we lived at the farm. I didn’t host big family holidays, or invite many people over to dinner. I missed having people in our home. I ached for it.

My husband isn’t an adventurer. He’s steady, and calm, and he keeps our family sane

I like adventure, and sometimes I jump in before I really know what I am jumping in to. Farming is a HUGE adventure, and can be quite stressful for someone who does not thrive on change. My hubby is not the adventurer that I am, so mostly it was me saying “Let’s buy chickens! And ducks! And geese! Now a cow!” He’s a pretty great guy, and he goes along with many of my visions (and on the farm, I had many!), but living on the edge of adventure at all times isn’t a comfortable way of life for him. This wasn’t a huge struggle on the farm, since I married a pretty easy going guy–but I could sense he’d be more at peace if we weren’t living in such disarray all of the time.

I like my surroundings to be pretty. 

This sounds so vain, and sometimes I am embarrassed to admit this. I am wired to see the potential for every room & how I might decorate if I have the time and a budget for it. I watch my favorite decorating blogger, Jenni at Dear Lillie, and want to copy every.single.room in her house–it is gorgeous!! I think I follow more decorating pages on Instagram and Pinterest than any other topic. We did remodel our farmhouse and there were parts that I liked about it, but it wasn’t ever beautiful. I saw everything that needed improving, and it bugged me.

I’m thankful for this eye for detail that is in me, and at the same time don’t like it, because I feel like I should be happy anywhere. I should be happy in a bug, bat and rat filled tiny room in Africa like Katie Davis Majors, or in a cabin with dirt floors like Ma Ingalls. Certainly, I could have been happy even though our farmhouse would not have been a candidate for a Pottery Barn catalog. I was mostly happy, but things about the farmhouse irritated me, too.

It came down to this: there was a lot to do, and never enough time  or money to do it. I don’t mind a project, I wouldn’t mind attempting a Chip & Joanna Gaines style fixer upper—but it wasn’t our season for that. We were trying to farm. And be good parents.

I have a lot of fears. 

Sometimes I wonder if I am an Enneagram Type 6 because I have so many fears and make too many decisions based on fears.. But I have such big feelings, lots of vision and a desire for beauty around me like a Type 4…Have you seen the movie Paddington? I feel like I the two parents in that movie are perfect examples of both sides of me. One is an insurance risk assessor (the dad) who sees all of the ways his family could possibly get hurt. The other (the mom) is artistic, compassionate, and adventurous in her life, clothing and decor! I feel like I am a little bit of both of these kinds of people.

So back to my fears: I did not realize I was so afraid of bees or geese until we moved to the farm. Why was I afraid of bees? I had never been stung in my whole life! Butchering chickens brought out all of the crazy meat-eating bees, and they were fierce. I just wanted to run inside of the safe (but not pretty) house. 😉 I also decided: I hate geese. I had no clue. I only like geese for their meat–that is all. Geese are scary. Praise God for the other people who raise geese so that I can eat them!

The rustic barn with the home-done wiring and the beam that ended up landing on my husband’s head scared me. Thankfully he was ok after the beam hit him…It could have done a lot of damage! I bought my husband a hard hat after the beam incident & asked him to wear it every time he was in the barn. 😉 He chuckled at that, and didn’t wear the hard hat, of course. What farmer wears a hard-hat in his barn?!

I think the pigs may have eaten the hat. Ha! Which is another thing I was afraid of: those darn pigs escaped so many times! Big huge pigs are scary when you’ve got little kids to take care of. Did you hear about the man who got eaten by his pigs & only his dentures were left? I read about too many stories like that…The first time the pigs escaped, they were in the barn eating the kids’ bicycle helmets, and the kids were standing around, totally curious. I had the kids get up on one of the extra van benches that we were storing in the barn, and I called my hubby, scared. “I don’t know how to get the pigs back into their pen….They’re eating the bike helmets….They might hurt the kids….” It was always a balance–do I stay near the pigs and make sure they don’t escape (so that we’d lose our livestock & $$!), or do I get the kids inside & get myself inside to protect us? It was pouring down rain and miserable. My husband couldn’t do much from his office, of course, and he couldn’t drive home every time the pigs decided the grass was greener somewhere else. That day,the pigs seemed perfectly content munching away at the helmets in the barn. So much for the organic feed?! That kind of situation was scary for me, and as much as I like adventure, I didn’t like that kind of adventure.

The side of me that is like the father in Paddington thought of all of the ways my kids or husband might get hurt on that farm. The tractor…the tools we used…the animals…the 3 ponds on our property. Sometimes thinking about all of the possibilities made me sick and sad all at once. I thought about how neighborhood life had been safer.

What were our big future goals? (AKA what was God calling us to?)

Adoption. God gave us both a big heart for orphans. What were we doing moving into a smaller house and taking on the adventure of farming? Sometimes I wasn’t sure which choice was the distraction: adoption & raising kids who’ve lived through trauma OR farming. Really, we needed to think about what God put on our hearts–not what we wanted to do. Farming was a nice idea, and seemed like a good way of life. Adoption was something God was pressing on our hearts. It was something that we needed to pursue.

Before we moved onto the farm, we had begun applying to foster-adopt. When the caseworker came to our farm to interview us, she asked why we had started the process 1 year prior & just then finished up the papers? Well, we had purchased this big ol’ 30 acre property and a major fixer of a house, and we had been a little busy! 

Had we been really, really clear about what God was calling us to, I’m not sure we would have moved. We moved from a 3,200 square foot home with 4 bedrooms, a den and a huge bonus room to a 1,900 square foot home with 3 tiny bedrooms…right before taking in 4 extra kids…But I’ll tell more about that in another post.

My Advice to Wanna-Be Farmers:

Figure out who you are and what God is REALLY calling you to do. You can’t do everything well. You will drop at least one of the balls you’re juggling if you try to juggle too many. Is farming your passion above all else? Will any of your personality traits cause issues for you as you try to run a farm? Are there aspects of your personality that you will need to consider, to make sure that you choose the right farm for you?

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