Friday, December 21, 2012

Why are some farmers busy and others aren't?

Depending on when you visit a farm, a farmer may look lazy or she may look like a chicken with her head cut off because she's so busy.  How busy a farmer is depends on a lot of factors.  First off, what is the farmer farming?  A farmer with a market garden is going to be as busy as a cross-eyed boy at a three-ring circus-at least between spring and fall.  Winter usually slows down and even market gardeners may take a break during the winter, although some crazy market gardeners continue to produce during this time in greenhouses and such.  But let's say you're a strawberry farmer.  You get to have the winter off for the most part.

Or what if you grow turkeys like us for thanksgiving?  We have to do a lot of work between March and November with our hectic time during the couple weeks before thanksgiving.  However, after November we have time off until february/march when gosling season starts.

Let's discuss what "time off" means.  This also depends on what you're farming.  For a turkey farmer, time off means having less turkeys to take care of.  Right now, we only have our breeding flock rather than the gazillions of babies.  Our geese may not be laying, but we still have to keep the future parents fed.  Even a farmer who has absolutely "nothing" to do during a specific time of the year (say a pumpkin farmer who plants in june and harvests in october) is still taking care of the land, has tons of fix-it projects (because farmers are typically poor and their farms are on the point of collapse lol) and let's be honest, what farmer only raises one crop?  A pumpkin farmer will get bored in the middle of winter and try their hand at greenhouse tomatoes or will get some dairy goats, etc.

Another key part of farming that may make some farmers look busier than others is that farming is not a 9-5 job.  A couple weeks back, everyone in the family slept in until about 9am.  A visitor was surprised that we were up so late, but what she didn't know was that the night before, while she was tight asleep in her bed, we were up until 3am caring for a sick pig.  Much of a farmer's work is done at odd hours, so don't begrudge her a nap!

Still, farmer's do have "times off" where their workload significantly decreases and they do show some genuine (well-deserved) laziness.  Another factor is how many workers a farmer has.  The more workers, the less work for the farmer (this is my goal in life).  Not that the farmer stops working, but they may be able to get up a bit later and stop a bit earlier and not kill themselves by age 35 (again my goal).  For example, my brother in law is feeding animals right now and I have time to write a blog post and drink a mug of coffee.  Nice.