Discussion in 'The Pub' started by That70'sbro, Mar 13, 2018.
...so did all you farmer guys go to bed at 8PM?
I'm a farmer! It's 3:45 AM here and I've been up for almost an hour milking cows. I usually go to bed around 10:30-11.
My farm is a 207-acre certified-organic dairy farm, and I milk 110 Jersey cows twice a day. The hours are long (and 7 days a week), the pay is often atrocious, and a lot of people attach a stigma to farmers that they're all uneducated rednecks. Even despite that, I love it. The challenges and the victories and opportunity to be outside in nature daily...that's what makes it worth it. It's not for everybody, but if you're bit by the farming bug, you're hooked for life.
Salt of the Earth
I was for almost a decade. Romance wears off quick. Always a step behind with not enough hands. I was swole af though
I was raised on 4500 acres. Wheat, alphalfa, potatoes, barley, beef and about 120 dairy cows. It ain’t easy and it damned sure ain’t for everybody. We scratched along with 30 year old equipment for a long time. You get real good at fixin stuff. Daily.
Take a sead loan out in the spring and hope to Hell you can pay it off come fall. It ain’t easy
I used to have cattle - also had a day job, and the ranch took all my spare time, mornings, nights, and weekends.
I planted pine trees in nearly all my pasture. Still a lot of work, but I can go out of town for a week now.
It's that, or you fall asleep where you're standing...
Our strategy....Rent out the land to someone else for the dirty work...Has worked pretty well over the years.
Also, I didn't want to risk loosing the land by going bankrupt trying to farm it. Let someone else take the risk.
When I quit playing full time I farmed with my dad for 14 years while my kids were young, (Also got to play amateur baseball with the local team). At one point I decided to move to the town I live in now, work for someone else, and rent out the land. My sister and I inherited the land and a house in my home town. I get to play with a really good band on most weekends. There's an expression my bro-in-law used to say when people would ask him about his job, "It beats farming". As it turns out, that's been true of my life.
Edited to add--
I just remembered that one big reason I decided to get out of farming the land myself was a growing feeling that I was less a self-employed farmer and more like an employee of Monsanto, Cargill, and ADM.
Not almost impossible to make it if you're not born into it, but pretty difficult. If you can afford to make a big initial investment, it's possible to make a lot of money doing dairy or poultry, running a horse farm, or few other things. Really though, the only "easy" way to do it is by inheriting land and equipment.
In many places, rental rates are so cheap that it's very difficult to make a living by renting out land unless you've got several hundred acres to rent out.
You guys are all thinking and talking about this on a commercial scale, tho'.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
No, but I want one some day.
The farm, not the farmer. Hehe
How else are you going to make a living doing it?
Don't even know where to start with that one.
What kind of farm? I grew up on a small dairy farm. If you like back breaking labor from sunup til sundown with no days off and poor pay, it might be for you!
For the OP; being a tenant farmer to a bank by incurring massive debt, then opting out of doing any hard work yourself by exploiting others is certainly one way to "farm".
It is not the only way.
I'm on a 40 acre "farmette" in the middle of Wisconsin dairy and crop farming land. We've had sheep, horses, donkeys, meat and laying chickens, ducks and yes, any livestock pins you down unless you have someone you can trust absolutely to take care of them in your absence. I think I went about four years once without spending more than a night away.
The dairy farmers deride the crop farmers for their easy lives because they're milking and feeding and spreading manure and usually covered in cow crap most of the day - when they're not out planting, cutting, putting up alfalfa and grass, cleaning the milking areas - and the price of milk cycles wildly. Most of the crop farmers around here have other gigs for the off season - one's a certified aviation mechanic (who owns two nice planes), one drives truck for the local ethanol plant, etc. The lucky ones have wives with state or local government jobs for insurance and benefits.
The only ones who seem to make real money are the bigger operations and around here they get some of their equipment from a co-op and/or share equipment with each other. I've rented out my land to some of them and they're sharp, hard businessmen.
I grew my own hay for about 10 years, cut it, raked it, baled it with a small baler, manhandled it into a hay wagon past midnight with my wife a couple of times to keep it from getting rained on, loaded it onto my elevator and stacked the loft of my barn full of sweet, green hay as high as I could throw it. There's a huge sense of satisfaction in standing in the middle of the aisle with the dust motes floating in the sunlight - wiped out from humping 40 pound bales for days, knowing you have feed for all of your hay burners for the whole winter and some. I've seen studies that when you figure in depreciation on machinery, labor, etc., that it's cheaper to buy hay than make it, but it sure feels a lot better to make your own and know it's not going to be moldy and see it's fresh and green when you break open a bale in the middle of winter.
Wisconsin recently changed the laws governing the inheritance of farm land which I understand is going to turn small farming on its ear. I don't know the details - only what I've heard, but it used to be easy to pass a farm on to your heirs without much in the way of tax consequences, but with the new laws it's going to be prohibitive. I foresee small farms being rolled up into bigger corporate farms as corporate entities exist forever - theoretically. Maybe that's the intent. It's probably more efficient, but I like living in a patchwork of small operations.
If bucolic = ankle deep mud and feces (on a good day), then yeah, it's bucolic.
Sounds like we have similar parental background.
My mother grew up on a South Dakota farm in the late 20/early 30's. Her mother died shortly after the birth (see "Milk Fever") of her 8th sibling. She was tossed into the rumble-seat of an old Model-T and they moved to Oregon in the middle of the Dust Bowl years and eked out a living as farm labor and raised their own turkeys/veggies and canned everything they could so they'd have food in the winter. Of those 7 kids, one married a guy who established his own dairy farm. The rest stayed out of farming, but all had some really strong green-thumb roots, and most still canned food even tho they didn't have to. It's just what they did and they liked it better than store-bought (remember, "year-round fresh" wasn't an option back then).
All of us kids still retain some aspects of the canned-food thing.... I do pickling. One of my sisters does the whole seed-saving/heirloom-saving thing + cans 80% of her winter foods. There's no fear about pesticides and organic-contamination if you grow your own and know what you're doing. We've all lived the suburban rat-race, and have moved on to meager-but-happier rural surroundings.
Wow, sorry to here Wisconsin has sold out (in the form of small-farm-inheritance-tax).
But dude, seriously.... a 40 lb bale of hay? That's a flake!
Around here it's all 110-120 lb 3-string bales. Y'all got it easy.
I bet your back is a lot more healthy than mine is... I'm just jealous, that's all.