What Gets Measured Gets Done: Book One

Author’s Note:  This post is part two in a continuing series outlining my progress on a promise made on SQL Cruise Alaska to read and report back on 12 books that I will read to advance or enhance my career.  Many of my Cruisers, their Guests, and my fellow Educators rose to this challenge presented by Buck Woody (blog|twitter) in his first presentation on SQL Cruise.  If you’re reading this post then most-likely you’ll see this topic develop in other blogs from those individuals you follow. 

My first book may raise a few eyebrows considering:

A.  It’s about farming.

B.  I’m not about farming.

So why would a suburban geek pick “Growing A Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land” by Kurt Timmermeister as his first book to read in a challenge to enhance his professional cache? 

Because it’s only about farming on the surface.

You learn about farming practices, the organic movement, the red tape involved with governmental oversight of the food supply, intricacies of mating hogs of different sizes, and the industrialization of “food” as we call it now (though not as thorough as another book I’ll recommend: Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food:  An Eater’s Manifesto“) as a by-product of following a man’s decision to follow a dream that is on a tangent plane to his life as he was living it.  Mr. Timmermeister was a successful restaurateur in Seattle.  In spite of his success, he began to get the idea to buy a small plot of land – perhaps even an established farm, and live off the land; perhaps make a go of commercial success from agriculture on a small scale.  Finally settling on a plot of long disregarded orchard land on Vashon Island west of Seattle, he lived in the former chicken coop at first.  The Author cleared brambles, raspberry bushes and errant trees from the property and thus began his now 20 year journey from those humble beginnings through craft cheese production, raw milk, vegetables, fruit trees, hog breeding, and learning how to correctly slaughter and butcher a pig.  Surprisingly it does NOT start with making it sit through Season 1 of The Bachelor or listening to Lady Ga Ga as that is considered animal cruelty.  These are all interesting things to to read about, particularly right before bed most nights or while eating a lazy Sunday breakfast on the porch. 

This book is truly about perseverance, success through repetitive failure, and sticking to your vision while retooling that vision as you discover new things – carving the rough edges from it when your experiences show you that it’s necessary.  How often do you find yourself trying to shove the square peg into the non-quite-square hole because you’re damned sure if you just push harder it will go in because you know what you’re doing? 

Well my friends that’s called tunnel vision. 

 Or obstinacy. 

Neither breeds success.  Learning new things, retooling old conclusions based upon lessons learned and experience.  That is how you succeed.  And that is what I learned in this book.

For a more professional review of “Growing A Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land” by Kurt Timmermeister I recommend checking out one of my favorite publications, The Stranger.