On a beautiful spring day when visiting a friend’s farm, it’s easy to get farm envy. You imagine yourself picking tomatoes, plowing fields, and running your own hobby farm. You know mentally that there will be difficult days and hard times, but somehow, it’s easy to envision yourself overcoming the odds and creating a successful, independent homestead from nothing but bare dirt.
If you’ve been considering buying a farm or starting your own homestead, here are a few character qualities that you may need when you are the one getting up early to milk the cow, dealing with bad luck, and facing droughts.
Farmers have to be resilient in the face of trouble. When things don’t go as planned, they are able to look for the silver lining in the clouds that brought the hailstorm. Farmers don’t get bogged down in the one “master plan.” They are mentally flexible enough that they can figure out a way to make the farm work even if things didn’t go the way that they had hoped.
To be a farmer you have to be tough, and it’s not just physical toughness, although that’s a part of it. To farm you need a kind of mental toughness to overcome what Nature and Luck sends your way. Whiners need not apply for this job. That doesn’t mean that farmers are insensitive or overly harsh. They just know when to be soft and gentle, and when it’s time to rub some dirt in it and keep on going. Farmers can weep over the body of a beloved milk cow one night and be back on Craigslist looking for another cow the next morning.
It takes an optimist to sow seeds in the dirt and expect a harvest. When you think about it, it’s a wonder that mankind has gotten so far because Nature can be hard. Disease, drought, insect plagues, and hailstorms can destroy thousands of dollars of crops. And the optimistic farmer always thinks, “Well, maybe next year …”
Farmers aren’t lazy. At least good farmers aren’t. While many enterprising farmers will find a way to create a labor-saving device or farming method, this is so they can spend time doing other kinds of work on the farm. In fact, the original work-a-holic had to be a farmer.
Love of the outdoors.
If you’re not crazy about dirt, sweat, sunshine, and fresh air, farming may not be for you. Farmers have to love the outdoors. Planting, mowing, tending animals, and almost all other farm chores take place outside.
Sense of humor.
Sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying. The good farmer works hard, prays hard, and laughs hard as often as possible. You can’t hold too tightly to your dignity in this job. Sooner or later, you’re going to be covered in manure, fall into the mud, or take a crazy tumble. You may as well learn to laugh about it. Goodness knows the rest of your family is going to laugh at you. You should join in with them and lower your blood pressure a bit.
Farming is a hard job, but for those who have this special blend of character traits and the desire to produce products from the land, there’s no other lifestyle as satisfying.