I just got a call from a reporter at the Sac Biz Journal wanting to ask me a few questions about growing up on a farm, and, more specifically, why I chose not to go into farming. She caught me off guard because I can’t remember the last time anyone ever seriously asked me what it was like to grow up on a farm.
As for why I chose not to farm, I was very honest and frank. The short answer is that there is a lot of risk and, within the past 30 years anyway, relatively little reward (unless you’re a big landowner, which my family is not). I wanted more stability, and, as luck would have it, I fell into a career that has given that to me.
There are many long and hard hours involved in being a farmer, and you are always “on”. You cannot leave your work at the office. There are too many variables and things to worry about, many of which you cannot control. Weather. Employees who don’t care, or, more accurately, a dearth of those who do. Distribution of cannery contracts. Legislation and politics.
That’s not much different than any other entrepreneurial endeavor. In fact, like any other self-employed individual, in order to succeed in farming, you must be passionate about it. I was not, I am not, and I never will be. I’m just not wired that way. I am capable of working hard and long hours, as I proved on the farm as a teenager, and since then as an adult, but without the passion to live the farming life, I would have burned out long ago.
When I spoke of growing up on the farm, I let slip a detail that, in retrospect, I should have kept to myself. It was an episode where we had a last-minute vacation cancelation due to work. Really, though, is that phenomenon specific to farming? I know I’ve used that as an example before of why it’s tough to grow up on a farm, but it could happen to any family, anytime, anywhere. Plus, it was just a canceled vacation. Boo-f*cking-hoo. It’s not like the bank repo’d our house and we had to go live in a shelter. That was a bad example for me to give, and I hope the reporter doesn’t use it to paint farm life in a negative light.
Regarding my parents, I hope she mentions the part where I said that, overall, I had no complaints about growing up on the farm. Comparatively speaking, I had a very easy childhood, and my parents did everything in their power to raise us right. In addition, one plus to them owning their own business was having the ability to attend all of our extracurricular activities. It didn’t mean much at the time, but looking back now as a father, I can only hope to be as available to Troy as my parents were to me.
If there’s one thing I learned from this experience, it’s that I’m glad I didn’t go into PR. Had I better articulated my answers to her, I wouldn’t be so worried about what she’s going to write. However, I kind of stumbled through the interview in a disjointed manner, so who knows what we’re going to get?