2023 Learning Experiences
What doesn’t break you makes you stronger
Best practices are elements of doing the job over time and discovering ways to improve. Some people might say that this is the means of establishing experience. The more you go through, the more you learn.
Best practices are a little more in depth. It is an accumulated knowledge that can be passed along to children, helpers, or apprentices. It can also be learned, valued, and kept to oneself. The reason for this is that learned beneficial experience can be seen as a competitive advantage in doing business. People doing similar work are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their neighbors. Sometimes best practices lower the costs of doing business. A person can do more with less. All of this will either save money in the course of providing services and selling products, or it can reflect a selling price to be more competitive against people who offer similar services or products.
To bring this concept back to the farm, farmers can either keep their learned knowledge to themselves or share this to help others become stronger and not have to go through the pains to gain that wisdom.
“There is no pain. There is no pain,” — Apollo Creed
The knowledge learned over the year is extremely valuable because it helps to steer the way things are done in the upcoming year. As I get older, the reality is that I may not be able to move around the farm the way I would hope. I don’t want this to limit my ability to farm. This is why I found value in moving to build pivot irrigation systems on the property. Was it expensive to do? Absolutely, yes it was. Whether I would do it again…that’s a whole different article.
The point is that I want to avoid pitfalls before they show up right before me. Some can be planned. Others are discovered and dealt with when they show up. My point is that this year was not good for growing hay on the farm because most of the season was spent in construction while watching water pass by. My big learning opportunity is that I never should have plowed up my flood irrigation ditches until the pivot was installed and running. That alone would have saved a whole year of production.
I also learned that it is very motivating to keep my ditch lines clear and eradicate the willows, thistles, and unwanted weeds. The idea is to have nothing but harvestable vegetation in the fields. It also helps keep critters and unwanted animals to a minimum. Being able to see the entire property helps to find problem areas and to identify quick fixes in the fields or along the fence lines.
My last learning opportunity was that I need to make sure that if I am going to do a fall seeding, to make sure to do it earlier in the fall. I was hesitant to do this, but I was curious to know and so I seeded beyond a reasonable germination time. Now I know.
Experience is the point of life
The purpose of life might be to build a life full of experiences, make mistakes, and break eggs. Each year that we survive, rewards us with wisdom and confidence. I would like to think that most of us will all be doing better next year and will heal from any wounds incurred during 2023. The things we cannot control are beyond our means and thus we should minimize the amount of stress that we apply toward that. Let us focus on the things that we can control.
Our attitude is a big one. I like to think that farming isn’t as hard as people say. You simply move from one task to the next, while keeping an eye on the calendar. Find the time within a given day that allows you to be productive and choose to enjoy those challenges. Look forward to great results, but be prepared for issues with weather, water, and gauge whether or not you can have more this year than next. It’s always nice to hope, but sometimes staying in the game is just as important.