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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As the title says, how did those of you that consider yourselves successful get your start in farming? The reason I ask is I am trying to develop pools of ideas for myself as well. I feel like I am struggling to start out right now. I farm along side my dad, but I am more a hired hand with authority to make some of the decisions rather than a partner. I don't know if I am getting to anxious to grow big or if I am way behind in trying to start. Im a freshman in college and Ive really started getting serious this year about farming. Before it was a job, now its something I want, and need, to making a living out of. I understand its hard. Ive learned that once with hogs already and happened to get out without losing to much a couple years ago. I dont know if I am asking the right questions, but I may be pretty all inclusive at this point...:) Heres a little of my current start

At the moment, I am slowly working my way into cows. We both just started, but are maxed out on pasture right now, but I am looking at 15 acres with 10 pasturable to rent that I just need to ask about basically to obtain. Id like to seperate my 2 cows and calves from our herd (dad and i), hold back my heifer, buy a couple more and run 5-6 cows on that 10 acres and mow waterways and roadsides for the majority of my hay. All I am getting out here is that I am started, but pasture is limited for renting around these parts and so there is not much room to grow for now.

However, I would also like to start renting some land. I am not sure how to go about this and arrange it with my father. I suppose it is all conditional and I just need to ask and go do it is really all it amounts too.
 

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Start by talking to farmers nearing retirement in your area, maybe help them out when they need, do some odd jobs for them. You are at the age where you need to work your ass off to make this work (don't worry I'm still at that age at 36). Don't try and "steal" land from other renters as tempting as it maybe, it gets you a bad name fast. How old is your dad? Things kind of fell into place for me a couple of times. Dad was slowing down so I bought out his cows, started renting land from him and took over the other landlords, and got into hogs. Rented some more ground when a neighbor had a heart attack in the cattle lot and died there, am on FD was first on scene to give CPR. The hog enterprises had a drastic decrease, cousin and I were feeding 30,000 head at one time doing great, but things fell apart in the market and health wise we disbanded that and managed to get out for less than $150k each. Learning experience. Would you be interested in contract feeding pigs? I put barns up in 2004 and 2006, 1250 head each. Things just worked right there, they were put on 7 year notes which left me with very little for expenses, but the quick payoff and having them free and clear now is buying additional farm ground. The manure they produce also saves $150/acre in crop inputs conservatively.

You also need to make yourself a visible presence in your community. I worked my ass off for several projects around my hometown. Big one too such as building a new theatre, cleaning up junk properties, all for volunteer labor. Joined the FD in 2001, rarely miss a call, that means sometimes the combine or planter has to stop when it needs to be running, but people do notice.

Bottom line don't get frustrated, you will see people renting more land than you over the next several years and it will piss you off but keep your head high and plow forward. You are young, work like a dog and save up money. Cash is king in this business. Keep moving forward you can make it work.

Last bit of advice I can pass on from a 75 year old neighboring farmer that he told me when I was your age is "marry for money, you can always learn to love." I didn't listen but its good advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Start by talking to farmers nearing retirement in your area, maybe help them out when they need, do some odd jobs for them. You are at the age where you need to work your ass off to make this work (don't worry I'm still at that age at 36). Don't try and "steal" land from other renters as tempting as it maybe, it gets you a bad name fast. How old is your dad? Things kind of fell into place for me a couple of times. Dad was slowing down so I bought out his cows, started renting land from him and took over the other landlords, and got into hogs. Rented some more ground when a neighbor had a heart attack in the cattle lot and died there, am on FD was first on scene to give CPR. The hog enterprises had a drastic decrease, cousin and I were feeding 30,000 head at one time doing great, but things fell apart in the market and health wise we disbanded that and managed to get out for less than $150k each. Learning experience. Would you be interested in contract feeding pigs? I put barns up in 2004 and 2006, 1250 head each. Things just worked right there, they were put on 7 year notes which left me with very little for expenses, but the quick payoff and having them free and clear now is buying additional farm ground. The manure they produce also saves $150/acre in crop inputs conservatively.

You also need to make yourself a visible presence in your community. I worked my ass off for several projects around my hometown. Big one too such as building a new theatre, cleaning up junk properties, all for volunteer labor. Joined the FD in 2001, rarely miss a call, that means sometimes the combine or planter has to stop when it needs to be running, but people do notice.

Bottom line don't get frustrated, you will see people renting more land than you over the next several years and it will piss you off but keep your head high and plow forward. You are young, work like a dog and save up money. Cash is king in this business. Keep moving forward you can make it work.

Last bit of advice I can pass on from a 75 year old neighboring farmer that he told me when I was your age is "marry for money, you can always learn to love." I didn't listen but its good advice!
That is pretty good advice. Ive thought about building enough money to get a hog barn built. We can build 5000 hog barns on contract around here with about a 12 year pay off. Would be awhile before i could that. I think its great advice to do large volunteer projects to get my name out there. Alot of people have heard of me because of FFA and football, but few know me. Ill hit the news one more time with national FFA contests this week and after that its mostly done. Im in a small enough community, its almost hard to find things to volunteer for.
Dad will not be quiting anytime soon though. Out of anything else thatll piss you off, its the worst when they dont really care to grow amd would rather stay maxed out on old equipment. Makes it hard for me to get a start.
 

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Your Dad has likely worked hard his whole life. It's not up to him to insure that you make a living or be successful. He probably is very content with his situation.
I have learned my Dad and I are different in a lot of ways. He has his farm and is not miserable, he can be miserable, but is very content with what he has and has always been a happy person. Has never lost 1 second of sleep to worrying about the weather or his crops or how he was gonna support his family.
I've farmed for 20 yrs. Started with my Dad taking me and signing my name on the dotted line, but would have never had that opportunity without him and family before him. The stressful hard times will teach you a lot more than the good times.
I had a conversation with him seeking some advice the other day about buying some land. He asked? "How much do you need to make you happy?" My response "I don't need any of it to make me happy." What I've learned is, if you think having more land, or shiny iron will make you happy, your fooling yourself. Learn to always be happy with your situation, don't look at the guy across the fence. It may look good from this side but he might be miserable. We've had some really good years of farming here. And in my area I've observed the more my neighbours and I have, then more is at stake, when more is at stake the more uptight we become, the more anxiety we have, pretty sure that's not healthy.
Your Dad like my Dad probably has the wisdom and foresight not to give you the reigns all at once. Eventually if you stick it out he will slowly start to hand them over, then one day take orders from you.
That's my sermon for the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Your Dad has likely worked hard his whole life. It's not up to him to insure that you make a living or be successful. He probably is very content with his situation.
I have learned my Dad and I are different in a lot of ways. He has his farm and is not miserable, he can be miserable, but is very content with what he has and has always been a happy person. Has never lost 1 second of sleep to worrying about the weather or his crops or how he was gonna support his family.
I've farmed for 20 yrs. Started with my Dad taking me and signing my name on the dotted line, but would have never had that opportunity without him and family before him. The stressful hard times will teach you a lot more than the good times.
I had a conversation with him seeking some advice the other day about buying some land. He asked? "How much do you need to make you happy?" My response "I don't need any of it to make me happy." What I've learned is, if you think having more land, or shiny iron will make you happy, your fooling yourself. Learn to always be happy with your situation, don't look at the guy across the fence. It may look good from this side but he might be miserable. We've had some really good years of farming here. And in my area I've observed the more my neighbours and I have, then more is at stake, when more is at stake the more uptight we become, the more anxiety we have, pretty sure that's not healthy.
Your Dad like my Dad probably has the wisdom and foresight not to give you the reigns all at once. Eventually if you stick it out he will slowly start to hand them over, then one day take orders from you.
That's my sermon for the day.
Well it is a great sermon. However, hes not doing that type of holding back. Hes pretty miserable most of the time and complains about not making enough. I understand he doesnt owe me anything and thats fine. Where it becomes discouraging is when he is willing to help other siblings that are not even serious about it. Im basically doing my own work right now which is gratifying knowing that I dont need to have huge amounts of capital to start. With a major in plant sciences and ag systems management, Im set to do basically anything I want that I would be interested in. I suppose all I am saying is I dont feel that Ill be the one taking over, so I am looking to find out how those of you who are less fortunate got their start. It may not matter at all, or it may. Sometimes it nice just to have ideas to play with. Currently focused on trying to get livestock, mainly hogs, due to limited land to rent.
 

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Well I am one of those fortunate ones that had help with equipment in trade for labour from my family to get started. From what you say though it sounds like you don't have that opportunity though so turn your disadvantage into an advantage. I would do some research talk to people and see if there is an area a little further away that has some land for rent sometimes just going 20-30 miles away can be quite different. If looking at cattle find less labour intensive feeding methods cause it sounds like you will need a job to supplement income. One thing I found worked was to take out an ad in local paper you are looking for land then people in the area will know,this may work better in your local area. Have patience it may take a few years to get built up. Thats my two cents take it for what it's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I am one of those fortunate ones that had help with equipment in trade for labour from my family to get started. From what you say though it sounds like you don't have that opportunity though so turn your disadvantage into an advantage. I would do some research talk to people and see if there is an area a little further away that has some land for rent sometimes just going 20-30 miles away can be quite different. If looking at cattle find less labour intensive feeding methods cause it sounds like you will need a job to supplement income. One thing I found worked was to take out an ad in local paper you are looking for land then people in the area will know,this may work better in your local area. Have patience it may take a few years to get built up. Thats my two cents take it for what it's worth.
Yes. I am definetly planning on getting a job, hence the two majors. Id like to work a good paying management job that lets me get out and not just stay in one place all day. Of course im keeping my options open and may just have to work up to that. Thanks for the advice by the way.
 
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