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Confessions of a Fake Farmer (and a Counterfeit Cowboy)

Have you ever wondered what it's like to live out in the country?  Ever wanted to try your hand at farming?  Raising livestock?  Do you think that farmers and cattlemen have a life of ease while rolling in money?  Before we get going into some details of what it's like to live in the country, let me mention that I had originally created a separate website known as fakefarmer.com but I later decided to move the content over to this other website that I own.  As a result, you will notice that some of the pictures have an identification marking with the old fakefarmer website name.  I just wanted to mention this in case you were wondering what that was all about.  I am the original author of all this material.  Speaking of me... 

Fake Farmer

This simple website captures a little of my experiences of what it's like living out in the country after living in "suburbia" for many years.  Never in my life did I imagine that I'd be playing with farming or trying to raise livestock (all with no previous experience)!  After all, I went to college to get an engineering degree.  What business did I have getting into farming or raising cattle?!?!  Good question!  I've often referred to myself as a "fake farmer" and a "counterfeit cowboy". 

I am writing this for people who wonder what it's like living out in the country.  I'm also writing this for people who wonder what it would be like farming or raising livestock.  I won't be able to share all my experiences on this website, but I'll give you a sample of some experiences that have been memorable.  This website is in no way complete, and I intend it to be a work in progress that is expanded over time.  If I had to give one statement about my experience with farming, I'd summarize it like this: "Farming has not been about growing a crop (and definitely not about growing my bank account), but farming has primarily been about growing me."  That has been my overall experience.

Regarding the financial aspects of farming, for me there were some years in which the only thing I could say I gained from farming (apart from some good life lessons) was lots of free sun tanning and exercise!  Just think of all the money I saved by not needing to pay for a membership at a local gym!  Some years, about all I had to show for at the end of the farm season was a sore back and more sun weathered skin!  I have also explained it this way: "Imagine you worked extremely hard at your job for several months.  Not just loafing along and putting your time in, but really pushing yourself to your limits working 12, 14, or 16 hour days... day after day.  Not in some cush office with air conditioning, but out in the hot sun with temperatures in the 90's and hitting 100's at times.  What if during all those months of hard work, you didn't get a single paycheck?  What if the company you worked for not only didn't pay you, but sent you a bill and said that you owed them money?!?!"  Anyone in their right mind would find a different job! 

Unfortunately, that's the way that farming can be at times if your expenses are too high and income too low.  The reason I did it was so that I could work at home and try to be more involved in my family.  It was not the easy way.  Some years, it would have been a lot easier (and much more profitable) to have gotten a minimum wage job flipping burgers!  No joke!  Thankfully, I've learned some things over the years fumbling around on our small farm, and I've changed the ways I do things so that recent years have been better financially.  The key is to be "lean and mean" keeping expenses as low as possible.  Even then, farming is still not as profitable as you might think.  In years past, I have had some hay buyers that would just try to get as low a price as possible.  If they could buy the hay at a low price from me and then turn around and resell it at a high price, then that is more money that they can pocket.  Some don't care if they rip off the farmer and leave him with the short end of the stick.  All they are interested in is their own personal gain.  The farmer does most of the work, has most of the expenses, assumes most of the risks, and so the farmer is the one that has the most to lose.  Many hay buyers just act as brokers or middle men and they just turn right around and resell the hay to someone else.  Their expenses and risks are much less than the farmer, but some of them seem to think that they should be entitled to most of the profits.  All that to say, you can work really hard, and as much as it depends on you do an excellent job farming, but in the end you still might not have anything to show for all your hard work if you don't have a buyer willing to pay a fair price.  Thankfully, now I work with a good buyer that is much better to work with, and he is willing to pay fair market value for the hay.  That makes a big difference!  Even though farming as a whole has not been as profitable for me as other work I've done in the past, there are other benefits of doing this that can not be counted in terms of dollars and cents.  In part, I am trying to more involved in the lives of my children and invest more of my time into helping raise them.


My Family - Rednecks in Training

For me, living out in the country has proven to be a great experience.  It sure beats living in a crowded housing development in town!  Then again, some people might prefer living in town.  To each, his own.  We are currently living in the "middle of nowhere".  Not quite in the middle of nowhere, but secluded enough to almost qualify for that description.  We do have some good neighbors, but none are too close.  If I want to do a little target shooting, I just do so in my backyard.  If my young kids want to practice driving, I just take them out in one of our fields.  If "nature calls" while working outside, then I can just take a quick potty break behind the shop, behind the tractor, or look for a convenient bush nearby.  No need to be crude, but the point being that there are many benefits of living in the country with a degree of freedom that you don't get in town.  I often refer to the place where we now live as "Hillbilly Heaven".  Lots of great things to do around here even though I am not a natural born hillbilly.  I am a hillbilly convert, and I am still learning the finer points of being a good redneck.  Apart from being a former engineer, I am a Redneck in Training, a Hillbilly Hopeful, a Counterfeit Cowboy, and of course a Fake Farmer!  If you share a common interest in country living and what it entails (or you are just curious), then I invite you to browse around my website.