Friday, June 22, 2012

Armchair Farmers and Wannabees

I get a little miffed when people who have been raising animals for less than 2 years feel fit to tell me how to do what I am doing and all the ways that they are doing it better. I have been raising animals for 10 years on my own so I hope that I have at least a little farm-cred from this length of experience. It bothers me when someone has raised chickens for one season goes on about what they did and how well it worked. They say they did it right. I say they got lucky!

With the ease of finding information on the internet, there seems to be plethora of "armchair farmers". These are people who did a lot of internet research, read a couple of books, and raised a few animals for a few years. After a season or two they feel ready to expound to the world their ideas on farming. They never hesitate to tell someone what they did and how well it worked. I don't want to discourage anyone from helping out a fellow farmer by lending advice, but please make sure your advice is tested with real-life experience and not just a jumble of Google searches mixed with 6 months of a good growing season.

What irks me right to the bone is someone who doesn't even have a farm or raise animals trying to tell me how I can improve my system! There's all sorts of "wannabe farmers" who never hesitate to tell me how if they were doing it, they would be milking 75 does a year and selling 150 gallons of milk a day to such-and-such cheese factory, and they would be clearing XX-thousands of dollars in profit each year. If this was at all doable, I would be the FIRST one to be doing it. I always tell those people after their 30 minute lecture on proper farming techniques that any day of the week they want to show me how it is done, please do so. I will never hesitate to step aside and let someone else show me the light and the correct way to take care of my animals... That being said I have yet to wake up at 6:30am on Saturday morning with any of these wannabe's knocking at my door ready to milk the goats.

One thing that sends armchair farmers and wannabees onto a slippery slope of bad advice are internet forums. I have been involved in several different goat forums over the years. I love internet forums because you can learn all sorts of new things that people have tried, you can find new friends from all over the world who love goats as much as you do, and you can hear the latest ideas in goat care advancements. I hate internet forums because you don't really know who any of these people are and if their advice is actually been tested on any living animals. The advice on forums can snowball if one person gives bad advice to someone and that person then passes on the bad advice to someone else. Eventually everyone thinks the bad advice is actually good advice because they've heard it so much!

There's one forum where there's this one person who always writes long and strong opinions to every question that is posted. This person is on the forum for hours and hours each day writing responses to almost every post. The forum is quite popular and has a lot of posts, so writing back on all of them is a big time-kill. What she writes seems like somewhat decent information from my experiences with my animals but I get a little suspicious of her when she professes to have lots and lots of goats and does all sorts of shows and things with them, yet she is on this one forum for hours and hours each day. How is she able to care for all her animals and still be on the internet about 23 hours a day?? I have a theory that this particular person has no goats at all. I think she is an entirely fictional farmer who writes long and drawn-out posts because she has nothing better to do all day. This theory is scary when considering the fact that this particular forum has lots of unsuspecting people on it trying to get good answers to their most important goat raising questions. Can you really trust what those forum posters have to say??

Now, I don't profess to know everything when it comes to raising my species of choice (goats and chickens). I have definitely made some super huge mistakes recently in regards to how I raise my animals, so I know there will never be a time when I can sit back and say, "Now I have it right and I don't ever have to change what I am doing because I have perfected my farming system". Unfortunately some new farmers have one good season and they start telling everyone how great they are at farming and how wonderful their systems worked. I know that some systems are better than the others and most of those better systems can be found at the click of a button on the internet. This is fine. I don't want to discourage anyone from getting into farming or trying new systems with their existing animals. But I do want to discourage new farmers from sending potential farmers down a dangerous road of unproven advice.

So all you new farmers and wannabees listen up: Be careful what you say unless you've proven it works on your own animals. It's okay to experiment but don't pass on advice based on someone's suggestions if you haven't tried it yourself.


DebH said...

I've had a few folk like that, but I always just smile. Usually shake my head a little, but smile. I'm old and I've had a brood of thing I know is...if you tell it like your an expert, it'll only turn around and bite you in the rump!
Now, I just smile at all that nonsense. That famous saying.."The way I would do it" just cracks me up! We have this running joke at the Farmers Market when someone says, "you know what I would do?" We all pipe in and holler "Do it then"!

Missy said...

I have to agree with you about the internet farming. I had worked on a goat farm(mainly pygoras with a couple milking goats) from the time I was 12 until I was 18. Last year I decided to get some goats, Unfortunately, the kids I got were sick when I brought them home. I listened to the internet farmers and tried just about everything that they suggested. After all. I ha no experience with sick goats, they SAID they had been farming for years and their information. Within 2 weeks I had 4 out of 4 dead kids, I was completely crushed. It wasn't until I met Donna,And got 2 beautiful healthy does, and a lot of positive information, that I successfully raised my own goats. I think one can only learn well from mistakes. I have a beautiful, friendly buck from you, and a healthy active doeling. I would take your advice anyday!!!

Ps, No Farmville on Facebook does not qualify people as farmers.

ADK Goat Club said...

Farmville!! HAHAAAHAAA!!

The Goulet Family Copyright © 2012 María L.A. Goulet Please request my permission for use. said...

I share your sentiments Rose.

The Goulet Family Copyright © 2012 María L.A. Goulet Please request my permission for use. said...

So, so true!