How do we keep kids excited about farming and attract people into this line of work?
I have always been a little of an outside the box thinker when it comes to life. I try my best to stay away from the go with the flow crowd. I had a professor in college who challenged us in an Entrepreneurship class to try and tap into our creative side. I read a book for a project we were working on called “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fools Guide to Surviving with Grace” by Gordon MacKenzie. He was a creative designer for Hallmark for 30 years. He refers to the normal corporate culture as a giant hairball and how being able to orbit around that hairball was what kept him sane over his time at Hallmark. In one of the chapters of the book he talks about going into grade school classrooms and asking the children which ones think they are an artist. He talks how in kindergarten every hand goes up and how each grade after, the number of hands goes down until by 6th grade, only a one or two hands go up in the whole class. It is a very interesting read and I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to try to think outside the normal paradigm.
Last night, I was checking birds on one of our farms with my youngest son Isaac and for some reason this book popped into my head. He is always asking to go with me into barns and when he gets to, he is the happiest little man on this planet. He is four years old and can ask about 100 questions a minute. He puts on his pink, hand-me-down barn boots and away he goes walking faster than I can and trying his best to talk to and catch the birds so he can feed them.
All of our kids have liked to go into barns with me when they were little and as the years go on, that excitement gets less and less, just like the “artists” in grade school. What can we do to keep that same excitement about our work and our day to day lives in general? Also, how do we attract people into our line of work and promote this environment?
Turkey farming is a great life but it is also very demanding. Not too many farms have found the way to work 5 days a week (or even 3-4 days a week like some shift-work jobs allow). Weekends are part of the mix even if you have hired help. The good parts about it are you do have flexibility in your day. Appointments can be made and you can work around them without having to take days off or PTO (paid time off). More often than not, children’s activities can be attended by working ahead the days before or getting up early and/or working late. You get to be outside a lot and are constantly moving around, which I enjoy. And just being able to raise a flock from day of age to market can be an extremely rewarding experience.
I guess we just have to come up with our own ways which making putting on boots and getting into barns exciting. Perhaps lessons from a pink boot wearing 4-year-old can help put us into orbit around the turkey hairball.