Thursday, March 8, 2012

farming, a career?

We run a farm on a fulltime basis. Homer is really the one who runs the farm and manages where the cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, egg layers, vegetables all go..I help with that a bit, but he really does that. We are blessed to have amazing visitors who come here to learn, to help, to contemplate how this life might be possible for more people.

Land is ridiculous expensive. Just to install a well and septic system on raw land can cost $40,000. A house costs even more..usually a lot more.

So how can farming be a career, fulltime, for the people we need to grow our food? In the NYTimes the other day, an article highlighted a farming family..a dairy..a man in his 80's, his sons in their 50's, a granddaughter in her 20's. Much concern was expressed about how a person in their 20's can make enough to live on, to support full time work. All that investment in infrastructure, all that capital equipment..and resulting lack of confidence in the business model in the future. Squeezed between the high price of utilities, feed, taxes, insurance, gas..will anyone pay a few dollars more for a gallon of milk to off set, to allow families to stay on farms?

The true beauty of farming is running a business. Not being an employee and being an entrepreneur instead. In having ideas, living them out, learning from other folks doing similar or entirely different things.

The real challenge is being saddled with debt. Debt crushes the soul, the spirit, the creativity. Debt begats fear. Debt makes people tense and unhappy.

How can life be lived debt free? How can all of our monthly bills be reduced, to levels that allow time to..think, make music, cook, put food in season by so food bills are greatly reduced? How can weight be lost, muscle built without paying for a gym membership or a personal trainer?

To us, these things all tie together. We look around at the area we live..where is land cheap? Who can live and work there? How can it be done mortgage free, and at a scale that produces good food?

It sure seems like people are willing. We have visitors and people asking all the time. And then the price of land..kills that..and folks realize that an off farm job might be needed. Can we change that? How much land is really needed to produce bread, pancakes, cakes, pies for a family for a year?

Homer has an idea. We spoke about it in Detroit. In a few hours I'll talk about it in York..to local high school students who have opted into hearing about careers in agriculture. In 30 minutes I'll offer them insight as to how to formulate a mission statement, a business plan, a marketing plan, how to start growing and stop the Monsanto's of the world cold.

In the words of Albert Einstein "if at first an idea is not absurd then there is no hope for it".

And Thomas Edison "opportunity was missed by many because it showed up in overalls and looked lime work".

Our favorites..think big thoughts, do the work. Visit the White House, pick up pig slop.

Today's pictures..Homer in Pennsylvania magazine, just publishing. Dru on USDA website, includes link to session earlier this week.

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