Opinion: The main ingredients of agriculture? family and cake

For future reference, if you arrive at our farm and it takes more than 30 seconds to get your boots on, I’ve already passed full judgment on you and it’s not looking very good.

In his heyday, my dad could do it without even breaking his stride. Plus, his flat cap, coat, and overalls were all put on faster than you could say “the cows are out.”

It was quite a spectacle – agricultural ballet at its best. Matched only by the “quick rock-in-the-boot motion” or the “I-just-accidentally-got-punched-with-a-local-anaesthetic-and-my-hand-is-numb “.

However, time weighs on all of us, and in agriculture it can be quite brutal.

These days, with a crooked back like the pole of our tractor shed after bouncing around on unsprung tractor seats most of his life, watching my dad move can be a little less enjoyable sight.

In fact, it is better to leave the immediate surroundings.

After a few minutes of struggling with a dodgy zipper “designed by people with baby fingers” and failing to match the corresponding snaps on his jumpsuit, he then realizes he left his phone on the kitchen table and the tension in the air reached cumulonimbus levels. .

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Farming is family

He is adamant that I would be better off without him, which can sometimes be true, but to me farming is a family. Having my parents on the doorstep is the way a farming life should be lived.

I’m not just talking about free babysitting, free roast dinners, free kennels, free organic vegetables and an intravenous drip of sponge cake.

Farming is a solitary pursuit and having your loved ones to share the lows and mids makes long days worthwhile.

This year brings with it significant changes to our business. Our pasture-approved finisher is being ripped away from us, along with our basic payment plan safety net.

The weight is now firmly on my shoulders to weather the next storm.

It’s times like these that you realize how much you rely on the knowledge and understanding of the previous generation.

As my father grows increasingly frustrated with his diminished physical prowess, his ability to carry a 15 foot gate alone is not going to make or break our business. His decades of experience, however, are needed now more than ever.

As long as the cricket is not on, the door is always open and I can unload some of my endless problems on my parents.

A split problem is most definitely a halved problem, and if it’s split with a slice of the pie, you can cut an extra 25% to boot.

I read once that your brain uses more than 20% of your daily energy.

It’s safe to assume this increases dramatically when you’re trying to figure out why the Rural Payments Agency decided to remap half your farm, or how you can justify buying the neighboring field when you don’t seem to be able to afford it. only own-brand baked beans. .

Experience and energy – a powerful combination

Therefore, I view maintaining those calories as an essential part of my management strategy.

Apparently, life is made up of three resources: time, money and energy.

When you’re young, you have plenty of energy and time to kill, but no money.

When you hit middle age, hopefully the bank balance looks a little healthier and there’s still fuel in the tank, but squeezing work and family life into 24 hours seems nearly impossible.

Finally, as you reach full maturity, you can reap the financial benefits of the past and have time to rest, but just having the energy to get up from your recliner with heating features and integrated massagers can be a real challenge. Maybe that’s why family businesses can work so well?

I am fortunate to be part of a larger family partnership. With nearly 200 years of agricultural know-how around the meeting table, we have no shortage of experience.

As the next generation, full of ideas and enthusiasm, gain the confidence to steer the company in new directions, the older members of the family sit quietly in the passenger seat, full of encouragement and of advice, with a palm above the handbrake, Just in case.

The combination of experience and energy is incredibly powerful and a joy to witness.

Knowledge exchange

As an industry, we constantly talk about the importance of the next generation and how to nurture new entrants, with their ideas and drive.

But we should be just as focused on making sure they have access to the incredible knowledge and experience that already exists.

As I sit here with the computer at arm’s length to keep him focused, I realize how quickly the years pass.

I already feel a slight disconnect with modern technology, and it’s a small victory that I sailed at night without needing to pee.

I just hope that I can give my children the encouragement and opportunities that I have been blessed with.

My three-year-old daughter announced last week that she was going to be a clown astronaut.

I naively asked if she was talking about an astronaut and clown, but I was quickly put in my place with confidence. “No, dad, I want to be a clown in space”.

Guess life on the International Space Station must get pretty boring, so maybe she’s onto something.

Whatever she chooses, the door will always be open and there will be a piece of cake waiting for her.

About Keneth T. Graves

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