One of the hardest things for me to come to grips with is that farming isn’t all about being outside, tending the herd, working in the garden and washing fresh eggs in the afternoons. Of course, that is the idealistic version, but last I checked, Snow White wasn’t skipping across the back pasture, singing to the birds. Bless her heart, if she was, the guineas would throw a fit and try their best to attack her.
Often times, I find myself inside, curled up in a corner of the couch, surrounded by books, printed pages, a notepad and a pencil. It’s called research. I try my best to do it after dark or on rainy days, but there are times when I am running inside, yanking a book off the shelf to see if I can figure out what is going on with a cow or a chicken.
In any given profession you really need to keep up with the latest trends in order to stay ahead. Farming is no different. I admit some of my research is actually enjoyable, as I love learning all I can about all aspects of my lifestyle. I love it when I have a chance to look through a weaving magazine and study a new draft or ways to use bamboo yarn. Cookbooks and canning? I am so there. But when I have to delve into technical manuals, I have a tendency to doze off in the middle of a page. Well, actually, the very first page.
Regardless of what I have to research, I find that having an in-home library is one of the smartest things I have ever done. Our books on farming range from basic how-tos to financial management; veterinarian manuals to books on pest control in the garden; from herbs and vegetables to root cellars and smokehouses. There is a chicken encyclopedia on my shelf, right next to a book on homemade cleaning projects. Most of them I have read from cover to cover-more than once. That doesn’t count all the magazines and internet print outs I have filed or stashed on any given shelf.
I rarely research just one subject at a time. Often I am looking at two or more aspects of farming, to see if and how they relate, and whether or not they are a good fit for Paradise. Right now I am in the throes of researching Agritourism-from the very basics (like the definition) to the nitty-gritty (like the financial and legal aspects)-and all things related to beekeeping. Agritourism acts as an umbrella, covering the overall scope of having a supplemental income. Beekeeping is just one of the potential ideas that falls under that heading. Since I have quite a bit left to learn about both, it leaves me with a considerable amount of research to do.
My research won’t stop with reading materials. I will also be attending workshops, speaking with others who are either interested in the subject I am studying, or are already waist deep in the middle of it, and spending time on the internet or in the local library. Given the opportunity, I will also volunteer to help someone who has a few years of experience under their belt. Once I figure out a concept, I then see if I can implement it, and whether or not it will really work.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what profession you have chosen. The best thing you can do is to do your research, read, study. Visit your library. Talk to people who have some experience. Spend an hour or two on the internet. Take copious notes. Volunteer. Try it out. Then start the cycle over again.
Although the true definition of research is “diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.,” (dictionary.com), I prefer my own: “Spreading your wings and broadening your horizons.” After all, the more you research, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you are prepared to overcome some of the obstacles you will face, which in turn, helps to lead a happy, content life.
Who can ask for more than that?
If you are interested in living a more self-supportive lifestyle, farming or crafts, visit me in the Library to find some wonderful books that will help you get started on your research. And I promise – most of them won’t induce the Snooze Factor!