People choose the farming lifestyle for many reasons. Maybe agriculture is ancestral, a family tradition home-baked into a the farmerâ€™s genetics. Sustenance, too, is a good impetusâ€”farming provides an excellent means to meet personal needs in an increasingly dependent world.
Overall, though, I see one overwhelmingly common trait among those who choose to spend time filling troughs and working the landâ€”problems. Namely, farmers like solving them and have sought the lifestyle that guarantees daily challenges. Whether itâ€™s replacing a belt on a broken tractor or assisting in a complicated calving, farmersÂ are at their best when things go wrong.
As a result, most of the content around farmingâ€”articles, books, county extension classesâ€”focuses on problems, most often in the form of DIY how-tos. These are great, and Iâ€™m not just saying that as a writer for Hobby Farms Magazine. Iâ€™m one of those people who loves a good problem, and I learned most of what I know about livestock agriculture from books and articles. (I also ask questions of seasoned farmersâ€”a lot of questions.)
The Piglet Show
But recently I paused while checking on our hogs to watch nine newborn piglets frolicking in the open pasture and realized one drawback to being a problem-solver: I sometimes forget to stop and enjoy when things go right.
I forget to observe the beesâ€™ frantic dance between hive health checks. I forget to stare at the tender little flower of a blossoming tomato plant and appreciate its simple beauty. I forget to laugh at the piglets when they leap and tumble over one another, making that silly little squeaking noise that only baby pigs make.
A farmerâ€™s problems, for a certain type of mind, are beautiful opportunities. But so is the calmest autumn day when everythingâ€™s going perfectly and chores are over in a snap.
I know well the phrase, â€śThereâ€™s always something that needs doing on a farm,â€ť and Iâ€™m as apt as any to go clean out the storage barn or rebuildÂ a compost bin, but sometimes the something that really needs doing is just taking a walk in the pasture withÂ your boar, sitting in the hen yard (my wife calls this â€śchicken TVâ€ť) or, yes, giggling over piglets.
A Pretty Special Thing
Becauseâ€”and this is the thingâ€”not everybody gets to do this stuff. Not everybody is able to step outside and see cows playing in the pasture or chickens awkwardly chasing bugs through the grass. Very few people can watch a mama sow gently nose her piglets while they skitter underfoot. And all we have to do is step outsideâ€”that’s pretty special.
Thereâ€™s another reason to take a beat and enjoy a functioning farmâ€”sometimes itâ€™s easier to see what youâ€™re not looking for. Whether itâ€™s a weird step in an animalâ€™s gait or a troubling discoloration on a blossom, many issues are best addressed before they become full-bore problems, but spotting them is sometimes easier when your mind isnâ€™t hyperfocused on troubleshooting. Also, sometimes the problem you need to see isn’t the one you go out looking for but, rather, the one that finds you where you stand, watching.