Painted Sky Farm
Painted Sky Farm
Farming must be a family affair just as much as it has ever been,
but the modern way is not to make a drudge of any person, adult or
minor. The work of the farm demands system and departments. Each
person who is required to perform any of the labor should have it
so shaped that it will stimulate energy, sense of responsibility
and love for the calling.
In Wealth from the Soil,
In a poignant sense city existence is non-productive; it deals with
what has been produced elsewhere. Moreover it is dependent upon "income"
to supply "outgo" and in the great majority of cases has nothing to show
--not even character--for all the time and effort spent. Country life
reverses this order; it not only produces "outgo" to supply "income"
but when well ordered it provides "surplus." Nay, further. it develops
character in the man and each member of the family. Nothing so well
illustrates this fact as "who's Who in America," a survey of which will
show that the majority of men and women listed in its pages were reared
in rural surroundings. Here they learned not only how to work and to
concentrate but inculcated that perhaps hardest and ultimate lesson of
all education, obedience, succinctly stated in Ecclesiastes:
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
"That man has a liberal education who has been so trained in youth
that his body is the ready servant of his will and does with ease and
pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose
intellect is a clear, cold logic engine, with all its parts of equal
strength and in smooth working order, ready, like the steam engine, to
turn to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the
anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with the great and fundamental
truths of nature and of the laws of her operations; one who, no stunted
ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come
to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has
learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all
vileness and to respect others as himself."
Where, I ask, can a boy or a girl acquire and develop such qualifications
so well as on a farm, well managed by loving parents who are enthusiastic
business and domestic heads of the enterprise and who explain and insist
upon obedience to the laws of nature as well as those of the land and
who live in harmony with their neighbors?
Another common cause of failure is tumefaction of the cranium, popularly known
as "big head!" Though this malady is not limited to people who take up farming
it is perhaps most conspicuous and most frequently characteristic of city
people who start in this new line, especially the poultry branch. With fine
nonchalance they disregard fundamental principles, turn a deaf ear to the voice
of experience, adopt crops unsuited to the local conditions or without regard
to the market demands, and so on. Usually not until the disease has run its
course is there hope for such cases, but after the most virulent ones have been
well dosed with ridicule or have paid a heavy fool tax the victims may not only
recover and become immune but may in time admit that farmers, like Old Man Noah,
"know a thing or two!"
Among various other ways which help lead to failure are unfavorable soil;
undrained land; rocks and stones; wrong crops; improperly prepared and
tilled land; too large area devoted to lawns and ornamental planting;
excessive time devoted to pets, especially such as occupy areas that should pay
profits; inadequate manuring or fertilizing; failure to fight insects and
plant diseases and many others.
In farming, as in every other enterprise, success depends primarily upon
the man who undertakes it. Not everybody who starts will succeed. On the
other hand the man who has the following personal qualifications, no matter
what his previous calling or location may have been, stands a good chance
of succeeding. Natural liking for the business is the most important asset
because it will assure willingness and patience to work and be painstaking,
to be open-minded and to be as alert to detect irregularities as to adopt
and apply new knowledge.
Farming is a business characterized by abundance of small but essential
details which demand close observation and application to prevent loss.
In few businesses are cleanliness, orderliness and timeliness of so much
importance, for without them weeds, pests and diseases thrive and profits
fail to appear. Above all the farmer must be enthusiastic, a condition
that will become permanent and characteristic as soon as the business
shows a profit.
WHO IS LIKELY TO SUCCEED?
If a man would enter upon country life in earnest and test thoroughly its
aptitudes and royalties, he must not toy with it at a town distance; he
must brush the dews away with his own feet. He must bring the front of
his head to the business, and not the back of it.
Donald G. Mitchell,
In My Farm of Edgewood.
If any one thing is more essential than any other in every branch of farming
it is that the owner personally direct all operations. He cannot be an
absentee farmer and he cannot entrust his interests entirely to hirelings.
However, unless he is experienced he is incompetent to direct any part of
the necessary or advisable work; so an even more fundamental essential
is that he not only learn to do every kind of work himself but become a
keen observer and logical thinker.
To apply these statements to you: The important points about making yourself proficient and thinking
while performing each operation are that you
will thus first teach yourself the how, why and when; second, by thinking
as you work, you can discover quick ways, short cuts and time-savers;
and third, you will thus make yourself competent to teach your helpers
how to do the work in the ways you have proved to be good, if not best.
This will mean both that you will be entitled to their respect as a
director and that you will get the work done efficiently and economically.
In farming, more than any other business, you much teach yourself, for
every day during even the longest lifetime will bring its problems and
lessons. Reading and listening to lectures, radio talks, etc., though
important and often helpful, are poor substitutes for observation and
translation of the observations into terms of understanding, decision and
action when this last shall be necessary or advisable.
One of the most profitable habits you can form is systemically, every
day, to go over at least part of your premises in a leisurely, scrutinizingly
thoughtful way, and the whole of it at least once each week through-
out the year to reap the harvest of a quiet eye and fill the granary of
your mind with knowledge of the habits of helpful and harmful animals,
birds and insects; to observe and understand the characteristics of
plant growth from the sprouting of the seed through all the stages of
the stem, leaf, flower, fruit and seed development; to note and interpret
the behavior of plants, poultry and animals under varying
conditions of heat and cold, sunshine and shade, drouth and wetness, fair
weather and foul, rich and poor feeding. Here is not only the best
farm school in which to learn the duties you owe your dependants (plants
and animals) and yourself for your own best interests, but in which to
enjoy the most delightful compensations of farm life; for it gives the
thinking observer mastery over his business, brings him en rapport with
his environment and in tune with The Infinite.
If you are a city man all this at first will be a foreign language to you;
you will have to teach yourself Nature's alphabet before you can read her
messages. In this respect you will be at a disadvantage when compared
with the countryman. One of the greatest handicaps will probably be
assumed superiority to "farm hands" and even farmers; for what you may
consider "a good education"too often is really of small use in a country
setting. What if farm hands, taken as a whole, do not intellectually
compare with city clerks, salesmen and bookkeepers and do not perhaps as
quickly understand theories! They have the advantage that they know
from daily experience at least something about soils, plants, animals,
implements, tools and how to treat each. For this reason they are far
more valuable to themselves and their farming employers than are raw
recruits from the city.