“It isn’t the farm that makes the farmer. It is the love, the hard work, and character.”
This year I had plans to return to plant medicine. It’s only April and at this point the road sure isn’t what I expected. In the past 2 weeks, an odd twist of fate has found me returning to the family farm to take care of some farm business. For those who are unaware of my childhood background, I grew up on a 225 acre farm (mix of beef, pigs. chickens, hay, and corn). Starting at the age of 7 or 8, I was actively involved in farming. I did farm chores every morning and night (whether it was sub-zero or 90+degrees), bailed hay every summer, and belonged to 4-H and FFA. After I graduated from High School, I couldn’t wait to leave the farm for the big city as I decided farming just wasn’t for me. I went to University, moved to Chicago, and for years, I never looked back. However over the years, I slowly migrated back to the land and for a while (1997-2005) I grew medicinal herbs using organic and bio-dynamic methods.
In the past two week, as I started to review what was going on with the family farm business, I found it interesting how my professional hard skills (Lean Six Sigma/Continuous Improvement and Strategic Project Management) and soft skills (intuition, empathy, and compassion) have been called on for the task. I have never really talked in depth about my professional life on this blog, as I wasn’t sure how the two worlds would blend. In the corporate manufacturing world, I’ve built a reputation as being the person to call when “everything hits the fan” (failed projects, union disputes, capacity constraints, etc.). Corporations have spoken highly of my skill set for assessing situations with a fresh perspective. I have a “problem solving knack” for getting to the root cause quickly and identifying next steps. I often joke and tell people that I blame my “problem solving knack” on my farming upbringing. I always tell people “when the cows get out, you can do a half ass job, patch the fence and then fix the fence again tomorrow or you can take 5 minutes to get to the root cause and correct the fence the proper way.”
So why am I telling you about my professional background? I think it helps to understand my professional background in order to understand my approach to assessing the farming situation including the results.
I decided to handle this farm situation (removal of a boundary fence line and trees) like any other corporate request. I collected the facts, spoke to various people involved, and walked the land. I did my own professional assessment of the situation in order to get to the root cause of the decisions made and the approach taken in order to determine next steps. And this is what I saw as a professional Business Assessor looking in…
Cost/Benefit = 9.8+year payback
In the Corporate Manufacturing world, this project would never have been approved. The 3 key questions that every manufacturing company asks:
- Did you reduce headcount?
- Did you reduce costs?
- Did you increase profit?
It might sound harsh, but this is the world we live in when we manufacture product (whether its building tractors or growing corn).
As a Business Assessor, this payback doesn’t justify the cost and time to implement (regardless of the negative impact to the environment). What is even more interesting is that this farming practice has been happening in Northern Illinois since my return to the area in 2010. Trees and timbers have been and are continuing to be removed to make space for more tillable farm land. As I type this, my heart gets heavier and heavier as I peel back the layers and must personally face the truth that I’ve been avoiding. As a culture, a lot of people (including farmers) are…
Disconnected from the earth
Disconnected from our roots
Disconnected with what it means to be a farmer
Coming from a farming background, I have always held farmers in the highest respect. They work hard and are viewed as stewards of the land. Paul Harvey described it best…
And God Created A Farmer
In the past 2 weeks, I have taken off my “rose colored” glasses and started to look at farming with a fresh pair of eyes. My fences can be rebuilt and the trees can be replanted, however somewhere along the way the soul of the farmer has been lost. The ugly truth….
The current farming system is broken!
So I’m not sure how this odd twist of fate will tie into plant medicine, but one thing I know for sure…I have reconnected to my roots and …
I AM A FARMER!
Interested in going deeper? Join me Sunday at the Kent Emporium. Details below.
I create space for you to listen to your heart and take your next inspired step!