Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Starting Farming

This is a really good story about a young man starting farming. 

"True story: 3 years ago I had a young boy (family friend) approach me during a 4-H show and tell me that he would like to be a farmer but he didn’t know how to drive a tractor. I told him, “if you want to be a farmer, you just need to figure it out”. A few months past and we spoke again.

Next thing we knew he was at our house learning to drive our utility tractor. I preached SAFETY with every breath. It was his first steps in his path to farming. We decided together that baling hay would be the easiest route for him to take and it could help him support is 5 goats. The sad thing was, to many folks were telling this boy that he would fail! Each time he was told he would fail, I replied, “only if you decide to”.

The next step, he needed hay to bale but didn’t have any land. I told him have his mom drive him around a 1 mile square and look for little 1-3 acre patches of grass. After finding a few I told him to go up to their house, knock on their door, explain what he was doing and ask if he could bale their grass. Yep, everyone gave him that chance.

The next step: we did cash flows then his father took him to the FSA office to complete an application for $5k for a 4-H project. The only thing they needed was a letter from me that I was willing to continue to help give him guidance which I did.

Within a few months he had bought a little Ford 861 (cheap, live power and low to the ground), NH haybine and hay baler before he ran out of money. I supplied the wagons and another neighbor supplied the hay rake.

I would like to point out that with every ‘next step’ he made, the same people that told him he would fail, noticed and jumped in to help. I was beside him a short time with each process. 1 day he called and told me that his baler had quit. I couldn’t be there for him but ask 1 simple question: Who else in the area bales hay? He ended calling a few folks before he found someone that could help him get going again. At that time I felt it was an excellent time for him to figure it out on his own rather to rely on me for most hiccups.

He started to bale hay on a small scale and started to get calls for custom work. His business grew faster then I would have ever dreamed! FYI: He graduates high school next week and his equipment was paid for through his hay baling! To me what is most important is the life lesson he learned. What I learned: how many people don't know what a 'lock washer' is.

This same principle could be used for cattle, dairy, row crop or asking a girl to go out on date. You just have to get off your butt and do it! "

This story distinctly reminds me of one of my students years ago.  He started about the same way though he was one of many children on a small dairy farm.  He sells hay from his hay business this day and it's been over 40 years since he started this business like the one described.

I think I could  help a young person take a UTV like our Mule and a seeder and start farming today.  Almost every farmer is interested in sowing cover crops and I think I could help someone start a business doing that to generate cash and increase their acceptance into the farming world.

If you are a farmer, how did you get started in business?  If you are not a farmer but always wondered if you could farm, what has kept you from starting?


Ed Winkle


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