Can You Make a Living Being a Farmer
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Can You Make a Living Being a Farmer

How to start you own farm. A look at the option of becoming a farmer. Different types of farming are mentioned. Is being a farmer very profitable? What do farmers do? What kind of training do I need to become a farmer? What do I need to have to become a farmer? Where does a person go to school to learn farming skills?

Sometimes people wonder about what it is like to be a farmer and if there is “big money” in farming. How realistic is a career in farming?

Starting a Farm

Start up costs of farming are huge. This is why most farmers started out as farm kids who inherited their parents farm, or whose parents divided their land and/or livestock, giving some to their children.

To be a farmer you need land, farm equipment, and may or may not require livestock. Most farming has a slow pay off, in other words the crop is planted, but it is several months later when it is harvested, as such income is typically far off, and not a guarantee, farmers carry crop insurance as many years crops are lost due to drought, flooding, or other disasters.

Livestock farming also has its ups and downs, livestock must be purchased, fed, and prepared for market, which in some cases can be over a year away. With breeding animals the process can take even longer, particularly with cattle.

Many farmers start up by buying land and leasing it to others, in this way they accumulate some money from their land while saving up to have their own venture. Others will lease the land for grazing or to harvest crops.

authors pet sheep

photo by author - my hobby farm "Pets"

Common Types of Farm

Livestock – Dairy Cattle (milk/veal), Beef Cattle, Sheep (meat/wool), Goats (milk/meat), Chickens (laying hens/broilers), Turkeys, PMU farms (horses for urine), Equestrian, Hog, Bees (honey/wax) and a few others, including snails.

Crops – Hay, Grain, Potatoes, Peas, Corn, Beets, Carrots, and so forth.

Mixed Farming – Most farmers who raise livestock also produce crops of some sort, typically for the purpose of feeding their own animals, but occasionally they produce more than they need for sale. Other farmers have several types of crops, allowing for crop rotation which typically improves soil quality.


Farm equipment is not cheap, but people new to farming may find they have neighbors that will “share” at harvest time, you help them, they help you. For such a venture it is good to talk to ones neighbors (being anyone within 5 miles away) and see who has what in terms of equipment, and who needs what, even if they simply need another helper.

For livestock farming barns and fences are required, in addition to the equipment for growing and harvesting feed. You will note that if a farmer buys all their feed, profits will decrease.

photo from auction

photo by author

Todays Farmer

The days of the “family farm” are nearly all long gone from most areas, as many farms are now “Factory run”, meaning a large corporation owns them.

Many farmers who do remain “on the farm” also maintain other jobs off the farm, often selecting jobs that allow them to be home when most needed (calving time and harvest time). Many farmers have so much money tied up into the farm that they barely get by without a second income.

Although many people complain about the price of food in the grocery store, they need to be aware the farmer gets very little of this money. The grocery store gets some, the processing plant gets some, the auction market/slaughter yard gets some, shippers get some.

If you Want to Start a Farm

Do more research to see what is in demand in your area and do not fall for “gimmick” or trendy crops or livestock (llama farming would be a perfect example of this). Research the needs and expenses required for getting into such a venture.

Take a class on Agriculture, many colleges offer Agriculture options.

Spend money on land, equipment, buildings, and so forth, but plan on a humble home.

Farming is typically considered “Self Employment” do not forget to set money aside for taxes, and retirement, although you may plan on selling the farm, you may change your plans later.

Related Links

Concerns with Keeping Different Types of Lifestock Together

Four Novelty Animals no Farm Should be Without

Why Farmers Take Baby Animals away from their Mothers

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Comments (4)

I know a lot of big farmers in the grass seed industry and they love the lifestyle. I love the land and animals, especially. Farmers have had a hard few years in Oregon, but they wouldn't give it up for anything.

I tried doing an organic farming before with some friends. We had an orchard of the local oranges and some citrus fruits. It is quite hard because of the manual work but the excitement never cease. My friends transferred to Hawaii and they have developed a big organic farm and handle the market really good. Great post Brenda.

Good information. I'm one of those farm kids you wrote about. I grew up on farms, we had three truck farms in our family. It was a good life but a hard life. Over the years we slowly sold off most of our land for other purposes. I left the farm at seventeen and enlisted in the military and spent eight years there and then went into the electrical construction business. I own a small farm today, but it's a nonworking farm. I bought it because I love the country lifestyle.

Today however, farmers are required to have a research paper, two year or four year degrees in farming and business management. You will need to understand the ins and outs of all aspects of farming.