Personal Growth

Finding Myself . . . . . With the Hogs

 

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At 18 years of age I graduated from High School and was challenged to do something with my life. I had no idea! So I started by going to college and trying classes that looked interesting. I found I loved economics but didn’t declare a major in the subject until my sophomore year. Why? Most people that study economics end up behind a desk and I didn’t want that to be my fate. I did end up getting my bachelors in Economics but decided that minors in both Biology and Business would round it out nicely. Where was I to go with that hodge podge of degrees!

It turns out that I can really use an understanding of the markets, supply/demand, pricing, subsidies, economies of scale and policy in the business of farming. A background in Ecology doesn’t hurt either. But, mostly it is my gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences that make me thrive with the sheep, pigs and people that I work with everyday.

What I lacked in college was a really good understanding of what made me who I am. I’m older now and have a better grasp on my strengths and weaknesses. But, I had to do extensive reading and soul-searching to be satisfied with what I do today.

If you are still confused and bewildered by how your talents fit with farming, congratulations! You are normal. Here are a few quick questions to get you started on finding yourself.

What are your Gifts? Can you name two?

Here are some examples:

Serving

Teaching

Giving

Leadership

Mercy

Encouragement (This is me)

Wisdom

 

Where is your Heart?

Try answering these questions:

What do you spend most of your time doing?

What do you do in your spare time?

What needs around the world get you fired up?

 

What are your Abilities?

Try answering these questions?

Are you a Technician? Of what?

Are you an Entrepreneur? What have you attempted to start?

Are you a Manager? What systems have you made?

 

How do you work with people?

Try answering these questions?

Are you Decisive?

Are you Interacting?

Are you Stabilizing?

Are you Calculating?

 

What major Experiences make you who you are?

Can you name two?

 

Now that you have a profile of yourself ask one more question.

How can you use all these strengths farming?

 

Rachel

 

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Entrepreneurship, Strategy

Finding THE Way to Success… Maybe.

Long Meadow Ranch in Napa Valley sells high-end agricultural products directly from the farm, from honey and lavender to meat and wine. They run a popular farm-to-table style restaurant, with classy wait staff dressed in brand-consistent plaid shirts. Long Meadow Ranch is polished all the way through, proving that success in direct-to-consumer agriculture requires significant investment, business planning, branding and marketing,..

Maybe.

Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia also sells high-end agricultural products directly from the farm. But they don’t run a restaurant , and they certainly don’t spend a lot of money on branding. In fact, founding owner Joel Salatin and his son Daniel often wear work shirts from a thrift store with other people’s names on them.   Still, the Salatins make $2 million in sales from his local, direct-to-consumer farm operation per year.

So, who’s right? Should direct-to-consumer agriculture be elaborate and polished, or scrappy and simple? Long Meadow Ranch certainly looks fancier, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Joel makes a higher profit on his simpler setup. In any case, both are successful by most standards.

It’s tempting to see a success, and assume an organization succeeded because they found THE right way to do things. But that’s rarely true. What those success stories DO have in common is they picked a direction, and kept on working at it.

Christian

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