Thursday, June 24, 2010

Farming: How hard can it be?

A friend of mine took a drive in the country last weekend with her husband.  When they reached the country, he had an epiphany. 

This lifelong city dweller-whose dayjob is as an actuary--is thinking about taking up farming.  How hard could it really be? This is a guy who has never changed his own oil and mows his own yard under protest. 

And I'm not talking hobby farming or just a big backyard garden.  I'm talking wheat fields, corn fields and a herd of cattle farming. 

His rationale?

How much stress could farmers have? Cows don’t talk back. How hard could it be to grow a row crop? It’s just like growing tomatoes in the back yard. Caring for pets is just like taking care of livestock isn’t it?

You just need a tractor, get some land and go to work. Isn’t it that simple?

Like many who are removed from farm like, he doesn't realize that growing anything is part art, science and miracle. And farming requires a lot of time, talent and tenacity.

I thought we should work up a list of easy farm chores to help him rethink leaving corporate America.

Some easy farm chores:
  • Hauling hay in 100+ degree heat.
  • Helping deliver a calf in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night
  • Unloading a ton of feed sacks
  • Planting all night when your trying to beat the rain
  • Looking a a field that's been flooded or shredded by hail

I'm sure lots of things are missing from the list.  What's your favorite easy farm chore?



  1. Trying to water livestock when an icestorm hits and you have no well power because you have no electricity! Grab the buckets and head for the rivers!

  2. Wasn't that long ago I used to live in a small ag community.

    I remember an ice storm that knocked out power to an entire rural community.

    If your a dairy farmer in this situation trying to run power milkers, unless you have a generator that can handle that kind of load is next to impossible. Grab a stool and a pale and get to milking by hand. Oh and try not to get knocked in the head by a cow that doesn't want to be milked :)

    I have a few others but this should add to the list nicely.

  3. Nicole and Joe,
    Thanks for the great additions of "EASY" chores.

  4. Oh, this made me laugh.

    Chopping ice in the winter so cattle can water without walking out onto the ice in the stock dam and drowning.

    Getting up two hours before dawn so you can grab a biscuit, get your horse and be at the AI pasture to check and see which cows are bulling and need to be brought in before it gets too hot and they brush up.

    Delivery breech babies.

    Butchering. That's always a fun day.

    Growing a garden and canning because normally, you can't just run into town and pick up a can of corn you forgot.

    Milking. Twice a day. Every day.

    No vacations unless you can find someone to feed the animals you have up.

    Figuring out how much and what kind of fertilizer you need for each crop. Then applying that fertilizer correctly.

    Some friends decided they were going to put in a pecan orchard and be rich. They dug the holes for 200 hundred trees. Planted their trees and filled the holes with manure from a defunct feedlot. 200 dead trees.

    Trimming and shoeing your horses.

    Doctoring wounds on animals because you can't get a vet out and you can't get the animal loaded.

    Recognizing sicknesses and knowing how to treat them.

    Feeding orphan calves.

    Building fence. Sighting a straight fence line. Digging post holes in 100 plus degree heat. Setting posts. Bracing corners. Knowing what kind of posts to use so you don't have to do this again next year. Stringing wire. Stretching it and affixing it to the posts so it stays.

    Getting bucked off a horse and walking back to the house, possibly for miles.

    Tell him to read Kari Dell's Montana For Real blog. He might particularly be interested in her recent adventures with Roo, her rope horse.

  5. digging out a slugged combine straw by itchy sneezy straw. Cleaning out sun heated grain bins with 3 trucks waiting. wrestling a 42 foot truck tarp in the wind.getting mashed into the fence by a wild heifer on the fight. watching crops burn up with no rain in sight. Limit down markets. Finding quality help that will work for what you can afford to pay. Inspecting pivots and other equipment destroyed by tornados. operating dangerous heavy equipment with extreme sleep deprivation. having 1100 pound horses trip an fall and roll over you, getting seriously injured on a fourwheeler checking pastures. working 32 straight days.
    for just a few and all have happened to me.

  6. Don't forget baby calves in your car and bathtub. Or sorting calves in knee deep mud (and grateful for the mud at the same time). Drilling wheat, getting down pour, drilling same field again. Repeat as necessary. Broken equipment, getting the wrong parts. Replacing motors on Peterbilts. Broken augers with trucks waiting. There are so many more.