IN 2008, A SITE with an intriguing name hit the World Wide Web. It’s The Art of Manliness (www.artofmanliness. com). Five years later, a contributing writer offered a column that came to my attention a few weeks ago. The title is “9 Rules for Starting Your Own Farm.” It’s an interesting and fun-to-read piece by Forrest Pritchard, a man with considerable farming experience and credibility — and a great name for a man of the earth. His claims to fame include saving his seven-generation family farm in Virginia with a practice called sustainable farming and then writing a book about it (Gaining Ground).
Space here won’t allow me to touch on all nine of Pritchard’s rules — with a “bonus rule” he actually has an even 10 for us — but I would like to briefly highlight five of them.
Rule #2: Allow Yourself the Opportunity to Fail
“If failure is a major concern to you, here’s a spoiler: in farming, you will fail. 100% chance,” Pritchard writes with all honesty. He says a lot of good can come from failure — perspective for future enterprises, increased intellectual strength, and more emotional resiliency, for example.
Rule #4: Match the Land to Its Suited Use
Don’t force the issue; “(work) with what nature gives us,” Pritchard says. Learning what the land will give you can come by experience (often the long, hard, and expensive way), through good research, or a combination of the two.
Rule #5: Grow Your Passion
“Everyone knows that farming is hard work. So do yourself a favor: grow something that you love,” Pritchard advises. Similar advice by the late Steve Jobs, famously of Apple Inc., comes to mind here: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Rule #6: Set Reasonable Goals
A self-proclaimed workaholic, Pritchard offers this to newbie farmers: “Take care of yourself. Burnout is big in farming.” He says it’s wise to set annual and reasonable goals that will get you to where you ultimately want to be with your enterprise.
Rule #8: Have a Sense of Humor
Pritchard has one — a sense of humor — and you discover that early on while reading his article. “(F)aced with the possibility of daily mayhem (on the farm), a sense of humor can be a handy-dandy coping mechanism,” he writes.
I truly enjoyed Pritchard’s article. It offers a lot of good, practical, and honest advice. People who are thinking about getting into farming will learn a lot from it. Those who have been in the business for a while certainly will relate to it. You’ll find it with a click over to http://bit.ly/1eUp3J0.
column by BAXTER TROUTMAN
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.