OFI 1008: Building A Successful Agricultural Lifestyle, One Letter At At A Time
If you have been listening to the show, especially my Tuesday episodes, for some time than you have likely heard me talking about documenting the importance of the growth and progress on your farm or in your agricultural enterprise. This is very important to both your success and to your marital health, if you happen to have found yourself partaking in that enterprise.
The speed of progress in the world of farming can be very slow. Think about it. If you buy your first heifer tomorrow, even if she is already bred, you are not selling a calf for 17 months, if you sell it as a feeder. If you are carrying it over that first winter and selling it directly to a customer as finished beef, you are 29 months away from your first revenue.
It can take a lot of time to see results in this lifestyle, and that requires patience. Patience is a virtue, and it is a particular virtue that many of us, including me, don't have a lot of laying around.
Because things move so slow, and you are progressing towards your goal of full-time farming at what feels like a snail's pace you might not recognize all that you are actually accomplishing. We are all going to be starting at different points, but as an example when Autumm and I got started we had 25 acres of land with a house on it. There were no fences, no irrigation, no cultivation, no livestock pens, no shelters and nothing but weeds. With our starting situation, it would take years until we were grazing cattle, and even longer until we had developed the customer base and marketing that would allow us the profit that we were looking for from the farm.
However, hidden in this molasses in January type of movement was progress. The problem is that you might not see that progress if you have no context. When Autumm and I first bought this farm in 2011 we took a class through the University of Idaho Extension Service called "Living On The Land". There were actually portions of this class that focused on keeping your marriage healthy through this experience. Their advice was to take before and after photographs, every year, so you could get perspective and actually see the progress that you had made.
Autumm and I did this, although I will admit, we didn't always do this with the purpose of providing ourselves perspective. As excited new farm owners, we shared our farm and lives with folks on Facebook. This turned out to be a great tool for providing us this perspective because Facebook automatically provides you memories of photos that you posted a year or two or 10 ago. So often, Autumm or I will get one of these reminders and we will see the farm with no fences or just dirt where pastures now grow. And this perspective will really give us a picture of just how far we have come, and it will take away some of that impatience.
Before and after pictures are great, but they cannot capture everything that is going on. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes not one of those words describes what was going on behind the scenes. Or, maybe there was no camera there for something very significant.
Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago, at this time of year, I was in Boise attending to some rental house business one afternoon when my phone rang and it was Hattie on the other end. I could hear the excitement and breathlessness in her voice. She was walking up the driveway after being dropped off by the school bus, and she saw that one of our does was kidding and needed help. She had never assisted in parturition before, and neither Autumm nor I were there to do it. So, it was all up to her.
Hattie ended up delivering two kids who both lived and thrived. She did it all by herself and figured out a lot along the way. This was unbelievable progress. 50% of the reason that we bought the farm when we did was that Hattie was about to turn 5 and start school in the city, and we wanted to raise her the way we had been raised. So,