Being a farmer is “hard work”. It’s a lot of work, constantly planting, weed pulling, harvesting, selling, maintaining an online presence, advertising, general equipment maintenance and oh by the way….most of us have other work to do. I don’t know any farmers with a lawn care service, laundry service, chef, management team, accountant, housekeepers….although I did have a house keeper for a few months when I first had my son. I just couldn’t get it all done. My husband- he has his own job to deal with and I would rather he enjoy some time with our son after work than to mow the lawn, clean the bathrooms…..he helps do that on weekend, while I work more. Bottom line is, usually we are a one or few person show and it’s a sprint through the season.
Farming, is a great way of life. My son who is 2.5 years old, works with me, he plays and digs in the soil with his equipment (dump trucks, tractors and more). He understands what all the equipment does and how it works. He picks vegetables and corn with me. He is exposed to great food everyday, insects, birds, an ecosystem which does’t exist in a daycare or school setting. He gets dirty and he learns about life, everyday. I grew up that way and am proud to be able to offer that life to my son and to be with him. We are very fortunate.
The “hard work” really comes in the planning stage. Most of us like the work- we don’t want to sit in an office. We want to sweat, to feel the sunshine in our hair and the warm air in our lungs. One mis step in planning however, can lead the season astray. Planning and sticking to the plan IS hard work. there are a multitude of variables which we encounter daily- insects, personnel issues, weather, road closures, and more. All of which impact the schedule and seasonal plan. Picking shifts to the left one day due to rain, now tomorrow you have to pick but the squash will be too big and won’t sell well….Now you’re encountering losses. Can’t get out to the fields for a week to weed, now you have to hire help to weed and hope it pays off. Couldn’t get help to run the farmstand? Now you either close early (lose more money), scramble to find help (when you should be picking greens and flowers) or you go work yourself (not completing the advertising, bookkeeping, picking and cooking). Planning is the key to success in any business and seasonal farm planning is like trying to plan your life on the stock market. there are only so many factors that you can understand and manipulate, but people and ideas change quickly, like the weather.
Being a farmer is “hard” because there is a negative stigma against farming. Getting dirty is no longer what kids are supposed to do, let alone adults- people have forgotten that soil, (not the dirt that you pick up in a parking lot) but soil, is teaming with microbes that promote plant growth, soil oxidation, aeration, clean air AND are GOOD for the HUMAN DIGESTIVE SYSTEM.
Farmers don’t generally make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and there is definitely a stigma against lower income folks and hat is hard to accept.
It is “hard” to get people to take you seriously. People think farming is for uneducated people, yet how many people can successfully garden or even landscape on their own, let alone grow 100 plus acres of product, market, sell and run a business and home. Not many. There is a certain type of training that we used to reference in the Army, called OJT- on the job training. Even if no degree is had, we have learned on the job. Farmers are educated, regardless of how clean or dirty we are, regardless of how new or old our trucks are, regardless of the fact that we aren’t sitting in a boardroom. We make important decisions daily which impact the success or failure of our crops and businesses. We have a boardroom, it’s called the corn field, at 06:30am daily. This farmer has two degrees in science, 37 years of OJT and an MBA in Project Management.
Farming is a science. Each plant is like a child- it requires attention, understanding of what is impacting that plant daily (think of insects as bullies and plant diseases as viruses and colds) each one needs a special place in the field, a special soil- just like each child is unique in his/her behavioral and cognitive abilities and learns differently from one to another.
Being a farmer is “hard” as a female. Many people think my husband (even before I had one) was the farmer. They think I’m just the farmer’s daughter and couldn’t possibly get the work done. They think because I have blonde hair, blue eyes and wear a dress sometimes, that I ‘don’t look like a farmer’, that I couldn’t be a farmer. My mother, sister and I, grew up farming. My mom, cooked, cleaned, worked the fields for 10 hr days and more. My sister and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of that. Don’t question our strength, we lift 500lbs or more daily, without exaggeration. We are strong.
Despite dealing with the “hard” aspect of farming, it’s really cool to be me. All in all, we do what we do because we believe in a greater good, a greater environment, an independent way of life, a healthy, outside way of life. We are fortunate to be who we are.