So I found myself comforting someone I very much care about on Valentines Day.  She had just broken up with her boyfriend the night before.  I tried to put a brave face on and assure her that part of dating is not only finding the right one, but finding the wrong ones.  Its sort of like trying new foods- you sometimes have to go through those you don’t like to find the ones you really like.  I was in college when I found out I really liked sour cream on my baked potatoes, and pizza was a good thing.  It was also that time, that sushi went on the maybe not so much list.

As the phone call ended a voice in my head went off – do you really believe that?  Do you trust that all of the things you are trying will result in a better outcome.  Sometimes yes I do, and sometimes no.

I guess in farming, as in life, we have to keep moving, trying new things and discovering what works.  Its ok to stop and rest, and it is helpful if we have others who can encourage us when we get down.  In the end though, we keep moving, growing and learning.

This Flame Azalea blooms just once a year for about 2 weeks.  You see, it is located about 5 miles up in a place called Gregory’s Bald in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Getting up to Gregory’s Bald is a hike – 5 and a half miles of up.  It seems like there are 50 switchbacks as you go up to Gregory’s Bald.  To my eye’s, every switchback seemed to be the one that would lead to the bald, and after climbing for a half hour, I turned the corner only to realize that there was another switchback.  A time to rest, a time to encourage each other, and on we would go.  Until finally, we were on top of the mountain.  

And so it is with life, and in particular farming.    We just have to keep going.  

I have to admit it is easier to write and say, than to do sometimes.  


The question is often asked, Why Plan?  On the face it is a simple enough question.  

When I was a teenager, I was a master at adapting to ad hoc situations, and planning was a burden and a waste of time – or so I thought. 

As I moved into college, life changed.  The challenges that came up were more formidable, and fighting two dragons at the same time became more difficult.  

It was then that I discovered that had I taken the time to plan and manage my activities better, I would have only been fighting one dragon.  I am fortunate to have learned this lesson early in life, and over the years it has become something of a journey to move from to do lists, to project plans to detailed business plans.  

It is the same way on a farm.  Every day is a new challenge.  Knowing and having a good handle on the everyday challenge means that animals get fed, plants get watered, and daily life is more predictable.

Invariably though, life happens and new challenges arise.  Even as I write this, our fields bubble with the runoff of almost 2 inches of rain which fell this morning.  

A complaint that I sometimes hear when talking about planning with people goes something like this – ‘But planning cramps my style’, or ‘I hate to plan because it stifles my creativity’. 

I can’t tell you how much I identified with that sentiment.  And I can’t tell you how liberating a great plan is to a creative person.  Having worked with and without a plan, and being a creative person – having a great plan has freed me up to be MORE creative – not less.

When I look at Farmers, and Farming in total – they are an incredibly creative group.  When you think of all the innovations that farmers have brought to the world.   

Having great systems allows farmers to be more creative – in solving the problems that arise throughout the year, and in finding clever new ways to market and deliver their products.


Have you ever thought about how you plan your season.  One great way to think about it is to use a trick that Project Managers use – the 5 W’s

  • Why
  • Where
  • What
  • When
  • Who

Applied to Crop Planning

  • Why am I planning these Flowers?
  • Where will I plant these (What do my beds and fields look like)?
  • What will I plant?
  • When will I plant these Flowers?
  • Who will plant these Flowers, and Who will I grow the Flowers For.

 You can learn more from this video which talks more about the 5W’s of planning .