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Farming solo: ideas to make life easier

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Every now and then, when driving down a country road, I’ll see a fellow out harvesting all alone, or maybe moving livestock or working on an outbuilding. It dawns on me that that farmer looks to be doing the job of two or three people.


How do they do it?


Recently on a farmer started a discussion about some of the tricks of the trade for farming solo.  A posting with the same theme in the Farmers for the Future social network  invited young and beginning farmers chime in, too.


Several of the ideas from these discussions have to do with the nettlesome chore of simply getting back and forth from place to place.”  


“When you're farming alone you get real creative real fast, or you’re walking!” says Dale Brandt, an Illinois farmer.


Planning ahead is important, says a Canadian: "If I can think ahead I get someone to 'spot' an extra vehicle at the distant farm ahead of my needing to move."


Farmers give an assortment of ideas on how they combine modes of transportation—walking, pickups, utility tractors, motorcyles, trailers, ATVs and bicyles are all in the mix.


For harvesting, a grain bagger is a big help, says Jonathan Dansel, a Kansas farmer. “A bagger makes it possible to harvest by yourself if you have truck drivers needed,” he writes.


For an Oklahoma farmer high-tech equipment is good company: “The autosteer and GPS is the most important time saver and stress reliever I have came across,” he says.


Good communication is important, too, including for safety reasons, says a North Carolinian. “I am a huge fan of the check-in.  If one of us is overdue getting in from the farm or anywhere else, the other one expects a call as a courtesy," she says.


 “We text a lot now, since that takes less signal to get through, and the message is right there on the screen, instead of having to call voicemail for messages," she adds.


What ideas do you have that makes farming solo a little easier?