Do you dream of owning your own farm? Well, if the only experience you have with farming is from TV shows and commercials, you probably have no idea of the kind of work you're setting yourself up for. So before you run out and buy a farm and learn your lesson the hard way, take the time to read our article on farm work. It's just an overview, but it can burst your little fantasy bubble and bring you back to reality, helping you make an informed decision.

First of all, farm life starts early. If you think that farmers sit on their decks all morning sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying the view of all the land they own, think again. Farmers are up and at 'em very early - sometimes even before sunrise. A lot of farm work is done early, especially if you have animals, who will need to be checked up on, fed, and milked. And if you're not up early enough, the animals will let you know - in the loudest way they know how.

Most of the work that needs to be done on a farm, from feeding animals to sowing seeds to harvesting crops can only be done in daylight. Farm fields are so large that lighting them at night is prohibitively expensive, so the tractors get driven in the daytime. Farmers get started at first light to get maximum daylight value and then knock off as soon as the sun goes down. This means a lot of early nights for farmers, leaving little time for going out to bars or movies or hosting dinner parties.

Farming is not a job for hermits. When you think of all the work that needs to be done - animals cared for, crops taken in, horse waterers filled up, equipment repaired - it's way too much for one person to do alone. Farmers need at least a spouse to help them, and usually have a brood of kids to help out as well. If you don't, you'll probably need to hire some itinerant or live-in laborers to help out.

You can't just become a farmer overnight or by reading a how-to book. Most farmers were trained in farming from an early age by their families or went to agricultural college or both. This is because farmers need to be Jacks and Jills of all trades. They need to manage crops, fix tractors, diagnose minor ailments among the animals, and know when what crops need to get planted and harvested.

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