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JRae_Anderson
Contributor

Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

Exciting news is right around the corner here at Successful Farming! But I need some help before the big announcement. I didn't grow up in a farming family. We raised sheep and race horses in a rural community. I'm curious... 

Who has helped you get to where you are today (more or less, acted as a mentor)? 
Did your parents give you land, cattle, etc.? 
Is there a neighbor who keeps an ear open for land available?
Who do you go to when you need help with your farm or have questions?

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10 Replies
buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

A little of each. And don't forget our friends here at agriculture.com. Have two cousins and a neighbor a little older than me who help guide me through many mechanical issues. I try to learn from everyone I can, even if it's from someone else's mistake.
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smokeyjay
Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

I will skip the start up years.  Too painful to think about it again.

 

Later, an retiring dairy man and his wife, plus two of his siblings rented 350 acres.  That helped us get established.  Bought land after the farm crisis of the mid 80's.  Amazing that we actually survived.  I credit the "ugly cat syndrome" that helped us survive.

 

I observed the neighbors and their farming practices.  Some were good role models and I learned from their successes and failures.  Others were poor role models, and I learned to avoid listening to any advice they gave. Their sense managing field operations on a timely basis was not good. 

 

I regularly visited with a neighboring uncle on issues like planting dates, fertilizer, weed control, tillage and proper timing of tillage.  But mostly, I learned from my own mistakes.  They cost the most in money.  In time, I had a few farmers actually, privately seeking advice.  Made them better farmers, too.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

Combination of things.

I was worked like a dog in my family's operation from age six on. Tobacco, peanuts, hogs, laying hens, etc. My family's farm isn't really a farm anymore, so that land helps not at all in our operations today.. I learned how to work and organize a workflow, and that is the main thing, I think.

Mike's farm came to us from his dad, a bachelor uncle and spinster aunt. We have paid a lot to support his mom, since they all passed, so we have basically bought it, although it isn't structured that way precisely. They were an older family than mine, had more archaic ways...not bad, just not very progressive.

Because we couldn't expand in hogs there in 1993, we ended up buying and building in NC in 1994. We got started by my father with 25 gilts and a young boar, commercially, in 1984. One meeting with the Extension economist had pointed us to livestock, mostly because the biggest land hog in three counties was our neighbor. We had to go big in pigs to have anything at all, with him on our horizon.

I will always remember one hog farmer who was kind enough to teach me breeding and farrowing schedules over the telephone one night. He was an excellent teacher and a very kind person.

We got way more intensive, and gradually grew our herd, mostly by holding back gilts when hogs were cheap. By the time they were bred and the pigs ready to sell, the market had swung back up again, most times.

The other thing that really helped us was, oddly, some educational administration graduate courses I took for a couple of years. The School Finance and School Law guys were true gurus in their fields.

Money is money, and law is law...so, I applied a lot of what I learned from them to siting, building and operating this big contract swine operation. I use a lot of the planning, record-keeping, and documentation practices I learned from teaching school in keeping up and preparing for handing things over.

In many ways, we have learned because of some people, and in spite of others. Sometimes, the best answer you can get is "No." Makes you get more creative.
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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

I bought the farm after I retired from the Army in mid life, so I wasn't given anything.  An inheritance was instrumental.  A few years ago I stopped expanding so I don't look for land anymore.  I'm starting to downsize, mostly by choice.

The basic philosophy of caring for the land and not worrying about what others say I got from Dad.  Also, his business sense.

There are a couple of good famers I talk with about how to do things,   I use land grant university extension a lot.

I get a few tips on how to do things from sites such as this.  The onese that seem to be most directly helpful are those with a very sharp focus.  If I have a question about repairing one of my old Oliver tractors, I'll ask either a local mechanic, a dealer who still supports them or Yesterday's Tractors.  The machinery talk forum here is useful for more general questions.  

On line general discussion groups are of differeing value.

 

 

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Blacksandfarmer
Senior Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

Well, I got my start when my parents bought some ground close by. I paid them the same lease the previous farmer paid for the land. I recently started leasing some of my Grandfathers farmland. He has probably been my biggest resource for overall farm knowledge, and I would say he is my mentor. Farming takes a long time to get good at, so if a young guy is smart he learns from the guys who have been in the game for a while. For more in depth crop science and agronomy, I study university crop trials and have been a long time viewer of AgPHD. For the business/money side of things, I would say I have a good relationship with my banker, he gives me solid advice as he is a farmer himself. I got my "don't give up attitude" from my brothers I served with, a couple of those guys are no longer here, so I feel like I owe them my best effort in life. Sometimes it takes many links in the chain to be successful, I try to surround myself with smart, positive and trustworthy people. Advice in most cases is free, but can be worth its weight in gold. Contributors on this site have been a good resource for advice, and a couple neighbor friends have been very helpful for me as well.

 

SUMMERY: Being that I didn't inherited a farm, their are simply too many to mention. The good lord blessed me with these people so ultimately the credit has to go there. Sorry JRae_Anderson for not giving you a more precise answer to your question.

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James22
Senior Contributor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

Parents.  They taught me how to work hard and long hours on the farm without much return.  Goal was to convince me that a good education in a marketable field which could be used to get a good job was the best path for success.  My mother was particularly interested that none of her children were to remain on the farm.  Therefore we had to make our own way.  After graduation with a good job, several youthful years passed getting pent up spending desires placated.  Later I begin investing successfully which perhaps might be contributed to uncommon luck/timing as much as to ability.  Eventually moved much of it into farm real estate, retired at age 55, play on a few acres and now reap the rewards.  Downside is that it is tough to drastically change long established spending habits that were required to succeed.   Reasonably sure the next generation won't suffer from that issue, therefore restraints will be in place to insure that succeeding generations will have at least some access.

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idalivered
Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

parents and landlords for me but I was really hoping that RSW guy would reply.  I loved the responses!  Happy new year, everyone.

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kraft-t
Senior Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

 

 

My dad, my father in law, FHA, and some very generous land owners that could have chose anyone but chose to take a chance on me.

 

A wonderful life ,mate that stuck with me through thick and thin. No doubt my best asset.

Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Who helped you get going? Parents? Neighbor? Friend?

My Dad and Granddad. They started paying me with grain instead of cash at the very early age of about 8 or 9, talk about marketing 101.
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