Hi all! In an effort to keep our website updated we are going to be posting recent article and snippets of our newsletter updates here.
This article is from last year, and so while it is not completely new, it is giving us a chance to try out our skills at posting new content.
This article was written by our good friend Christine Su, founder of Pasture Map. Thanks!
Lydia Carpenter and Wian Prinsloo are the owners of Luna Field Farm on the Manitoba prairie. Now in the 5th year of running a growing business in the local Manitoba community, doing what they love through trial and error, they had lots of advice for young farmers just starting out. They raise pastured chickens for eggs and meat, a “flerd” of sheep and cattle, pastured pigs, and goats, and direct market to customers in Winnipeg.
Lydia and Wian are professional graziers – growing healthy grass is the foundation of their business. They move the chickens and flerd every day on pasture and bring pigs into their rotation to build soil health. Wian and Lydia both grew up city kids, but have loved farming and worked over the years to build their farming business into a viable profession. Wian grew up in South Africa and has been farming on rented land since the age of 18 during his summers. Lydia studied soil and nutrient cycling at the University of Winnipeg, and earned a Master’s in Natural Resources Management with a research focus on rural livelihoods and gender.
Advice to other young farmers
Start small. Don’t expand beyond what you can afford to lose. Start small. Don’t try to get big too fast.
Make your business portable. Everyone thinks about buying land first – don’t. We rent land and plan to buy someday, but everything on our farm from broiler pens, water tanks, and fence can be moved on a trailer. I could pick up the farm and move it in a weekend. We made everything portable, even the brand.
Keep debt to a minimum. Don’t saddle the operation with so much debt you can’t ride out the hard times – you’ll make mistakes, and those tough times will come! That’s why we rent land and build portable infrastructure.
Focus on profit, not payments. Most farmers think about whether you can make things work enough to make payments. You need to think about making profits and how much you can be putting away each year to meet your goals.
Own and control your business. Be careful of outside interests in your company. Investors giving you extra capital to expand quickly may sound great, but they might have different views on your business. Make sure you control your operation and have freedom to run things the way you want. Watch that 51st share carefully.
Use professionals to leverage your time. Value your time! Our accountant pays for herself and then some. We think of it as money well spent on what we DON’T love, so that we can spend more time on the part of the business we DO love. Also, if you have a business partner, make sure your legal will is in order. Once you’ve been at it for several years, and there’s something to lose in case something happens to one of you, make sure you’re protecting your partner.
You have to really love what you do. There are going to be ups and downs, and really hard times. Make sure you are doing what you love. Lydia says she asks Wian every day, “Are you happy?”
Ignore the naysayers. Just ignore them. Don’t waste time thinking about them, build your business.
The people who will support you aren’t always the ones you expect. Don’t underestimate the power of work ethic and honesty in what you’re doing. We have neighbors who might not farm the same way, but they watch what we do. They watch to see if you get out every day to do your chores, if you call when there’s a storm to check on them, and if you’re working hard and really trying to make it. Sometimes that’s enough.
To read the rest of the article: click here