Posted by: J Nyman | June 17, 2008

How to Start a Farm #1: Getting In Touch With Nature

This is Part One of a series called: How to Start a Farm: 6 Things All Would Be Farmers Should Know Before Getting Knee Deep in Sheep (or any other farm venture)

I get a lot of people landing on our blog because they’re interested in starting a farm. While I think this is wonderful – mostly because it means that we’re not the only crazy people on the planet! – I wonder how much these would-be farmers actually know about farming.

There is still (perhaps more now than in the past?) a glamorization of farming that is totally false. More people hop on the ‘eat local/save the environment/chemicals are bad’ bandwagon everyday and, at first blush, farming can look like an idyllic way of getting in on it all.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re on that bandwagon too. It’s a good place to be for the physical and mental healthy of our family and for the environment. I just think that there is a misconception about the life of a farmer that needs to be cleared up.

More people getting into farming is good for everyone. I want those who choose to farm to succeed. Starting a business you’re not prepared for is a sure-fire way of not doing that. Hence this series of posts about The Real Farm Life. So, here we go:

The Real Farm Life Fact #1: Farming Let’s You Get In Touch With Nature

You thought I was going to start by trying to scare you off farming, didn’t you? I might yet. But I want people to get into farming because it adds to the greater good and is a great way of life for you and your family. If it really is for you, that is.

Take getting in touch with nature as an example. What do you think of when you read that? Are you thinking sunny walks through tree lined pastures while you check your hay crops?

Yep. That’s farming.

How about the sun setting over the roof of your barn with the sounds of your laying hens settling onto their roost for the night?

That’s farming too.

And feeling your muscles burn just enough to know that you and your kids are not couch potatoes.

Farming does that.

Okay, how about raccoons taking down half an acre of sweet corn just before harvest to the tune of $250 of heirloom seed and countless (and penniless) hours of labour?

You got it. Farming.

Worse yet. Getting up 3 times through the night to feed a tube down the throat of a newborn lamb in minus 30 Celsius weather trying in the hope of getting it warm and nourished enough to survive only to find it cold and still come morning?

Farming.

These things are just as much a part of farming. Don’t get me wrong, often enough, you find a revived, tail-wagging bundle of energy come morning to reward your sleepless night. If not, it wouldn’t be worth doing, would it?

And it is worth doing. Again: If it’s for you.

Everyone likes the idea of farm life. But if you’re going to take it on, you’d better like actually doing it. And you need to be able to handle the parts you don’t like.

Getting in touch with nature through farming means nurturing life, coaxing it and coddling it with your own dirty hands but it also means holding death in those same hands. You have to be able to watch death, to touch it, run the shovel and go back to the coddling and coaxing with vigor. Can you do it?

(For the record, I spill more tears at lambing time than I would otherwise cry in a whole year).

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