While there are many different “rules” of farming, we all have our favorites. I’ve outlined five of my favorites for those new to the farm life to keep in mind!
Prepare to get dirty!
No farmer’s handbook is complete without this one! Farming is synonymous with dirty. If grease and dirt are your best friend, then farming is just for you. All too often your shirt is your dirt rag, and sometimes you cover up whatever you managed to roll yourself around in with a slightly more appealing area of dirt on the ground (or at least I hope it’s not just me who does this!).
Correlation does not equal Causation
A very important thing to remember while farming is to be mindful of underlying causes of problems. There are so many variables when determining a cause of any problem, so it’s best to always consider that may be more than one cause of a problem.
Consider a field of corn that has uneven height. The issue could range from emergence issues, to herbicide drift from a nearby field, or low soil pH. It would be easy to assume that some parts of the field are rockier resulting in drier areas. It’s important to deduce what is wrong to be sure that the problem is fixed for the following year to ensure you are as profitable as possible.
Accidents will happen
Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations. In 2014, TIME Magazine ranked farming as the sixth most dangerous occupation in the U.S. with 26.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 people. This isn’t surprising, as many farms are small family operations, of which OSHA has restricted use of appropriated funds to enforce regulations on farms with 10 or fewer non-family workers. Farmhands are not always properly trained, which may result in increased accidents as awareness of your surroundings on a farm is very important.
Late nights will eventually be mandatory
Farmers are notorious for putting in extra hours after dark. There are few second chances to get things done in farming. If you are new to farming, it’s best to find someone willing to put up with many irregular hours. A 40-hour work week for a farmer is not always common, and that’s an easy work week to many. During busy seasons, many of us will clock in more than twice the amount of hours as a normal work week until the job is done and for some, that can take a month or more.
Farming must be a passion
No one says farming is easy. While many farmers know that their occupations are one of the most physically and mentally demanding out there, I believe most would say the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. That said, it’s important for farmers to care deeply for their job. Sooner or later you’re bound to fail in some aspect. Failure can be disheartening, but it is just as important as success as it teaches you what doesn’t work, and what does. Without failure, it is difficult to establish for yourself what success really is.
Ryan Kuster, the force behind the informational and insightful YouTube channel How Farms Work, is a beef and crop farmer based in Wisconsin. He created his channel in 2012 to help show non-rural people how farming is done in the Midwest. Ryan’s website can be found here, and he’s on Facebook, and Twitter.