My pig mentor recently posted a list of things he needs to be an expert in. Great idea! I get comments a lot from people saying something along the lines of ‘I’d hate to shovel poop all day’. I never do that, never have. A lot of times people don’t know what farmers do. I’m a part time farmer, part time brewery consultant, and full time father.
We all have lists like this in our life, but farming certainly is varied. Here goes:
- Twice daily chores including feeding, watering, gathering eggs, cleaning eggs, packaging eggs, selling eggs; and more;
- Working with our livestock;
- Transporting livestock to slaughter;
- Processing and butchering chickens;
- Moving animals every day. This includes cows, sheep, laying hens, broilers, and sometimes pigs.
- Designing labels and marketing materials;
- Tracking & analyzing sales and yield data;
- Purchasing young animals. Chicks, piglets, calves, etc.
- Building, maintaining and repairing equipment;
- Seeding bare spots;
- Harvesting and storing hay;
- Planting apple, pear and other perennials for the future;
- Regulations and paperwork;
- Selling at the farmers market, every Saturday, 6 months a year;
- Starting seedlings;
- Research on how to do things (we don’t know it all);
- Metal fabrication;
- Electrical work;
- Refrigeration systems;
- Web design;
- Being a dad;
- Cutting firewood for our home;
- Learning new skills; and
- Enjoying the bounty of the land and the good life. This list goes on, I can never do it all. But shoveling poop is certainly not on the list. The animals job is to do that for us. And they do. That’s part of a diversified farm.
It’s never dull, never boring, generally very rewarding and interesting here on the farm. That isn’t to say there aren’t hard days or weeks but as a rule they are vastly outweighed by the good times.
The worst part about it is the daily chores. Not that they’re bad, but it’s everyday, twice a day, 365 days/yr. That makes having a normal life difficult. Camping, vacation, trips to Denver, even a day hike in the mountains or a ski trip in the winter; all of these have to be planned around chores and animals. That is the worst part.
The best part is working with the animals, raising them naturally with no injections, antibiotics, medications, or any other weird stuff. Just grass, pasture, and non-GMO grains for the poultry. And of course feeding our family and yours with the fruits of all of this labor. It’s funny how a natural diet and a natural environment elminates the need for all of these weird things like antibiotics and vaccinations.
But of course the tradeoff is money. Greed. More animals can be raised in a shorter amount of time when confined in a small space, fed high powered feed, and given antibiotics to keep them alive. It’s not right, but it is what it is and I certainly can’t change that. But I digress… This is supposed to be about the life of a farmer.