The Barry Farm

Pasture Raised Red Wattle Hogs, Dorper Lambs, Pasture Raised Chicken, Citrus and Blackberries

A farmers biggest asset is failure



Plenty of it to go around:

We have had a hell of a winter even though we live in the sunny mid gulf coast.  The cold has come and lingered and the drought that has persisted over the last few years has received it’s karmic shift.   As soon as the standing water thinks of receding we have another large rainfall event that ensures my rubber boots become the staple of my wardrobe.  But as much as it is disheartening for the farm family our empathy for our animals is enough to make us do whatever it take to care for them.  They have had a relentless slog through muck for months now still doing their best to maintain condition and be productive.  Despite the odds being against us each day we do our best to be gracious, thankful and optimistic that this too will pass.   For sure I am not the first farmer to lament the weather.

If anything though I try to see the lessons in life that are revealed through the daily routine.  Not so much the anvil falling from the sky stuff that makes a man change his course, but more so the repetitious mundane appearing things.  After all I believe that this is where the battle for the heart is won and lost.   What I have come to conclude this winter is something that the Smith family has been all along I just never gave it much of a name or credence so far.  It is something that can be both learned and modeled and it turns out that it has an official academic name: Grit.    This is apparently an objective quality and if you don’t believe me take the test from the University of Pennsylvania here and get a 1 to 5 score of grittiness.  I’ve had the privileged of being raised in a family that has know it’s share of obstacles and as it turns out the key to grittiness is seeing goals as a marathon and not a sprint and accepting that failure is essential to the process.    Instead of the tendency to grade our day as pass/ fail I was lucky enough to have an environment where growth and effort were more important than short sighted “successes”.    Ask a kindergartner what they want to be when they grow up and you will get every answer under the sun.  They aren’t aware of limits yet and see everything as possible.    Mary Cay Ricci author of “mindsets in the classroom ” concluded that the change in fixed vs growth mindsets in kindergartners vs 3 graders is a 60% decrease in growth minded children, meaning the third grader is not likely to aspire to be a princess anymore and is learning that some goals “can’t ” be reached and fixes on lower goals.   In 3rd grade we have already institutionalized the reduction of ‘grit’ as a tenancy for our children.  Before I read that I was under the assumption that a child’s world naturally got bigger through this time of exploration, but to my chagrin what kids actually seem to be learning is how to grow up and be realistic.


Here is my point and why I mention it.  The lessons our kids see in us as a family farm are slowly taught and hard won.  They are learning something more valuable than being educated and what they learn will last them a lifetime.  They learn grit: they see daddy going out in the rain when it’s cold and mommy up late preparing them and our home for the next day.  They’ve seen me use tools to craft things for the farm and home and helped as Renee bakes homemade bread and cans our produce for later use.   They say thank you to me for ‘working so hard’ for them and help mommy pull weeds in the garden.  They are seeing and learning how to have Grit…..just like I did.     Now if you are a person that has Grit, please don’t hide it our world is suffering from this lack of diligence.  If you are not a gritty person and want to be,  find one and for God’s sake don’t talk to him about it but rather lend him a hand with what he is working on.   And when you feel like quitting and he keeps working then ask him “why he does this”.






4 thoughts on “A farmers biggest asset is failure

  1. Great post. An old favorite of mine .. “That which does not kill us .. only makes us stronger.” FN

  2. And in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, one the grittiest men who ever lived, “Never, never, never give up!” So what was your grittiness score. I went ahead the took the quiz. I got a 3.88. Not as good as I had hoped, but apparently it means that I have at least 70% more grit than the rest of the US population.

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