Experience is one of life’s greatest teachers. But too often we fail to recognize the importance of a moment until long after it has passed.
Case in point: I never gave much weight to being raised a “farm kid”, yet now- thirty years later, I couldn’t be more appreciative of my humble beginnings.
Now, to be clear, I wasn’t born into a farming family- but I found my way into the world of agriculture at a young age.
You see, when I was just a girl in elementary school, my parents bought property + built a house right next door to a small dairy farm.
Little did I know then that that move would change the entire trajectory of my young life.
[You can hear the full story on how I made the transition into dairy farming in my latest podcast interview, found here: the Rural Women Inspired Podcast.]
Looking back, I am beyond grateful for that pivotal moment in my life, for I truly believe that it was my experience in dairy farming that shaped me into the strong, independent woman I am today.
So in celebration of all that has happened + in hopes for all that is yet to come- I’m sharing with you the 6 biggest takeaways I’ve learned from being a woman in Ag.
Lessons of Farming #1: Work Isn’t Measured by Time
Farming isn’t your typical 9 to 5 job. The hours are long + the days always seems to run together.
Like many farmers, there have been numerous occasions where I have walked into the barn well before sunrise + left- tired and dirty- long after the sunset.
I’ve felt frustrated by cattle that didn’t seem to care if it was Friday night. And I’ve been reminded on more than one occasion that there is no snooze button on a hungry calf.
And complaining aside- I still believe that farming is some of the most rewarding work you can do, as it requires you to see a project through until completion.
Trying to bale hay before a thunderstorm hits or seeing a harvest through- those are the kind of jobs that teach us patience + diligence. They are the kind of jobs that help hone our problem-solving skills, challenging us on how to become more efficient with our work.
After all- “Whether it be baling hay or planting corn, a task that is once begun must never be left until it is done”
I may have learned the hard way, but I firmly believe that the measure of your work isn’t how many hours you put into something- it’s how productive you are at achieving an end result.
And that’s one lesson that I have carried through to all parts of my life.
Lessons of Farming #2: You Reap What You Sow
There’s no argument that times have changed. With technology the way that it is now, we have grown accustomed to receiving information, results, you-name-it almost instantaneously.
And while there’s advantages to that, the downside is that we’ve forgotten the simple truth that “there is a natural progression to everything in life: plant, cultivate, harvest”.
If you’re not getting the results that you desire, ask yourself if you’re planting enough of the right seeds to get you there. More importantly, are you cultivating those seeds in a way that elicits growth?
The truth is, that “harvest” that you’re after- those results that you are seeking, they are a reflection of the effort + work you put into making them a reality.
Lessons of Farming #3: You Have to Play the Cards that You’ve Been Dealt
Life’s not always fair. Bad things happen to good people. And while you can spend all your time questioning why that is- the reality is, it won’t change your situation.
The situation only changes when we decide to change the way in which we perceive it.
So whether you’re facing a drought that wipes out a season of crops or a late snowstorm that prevents planting in the early spring, know that those circumstances only have the power to negatively impact you when you allow them to.
For my non-farming friends, maybe you’re feeling discouraged because you grew up in a single-parent home; or maybe you’re wishing that your body looked as attractive as the models you follow on social media; or maybe you’re feeling behind in life because you weren’t gifted with the natural ability to breeze through college like your roommate…
Whatever you’re going through, understand that you decide if you’re going to play victim to the situation or if you’re going to use that struggle to build the kind of strength that empowers you.
Remember, the only difference between a roadblock and a stepping stone is how you use it.
Lessons of Farming #4: There is No Shame in Trial-and-Error
In an age where every move we make is so well documented, it can feel scary + intimidating to go out on a limb and try something new.
You hold back on taking action because you’re afraid of what others will think. You don’t want to allow others to watch you fail. And so you keep doing the same actions that feel familiar to you because that’s the safe course of action to take.
All the while, you silently study the steps that you want to take to achieve your goals. And you hope for the day when you’re finally “ready” to make the next move.
But here’s the thing: you don’t learn by thinking, you learn by doing.
As a young girl, there were plenty of jobs on the farm that I had no clue on how to complete- driving a stick shift, stacking hay, caring for livestock (to name a few)… and yet, no one took me aside and told me what to do.
The blessing in that is that that experience forced me to make mistakes. And through those mistakes I learned far more about farming than I could have any other way.
I think Richard Branson said it best when he said, “you don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.”
Sometimes you have to do things wrong in order to really learn how to do them right, so don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying new things. You ought to be more afraid of never achieving any thing at all because you were too afraid of what others may think of you for trying.
Lessons of Farming #5: The Value of a Dollar Extends Beyond its Face Value
I grew up with parents who gently reminded me that money does not grow on trees. Perhaps you did too.
And while it’s difficult to grasp the value of money (especially when you’re young), farming allowed me to understand the simple fact that we don’t buy “things” with money alone; when we purchase products + services, we’re exchanging a portion of our time in that transaction.
For example, at thirteen years old, I may not have understood just how expensive a $100 bike was- but I understood the number of hours that it would take for me to pay that debt off.
Whether you’re old or young, we all must realize that understanding money is more than just knowing the price of something. To value money you have to have a deeper understanding of that product’s worth as it relates to your own life.
Lessons of Farming #6: The Small Moments Matter
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have watched a cow give birth to a baby calf. I do know that whatever that number is, it’s a lot! And still, each time, I am amazed at how miraculous that moment continues to be- even after all these years.
So many women keep waiting on those “big” moments in life to happen to them so that they can finally be happy. The sad truth is that they often miss out on the little stuff, not realizing that it’s there that true happiness lies.
“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” -William Feather.
Arguably, my biggest takeaway from farming has been that it’s alright to live a less hurried pace. After all, it’s the moments when I stopped + slowed down that I truly found peace.
To you, the woman who’s reading this, I hope that you take a moment to savor the simple pleasures that life has afforded you right now at this time. Take a second to breath + to simply feel gratitude for whatever is happening right now. I promise those little moments aren’t nearly as little as you perceive them to be.
I am certainly a far cry from having life figured out. Like every woman, I experience my fair share of highs + lows- but I can’t help but be thankful for the tough lessons life has taught me thus far.
I hope that you will reflect on the personal lessons life has taught you + share them in the comments below! As a community we are stronger together + I can’t wait to read what experiences have helped shape your life.
Here to support you! XO- Britney (ms.fit.farmer)
P.S. Follow along with more of my farming journey over on Instagram where I share more of my experience of being a modern farm gal!
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