A few weekends back, Landon and I spent half of Saturday and most of Sunday shoveling manure from the barn floor to the spreader, rinse and repeat. Toward the end of Day 2, our very supportive and well-intentioned landlord finally saw it fit to intervene: “You know, it’s good exercise to be doing what you’re doing, but you could always ask a neighboring farmer to use their equipment to shovel the manure for you. Like Bobby (the guy who takes care of the cows).” Huh. What do ya know.
First, I felt a little demoralized and a little silly. Stubborn farmers wasting time shoveling manure by hand instead of seeking out a more efficient option. But as I was trudging out to shovel for the fourth time that day, I started to feel a little proud of our extra effort. I started to think that maybe there was some value in doing things the hard way.
I mentioned the topic to Landon. “Hey Landon, do you think we’re gaining something intangible by shoveling this manure by hand?” Of course, Landon listed all sorts of sensible reasons why it made sense to shovel by hand:
- Introducing more heavy machinery (like one of those bobcat things with a bucket in the front) expends unnecessary fossil fuel.
- Shoveling the manure ourselves without renting or borrowing equipment gave us the flexibility to spread it at the best time.
- The weekend project got us both engaged in the farm during a slow time of year.
- While shoveling the manure was more demanding physically, it saved us from talking to strangers–something that’s hard for us, but should be easy.
Fine, Landon. All true. But I was looking for something more vague, a little more touchy-feely.
Sometimes, running your own business means doing things that suck. And maybe convincing ourselves to do things that suck (like shoveling manure by hand), even when we don’t have to, is helping us prepare for all the other things we may not want to do. MAYBE, in some strange turn of events, shoveling manure by hand will make us better at talking to strangers (something, as previously stated, we don’t like to do).
Now, I don’t want this to have some sort martyr tone. Even though we have to do annoying things sometimes, Landon and I still know how sweet we have it. It’s just good to have those less sweet parts mixed in to make our bodies, our business, and our resolve a little bit stronger. Root Mass Farm–doing things the hard way since 2011.