Lessons from the farm
My name is Grant and I am the Farmer part of “The Farmer and I” and I also happen to have the good fortune to be dating Carrington! As of today, I also happen to be the internet’s newest and most unlikely blogger.
Just a few short months ago, I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Agricultural Economics and began my career in the fast track industry that is small-scale farming. More specifically, I accepted a position as the farm manager for Texas Specialty Cut Flowers (also known as Arnosky Family Farms), located between Wimberley and Blanco in the Texas Hill Country.
No day is ever the same here, but typically my job involves lots of time on the tractor removing old crops and preparing for new ones, maintaining equipment, planting thousand of seedlings weekly, and observing everything that we have planted to make sure that the plants stay alive and produce high quality cut flowers for our customers. Frank, my boss, also tells me that my job description can be summed up as “making Frank’s life easier.”
Our flowers can be found at over 30 different HEB and Whole Foods location in Austin and San Antonio and at the Blue Barn located on our farm. As a millennial entering the workforce and taking a more unconventional path, I just wanted to share what I’ve learned in my first two months on the job with all of the moms, friends, occasional dudes (you know who you are), and other readers who have discovered The Farmer and I.
1. Be concept-oriented, not detail-oriented.
I made the mistake of referring to myself as a detail-oriented person in one of the first discussions that I had with Frank after I started here in June. This is a standard descriptor used by many on resumes and in job interviews; everyone likes to think or wants their potential boss to think that they are a detail-oriented person, someone who takes care of all of the little things. The truth is that by focusing on details, we often lose sight of what we are actually trying to accomplish. If you can gain a full understanding of what needs to be done, the details will take care of themselves.
For example, the primary goal of our farm is to be profitable; if the farm does not make money, then all of the other secondary goals that we have as farmers become impossible. If we understand that the overall concept is to remain profitable, then we can began to sort out the details and, most importantly, prioritize the tasks involved in remaining profitable. Managers still take care of details, but they focus on concepts as guiding principles.
2. Work hard, stay late, have a great attitude.
If you fall into the generation known as the ‘millennials,’ chances are that your boss or maybe even your coworkers have some preconceived notions about you. In general, you are expected to be on your phone, have a high opinion of your own worthiness and intelligence, and leave as soon as a better opportunity arises. Do us all a favor and do everything in your power to disprove these stereotypes. Put your head down and get the job done; stay late if that’s what it takes!
Most importantly, have a great attitude and work joyfully. Your boss will notice and give you grace when you screw up. And when you do screw up and your boss corrects you, listen carefully and get right back on the saddle and get better each time. I have been taking care of plants since I was in junior high and I’ve killed thousands of them in my first couple months working on the farm, but each time I plant with my crew, I get a little bit better at keeping the fragile seedlings alive in the harsh Texas sun as I learn from my mistakes.
3. Do what you love.
Life is too short to do something that you hate because you think that it will bring you security or more money or that it will please that one person in your life who has always wanted this thing for you. In the classic movie Chariots of Fire, Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.” I must admit that I’ve never seen that movie, but that quote provides a great perspective to the young person who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life.
What can you talk about for hours on end? What makes you light up with purpose? What talent or interest do you have that makes God smile as he watches his creation work as it was intended to? Anyone who has ever shook my hand or endured me droning on about different varieties of tomatoes knows that I was made to grow plants. What were you made to do? If you don’t know already, put down that textbook full of information that you don’t really care about, try something new, and explore an interest that you may have shoved aside a long time ago in favor of more ‘practical’ or ‘profitable’ pursuits. You just might surprise yourself and discover a calling.
There’s a lot more that I would love to share with y’all but, for the sake of brevity, those are my three pieces of advice. Stay tuned for more manly interjections into this little corner of the internet and come see me sometime at the Blue Barn at Arnosky Family Farms. I would love to show you around the farm and point you toward some of the best eats and swimming holes in Texas.