The Truth About Being a Beginning Farmer

The other day I was out taking pictures of our (presently in need of repair) greenhouse and J said something about waiting until it was fixed to take pictures of it. I thought about it for a second and I decided that I wanted to post the pictures of the dilapidated greenhouse; just like I wanted to post the pictures of the dying hen (Here) or our freshly dehorned cow (Here). I wanted to post those pictures because they illustrate what farming really looks like.

Lots of folks think of farming and think about the beautiful pictures of crops growing abundantly and livestock grazing in the fields as the farmer stands next to his glistening new tractor looking out over his perfect landscape. In my experience, that is very rarely how things go.

Farming looks a little more like a farmer standing in her field debating what to do about the bugs in her crops while she waits for the vet to come treat her sick cow. Tomorrow she will head to the Farm Service office to pick up her check for the loan on 30 year old tractor that she and her husband debated buying for so long because WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE?! There are midnight calf checks, trudging through snow to feed livestock and fixing equipment in the hot sun. Farming is messy, expensive and often times uncomfortable. Something always needs fixed, something always needs bought and good gracious there is SO. MUCH. POOP.

The girls enjoying a snack in the snow.

Many times, when folks that aren’t involved in agriculture see some of the not so pretty things that are a part of farming, they think that something is wrong with agriculture because it doesn’t fit that picture of a farmer standing in a field.  People see a pile of dead piglets and are mortified about what must have happened for those poor babies to die. In reality, they were laid on by their own mother. People see a cow being treated with antibiotics and yell about antibiotic resistance but they don’t know that without that treatment of an antibiotic, that is likely not one even used in human medicine, that cow would likely die. People see a steaming pile of manure and think about the smell and how it HAS to be polluting our environment (the Internet said so!). What they don’t see is that that manure will be composted and the energy produced from the compost will be used to generate electricity for the barn and the compost will be used responsibly  to fertilize the fields.

When you are first starting out in farming many of the difficulties faced by farmers are magnified for you a hundred times. You are navigating for the first time things that some farmers have been doing their whole lives. You are learning fast and you are most likely learning everything the hard way. It’s scary, it’s costly and it’s one heck of a lot of fun.

“Why do you farm if it is so hard?” You might ask. Well the answer is simple. It is our passion. We see all of these challenges and hardshships as puzzles to solve and tests of endurance and wit. Not only do we love the challenge, but we live for the successful moments as well. While that picture of the farmer looking out over his fields isn’t a complete picture, there certainly isn’t any feeling in the world like looking out over a successful crop with your livestock grazing near by and your 1984 John Deere sitting in the shed ready to roll.

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