I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with trying something new.
Last year I obsessed over raising a dwarf breed of cattle to sell the meat; this year I’ve been preoccupied with growing crops like bamboo or mushrooms.
Although none of these ideas have gone past the research stage, I can’t help but question the amount of time I’ve been preoccupied on new things.
My dad has tried lots of new things over his 50-year farming career. Feeding hogs was a staple for me growing up. In the 1990’s, my parents processed our hogs into pork burgers. They sold them to local restaurants and in the parking lot at Sam’s Club, all while marketing the burgers as hormone free and natural. They were ahead of their time when it came to the all natural GMO-free demand, and the venture didn’t pan out.
Maybe it was marketing, maybe it was something else.
In the 2000’s, they got caught up in a Ponzi scheme growing worms in those same barns where we used to raise pigs. My dad gets embarrassed when I talk about those failed ventures, but I don’t think he should be. I’m proud of him for trying something new. We tend to talk more about failures versus successes, like our feedlot business we started 12 years ago.
I’m starting my 7thfull year farming. There’s a big part of me that questions why I haven’t I done something new yet. I’ve been here long enough to pay down almost half of my house mortgage, yet we still have the same farm business we did when I moved here. I agonize for hours, wondering if I’m not as entrepreneurial as my dad.
In all of this “I need to do something new” madness, I’ve forgotten about the present. It’s the simple things I’ve forgotten, like taking the extra time to thank that hay customer for his purchase or spending time with the folks who entrust us to farm their land. I can also get caught up in future planning that I forget to check the markets and adjust my breakeven prices for row crops.
To quote a recent movie I saw, “the difference between winning and losing is in the details.”
Trying something new has its rewards, but doing better in current business is equally rewarding.
It’s ok to focus on the present. Maybe today isn’t my time to work on a life-changing venture. I shouldn’t try something new just for the sake of doing something new.
I plan to keep an open mind to new opportunities. But for now, I am going to focus on what we do, and do it well.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.