Growing up in a farm-heavy county like ours, it’s easy to get a little claustrophobic cooped up in an office building all day. Daydreams of wide-open skies and rolling hills has turned many a desk job employee into a farmer. If you’ve found yourself in the same situation and are wondering how to make your dream a reality, fear not. Our tips and tricks for beginning farmers are here to help.
Create Goals and a Business Model
As much as a farm may feel like an idyllic escape from work in an office, it’s still a business. Businesses require capital, cash flow, and a plan to continue running. Find mentors among other, more seasoned farmers to help you create goals and a plan for your farm based on the amount of money you have, current crop and livestock prices, and the type of land that you’ll be working.
Focus on Preventative Equipment Maintenance
Beyond land, crops, and animals, one of your most significant investments as a farmer will be your farm equipment. Equipment means loss of productivity and loss of capital thanks to repair costs, so create a preventative maintenance schedule for your equipment early. Include:
- Visual inspections for damages or animal nests
- Checking tire pressure and tread
- Making sure rubber hoses and seals aren’t cracked
- Replacing air filters regularly
- Topping off fluids such as fuel, hydraulic fluid, and coolant
Also, take the time to familiarize yourself with the inner workings of your machinery. Even if you aren’t an expert, having some knowledge will help you diagnose issues, such as a screeching final drive motor. This will save you money and time if your machine goes down.
Plant a Variety of Crops
For thousands of years, Mesoamerican cultures grew gardens known as milpas. This involved planting a variety of crops including maize, avocados, beans, squash, and tomatoes. This diverse body of crops represented a balanced meal nutritionally and ecologically. Nutrients taken out of the soil by one plant were reintroduced by another. If one plant failed, there were several others to take its place.
Even if you don’t plant a milpa, you can apply the same principle to your farm. A diverse farm is a stable farm. And since one of your goals in the first few years is to establish stability, planting a variety of crops is a good trick for beginning farmers to try.
Start Off Simple With Animals
If you’ve ever had a pet, you know it’s a big responsibility taking care of a living thing. This is even more true with livestock. After all, you aren’t merely trying to keep them alive; you want them to thrive for the sake of your farm. For that reason, don’t jump to raising the more delicate breeds of sheep, goats, or cows unless you have experience. Instead, start off with animals that are easier to raise such as chickens, ducks, and rabbits before moving on to animals requiring more thorough care.