Stage two typically lasts an additional three to five seasons.
You are on your way to a successful farming enterprise. You have a firm direction, you are focused and you have, by trial and error, refined your course (see previous blogs here, and here). You are still doing much fine tuning and investing.
If you are employed off the farm. You may have one or more workers on the farm. You are learning how to work with “help” outside your immediate family. This is a key decision, which will dictate how much you can grow. It is okay to make the decision to stay small, by the way.
The fourth season, your plan is feeling pretty good and you are focused on execution. You have enough history to be able to keep products that are profitable and eliminate those that are not. Maybe there is a little profit, but you are still investing in tools, so profit is still limited.
It took me five to six years before I was comfortable at the farmers’ market, which is our main source of income. I would always ask myself on market days, “What could go wrong?” We made lists of things we needed and kept the essential containers and tools in our market trailer. Nothing catastrophic ever went wrong and the discomfort I once felt has faded into the background.
Be fearless in pursuit of new markets and products. Ninety-nine percent of the things you fear will never happen. (Note, I did not say be foolish financially or take unnecessary risks. You have to use common sense in pursuit of your goals.)
Always remember that farming is a verb. Our actions determine the type of farmer we will become and distinguish us from those around us.
It probably isn’t until the seventh or eighth season that your have enough experience to turn a profit and really feel comfortable with the farm.
See future posts for “Stage 3—Becoming the Expert” and Stage 4—Building a Legacy.”