At Polyface, we only raise meat chickens in the summer because that’s when they can be out on pasture. We work in the woods in the winter because that’s when the wood is better, since the sap is down. And the rattlesnakes aren’t around, either. This ebb and flow in the work cycle feeds our emotions with down times and sprint times. Enjoy this flow.
Industrial animal operations, in contrast, run full bore all the time. No breaks. Consequently workers get burned out, owners get burned out, and the children don’t want any part of it. In fact, most farm parents don’t want their kids to farm. That’s why the average American farmer is now almost 60 years old. The business axiom that puts age 35 as the median for any thriving economic sector is real.
In the winter we spend days just lounging around the fire reading books and playing board games. Yes, we sprint in the spring, summer, and fall, but we always have that light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. We’re excited to see the last broiler go into the freezer in the fall because we’re rich and tired. We’re just as excited to see the new chicks arrive in the spring because we’re rested and poor.
We have many customers who push us to defy the seasons, build a confinement poultry house, and go into year-round production. But that would not only compromise our pastured product integrity, it would put us on a treadmill. Are you on a treadmill?
I recently visited a large e-corporation and all the employees I talked with were frustrated that they could never get breathing room. The pace became faster each month; expectations higher. Schedule some downtime. Some R&R. And let the business enjoy cyclical movement. It will energize everyone’s batteries. The assumption that scaling up the corporate ladder requires us to sacrifice our families and marriages is an unrighteous, evil axiom in America. Our frenetic, work-aholic lifestyles, contrary to popular opinion, are highly abnormal in the continuum of human history. The times of our lives will always trump the paychecks of our lives.