This is not a rant either, so please stick with me if I sound a little crabby. I don’t mean to be. This is a tough topic to write about because my audience here is a mix of other farmers (who want the straight talk) and customers (whom I obviously don’t want to offend).
Over the past couple years Brian and I have become more and more serious about farming and making the farm profitable. Don’t get me wrong, I think Brian would enjoy driving his tractor if he had to pay to do it. I certainly love dealing with the animals and will probably always keep a few around.
That being said, there are a lot of things we would NOT do if we didn’t hope to make a profit from it one day. Examples include:
- sleeping poorly and getting up several times per night to check that the latest ewe isn’t stuggling to lamb or that the heat lamp for the chicks is keeping them warm and isn’t burning down the barn
- juggling feed bills, fertilizer bills, seed bills, rental payments, etc.
- foregoing certain home improvements so the animals can have a new barn
- spending good portions of the summer baling hay and good portions of the winter moving and delivering it
- allowing for botched vacations because things at home need attention and we can’t take the risk of “letting it go
I’m sure I could come up with more but I think I made my point. I’m not whining here. By no means is anyone making us do these things. We’re doing them because we do enjoy farming and want to make a little money at it. If we can’t, we’ll scale back. Sure, we’re busy right now. We all know a lot of people who sacrificied to start businesses. Some lose, some win. The verdict is still out on us and that’s OK.
We are in a location that makes things interesting. There is little demand to go organic, at least on the animal side of things. People in this area are not going to pay $4.50/pound for chicken even if God Himself raised it. We’re trying to provide food from animals grown humanely and somewhat naturally, at a price that the average guy can afford, and not go broke doing it. It’s challenging.
We are, like most farmers, do-it-yourselfers. We tend to look at things and think, “Oh, yeah, we could probably build that instead of buying it.” So I understand that some people will think that way about what we do. I think it’s great when people keep a few chickens or raise their own turkey dinner. You will never have more confidence in the quaility of your food then when you grow it yourself. After all, that’s why so many people have vegetable gardens.
Anyway, I don’t mind offering a few tips here and there and helping out when someone wants to raise animals. I’m not a vet and I could lose my LVT license for offering veterinary advice so I generally won’t help much with medical problems and that’s not going to change.
I do wish people would think a little more before they ask certain questions. You don’t call your local tractor mechanic (hi Robin! 🙂 ) and expect him to explain to you every last detail of fixing your tractor and oh, could you borrow his special tool for doing so? You don’t call your hairdresser and say, yeah, my sister’s going to come with me for my next haircut and watch how you do it so she can take over. We don’t get to buy Turbo Tax and then call our accountant and say, hey, Jerry, I don’t want to pay you this year but what do I put in boxes C & D? And you know what: in every example, even if you did those things, the results wouldn’t be nearly as nice. The job wouldn’t be done nearly as efficiently. Make sense?
I’d love your feedback. Farmers, can you relate? Consumers, does this make sense or does it sound too harsh?