The Stockman Grass Farmer

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Your Successful Farm Business ...Production, Profit, Pleasure by Joel Salatin

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Joel Salatin lovers will take delight in his new book Your Successful Farm Business. Written 20 years after his best-seller You Can Farm, he describes this book as "more advanced, more refined, more mature, simply more."  And, SGF would like to add, more Joel!

Throughout Your Successful Farm Business he makes references to his previous books for readers who want to delve deeper into the subjects covered here; however, while writing this book he studiously made a point not to plow previous ground.

He offers fresh views into his beliefs and farming methods so that anyone who is determined, passionate about their dream, and willing to start out on a shoestring can achieve the same kind of success they see at Polyface today, whether they just read about it or actually set foot on the farm.

Joel describes the theme of this book to "articulate the common threads of success for beginning farmers and what made a farmer thrive."  Chapters expand on 13 qualities he sees as necessary for developing a profitable, sustainable lifestyle from farming.

One tenet is to read. Everything. From the local newspaper (where he found a notice about a pending ordinance that would have prohibited him from cutting down his own trees for his on-farm sawmill had he not attended the hearing and plead his case) to biographies of successful people.  Read agricultural publications (The Stockman Grass Farmer!) and books, but also politics, religion, history, in short anything you can get your hands on.

Another chapter urges newcomers to Live Frugally.  Not only does this chapter unlock a major key to success it gives personal insights into Joel's person and personality.  Those who meet Joel or see all of the eclectic, diverse, ever-changing production models at Polyface Farms rarely give a thought to what it took to become "an over-night success."  Today's visitors haven't a clue that the farm his father bought in the 1960s was worn out and rock and gully ridden.

Joel details those early years when he and his bride, Teresa, lived in the attic of his parents' home.  They got up at 4:00 AM to process chickens, paused for breakfast, then processed more chickens so that they'd be ready to receive customers when they arrived at 1:00 PM .

He is quick to point out in Assemble a Team that he has always partnered, beginning with his wife and his parents.  You can't do everything, he points out, and success comes when you concentrate on what you do best and find others who excel in the things you don't like doing.

The book covers Direct Marketing in three chapters - the Why, Where and How - and he details Multi-Enterprise farming.  "The more you diversify the farm," he writes, "the more you follow nature's template."

Another chapter explains how to Stay Nimble.  He considers mobile farms (using leased land, portable fence and water systems) as the ultimate stealth farm.  They have no silos or confinement factory houses.  They're invisible to tax and government radar.  "They celebrate lightweight, gentle, almost invisible infrastructure." He lists the real equity of the farm as skill, information and customers.  "There are no taxes to pay on that."  It is also mobile, modular and management-intensive.

A 14th chapter includes New Opportunities he has seen on his travels that should be further developed.  Some examples of these New Ideas include Urban Custom Farmers, who raise vegetables in tiny backyard city gardens; Agri-communities such as Earth Ship Villages that share basic utilities such as solar panels and a created wetlands to purify sewage as he has seen operating in the Netherlands; and Therapy Farms to help physically and mentally challenged residents or the elderly to farm using tables set to accommodate wheelchairs or a designated running path for "tension relief" as an alternative to drugs.

If you are itching to get started farming or improve on what you're already doing, Your Successful Farm Business sets the tone for turning your dream into reality.

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