How do you run a small farm and have sanity at the end of the day to be a good family unit?
I’m not really sure, we’re very much running this show with a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” mentality. We don’t have it all figured out, I’m not sure we really want to have it all figured out. And quite frankly as grey hairs keep creeping onto my head I’m pretty sure NO ONE has it all figured out.
But we’re slowly learning how to make this farm work for us instead of us constantly working for this farm.
I can’t stop thinking about this article I read a few weeks ago called “Darwin was a Slacker and You Should be Too”. To save you the time of reading the article heres what it’s about:
- Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman showed an almost superhuman ability to focus on their work
- This superhuman ability comes from only focusing on something for four to five hours a day and napping, walking, and resting your brain for the rest of the day
- Scientists who spent 25 hours a week in the lab were no more productive than scientists who spent five hours in the lab
- Scientists who spent 60 hours in the lab were the least productive
- This also applies to writers and violinists
- People do the best when they follow a pattern of working or practicing the hardest and longest in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon and then going back at it again for a few hours
What does this have to do with small-scale farming? Because frankly, there are many days where we are in the studio designing for 12+ hours or in the field for 16+ hours weeding, planting, harvesting, turning beds over, etc.
My point is. We take breaks. And it’s become healthiest thing that we can do. We are far more efficient when we aren’t physically and mentally tired. We can wrap our minds around a problem better and aren’t super stabby grump-asses by the end of the day. We’re better to each other and more importantly, we’re better parents to our son.
Our breaks range from stopping during the heat of the day to taking a little family adventure off the farm. We find our best re-grouping time is when we are off the farm.
There have been times this year where it feels like we’re slacking a bit because we’re not frantically trying to make this thing work like in the past two years. We’ve had to check ourselves a few times and realize we have better systems in place that allow us more down time to be us.
The better systems came about because we:
- Realized we HAD TO GET a piece of equipment that would help us farm. Doing it by hand was no longer an option.
- Kept really good records about varieties that we grew and what crops were the most profitable and what crops we enjoyed growing. Anything that didn’t bring money or joy was axed.
- Tracked all of our farm finances in Quickbooks and set financial goals for this year. What do we have to make to pay off the BCS tractor and hit our goals so we can have fun at the end of the year? Having a black and white plan that guides us along the way feels better than assumptions on crops and constantly searching for buyers.
We just keep realizing, there is no need to get bigger if we can do more with less. We trimmed excess fat and have sold pretty much everything we’ve grown with little waste. I can’t say the same for last year. We’ve held on tight to the tribe that puts their own blood, sweat, and tears into our dream too. Because frankly, our people are the only reason this farm even works.
So slack off, friends.
P.S. Did you catch that our lettuce and micro greens are currently for sale at Green Top Grocery and that we are at the Downs Farmers Market each Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.?