We’ve covered some really important questions so far. The next question you need to examine is “who will do it?” It’s less obvious than you may think. The risk for making wrong assumptions is very high. What this question really means is who is on board with your adventure. Are you single? Are you married and do you have a family? Will you require volunteers or maybe just occasional help?
This question is closely related to what kind of resources you have available. But, you need to have clear understanding between yourself and those who are joining you on your farm or homestead. Make no assumptions. Even when your family or partners or volunteers are willing to pitch in, don’t stop there in your dialog with them. Their willingness is only the first step.
You have a whirlwind of ideas spinning around in your head. You may even verbalize them to those around you. They nod excitedly at you as you describe raising meat goats or developing an amaranth patch or manning a booth at the local farmers’ market. But, until you have actual commitment from people and their willingness and availability for specific operations on your farm or homestead, you’re working from assumptions. Don’t do this.
For example, a husband makes plans for a new chicken broiler operation. He has even discussed the idea a few times over dinner with his wife. This is not planning. Does his spouse realize he is counting on her to help? Does she understand what it takes to process 50 Cornish cross hens in a weekend? Can she handle scalding and plucking these birds? What about desanguination and evisceration, or standing there for eight hours on a chilly day in October processing and packaging the chickens for sale? Before you build those chicken tractors and call the hatchery, you better be sure all those who you think will be involved are actually on board with total understanding of what that means.
Maybe you’re a lone wolf and you will be doing everything by yourself. Most people have a tendency to think they can achieve more than they can in reality. When you run into this situation and critical projects need to be done and you don’t have time, you need to be able to tap into some help somewhere. Do you have a resource of labor and expertise you can call on in those critical times? Don’t assume the people in your local Facebook group will be there when you need them. Your labor resources need to be there when you need them and they need to know they are your resource long before you call on them. Don’t assume they know this.
Finally, you need to carefully consider your neighbors for two important reasons. One is the help they can provide. Two is the challenge they can present. I’ll deal with the latter first.
You may want to do something on your land that your neighbors don’t want around them. It may be totally legal to do, but you need to very carefully consider a damaged relationship with those who live around you. Maybe they misunderstand that pigs don’t actually cause a bad odor when they are pastured and not confined. A little dialog ahead of time can go a long way. However, an angry neighbor can be a significant deterrent to your plans. Be sure you understand your neighbors and they understand you.
Neighbors may not be part of your official operational plan, but the rural culture is strong in cooperation. Put away your Western mentality of “I can do it by myself” and realize your neighbors are happy to help. Not only do you get the help you need but you build strong relationships and the opportunity to help them in their time of need – now you have a community. The feeling of mutually assured assistance is a comfort when your livelihood or subsistence depends on it. But, also remember two cliches: don’t go to the well too often, and good fencing makes for good neighbors. Protect your neighbor’s autonomy and privacy as jealously as you want to protect your own. As a new land owner this will serve you well.