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How to Enjoy Permaculture Farming  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I have seen so many Permiculturists and Homesteader's get burned out, and here the average is about 8 years before that sets in. There is too much sweat equity, money invested, and relationships on the line for that to happen to my friends on here. So while this is just my experience and suggestions, it is heart-felt and honest.

(1) Enjoy the moment of whatever you are doing. DO NOT think that as soon as you get X,Y and Z done you can pause and be content. It will never happen, by the time they get done, AA, BB, and CC will need to get done too. Instead just realize you have a few acres of land, a dream a lot of people wish they could live out. Enjoy just working. Working is a good thing and learn to be content in doing, not in the planning and finished stages.

(2) Don't over analysis. JUST START. The hardest part of the project is just starting. It does not have to be a huge, big bravado type of start, just start. After that there is this internal drive to just see the project finished. Go with it, and if you can apply number one, it will mean fulfillment.

(3) Do not listen to the critics. If I believed 1% of what they said I would have never accomplished what I have so far. It is amazing what one person can do to the improvement of the farm with just a bit of interest.

(4) Pace yourselves. I pick one major project a year and try my best to finish that. Oh I have tons of smaller projects, but one big one for the year. In the 9 years I have been farming on my own, that is 9 major accomplishments and the farm shows it. That is not counting all the other smaller tasks that got done.

(5) Break life up. I have found I get more done if I do just 4 hours of forestry, 4 hours of farming, and 4 hours of family time (I have a wife and 4 young daughters). I get so much more done this way! I don't get burned out and I do not feel guilty about abandoning any aspect of it.

(6) Teach others even in a small way. There is no way they will retain what you know and somehow "beat you" or be your competitor. It does not work like that, and by teaching a person is forced to learn. Spread the knowledge base.

(7) Learn to prioritize. me...I am too dumb, so I set up a spreadsheet that kind of does it for me. By answering parameters, it generates which fields are priority, then what tasks are prioritized over others. I have the same thing with my equipment that needs repair, that way I know what i should be fixing and when.

( Make friends, no one is an island. People suck I know, but life is also about friendships and if I always pushed people away out of fear of being hurt, I would not have be blessed by some friends I really count on and look up to. You never know when the person you are helping today, is the person you need help from tomorrow. I have seen it and lived it out. That means posting on Permies too and not just lurking...EVERYONE can contribute and make this place better!

(9) Don't fret too much about the weather. People are shocked when I can recite the 10 day weather forecast...or three day...what does it matter (other then haying)? I am going to be out in it anyway. I just deal with it.

(10) From the start pretend you have a legitimate farm and run it like a business...yes filing Schedule F Forms. There is a lot of help for small farms and it is getting better every farm bill, BUT you have to prove you are a farm. The qualifications are meager, just an ATTEMPT to make $1,000 a year in profit...not that you actually have to make it...and they like to go back 3 years. So many people were shocked when I fist started out that I had a Schedule F form. Its not about paying your taxes, its proving you are helping put food on the national food chain. Start now if you are not!

(11) Play by the rules. My Grandfather tried to fly under the radar all his life and he paid dearly for it. Me, I am by the book, and as hard as it is sometimes, I have nothing to hide, and that is priceless freedom. So much is availed to me because of it.

(12) To reduce burnout, limit your main products to 3. Any more and you will get frazzled. Honestly how can you really be on top of everything that needs to be done if you have too many irons in a fire. But any less then 3 and you risk a market dropping out and you suddenly become stressed. Myself, I am stressed now because I only have 2: sheep and forest products. I need to add a 3 so don't be a dumb Travis Johnson!

(13) Expect that your partner/wife/husband/etc might not be as motivated as you are, or have a love of different things. Me, I am tireless...as long as I can do it from a tractor seat. Physical hand labor...oh my I struggle. My wife, she toils in the garden daily, reluctantly drives the tractor and absolutely refuses to drive my bulldozer (the easiest equipment in the world to operate). Don't push, try to be understanding, but most importantly try and get them in the moment as well, that is get them to enjoy farming and see it as a living out the dream, and not in the finished project. Oh how that moment of glee is so short lived...best to enjoy the actual working of a project. That is contentment.

(14) Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Take a darn break! I took a chainsaw to my face and log almost everyday, yet I have taken my wife on long walks, hand in hand and had brunch in the morning dew. Sappy...yep, but it was what she likes and helps our marriage which is priceless. The same for kids, especially if they have been rooted from city life and placed in a country setting where they may be resentful. Go for hikes, explore, have picnics, even go camping in the winter. It is your farm, and your fault if you do not make the most of it. Planting those last two peach trees can wait.

(15) Realize the greatest liability of your farm is probably the greatest asset too. A long ways from society...great you have no competition. Live close to a city...wow, so many customers close at hand. Me...I am a 9th generation farmer and know everyone, the problem with that is my grandfather, father or me might have made quite a few of those farmers mad over the years too.

(16) Realize that owning land is NOT a requirement to be a farmer. You could rent an apartment in town, lease land, and still be a full-time farmer. There are so many ways to farm, especially now with plastics making urban farming, winter farming, and other types of farming possible. Think "if you just has 100 acres acres of land" you could farm full time? Maybe not, property taxes suck!

(17) I said earlier to just start, but knowing the stages of a project helps too. Yes the first is to start; I have covered that, but realize that in the middle you WILL get discouraged. It happens.  You look at what has been so hard to accomplish, then look at what has to be done, and it is depressing. Just realize that it always happens, try to push through and realize you are closer to being done with every completes step. Then...finsish strong. What does it matter if a runner sprints for 99 yards and stops at the 99th yard? Start at 10% and finish at 110%!

(1 Realize there is hope if you do want to farm full time. I did it, my wife does not work off farm, all our income comes from trees or sheep, and we manage. It is stressful at times, but such is farming. The point is we manage and realized the dream. How you do it depends on how creative you are in avoiding some problems that might be in the way. BUT it can be done!


 
gardener
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Enjoying your moments even if....

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While I weeded, she worked too
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Lofthouse Quikcumber, second crop
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Yardboy getting up hoping for lunch
 
pollinator
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Great advice! I've discovered much of this through my own experiences. I'd like to add that I also learned....

1- start out small and grow as I gain knowledge and experience

2- if you suck at some important facet (I'm a terrible salesperson), somehow bring in a person to take care of that for you. I struck a deal with a young person to sell some of my excess on a commission basis.

3- don't purchase something when it makes better sense to hire the service. While I dream about having tractors, backhoes, chippers, I wouldn't use them enough to recoup their expense. Better the hire the service as needed and leave the heavy equipment in my daydreams.

4- learn about your market. While I dream of growing exotic herbs and uncommon veggies, there presently is zero market for them in my area. So I reserve the growing of purple basil, white sweet potatoes, red Italian beans, or purple fleshed potatoes as "fun foods" while I slowly educate my buyers. Even kohlrabi, parsnips, rutabaga, and amaranth are impossible sells here.
 
gardener
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Well stated Travis, Well stated.

Redhawk
 
gardener
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Love all of this. I'm intrigued by your spreadsheet approach — personally one of the things that drains me most is keeping track of maintenance requirements for various vehicles and equipment. I have a feeling it drains me because I'm trying to keep too many of the reminders in my head (how many hours on the tractor grease the drivetrain, how many generator hours since last oil change, etc). I keep good records, but records are only good for looking back.

Enjoy the moment of whatever you are doing. DO NOT think that as soon as you get X,Y and Z done you can pause and be content. It will never happen, by the time they get done, AA, BB, and CC will need to get done too. Instead just realize you have a few acres of land, a dream a lot of people wish they could live out. Enjoy just working. Working is a good thing and learn to be content in doing, not in the planning and finished stages.



I can't stress this enough. I struggled a lot this year as my partner ended up getting sucked into his day job a lot more than expected, and I ended up having to do a lot of things myself. I was so busy trying to get things ready for the winter, all my tools were disorganized and the main cabin was littered with random stuff. Earlier in the summer I was feeling defeated and pretty burned out, so a couple weeks ago I just went up to clean things up — avoiding my projects that needed completing. I installed a bunch of shelving in the tool shed, some hand tool hangers, and organized all my plumbing/screws/nails into neatly organized bins. I took all the random stuff in the main cabin and put it away, threw it out, or found a home for it. The end result is that now I feel a lot more enjoyment out of doing my projects and have a lot more energy to do more. When I'm exhausted at the end of the day, I get to go sit in a nice clean cabin and listen to an audiobook and enjoy being there instead of just looking around and being frustrated that the place was messy.

I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes you gotta put in work to make the process enjoyable. Don't get so caught up in finishing projects that you don't spend the time to make your environment pleasant.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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I did not read your post until now Kyle. If I had, the information I posted regarding my computerized priority list I would have done regarding fixing equipment and not my fields. If I get a chance I will show how I did my equipment spreadsheet. I would do so now buddy, but it has been a long day.

One thing I have found out that is my repairs are HIGH! Part of that is for years, being a part-time farmer I let things build up, not really fixing them because I did not have time. Now that I have time, I have found that I not only have more projects to repair, I can do them right so the repair bill is higher. Nothing is cobbled together any more. Its good, but costly!
 
pollinator
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I appreciate this.  For the last year, I have NOT enjoyed my farm.  I have been tired, overworked, overwhelmed and burned out.  Recently I have been trying to downsize, simplify, refocus...and find a joyful purpose again. Still a work in progress.
 
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Thanksfor this! We are starting year 2 on our homestead and dream of a day when my husband could not have an off-site full time job. It's always nice to have encouragement along the way and reminders to pace ourselves!
 
pollinator
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Thanks Travis .... loved this post. Thanks for sharing. I like the love in the moment and enjoy the project as it goes. Thanks for the reminder that work... life... relationship balance is important.
I also have to remind myself that not everyone is as excited about the things I am excited about and vice versa. So I engage in what gets my husband excited and then surprise he shows up to help me with the plants. Give and take you know... sometimes we need reminding cause it's so easy to have those blinders on.

Thanks again Travis :)
 
master steward
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(13) Expect that your partner/wife/husband/etc might not be as motivated as you are, or have a love of different things. Me, I am tireless...as long as I can do it from a tractor seat. Physical hand labor...oh my I struggle. My wife, she toils in the garden daily, reluctantly drives the tractor and absolutely refuses to drive my bulldozer (the easiest equipment in the world to operate). Don't push, try to be understanding, but most importantly try and get them in the moment as well, that is get them to enjoy farming and see it as a living out the dream, and not in the finished project. Oh how that moment of glee is so short lived...best to enjoy the actual working of a project. That is contentment.



This is such a big point for me. I've been trying to get my husband to work less overtime and stay home more, and actually enjoy our property, rather than slaving away at work, being stressed and tired, and being cranky because he never gets to relax and enjoy what we have. One of my happiest moments is when we were clearing out part of a hedge to plant in some roses, and my husband found a boulder tucked in the hedge. I was surrounded by moss and tucked under a tree's branch. He decided he wanted to clear out the hedge there and make a little sitting place. He had his own little project, and he was able to make part of our property "his own." For so long, I think, he felt like everything on our property was "mine," since I worked on it all day, and it wasn't something he had. But, he had the time to make his own little project, and really feel like our property was his, not just mine. I loved seeing him enjoy the process of working on something HE thought up, and his enjoyment of having actually accomplished it, too!
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