Not everyone can be or wants to be, a farmer. Like every path you take, there are certain lessons that come with it. Being a farmer has given me some pretty good life lessons I’d like to share with you.
1- I can’t be happy if I’m never sad.
You know the idyllic photos of farm life that make everything look fun and wonderful? We have some of those. When we can stop for a minute and watch the chickens foraging, the cattle move perfectly in a line across a pasture, or the birth of piglets, it all seems so perfect. We have moments that fill our hearts and souls with gratitude for being able to do what we do.
As wonderful as those moments are, farm life also means sadness and loss. And as full as my heart gets with joy, it also gets that full of sadness. A piglet dies, a chick gets injured, a calf loses its mother. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s also what makes a farm a farm and life, well, life.
We bask in the happy times and trudge through the sorrow to do what we need to do.
2- There’s always more to do, so take a break.
The list is never-ending. The list will always be never-ending on a farm. Taking a break will not make it any longer. Working all the time will not make it any shorter.
Fred is much better at this than I am. I have a hard time “turning off” work, but I try. Sometimes my break is sitting with the pigs giving belly rubs, sometimes it’s vegging on my phone with a game. Sometimes we make popcorn and watch a movie. You can’t keep going if you don’t take a break.
3- Eating in season is the best.
When we have everything available all the time, it’s no longer special. Right now, I am eagerly awaiting that first red strawberry in the patch. It will last a month, fresh just picked berries, then I have a year to wait. When my garden gave a bounty of squash, I never tired of it. Soon enough the squash bugs decimated them and that was that; no more squash.
After our first batch of pigs, we never bought pork from the store again. That meant we didn’t eat pork for about a year while we waited to get more pigs. When we are out of beef, we wait until another goes to the butcher. Just like produce is seasonal, so is meat. That first pork chop or burger after a long wait is sooooo tasty!
4- Slower is faster.
This came from my old-timer friend, D.D. We were chatting over lunch about things we needed to do and the conversation turned to moving livestock. He said one thing he learned early on was you can’t rush things or they just don’t work out, especially moving animals.
I also find it’s true for just about everything I do. Trying to hurry through a recipe ends in a ruined dish because of an omitted ingredient. Collecting eggs too fast leads to broken shells. Anything that’s done too fast, you risk bad results and more work. Slower really is faster in the end.
5- Some days are just hard.
Sometimes it’s related to the sadness I mentioned in #1, some days it’s trying to get something done and failing. There will always be days that are just hard.
The good thing about this is, so far I have successfully survived every hard day I’ve ever had. And if you are reading this, I am guessing you have, too! Whether physically or emotionally hard, we’ve made it through and know we can do it again.
Hard days will come, and end. Just like the sad days, just like the happy days. The seasons will come and go with an overabundance of one food and never enough of another. There will always be work to be done and the need to relax.
But what I have really learned in my time farming is being where you are supposed to be, doing what you are meant to do, and having those you love with you along the way is all you need in life.