Have you ever thought about all of the different skill areas and branches of knowledge that are related to agriculture? Biology is an obvious one, but dig a little deeper. There is far more involved in farming than just plants and animals.
A Sampling of Skills
A farm can sharpen the math skills of the bookkeeper, provide an outlet for the carpenter, and inspire the artist or author of the family. A simple adjustment of soil pH brings one into contact with many different areas of science. Hunting for solutions to problems can lead to an investigation of history.
But this is still not all. Consider this brief and extremely incomplete sampling of knowledge and skills that can come in handy on a farm:
- Automotive repairs.
There are a staggering number of opportunities that a farm can provide to someone who has a way with people, animals, plants, or machines. Obviously, then, any skills or knowledge that you can bring to the table will be amply repaid.
So by all means build your knowledge base, knowing that you will reap the rewards. And while you are searching for information, be sure to seek it from a variety of sources.
Sources of Knowledge
There is no excuse for being poorly informed in today’s world. Besides the usual array of farm books and magazines, the Internet has made a wealth of free information available to everyone. Probably every viewpoint on agriculture is represented out there somewhere. The USDA, extension centers, sustainable agriculture organizations, and innumerable private blogs and websites offer their services. A simple search will take you to exactly what you need.
Furthermore, there is a seemingly endless supply of digitized free or public domain books available for download. Most of these were written in the 1800s and early 1900s and are being released as their copyrights expire, placing invaluable old-fashioned wisdom at our fingertips. Some organizations, however, give away cutting-edge works in sustainable agriculture as part of their services.
We all should make use of this wealth of knowledge and experience. But probably the best source of knowledge that we can tap into is our own experience, simply because it is already tailored to our unique circumstances. The best way to learn what the land is trying to tell us is to keep good records. What form these records will take will vary from person to person, of course. But the point is to note for future reference things we have learned, solutions we have discovered, problems we need to solve, and things we want to remember for later on. Our records don’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes just a few lines in a composition notebook will suffice. This type of research is irreplaceable.
Finally, we should also make it a point to consider what is probably the most neglected authority on agriculture—the Scriptures. Research has consistently borne out the accuracy and value of the principles found in the pages of the Bible. For example, some of the Old Testament marriage restrictions in Leviticus 20:17–21, if applied to livestock, would prevent inbreeding disasters. Some sustainable agriculture experts are also advocating field and pasture rests similar to the seventh-year fallow spell outlined in Leviticus 25:1–7. We probably would have a better understanding of how farming works if we would seek to discover the broader principles contained in the Word.
Always More to Learn
Farming becomes an especially fascinating adventure if we allow it to sharpen and interact with all our skills and interests. We’ll never run out of things we can learn. There will always be a new challenge to tackle every day.
The Homestead Bookshelf
Our own collection of books and downloads to keep you thinking. We add new titles frequently, so check back often or subscribe to On the Range, our free monthly newsletter, to receive notice of the latest additions.
Top 10 Books for Beginning Farmers
Looking for a starting point in your reading? Try these 10 essential titles.
The Family Garden Journal
This Homestead on the Range book will help you learn from your own gardening experience! Includes a 366-page journal and reference pages for keeping notes on plant varieties, insect pests, beneficial insects, and plant diseases. Learn more.