DIY







Invest in Hired Help for Your Farm

Hiring help for the farm work you can’t tackle yourself, such as delivery and sales, will bring you relief and make your homestead operations more efficient.

| August/September 2018

Do-it-yourself and self-reliance themes are wonderful — to a point. I know that questioning these themes in the pages of Mother Earth News borders on heresy, but hear me out.

Every movement runs the risk of overrunning its original objectives. Concern about genetic diversity can morph into demonization of everything except heirloom seeds and breeds. Eating less meat can morph into militant veganism. Reactionary pendulums never stop in balance; they swing wildly to the opposite side. But when we rebel against convenience, we can easily fall prey to a cumbersome farmstead independence that eventually wears thin.

I propose a balance called “mutual interdependence.” A business guru would call this “community-based economics.” Many times, I’ve had to defend our farm against accusatory questions about why we buy in grain for our chickens or don’t farrow our pigs. I’ll hear, “I would never buy chicks from a hatchery. You’re not really independent unless you hatch them yourself.” Permutations on this theme abound. “‘Better Boy’ tomatoes? The only tomatoes to grow are heirloom.” People will even say they don’t want employees or partners because they want to do it all themselves.

I excel at pasturing cows and poultry, working in the woods, building compost, and telling stories. So that’s what I do. Rather than overcoming my weaknesses, I get much further by leveraging my strengths and building a team with complementary gifts.



Knowing what we’re not good at is as important as knowing what we’re good at. Frittering away a day on a project that’s frustrating and unenjoyable means we’ve just missed two opportunities. The first is to do another project that’s within our reach, where we can apply our time far more effectively. The second is to offer someone who loves what we don’t a chance to express their gift and show off their talent.

Many times, the constraint on collaboration is as much economical as it is emotional. We don’t think we have the money to pay for hired help, so we waddle through a project mumbling and stumbling. But the investment in hired help is worthwhile in the long run. If successful outfits have anything in common, it’s the ability to develop functional teams.






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

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