There comes a point when you know you need to reevaluate and regroup, and we hit that point 3 months ago. Our stress levels were through the roof. We were angry and disappointed in ourselves. We thought this was God’s plan for us, why couldn’t we make our farm work? We had the customers, we have the tools, and the land, and the plants. Why would He lead us in this direction, just so we could fall flat on our face?
So we did a 180. Cut our losses, we stopped trying to salvage the tomato field and other things that weren’t working. We figured at this point, any time we spent on that would take away from doing other things that could actually help pay the bills. Right? Then we sat down and had a heart-to-heart. What did we like most about our farm, what did we enjoy doing every day, which chores did we dread and avoid? How can we refocus around those things? Rj admitted that though he absolutely has found his calling as a farmer, when he started college, he really wanted to have a greenhouse operation. Now that was the last thing that got worked on lately. I, meanwhile, kept thinking back to my college major: Creative Writing, and my “favorite” chore of the day, working with the animals.
How can we incorporate these things and refocus our farm plan, meanwhile still expect to pay the bills and eliminate some stress? We thought on it, for a LONG time. We hashed through scenarios, ran numbers, and stopped trying to force something that wasn’t working. It’s just too difficult at this point in our lives to maintain the amount of crops we planted, at least not with 5-6 kids on the side.
We had to come to terms that it’s okay to change directions. We are our own bosses, if we couldn’t change our mind, what were we really doing here exactly? Flexibility is so important when you’re self employed. You need to make what works work better, and the stuff that doesn’t work: forget and learn from it. Or in our case, and this is so important to me, HELP OTHERS learn from it. Prevent others from making the same mistakes that we did, God provides enough for us all to be happy and successful, we don’t have to keep a “secret edge” and compete. God provides enough, He is enough. He will provide a path or a niche to make your farm or business set apart from others. We don’t have to do it all.
OUR NEW PLAN
- Build up our livestock production and provide access to quality locally raised meat
- Meat Goats, Hogs, some cattle, and all types of poultry
- Convert our fields into pasture and hay ground (goodbye weeding!) and grain crops to reduce our livestock feed costs
- Set up our Aquaponics system and use the greenhouse to its maximum potential to grow fresh vegetables (also with minimum weeding!) and a small garden of a manageable size
- Use our website and social media platforms to help others learn from our (numerous) mistakes, meanwhile get some seriously therapeutic writing in for Nicole
- Focus on our family and farm, and build up opportunities for more agrotourism
- You don’t have to do and be everything. You are enough.
- We don’t have to compete with every other local direct produce farmer around. We can build our business around the things we love to do.
- Stress is unnecessary and honestly makes everything harder in the end. Find ways to eliminate it where you can. If something is super stressful, is it REALLY necessary? Could you do something else instead to achieve the same goal? Delegate it to someone else?
- If you are unhappy with your overall day at least three times a week. Something is wrong. Step back and reevaluate your life.
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