hiring farm help

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    We're trying to get a permaculture farm off the ground and the "to do" list is growing faster than the "done" list. We're thinking that if I work through the winter at a day job, we might be able to afford some help next season.

    This started bringing up all sorts of questions. Should we focus on college kids that have an interest in organic agriculture?

    How much do we pay?

    They would need to stay here at the farm, should be buy a tipi?

    Anybody ever hired help before?
     
  2. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    It is very very difficult to find young people interested in farming and the hours and intensity of the work. Yes, you need to look for horticulture students or contact local ag teachers for seniors who need work.

    We have been through a dozen or so and have finally got two we like.
     

  3. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I haven't hired help. I AM a college student, albeit an old one. I'll say this...if you are really, really going organic permaculture, and it's 'real' enough to consider hiring semi-educated 'staff', then get thee to a University...

    But not to post job listings. Go talk to the professors in the relevant departments. A lot of areas are lacking in internship possibilities. If you talk to the right professors, and their department heads, you may be able to come up with (and get some grant funding for) an internship that the students get credit for.

    It will involve them learning something, hopefully from you. With you is dang near as good. A paper for presentation would be good. And faculty to work with is necessary. Wages are not required, but do help get kids who couldn't afford it otherwise (They'll also be paying tuition for those credit hours). Grant funding could pay for it, or you can. The profs can help you with how much, and housing ideas.

    Hey, I set up an internship for a fellow student, someplace that needed one, and I couldn't do it. So, I had a talk with the right folks, and it worked out. It can't hurt to try. It could save you money, help a student gain college credit for hands on learning, and get your chores done!

    Make a list of what needs to be done, that you need help with. Figure out what is just labor, and what is smart labor, then take the smart list, make an appointment, and go to the university! Woohoo!!

    Man, I love win-win situations!!

    Meg :)
     
  4. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good Luck!! We have been trying to hire farm help for more than 5 years. Most do not want to be hot, get dirty, or have to show up before lunch. You are supposed to provide a house ( I got a BIG chuckle out of the tipi...), complete insurance, $9-10/hour, a vehicle for their personal use, paid vacation, sick leave, and not work them more than 30 hours a week.......I forgot the IRA contributions.....
    Tana Mc
     
  5. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Montana! What exactly is a permaculture farm? I have always kind of wondered but figured it would appear dumb if i asked LOL. I am slowly starting a fruit farm here in montana( not an easy thing to do at my altitude!) Since all knowledge is good knowldege and free knowledge is even better I thought I would go ahead and ask! Kathleen
     
  6. Oilpatch197

    Oilpatch197 Well-Known Member

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    So you can't get ANYONE to work for you with those great benefits?
     
  7. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    That was one of the most rewarding jobs i ever had.But it was for old people that could no longer care for there farm.Had it just been normal folks needing help maybe i would have had it rougher and felt different.
    I loved my job checking fences/cutting fire wood weeding and running errands.what ever there needs out side of home, they had two full time employees for home duties.And me outside.if i couldn't think of anything that needed to be dint worry she would think of something! :no: The man had altimers and would have gladly gave me 100 grand just to take him to town to get a cup of coffee )like had done for several thousand mornings before) but 6 bucks an hr was fine with me.Id have done that for free anyway. The old women was some what frugal and senile at the same time.With more than three maxed bank accounts and more money than they could have spent in a hundred years she used to drive me crazy but it was still a rewarding crazy.After i filled 20 sacks full of thorn bushes for kindling (and think i really filled that) i could look back at the full out house of kindling and think.Id rather split the kindling for the every morning fire,but have her content that they had plenty for winter.She always had plenty as long as i split it and didn't go into the thorn bush stash. :D No matter what hell and high water comes to mind before i would have used any of that!

    Anyway you just need to find a young person that still values hard work for a profit in there eyes! Gas money was a profit back then! :D
    And now as then i do love hard work! Id gladdy trade a few days hard work to one day of my boring crappy job now!
     
  8. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would look for local farm kids. When you ask for help, make it be known that is just for a few days work, then keep "finding" more work for the good one (ones).
     
  9. butterflybyname

    butterflybyname New Member

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    Hi there! We would be interested in this venture if there was a place to live and we had heat in the winter and cool air in the summer in the dwelling we used. We want to learn and grow, and we would turn up before lunch. Insurance would be a must. $ 10 for my husband and $6 for me if I am allowed to only work part time. Interested then email me OK?
     
  10. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I read an article in Growing for Market by a farm couple in Maryland who used interns. These people were very knowledgeable, greatly experienced, and quite successful garden marketers in the DC farmers markets. The state came after them, declared that the interns were "migrant labor" and fell under all the requirements for same. Eventually, they ended up moving out of state. So-o-o, check your state regs about interns.

    I looked into using interns in WA state and realized that since I didn't have any experience or success yet, they couldn't send any out. You have to have something to teach them. So-o-o, I ended up paying out my capital hiring various help that was unsatisfactory at best.

    Here,a guy who delivered sand, noticed some work I needed doing and offered to help. I asked if he would like to do certain jobs around the place, and he said yes. I asked how much he charges, and he said--I kid you not--"Whatever you think is fair"!!!!!! It turns up that he can do all sorts of things, caught the vision of what I am trying to do, is innovative, and works very hard. He has done all kinds of building infrastructure. We pay him $20/hour. He brought a buddy along whom we pay $15.00. I write one check, and I think they just divide it in two. A few more weeks and I will have a finished greenhouse, many installed corner fence posts, shelves, a storage canopy for my garden equipment, many dead limbs trimmed and chipped. He will build a chicken house sometime over the winter, and I will have chickens early spring. He's been a blessing all around. He also knows where to get bargains and free stuff.

    Point being, you get what you pay for.

    Good luck,

    Sandi
     
  11. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    Well, the book on it is HUGE!

    Permaculture is beyond organic. It's a long term view of how to get your land to naturally build soil. Lots and lots of trees. Lots of diversity. Swales and terraces. Lots of ponds.

    Lots of demo farms where a patch of desert was changed into a lush farm.

    There are a few web sites that touch on permaculture, but the real meat is in the books.
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I'll look into the local university about intern-ish stuff. But I think it is best for me to not get my hopes up. This is too early in the game to be thinking I have much to teach. And a lot of the stuff that needs to get done is not exactly science.

    I like the idea of having a few days work and then coming up with a few days more for the kids that do a really good job.
     
  13. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Well-Known Member

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    My neighbor (good sized dairy outfit) has a full time hand who regularly returns to his family in Mexico (or maybe central america). He explained to me a couple years back (one white guy to another) "You can't find any white people that know the business and want to work anymore"...

    I'm sure he was exaggerating, but it might be an option. Just be sure your employees are all legal and you're not exploiting them.

    1 Timothy 5;18

    "For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward"
     
  14. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    to bad you're so far away. I'm trying to find something like this to get experience. Hell If I had the time I'd even do it for free (on a trial basis of course).
     
  15. Nette

    Nette Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Stand_Watie is right on target. The Mexican guys that have helped on our dairy and tobacco farm have been the most honest, hard-working, dependable, nice people we've ever seen. We don't ask them to do anything we haven't done ourselves. They are the best co-workers we've ever had.
     
  16. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    To bad you aren't near here. That's just the kind of thing I enjoy!
     
  17. sue currin

    sue currin Well-Known Member

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    man yall pay alot for help, I managed an organic farm with 4 full time and 3 part time hands. Did oll planting, harvesting, repair on equipment, built the barnds, houses, done all tractor work, kept every body working while doing my work. I lived 50 miles away, no ins. no gas milage when a storm hit and damaged needed tending to,all for 10 an hour. i loved the work so now I'm doing it for myself.
     
  18. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

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    :(

    One of the reasons I did not reopen my boarding business after I rebuilt my stable was that I could not find good farm help. I pay 8.00 an hour to feed horses (this consists of carrying bucket from feed room to horse at a maximum of 20 to 30 feet away, pouring feed into bucket and closing door), mucking stalls (usually done twice daily), and turning out to pasture. Work starts at 6:00 am (it gets hot down here in the south) and ends at 10:00 am, then starts again at 4:00 and goes to 8:00 in summer, in winter starts at 3:00 and ends at 7:00). Riding if person is competent and good horse person, grooming in the evenings before feeding.

    Couldn't get reliable help even though I furnished a 35 foot travel trailer for them to live in or just rest up in, let them keep any money made from lessons, etc.

    So I just gave up and didn't reopen...i hope you have better luck, seems that lots of people want a paycheck, they just want to go to the mailbox to get it.

    Sidepasser
     
  19. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Sidepasser, I would do all that -while whistling- to be near the horses (not omiting pay here :D ) . Especially if I could keep the poo for the garden (you know, the one I wouldn't have time for)!

    :waa:
     
  20. Cedar

    Cedar Well-Known Member

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    I’ve done just about everything a farmhand can do from berry/apple picker, corn picker an chucker, grain mowing and stacking, storage, was a milker on a dairy farm for awhile, trainer, shoeing, harnessing, logging, …holy crap!


    Worst job, picking strawberries in the summer heat.

    Best job, working with the draft horses. People pay hundreds…thousands of dollars for the skills I’ve learned.


    Problem with many farms I see isn’t that good help isn’t out there but the fact farmers aren’t willing to pay enough to obtain it. Some farmers simply have no concept of money management and return. Hell, there are farmers out there letting some of their fields grow over for the sheer fact they can’t pull in what they plant.

    “Hell, you just can’t find good help these days.”

    Not if you expect them to drive out six hours of hard labor, pay them $5 an hour even though you are grossing $45 an hour for their labor.

    “Well, it is my land!”

    Yes, and it is also your choice if you want it harvested or not.

    Price should parallel effort. If the job involves me being drenched in sweat and sore muscles, I think pay above $12/hr is quite reasonable.

    I worked $13.50/hr loading 50 lb. bags at the grainery. The turnover is very high. I lasted through the summer but vowed never to do it again. The pay just wasn’t there.