Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"How would you feel if someone came to your farm and told you how to raise pigs?!?"

I did run for office this year, and I did lose that election, although as my rival put it "... I won with a much smaller margin than my two previous victories."

But the reasons that I ran are still there, and in all fairness Mr. Aldrich has been gracious in allowing public comment about various issues related to the PUD.  

But I had a funny exchange today that is farm related, and that's what I'm going to relate here.  

So I'm asking the board to consider various directions, and an objection came up from a non-board member, "How would you feel if someone came to your pig farm and told you how to raise pigs, or kill them, or operate your farm?   ", basically saying in the context that of course this utility knows what it's doing and that it's a little insulting that I might dare to offer an opinion about the operation.  

To answer that question, I get non-farmers who opine about my farm all the time.  In fact, of all the industries that I've been involved with over the years, farming is the one that people seem to feel comfortable weighing in on no matter what sort of experience they come from. 

I think that there's an assumption that if you farm you, well, you're just a little slower than the average person, and you could benefit probably from someone elses opinion.

When I started farming I actually sought out other opinions, and I learned all sorts of stuff, and I found that the hardest people to get to pin down on an opinion were other farmers.  I think that old adage "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" applies here.  People with experience in farming know enough that they don't offer their opinions much, if at all.  At most  you'll get an eye squint and a slow nod...

But contrast that to the people who just got their copy of the latest Micheal Pollan  book, and are very passionate about their views -- theres no stopping them.  Whatever practices you have they know better!  They're going to tell you how it should be done, to guide you, poor wretch, to the path of goodness.

So Yes, I get this all the time.  And do what I consider to be an excellent farming practice:  I listen to what they have to say, and if it makes sense I'll use it.  Sometimes, after giving me their opinion on my farming practices (and how I should change them) there's a pause.  They look at me, and I say what I always say "I heard what you said; thanks for the input", and they stop and...


Is the time I can say something that they can hear.

You see, when they come to you with that sort of enthusiastic energy, it's all about the broadcast.  What I wait for is that part when the wave crashes on the beach, and then withdraws, building up to the next wave of advice...

I then have a little tiny window where I can explain my farming practices.  Sometimes I use this window -- for the folks who are interested in farming, for instance, and might actually use what I tell them, or, honestly, sometimes for the folks I think I might have a problem with -- a neighbor, or someone in a regulatory position (Looking at you, Mr. Kaufman of the WA department of Ecology)
but most of the time I just smile a little, and let that moment pass.

So yes, I get people who tell me all about my farm.  And I hope I have the grace and ability to seperate the wheat from the chaff and the patience and tolerance to maintain my composure while I do so.


Anonymous said...

I second this post!

Hostetter said...

There is a new book out. Didn't know if you knew. http://www.amazon.com/Make-Money-Homesteading-Self-Sufficiency-Self-Sufficient-ebook/dp/B00O4CWKGC/ref=asap_B002N5DUYI_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417645431&sr=1-1

Maybe some of the people asking questions are reading his stuff.

Your place looks great. All the best.