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New Year's Resolutions for the Farmer

Farmer posing in front of field

A new year has arrived with all the speed of a herd of hungry cows ready for their feed. With the new year, comes the age-old tradition of making resolutions.

Babylonians started the tradition over 4,000 years ago, and ever since then, people have been making promises to themselves and others to achieve or stop something.

Resolutions are created with the greatest of intentions, but sadly sometimes fall by the way side and don’t ever live up to their potential. In fact, resolutions are much like farming. Every year, crops are planted, and animals born. While nurtured with the greatest of attention, they don’t always hit the mark. Similarly, resolutions are created and nurtured, but for various reasons, don’t always stick. This, of course, doesn’t stop millions of people from making new resolutions with the dawn of each new year, just as farmers don’t stop planting crops and caring for animals.

This, though begs the question, what resolutions should be created and nurtured? The answer is deeply personal. Perhaps, though, farmers can agree on a similar list of resolutions. A list that, if nurtured, leaves them not just a better farmer, but a better person.

  1.  Read a book—it only has to be one. Preferably one that provides value to your life. Try a book that helps you in your business. Laura Vanderkam explains how to get more done in a day with her book 168 Hours. Maybe a book that gets back to the roots of farming, is what you need. Images of America’s Eastern North Carolina Farming is not only filled with historical information, but plenty of pictures to accompany it. There’s also agricultural economist professor, Jayson Lusk’s book The Food Police, where he sets the record straight on many of today’s food myths. Just one. Read one, actual, hard-copy book this year. You have 365 days to finish it.
  2. Watch a sun set or rise—this may sound easy peasy to farmers. They work sunup to sundown, but do farmers take the time to actually watch the sun set on a job well done, or stand in gratitude at another sun rising on their farm? One day, just take it all in.
  3. Attend an educational class or conference—it doesn’t matter if it is a workshop that is only a few hours or a conference that spans a few days…go! While there, soak in all the knowledge, network with all the people, and expand your horizons. Inquire at your local Extension office or even here at Farm Credit for one that may interest you.
  4.  Diversify your farm—perhaps the new year gives you dread because you look at the coming months and see the monotony of what you did the year before, and the year before that. Diversification can fix that. Diversifying your farm can break up the monotony and breathe new life in to your daily routine. Explore what new crop or animal or business venture awaits you, and go after it.
  5. Take more pictures and tell your farm story—in a world where only 2% of the population farm, telling the farming story from the farmer’s point of view is vital. Resolve to take more pictures this year of daily farm life. Not just for the benefit of others, but for yourself. Document this life you get to live, but don’t be afraid to go out and tell it either.
  6. Stop and enjoy the tractor rides—it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle of the farm. It is continuous and demanding. There are days where every farmer wishes he/she wasn’t a farmer. Don’t lose sight of your passion and your love of the profession. Stop and enjoy those tractor drives. Block out the next task and just drive.
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