It’s hard for me to quit things. I always feel like I’ve failed somehow. But I’ve learned that commitment isn’t true commitment if you can commit fully. Eventually, if you spread yourself too thin, all your endeavors will suffer.
I’ve read somewhere that successful people “do one thing at a time and they do it well”. I often repeat that phrase over in my mind while I’m rushing around, often not paying attention to the task at hand because my brain is working three steps ahead of myself.
In my last post, I wrote about reflecting on the things from last year that worked well, how we can learn from these accomplishments and apply them to the coming year. In this post I’d like you to focus on what didn’t work. Often this is harder.
You have to combat pride, and accept that you can’t do it all. But I encourage you to not look at it as a failure, but as a chance to really focus on what’s important to you and allow yourself to let the rest go.
There are two categories in which unsuccessful ventures fall the first is:
- A learning experience where you realize what you did wrong and willingly choose to try again using the knowledge of how to change. For us that was,
-Our Etsy Page
We shut down our Etsy page last year because we couldn’t keep up with demand. Our mistake was in allowing special orders. The orders just kept coming and we couldn’t keep up with them. A tool would break, something on the farm needed immediate attention or Zach’s joint paint would flare up and he’d get behind in his blacksmith orders. As a result, our customer reviews began to suffer. Customer satisfaction is very important to us and we decided that if we couldn’t keep our customers happy, then we wouldn’t have an Etsy page.
After some reflection, we’ve decided to slowly re-open the Etsy page. Going forward, we no longer take special orders. We only sell what is in stock and if that means turning down a sale, then so be it. I’d rather lose a sale then make promises we can’t keep.
We lost both our hives last year. One died over the winter, and one flew away in the spring. Because we know what went wrong I feel like it’s worth giving it another try and learning from our mistakes. I also feel like the bees could greatly benefit from the lavender and sunflower field that we will have this again this year. We will try again.
The second category in which failure falls into is:
- Things that you are done with completely. These are things that don’t serve your business goals, perhaps they drain you of too much time, energy or joy and the outcome isn’t worth the input. For us, that’s:
-Planting Fruit Trees
We have planted at least 2 fruit trees every year since we’ve lived here. That’ll be 8 years in May. And all but 3 apple trees have died.
Our goal was to have a nice little organic orchard to use for our own family and sell the rest of the produce at the farmer’s market. But despite our best efforts, all of our trees have been eaten by deer, or have fallen victim to some sort of fungal wilt. We’ve sprayed every organic spray known to mankind and erected several fences, nettings, and deer deterrents and nothing has worked.
For now, I’m done planting fruit trees as this venture is not worth the hassle.
-Growing a large garden
For the second year in a row, our garden has been a complete failure. Last year I was pregnant and was close to being bedridden for most of the pregnancy. This year I was raising a toddler, wrote a book and started a new farm business. The garden barely got planted and once it was in the ground, it was never weeded. It looked like a jungle.
While I don’t want to get rid of the garden completely, we need to make the garden smaller and easier to weed and harvest. I always go crazy in the spring and figure that if we have an abundance we can sell the extras at the farmer’s market. But it never happens. We’re too busy with other things right now to designate complete evenings to harvesting and selling at the market.
As far as weeding, we’re thinking of adopting a complete cover of landscape fabric and making small holes to plant the plants.
We also plan on being very selective in what we plant. For example, every year I plant rows of cabbages with the intention of fermenting crocks of sauerkraut, making coleslaw and cabbage soup to freeze. Every year we eat one maybe two meals containing cabbage and I give the rest away or feed it to the animals. I also grow kale to put in smoothies…but I need to be honest with myself…I don’t like smoothies. It’s a weird texture thing that I don’t like, and I feel like I’m drinking foam.
We do love tomatoes and squash so I’m going to designate most of the garden to those items and include some room for herbs.
-Breeding our fiber goats
I have more fiber than I know what to do with so there’s no need at this point to add additional animals to our fiber herd.
Our dairy goats are bred, so I don’t want to overwhelm myself with kids this spring.
In looking back at the past year ask yourself these questions:
-What wasn’t a success?
-Why wasn’t it a success?
-Is there a chore, activity or task that you despise doing regardless of the profit you are making?
-Is it time to let that element of your farm go?
-Can you hire out that part of the job that is difficult for you?
As I said in the last article, be intentional with your answers. Write them down and be specific. Give yourself permission to close a chapter in your life and honor the experience and knowledge that you’ve gained.