As most of you will know I quit my job at the end of last year and post my honeymoon, started my new career, alongside my husband, mother and father in law, in farming.
And wow – what a six months it has been.
It’s been a complete emotional rollercoaster.
I’m not going to lie at times there have been tears and self doubt. The odd what am I doing moments – usually when I’m tired, cold, wet, covered in shit and frustrated by my lack of ability or knowledge to do something.
But I’ve stuck with it through the hardest time of all – Winter! And am pleased to say that I’m finally feeling like I’m settling in to it and things are falling in to place.
Farming is like nothing I’ve ever known or experienced before and it can be glorious and horrendous all at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong the good 100 percent outweighs the bad but as a complete novice who was used to being pretty competent and confident in her last line of work, to start off in something new that was so far removed from what I knew and with soooooo much to learn, has been tough.
It’s been hard to be the trainee again and be told what to do – quite often by my husband! And with no structure formal training or feedback which you receive in the corporate world I’ve had to just take each day as it comes.
I’ve had to remind myself that the probation period of any job is difficult to navigate. You take on so much new information every day and try put it in to practice and settle in to a new cultural working environment all at the same time.
It’s no different on the farm and whilst at times I’ve not felt like I’ve been good enough to be a farmer. I’ve had to have a stern word with myself to take the pressure off and relax. Stop trying to run before I can walk, do everything at once and take pride and a sense of achievement from the small progresses I make each day. Focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t and realising that farming isn’t a destination it’s a continual journey.
One which I’m fortunate to be on.
With summer around the corner, my confidence and ability slowly building and with my new sidekick Cookie by my side I’m excited to see what the next 6 months will bring.
Until then I wanted to share a few key takeaways with you, from my first 6 months of farming
1 – leave your ego at the farm gate there’s no place for it here, on a farm everyone has to be pulling in the same direction and mucking in together for it to be successful
2 – always shut said gate or any other gate for that matter behind you – or your livestock are sure to go for a wander!
3 – observe, observe, observe…….if you want to be a good farmer you have to be continually taking in your surroundings and spending timing with your livestock watching and noticing. It’s a new skill for me which I’m still working hard on!
4 – have a plan or intent of what you want to achieve that day/week/ month but be flexible and adapt to what’s going on around you. I used to be the master planner both in my professional and personal life and I’ve had to learn to let that go and go with the flow more.
5 – invest in good outdoor gear – waterproofs, gloves, base layers, wellies they’ll make the difference to your happiness when you’re out braving the elements.
6 – always consider the impact of your actions as they’re usually very tangible, what you do now perhaps to save time may end up creating more work for you a couple of months later so always think ahead.
7 – find good support networks and go out and visit other farms and talk to other people in your industry – soaking up as much information as you can! Social media is great for this and has been invaluable to me on my journey.
8 – recognise and accept that not everything is with in your control, you can only control the controllable and do your best in any given situation. This is a really important one as there are so many variables in farming and only a few of them are actually ones you can do anything about.
9 – make the most of any down time and get off Farm, take time for yourself and recharge when you can, without feeling guilty! No one wants to reach burn out and the way I see it you’re better at your work if you’re on you A-game and the farm and livestock will do better for it.
10 – enjoy every minute and don’t take yourself to seriously! I have definitely been guilty of doing this. But I’m learning to focus on the positives, be grateful for the opportunity to farm – lots of people would love to do it and don’t have the option to and have a laugh and smile even through the harder times.
As ever thanks for reading!
Love your no longer a complete newbie now I’m 6 months in, farmer Nic