If you’re one of the six people who read this blog, which, by the way, you can now subscribe too (would really boost my confidence if you did so) you’re probably wondering where I’ve been. Busy running a farm? Scrambling to get out chicken orders? Sure. All of those things have kept me busy but the real reason I haven’t posted is because I lacked a desk and a chair to sit in. Or at least that was my excuse a month ago. Now I have a chair and desk but the aforementioned things have kept me off-line.
Well I’m back now, so, without further ado, let’s jump right in to something important everyone, regardless of occupation should memorize: three mantras to live by. Okay, okay, two mantras apply to almost everyone; the last one is pretty much chicken-farmer specific but it could be easily adjusted to fit many occupations.
Mantra One: It is what it is
Farming is therapeutic (shock therapy is in fact therapy, right?) in that it teaches the farmer to let go and accept the things she cannot change. It is absolutely amazing the number of things in my world, which is small and confined mainly to my house and my own business, that I have no control over. Zero. Zip. Nada. NO control. What’s a girl to do when things go disastrously wrong, or even just slightly wrong? She repeats, “it is what it is” over and over again as a way of accepting events beyond her control or irreversible outcomes. Take a look at the following examples:
- Water hoses spontaneously blow holes and water spews everywhere on the one morning I have to be somewhere at a certain time. It is what it is.
- Birds arrive dead in the mail from the hatchery. It is what it is.
- It’s over 100 degrees for the upteenth day in a row. It is what it is (repeat this for every over 100 degree day!)
- Power goes out after a very rough day in the field when we’re finally ready to START processing at 10pm. It is what it is.
- The misters fail and 94 birds die in one afternoon. It is what it is. Goddamnit.
- The misters fail a week later and 76 ready-to-process birds die in 30 minutes time. Alright I get it: It is what it is!
You get the idea. Next time you stub your toe, slam your fingers in the door and spill coffee on yourself all while headed to some super important meeting or the like, just take a deep breath, cuss a little, beat on the steering wheel, rear-end that overpriced, gas-guzzling SUV slowing you down in traffic and repeat after me: IT is what it IS. Far from soothing, but oh-so-true.
Mantra Two: Perfect is good but done is better
Alright, all you half-assers out there, this one does not apply to you. This mantra belongs only to those perfectionists who try to take imperfect things and situations and perfect them. Examples of this used to abound, but I’m to a new point of desensitization that I just don’t care about perfection anymore, after all it is what it is. Here are the examples I could remember:
- I will build the best hover (a hover is the temperature controlled “box” that houses our heat lamps so the chicks don’t get too cold) known to man. Oh wait, my chicks are smothering each other and dying while I toil away trying to make this perfect. Perfect is good but done is better.
- My processed chickens will be gorgeous. Holy smokes this one patch of wispy feathers won’t come clean. Chickens galore are piling up for me to process. Oh, and it’s still raw chicken – raw chicken just isn’t going to be considered pretty by many people. Perfect is good but done is better.
- I will move the coops daily and put them into a perfectly STRAIGHT line. Oh wait, the coops are on pasture complete with holes, hills, and brush. I can’t get them into a straight line without pulling out the weed-eater and chainsaw. Perfect is good but done is better.
Mantra Three: Chickens are not widgets
This originally started out as my friend Jane’s explanation of why we can’t always meet certain customer demands. It quickly became a mantra for me and would serve other beginning chicken farmers well. Many instances need this mantra but here are the ones that come to mind:
- Oh my God, these birds should all weigh 4.2 – 4.7lbs at six and a half weeks old but not one of them is over 3.9lbs!!! Chickens are not widgets.
- I need 94 birds to dress out at 2.75 – 3.25lbs each, but only 92 are perfect – two others have bruises. Chickens are not widgets (that’s why I always pull extras).
- A customer wants to increase their order by 70% starting next week. Chickens are not widgets.
This mantra as I use it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all type mantra. But switch out “chicken” with some other animal or person and you’re good to go.
Now you have all of the tools necessary to deal with most of life’s speed bumps. The trick is getting yourself to believe these mantras whenever you need to use them.