How to Fail at Farming Post #6

by brenda on July 10, 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. Buy a Farm without Considering Your Own Personality and Passions
  3. Buy a Farm without Considering Your Kids’ Activities
  4. Buy Land Before Learning How to Farm
  5. Learn About Farming from Books (Not People)

I don’t know why I ever got the impression that farming was a “Simpler Life.” Let me start out by saying, loud and clear:

Farming is NOT a Simple Life!

You know what I mean, though, right? Picture it: you–sitting back in a lawn chair on your very own property, in the sun, doing your Bible study or reading your favorite book, while hearing the rooster crow and the cows “moo” simultaneously and seeing beautiful and unique species of birds fly above, landing in your very own trees. It sounds FABULOUS, doesn’t it? Peaceful!

Here’s the deal. One time a local, adorable coffee shop (with the best white mocha in.the.world) was going out of business. I knew it it would be so sad for our small town, and I really loved that shop because it was where I’d met my friends several times for coffee. So I researched, “How to run a coffee shop,” and “Buying a coffee shop,” etc…. Somehow, I thought that I was going to jump in and save the day and run that local coffee shop, alongside homeschooling all of my kids. I got the best advice ever from all of that reading:

If you want to run a coffee shop because you like to sit in coffee shops and enjoy them, you probably shouldn’t own a coffee shop, you should just visit them.

That was SO GOOD for me to read! Besides the fact that running a coffee shop didn’t fit with my BIG PICTURE life goals (you know, helping people with their nutrition instead of handing them caffeinated cups of sugar all.day.long!), I started to realize that the only reason I wanted to be our town hero and save the coffee shop was so that I could still have coffee with my friends there. 

See, the reality is, if I was running that coffee shop, I would not likely have any time to sit and drink that fabulous white mochas with my pals. IF I did have a moment to actually sit in the shop, I would probably notice everything that needed to be done, and the place would no longer be a place of peace for me.

Once upon a time, I thought farming would create a simpler life, where our family would:

  • Always be together
  • Work on projects all together, always
  • Have a lot of downtime to just “hang out” on our land
  • Be able to hike our 29+ acres and “visit” the 3 ponds
  • Maybe even put some floating devices (a canoe, or a small boat) in those ponds and play
  • Invite friends over to chill on our property
  • Just be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful land

In reality, there was some of the above going on. But mostly, our days and weeks looked something like this:

  • Wake up early to milk the cows (hubby) or to make breakfast (me).
  • Pour milk into jars, wash and sterilize poopy equipment (in the kitchen…yum..).
  • Serve breakfast, maybe the poop smell has dissipated.
  • Wash dishes.
  • Wash eggs.
  • Feed all animals (hundreds of chickens, some ducks, geese, turkeys, 20+ pigs, cows, rabbits, the farm cats)
  • Move chicken tractors
  • Do any number of farm chores: work on the garden, use the tractor, build fences, fix the barn, build a new pig feeder, repair a shelter, etc. (Husband)
  • Homeschool all of the kids (me)
  • Make lunch and dinner (me)
  • Grocery shop (in bulk as much as possible since we lived far away from everything)
  • Make yogurt, kombucha, cheese, homemade ice cream
  • Clean all of those dishes
  • Keep cleaning bugs out of our house, because somehow the bugs loved our farmhouse more than any other house we owned…And get the baby moles out….and the mice…and the snakes….Yes, snakes…
  • Figure out why the dishwasher makes everything come out coated white–run another cycle to clean the filter, etc.
  • Work on the blog (me). Oops, the internet crashed again, because someone flushed the toilet. (Stressful!). We have no clue why the internet crashed because of toilet flushing, every.time.
  • Talk about re-rocking the driveway again, because somehow the potholes re-appeared. Dream of making enough $$ to pave it someday.
  • Take care of the baby pigs that escaped & came up to the front door. Or, reinforce their bad habits by feeding them some old milk or broth. 😉
  • Process, with the kids, another barn cat dying or disappearing–their favorite one, of course.
  • Put in drip lines in the garden. They don’t work. At all. Troubleshoot for many days.
  • See the neighbor’s huge cows in the backyard–oh no! They almost knock over the play structure and the rabbits all at once. Whew! They didn’t do any major damage, this time.
  • Cull a chicken with a deformed leg. (Husband)
  • Try to keep the laundry/mud room clean and smelling relatively decent with all of the muddy (poopy?) farm boots on the shelf. And, after a snake slithered into the electrical panel and fried itself. YES……That really happened!
  • Do the evening farm chores. Feed the animals. Lock them up for the night. Make sure everything is secure. Do the last milking. Come into the house around 10 pm (Hubby)

It was GOOD work, don’t get me wrong. If you’re looking for a simple life, meaning, your mind isn’t cluttered, you don’t have too many life “subjects” to juggle,” and you have lots of down time, owning a farm is not for you.

If you’re wanting a farm just to rest on a farm, and to have good food, owning a farm is probably not really your thing. 

I would not call farming a “Simple Life” in any sense. While we farmed, we had many more things to THINK about. So many. And if we didn’t think about those things, literally, animals might die. You could choose a much simpler kind of homestead, of course, but there will always be unexpected maintenance, animals that suddenly die, repairs that cost more than you anticipated, etc. In this regard, farming is a more complex, unpredictable, sometimes stressful kind of life.

 

My advice for wanna-be farmers?

Rent small property to see if this is really your thing. Small, because then you can see how much work it is to care for 1-3 acres instead of many more. You can see if you LOVE the work and if it’s worth your weekends, evenings, etc. Rent, because then you are not as committed as if you buy a property. Also, because all household maintenance will be the responsibility of your landlord, and you can focus on farm maintenance.

If you’re realizing that you really just want to rest on a farm and eat good food, I suggest you go camping on some farms! I personally enjoy the site Harvest Hosts, and I know there are other similar programs out there. Rent an RV for the weekend, camp on some local farms, and buy their food to enjoy. The whole adventure will cost much less than buying a farm! 🙂

I’m curious if any of you have also thought that farming would be a “Simpler Life”?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxana July 13, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a while! I find it very inspired and it helps me avoid making certain mistakes that I tend to make, being a very impulsive person. For that I thank you!
I don’t agree though that people should be discouraged from farms.
It’s a wonderful movement in our day and age where people are returning to life as our great (great great) grandparents only in modern settings. People are looking away from lives lacking satisfaction in appartement buildings trying to live closer to nature.
The best advice I ever got was when getting a farm – to start small. Don’t buy 100 chicken because you want to sell eggs. Start with 4 and try to keep them alive. And so on.
So what I mean is taking on a full on farm isn’t for everyone, but maybe starting off small is ok for most people who actually dream of this.

Reply

brenda July 14, 2018 at 8:39 am

Roxana, I am thankful that my posts have helped you! I totally agree with you that I don’t want to discourage people from farming. It IS wonderful that so many people want land! I am hoping that my posts will *encourage* people to do things the right way so that they don’t end up selling their farm like we did. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

Reply

Celeste July 16, 2018 at 10:56 am

I don’t even know how I found your page but somehow your post came by as I was scrolling through Facebook and it turns out I was following you but don’t remember when I started. Anyway all that to say I can relate to these posts so much; I am over here laughing and crying at the same time. I almost could have written this myself. We started our little farm right after we got married and had such big dreams and made oh so many mistakes. It was a good life in many ways but so stressful at times and I agree not really simple. We even called our farm Simple Gifts Farm!!! We quit and moved closer to town about 2 years ago and honestly my life is much simpler now. It was really hard to let go and I do still miss some things about it. My dream is to have some animals and garden on a very small scale again someday. Thank you for your posts!

Reply

brenda July 17, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Celeste, thank you for your comment!! I love to know that my story resonates with others! Small scale animals + garden is such a good goal! I think it’s what most people should aim for. There are some who are well-suited for large-scale farming, but if it’s a new thing, I think everyone should start small! 🙂 I see you have a blog, I will head over to check it out! 🙂

Reply

Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: