I read an article recently by a farmer who said that he began farming because he couldn't find anything he was great at. We believe that as farmers you don't have to be great at any one thing, but you have to be OK at a lot of things. So much of farming is about figuring things out as you go, and wearing many, many hats. Almost every day we have a problem to solve on the farm: how to keep the sheep in their fence, how to make a piglet shelter in two hours before we pick up a litter of pigs, how to keep a brooder of chicks warm on an unusually cold night, how to print labels using a broken printer, how to advertise for a particular event, etc. Having to think on our feet, and solve these continuous small problems (and sometimes big ones), is what keeps farming fun for us. It's like a puzzle. Honestly, farming can make you feel hooked..."well, the chickens didn't work out this year, but if we tweaked just this one little thing for next year we may have it made...." Because farming is a series of problems to solve and small victories it keeps you coming back even after failure, like a game of solitaire that you come so close to beating. While you don't have to be great at anything to be a farmer, optimism, curiosity, stubbornness, and loving the puzzle, or game, of farm problem solving seems to help.
Example of problem solving:
We had about two hours to find a place to house six new piglets.
When we moved here there was no barn, so we reused an old turkey coop as a barn
for building supplies and feed.
All of the stuff strewn about our field in the above photo was in the coop/barn.
Now we have emptied the turkey coop/barn to use it as a piglet house.
Here is the piglet house in action.
It keeps the piglets dry, and is movable so that they can have access to fresh grass
while they are trained to the electric fence
(which is attached to the inside walls of the once-turkey-coop).
We move this piglet house daily and the piglets leave behind a
perfectly tilled rectangle of ground for next years garden.
Please note: Have you ever noticed that small, family farms are often messy, or junky? This whole "problem solving" thing is probably why most farms look that way. The junk pile in the above photo has been picked up now, but was a "byproduct of innovation" for several weeks. When little problems keep coming at you it can be hard to keep the picturesque farm scene picturesque.