What we've learned from abandoned business ventures

What we've learned from abandoned business ventures

Have you ever tried our pork?

If you've ever been in a farm shop, you will see a catch-all area. At our farm, it seems the catch-all place explodes if I don't watch it like a hawk. During recent remodeling of our coffee break room, I ran across the sign you see in the photo.

This sign is over 25 years old, and says, "Try Our Pork, Ethan Cox." 

My parents successfully fed hogs in the 1970s and 1980s. They built new confinements through the years, and were feeding over 1,000 at a time during the 1990s. The market bottomed out in the late 90s, and Dad exited the business. Most neighboring farmers also left, and Dad held on a little longer than most.

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This sign, found during a recent remodel, was a reminder of our family's hog business, which we discontinued in the late '90s.

I was in my early teens at that time, and I do remember being a bit sad when the last hogs left the farm.  Our place doesn't look like a hog farm any more, as we use one building for storage, one as our seed shed, and grow crops where the open lots once existed.

Finding this sign led to a conversation about trying new things, success, failure, and abandoning what does not work. Leaving the hog business may have been a blessing, because Dad was able to focus on expanding the crop acreage and other opportunities.

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I have learned that we must constantly grow, adapt, and change in our business. It may appear that a farmer simply plants, harvest, tills, feeds cattle, bales hay, etc. However, the way we do these things changes every season and practically every day. We try different kinds of tilling, cattle feed rations, seed, and more -- all attempts to find the best way of doing things.

Next week I'll cover some of our additional business ventures we abandoned, and what we learned.

The opinions of Maria Cox are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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