Ten Things Books Don’t Teach About Being a Farmer

Despite everything I’ve read in books and online, I’ve found that there’s just some things that books either don’t even bother to mention or they are dead wrong! So here’s a list of things I’ve learned that no book bothered to tell me before I jumped in with both feet into the farming world!

1. There’s a method to herding chickens. Yes, they can be herded, but no one tells you this. Chickens have a “flight zone” like other prey animals and running is NEVER the answer. Unlike some animals, arms and sticks can be enough to move a chicken, just a little show of spirit fingers can even do the trick to push a bird a touch more in the right direction.

2. A book once told me that I could stick a bucket on a pig’s head and then maneuver said pig with its tail. This is a LIE. I had the crescent-shaped bottom of a bucket bruise on my thigh for a solid three months to prove how wrong this was.

3. Like I’ve mentioned before, snakes LOVE hanging out in the warmth of the hay bales. No one thought to bring that one to my attention before I nearly ended up with an arm-full of baby garter snakes!

4. To teach a rooster that you’re in charge, you have to be the more aggressive creature. There’s no kindness in the world that can change the mind of an aggressive rooster. Some birds will never change their minds and you’ll forever hear the steady stomping of feet behind you as a nasty roo attempts to catch you off guard before leaping into the arm and slicing open your legs. I’m not sure if any creature is quite as mean as an un-trainable rooster out for blood.

5. Sheep love chin scratches, but they love back rubs even more. It’s a pretty silly experience to have a ewe swaying back and forth nearly lulled to sleep by a back scratch.

6. Groundhogs can and will devour your entire crop of lettuce, spinach, kale, and beets in a single night. A rabbit will spend a week eating your carrots from the tops down to the very tip of the carrot so cleanly that you’ll wonder if you imagined that you were growing carrots there in the first place.

7. A chicken can jump straight up more than two feet without every spreading her wings. She use this skill to steal an english muffin right off your plate when you go out to enjoy some chicken tv on a cool spring morning.

8. That same chicken will then be the most adorable creature on the planet and hop onto the bench next to you to fall asleep resting against your thigh in the sun.

9. You aren’t a shepherd or a farmer or even a person. You are the magical being that brings food. Your mere existence, whether you are carrying a bucket or not, will rile the animals up into a mooing, baaing, clucking frenzy. They will all come running to sniff and stare at you to determine whether the magical food bringer has an offering. Once it has been decided that you have let them down, they will ignore you. Unless you walk away. Then it’s obviously to go and bring them food, so they must remind you exactly every 4 seconds by screaming while standing next to the gate.

10. Being a farmer is the most frustrating, sad, invigorating, exciting, relaxing, fun, exhausting, and rewarding profession that has ever existed. From the loss of nearly the entire batch of broilers to heat stroke to the 6am lambings that go so smoothly, you didn’t even need to help and from the freshly tilled ground waiting to produce for the season to the early mornings spent chasing a loose cow or sheep around the country side, farming is never dull. Farming evokes the entirety of the emotional capacity of the human existence and rewards the farmer in the most unique and delicate ways possible.


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