As you might expect, we have quite a few employees who want their own farm some day. They come to work for us to learn the trade and see what it takes to make it work. And, as a matter of fact, we’ve had a few who are currently farming their own piece of land. We are actually quite proud of what they’ve done. As loyal readers hear me say all of the time, farming isn’t easy. To see these men and women work toward success is inspiring and, well, it makes us feel great.
As they start their farms, I make sure they know to give me a call if they have questions, need help, etc. They’re always welcome to come back and visit too.
And every so often, I’ll get a series of frenzied emails from these folks. They’re usually in a panic as something has gone terribly wrong. Typically, I’ll get 20 emails in the span of about 5 minutes with each marked “URGENT!!!!”. Of course, I laugh a little. I’ve been there.
These emails and phone calls bring me back to our early days when I was in the same shoes. I actually just re-read one of our old newsletters from back in the spring of 2006. Here’s a quote,
“There is so much to learn in farming and I am only just beginning!
Sometimes I get a little cocky and I think to myself, “This is so easy. I am completely on top of everything!” Then, approximately 5 minutes later, the weeds and the weather and my scheduling and planting calendars restore my humility and I scream, “This is so hard. Everything is completely out of control!” If the others on the farm don’t lock me up for talking to myself, I suspect I’ll discover the answer lies somewhere in between.”
Rereading old newsletters reveals my frustrations and trials as I learned the many challenges of organic farming. Those early years were absolutely crazy. I put in countless hours and, still, the weeds and bugs always won. We worked so hard and people told us we were crazy not to use chemicals. That it couldn’t be done any other way. We didn’t listen and we just kept on doing the job as best we could. We’re still learning every single day and the challenges, while different, still come at us pretty regularly.
Of course, the trials within farming are similar to the trials of starting any new project or learning any new task. So I tell these new farmers to hang in there. Perseverance is the key. And remember, the “farm thing” might not work out.
But at least you’ll have a fairly good chance to hurt yourself while trying.