There are definitely days on the farm when I am in way over my head.
As you might expect, farmers and small business owners wear quite a few hats.
Some days, I’m a farmer.
Other days, I’m an accountant.
Between building stuff and fixing stuff and moving stuff and breaking stuff, the job is hard. I see lots of things – on a daily basis – that I’ve never seen or done before. I have no idea how to do it or even how to start thinking about doing it. I was not raised on a farm and lots of these tractors and hydraulic systems and irrigation equipment is all new to me. So many times, I head out to a project without even the slightest idea of what I’m going to do or what even needs doing. You should have been there the first time I planted peppers. Can you say D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R?
I think our crew feels the same way. I’ll send someone out to the kale patch, for example, and ask them to estimate how many bunches we can harvest this week. They’ve never done this before. We don’t want to over harvest – that stunts the crop. And we don’t want to under harvest – we need to make a living after all. What I really want is for them to read my mind and make the perfect decision every single time. But I also want them to use their own judgement and figure it out. I think I drive them pretty much bonkers on a daily basis.
There’s even more pressure on the farm since we have only about 1/2 the year to get things done and done right. And for most crops, we only get one chance a year. So often, I’m in a hurry. I remember the first time I almost flipped over on the tractor because I wasn’t paying attention. That only happens once.
What I’ve learned is that sometimes I can start a project and kick its butt. I’ll pull together all of the random things I’ve learned in my lifetime and figure it out. When I was younger, my dad started giving me tools and that has been an amazing gift (I finally learned how to use solder without burning the farm down!). Those are great days. I feel confident and strong.
Other times, not so much. I’ll start a project and get bogged down in the details. I won’t be able to figure something out. It’s frustrating. I get super crabby. I don’t want to even start and, when I do, I end up wasting precious time and money. I feel like I’m in way over my head and this whole thing is a downright debacle.
We don’t give up around here though. I tell the crew that I always put them in situations where I think they can succeed, even if it’s new or challenging. Often, we both find that the things that can’t be done aren’t so hard after all. And when we fail, that’s a great lesson. Things don’t always go your way. Get up, dust yourself off, and sleep on it.
Tomorrow’s another chance.
Our whole farm hopes that you enjoy your produce this week!