Things I’ve Learned

Thursday I’ll be attending my first meeting as a member of the small-scale and urban farming committee for the AgExtension office here in Travis county.  I met the committee organizers through Farm School and was asked to serve a term to help them develop resources and outreach for people who look a little bit like me.  I’m happy to do it.  Also – free lunch!

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Although I’m sure on Thursday I’ll get a much better idea of exactly how I can contribute to their cause, right now I laugh at the thought that anything we’ve done here may be educational or provide insight for others.  I firmly believe our entire experience so far is useful only as a “teachable moment”; a cautionary tale, in the same way that moms everywhere are using the Miley Cyrus performance from the VMA’s Sunday night (Respect yourselves, ladies!).  So, what if I need to dig deep and actually provide some thoughtful insight that could somehow be useful to a starry eyed individual, drunk on the scent of hay and manure, lulled into sweet agrarian dreams after a drive out through the countryside?  The truth is that we really have learned a lot without scratching the surface of what is to be learned – an intimidating realization.  I guess it’s because we’re not intimidated by our own naivete that we were stupid enough to come out here in the first place.

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My parents presented me with a framed, bulleted list when they sent me off to college, and I actually set it up on my dorm bookshelf because it was comforting and also contained a few extremely handy reminders (ex: Go to class.  Study.) along with one I know my mother wrote that I puzzled over for awhile before finally understanding: “Remember where your love is.”


For the committee, for myself, and for you – here’s a list.  It’s the things I’ve learned.  The list of things I haven’t learned is much, much longer.

  • Don’t stand still too long anywhere outside.  Standing still invites stinging insects and biting bugs to attack you.  Every time.
  • There are no shortcuts.  Plan to do it right the first time or do it again later.  This applies specifically to fencing, but it’s relevant across the board.
  • Read.  Plan.  Research.
  • Do not over-read, over-plan, or over-research.  The best education is by doing.
  • The goat is smarter than the farmer.  Accept this and move on.
  • Find a mentor willing to answer a late-night call.  They are worth more than money.
  • Leave your pride at the front gate.  You can go back and retrieve it in a few years.
  • You are much stronger than you think.  Really.
  • It will get worse before it gets better.  But it will get better.
  • Ask questions, sign up, try to replicate what you’ve learned.
  • “Regular hours” occur at any point during a 24 hour day.
  • Chickens are food for the wildlife, too.
  • Admire your work daily.
  • You will fail.  Your crop will not produce.  Your animal will die.  You succeed by trying.
  • Remember where your love is and go back to it, go back for it.  Whether or not it makes any sense at all (thanks Mom).

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Barnyard, Dairy, Goats, Motivation


  • Carla

    August 28, 20138:07 am

    What a great list! I especially love the one about goats and fences. I have a friend who raises Boer goats not far from Pure Luck Farm. She would agree with you wholeheartedly.
    I wish you great success with your new endeavor. I’m certain you will have things to share with committee. Everyone has a different perspective.

  • Sandi

    August 27, 20134:31 pm

    Leave your pride at the front gate. You can go back and retrieve it in a few years. Love that advice.

    • jennakl

      August 28, 20138:03 pm

      I’m telling you, it took 5 years to realize the pride thing. I wasted a lot of time thinking I knew stuff :)