Friday, October 31, 2014

Starting Farming

Once again my friends are wondering how it might be possible for anyone to start farming today.

I really liked this response:

"It's not impossible to start farming, but you won't be doing it full time for quite a while.

I am in the "starting" years myself. My family has an agricultural background (tobacco and small herd of cattle), but we didn't have any land or equipment that was relevant to grain farming.

Everyone else said it was impossible. You can't farm without being born into it. Not even worth trying. I had been told that for YEARS before I decided that I would succeed, or prove those people correct.

Didn't borrow money to start either. Just scrapped by, using personal cash to buy super cheap equipment. I work part-time and commute to college (lucky enough to go on a good scholarship), so every single cent I have made has went into the farm venture.

My first year, I didn't own anything. Borrowed a 1206 and 10ft. no-till drill to plant 7 acres of soybeans. Hired the spraying and harvest from a local friend. Used that income to pay for inputs for this year, when I expanded to 40 acres. Over last winter, I purchased a 7-row/18" no-till planter ($300), 12ft. Oliver disc ($400), 16ft. harrowgator ($350), White 7300 combine/13ft. grain platform ($Free), and 1973 IH Loadstar 1700 grain truck ($1,300). Overall, less invested than most guys have in a pair of tires. I had my Ford 6000 tractor to begin with, but I borrowed a 5520 JD too. Hired my spraying, but a sprayer will ABSOLUTELY be purchased this fall. Need to control resistant weeds better than my custom guy does.

Ground I am farming is all low quality small fields. Nothing bigger than 25 acres and most is too wet for anything until late May. Odd shaped and hard to access, so none of the local operators will screw with them. Old pastures, meadows, junk hay fields, etc. Nothing gets passed up. Guys kept claiming I would never make any yield on that junk clay, but I am doing just fine thanks to help from Ed Winkle and cheap access to gypsum.

Even with low prices, I am doing fine. No ground will be idled, I don't plan to cut back on my fertilizer either. My ground is all rented, so I keep a very good relationship with my landlords. Even though I don't pay the highest rent around, I keep everything mowed, entrances graveled, disc their gardens, keep tree lines under control, etc. I like to think my value comes from that, over the dollar paid.

Yes, my equipment is rusty and small, but I am growing and doing what I love. Evening/weekend farming is how I have to start. One day I might be able to farm full-time, but it will be a while. I have always enjoyed running cattle with Dad, so I plan to go that direction in a few years. Purchasing land is a my major goal right now, larger equipment can wait. What I have right now is just fine. I can't compete with others high rent, so I might as well own the land and have 100% security.

If somebody really wants to start, they can do it. Set your heart to it, think about nothing else, and be handy with a wrench. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.

One day you will be used as an example, whether for success or failure. Your efforts decide which."

I was told the same and think most budding farmers are.  I really admire those who don't listen!

How did you start farming or did you ever want to farm?

Ed Winkle

No comments:

Post a Comment