What does it take to be a farmer?

What does it take to be a farmer? A couple of us were talking about this the other day. What skills are essential to make it in agricultural production? This week, I kept track of the different jobs and skills that I performed. Farming does not just entail taking care of vegetables or animals but a myriad of other tasks that keep a farm going.

On Monday we were building new shelves for the shop to put tools and supplies on. So we were carpenters for the day on Monday.

On Tuesday morning I worked in the shop, using the acetylene torch to heat and cut metal. In the afternoon I helped Joel on the sawmill, stacking and stickering lumber. So welder and mill worker for the day.

On Wednesday we moved cows from one rental farm to the other. This involved collecting the cows and putting them into the corral. Then we sorted them into mama cows, stockers (the ones we eat), and calves, stuck them into trailers and hauled them. Then I spent the afternoon back in the shop, rewiring an old tablesaw, replacing a frost-free hydrant, and cutting wood for some projects. I ended up being a cowboy, electrician, plumber, and carpenter.

On Thursday morning Joel turned me loose on the sawmill to mill 2x4s for the latest building project on the farm. Not only does running the sawmill involve brute strength to turn the big logs but the finesse to cut the boards at sub-inch accuracy. There is a lot of math involved in trying to maximize the number of boards out of each log. In the afternoon we drove over to a rental farm, loaded up some equipment on the goosenecks, and hauled it back to the home farm. Thursday’s jobs were sawyer and trucker.

Add to that salesman, mechanic, chef, writer…..  and you start to get the picture of what a farmer does. Needless to say, we keep busy.