Thursday, January 8, 2009

Labor on the micro-farm

We have been revisiting our long term goals as a part of our planning process. Our ultimate goal (or at least one of them) is to make enough of a living from the farm that we don't have to work elsewhere. This year the goal is to cover all the basic expenses from farm income. Figuring out how to make enough to pay the mortgage, utilities, transportation, food, and operating expenses is quite a challenge. We are not quit brave enough to do it without outside income to cover out butts if we fall short this year, but when we make it work we will. One of the major barriers we have to overcome is labor. Everything takes time and hands to accomplish. When one person has to work away from the farm to earn the money that leaves a pretty small labor force. Kind of a catch 22. Without the outside income you can't afford to live and make a go at independence, but without the extra labor you can't succeed either. We have looked around for help, hoping to find someone who needed a bit of extra income, wanted to learn some new skills (or better yet had the skills already) and was willing to show up and work. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find such people. Even in the tight job market, with lots of people in our area out of work, it is hard to find help. No one wants to do the kind of manual labor farming requires.

So, we are revisiting our plans, looking for ways we can work smarter rather than harder. We'll see how it turns out.

I was inspired by Kat Wolfdancer of Wolfdancer Creek's posting of their Mission Statement. When we have ours fine tuned enough for public consumption I post ours. There is something about going public with your goals that motivates.


nancybond said...

I'm sure you have what it takes to make a (financial) success of your farm -- determination is half the battle.

homebrewlibrarian said...

If I lived closer (I'm in Alaska), I'd be interested in being a hired hand. I spent a summer working on a couple CSA farms (on work share programs) in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, around here none of the farms are looking for help but when they do, they generally have no trouble finding it - usually from out of state!

Since I live in Anchorage and the nearest farm is an hour away, it's unlikely I'll be much help to anyone local. Good luck in your search and don't give up. Try advertising on your local craigslist. You might be surprised!

Kerri in AK

henbogle said...

Have you considered developing an internship? I work on a small liberal arts college campus, and many of our students intern on small farms during the summer for not much $.

Alan said...

I hope to have an intern/woof/farm student program some day. Housing is the major barrier and it will be a while before we overcome that. I am open to idea in that world. I miss the interaction with interns I had at Grailville and other places I worked.


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