So you are thinking about becoming a farmer? There are many things you need to ask yourself before considering this challenge. This is not an unusual desire especially if you were raised on a farm. If you grew up farming and you have parents or grandparents that can help you get started that is a huge advantage as you have years of experience and equipment and possibly resources, such as land, to get you started.
The first thing is to be able to accept the fact there will be times you fail. Every farmer fails at some point in their career. It is failure that makes them smarter and stronger in times of adversity, which leads to my next point.
Second, know the farmers that live around you. In those times of adversity and when you need help, those neighbors can become very helpful. So, becoming friends with them will be very helpful in the long run, and if you don’t start off on the right foot with your neighbors it could really be a pain.
Third, you will need a real desire to farm. It will require some very long days to be successful. Many times when your buddies are off to baseball games, cookouts, or weekend trips you will have to turn down the invite. There is no way around that. When it’s time to plant, milk cows, bale hay, harvest or numerous other chores you are the one who must be there to perform these tasks. It takes a motivated person to be a farmer.
Fourth, you must be willing to get your hands dirty and to learn how to do many different jobs. You can hire people to get some tasks done but you will be more profitable and self-sufficient if you can do these chores yourself. It may be being an electrician, vet, mechanic, builder, etc.
Fifth, be responsible with your money. When you are growing your operation, which will continue for most of your career, you must reinvest what you can in the business. The things that you want or desire should take a back seat. You should ask yourself, will this purchase make me money? As a beginning farmer often you will need to forgo pleasure purchases, be it cars, vacations, jewelry and instead invest in inputs, land, and improvement in equipment.
Last but not least, one of the most important factors in the success of a farm operation is that your spouse or any other farming partners have the same goals in mind as you. Just as in any business, if you aren’t all in and focused on the same goals then you will not have the success that would have been possible otherwise.
Farming requires a lot of patience and faith and perseverance. You will have to deal with weather, insects, regulations, and price fluctuation. You will have to be absent at times when you wanted to be present. But, if you feel like you are made for farming and can work within those parameters, then you will find no better way of living. Knowing that you come from generations of farmers before you who have survived and thrived in this field gives you a sense of place and satisfaction. Farm life is a good life and a great place to raise a family. When you can go out and be in the midst of nature and smell freshly turned soil or fresh cut hay as part of your occupation, what more can you ask?