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You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise [Anglais] [Broché]

Joel F. Salatin

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You Can Farm Have you ever desired, deep within your soul, to make a comfortable full-time living from a farming enterprise? Too often people dare not even vocalize this desire because it seems absurd. It's like thinking the unthinkable.After all, the farm population is dwindling. It takes too much capital to start. The pay is too low. The working conditions are dusty, smelly and noisy: not the place to raise ... Full description

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  159 commentaires
278 internautes sur 284 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspirational 20 juin 1999
Par D. New - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Nothing has motivated me more than Salatin's book, YOU CAN FARM. Finally, we are doing it! Wish I'd had this book 30 years ago, but the author was a child at the time. Extremely well written, shows how a couple willing to work hard can make a profit (when was the last time the average farmer heard that word?) on 20 acres. Very tactfully explains why most farmers not only are not profitable, but often require someone working off the farm in order to maintain the lifestyle. No longer necessary. But what is necessary is some rethinking of the rules, some creative marketing of what is produced, and a need for the farmer to think of himself (once again) as an independent businessman, rather than a cog in the wheel of agri-industry. Give this one to the young person who wants to go to the land, and watch what happens!
465 internautes sur 484 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspirational, entertaining, but misguided and poorly edited 30 octobre 2010
Par Oregon Farm Mama - Publié sur Amazon.com
I read this book the year my husband and I first started our organic vegetable farm (five years ago). It was a VERY inspirational book, and at the time I wanted EVERYONE I knew to read it. Salatin is highly entertaining and motivating -- the book is well organized into topical chapters with lots of lists and bullet points. It's a great read, and several chapters are RIGHT ON (such as the chapter on what to avoid and how to deal with moving to the country).

However, there are also some big scary flaws in the book that make it somewhat dangerous in the wrong hands. First of all, Salatin's list of BEST farming enterprises is very persuasive but doesn't account for differences between farms, regions, and markets. He ranks poultry operations as being highly profitable, but today chicken feed prices in the west (can't speak for elsewhere) are so high that all the small-scale poultry operators I know have gotten out of the business. Meanwhile, new farmers keep trying to do poultry because of Salatin's book, but I have yet to see it pencil out in reality for anyone.

Also, there's a big math error in that chapter as well. While he endorses vegetable growing as a viable enterprise option, he kills it with faint praise when he says this:

"In order to move $30,000 worth of stuff, you need a lot of pounds of stuff, and you need a lot of customers. If the average person spends $600 per year on fresh vegetables (which I'm sure is a high estimate), you would need 500 customers in order to gross $30,000. Because the price per pound and average purchase is higher for animal proteins, we here at Polyface can do that volume with fewer than 100 customers, on average. That's a hefty difference."

The problem with this analysis? $600 x 500 = $300,000!!!!!!! To make only $30,000, you would actually only need **50** customers paying $600 each. Big mistakes like this really bother me, especially when they're paired with such a strong argument in favor of one thing over another ... I just wonder how many uncritical readers have read this point and turned towards livestock production rather than fresh veggies (which is what we grow on our farm -- and we have found to be HIGHLY profitable). And, by the way, our average customers spends almost $1000/year on vegetables.

I also have a hard time swallowing Salatin's aggressive marketing techniques. He admits to GIVING AWAY free pullet eggs at market even though there were other farmers selling eggs that same day. He's even proud of this decision! Here in Oregon, the best resource we have are other farmers. We try our best to cooperate, even as we compete in the same markets (some call it "cooperatition"). Giving away product or undercutting others prices is not a good way to make friends with (or be fair to) other farmers.

Finally, I think that in Salatin's enthusiasm he verges on making farming sound TOO do-able. Let me tell you: farming is hard. You CAN farm, but new farmers need to have training, knowledge, good health, physical strength, money, land, time, and energy (and much more too). I have seen so many people start up farms with big dreams but not enough resources. Some of them have made it after fumbling a lot, but many others quit.

The advice in this vein that annoys me the most is when Salatin claims you can hypothetically farm without a tractor (and goes on to recommend buying a large BCS tiller, which is nowhere near as versatile as a tractor). Meanwhile, Salatin himself has a tractor. Every successful farmer I know has a tractor. Maybe on a very small scale you can make it without a tractor, but the reality is that to really succeed, YOU NEED A TRACTOR! They're useful for so many things besides tillage. And, getting a tractor is just not a big deal -- tractors are available used in all scales and price ranges, and they're not that hard to learn how to operate.

So, in conclusion, I'd still recommend this book to a wanna-be farmer, but with some big caveats: Salatin is a highly opinionated, fairly extreme (Libertarian Christian) man who offers his advice from his particular point of view. Take it ALL with a grain of salt and be prepared to tailor everything he suggests to your own farm, region, and market.


ETA 11/28/11: I've given this review a lot of thought and reflection since I first wrote it, and I've come back now to change it a bit. First of all, I've changed the review to three stars. Really, the book probably deserves more, but I want to make sure the points I make here stand out, because I feel like they really are important to note for possible future farmers (especially the bit about math and veggies).

But, upon reflection (and reading some of the comments), I definitely have been too harsh in my attempt to offer an alternative opinion here and point out the problems that I see. I've been reading more of Mr. Salatin's work and thinking more about our own farm experience, and honestly I can't think of an author I would recommend more to an aspiring farmer (along with Wendell Berry). The thing is, (in my opinion), when Mr. Salatin gets it right, he gets it really really really right. But there are moments when his strongly voiced opinions are seriously OFF from my real world experience. I think that in all his books (including this one), Mr. Salatin consistently underestimates the real world cost of animal feed and labor. Some of this might be related to the time of writing or the region or the fact that Polyface Farm uses apprentices rather than paid employees (a system that is very useful but unfortunately not legal - there have been crackdowns on intern programs here in Oregon lately).

Overall, I think that when Mr. Salatin speaks about specifics from his personal experience, he shines, and I seriously love the man. When he starts getting prescriptive about other farms (such as the top ten enterprises list), I start to get frustrated. This is true for me with any farm writer. Ultimately, every farm is so unique that it is up to the farmer to "figure it all out." Mr. Salatin acknowledges this in every book, including this one, so hopefully that is the take-home message for readers, and I'm glad to emphasize it again here: Ultimately, YOU have to figure it all out!
200 internautes sur 209 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Practical and Unsentimental Guide to the Good Life 15 décembre 2000
Par Robert Plamondon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
In YOU CAN FARM, Joel Salatin describes just how he runs his farm and why. By sticking to the example of his own experience and his own farm, he paints a vivid, detailed, and obviously accurate picture of how he makes his living from farming, and how you can, too.
Most of the farm activities he recommends require little up-front investment or experience. One can start small and expand as one learns the ropes.
We've used many of Salatin's ideas on our farm in Oregon, and they've worked very well for us, and we know a lot of other people who've put them to work as well.
Other writers focus too much on the romance and political correctness of ecologically responsible farming. But romance and political correctness don't pay the bills. "Sustainable agriculture" has to sustain the farmer as well as the land, or it's nothing but a snare and a delusion. Salatin shows a proven path to success and profitability.
74 internautes sur 76 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Not for the faint of heart 2 juin 2007
Par Krystle, SelfmadeFarmer.com - Publié sur Amazon.com
If you don't like reality checks, don't read this book. With his no-nonsense attitude, Salatin walks you through several opportunities in farming that show tremendous potential as profitable enterprises, and he also tells you what to stay away from and why (e.g. starting a horse or alpaca farm is NOT the best way to break into farming and turn a real profit, no matter how pretty or cuddly they may be).

Yes, occasionally he does break into a radical conservative rant--but who cares what he thinks about healthcare and New York City? What matters to me is that I come away from the book equipped with knowledge that will help me make wiser decisions. For someone like me who's starting from scratch, what I want to know is how I will do things differently after reading this book, and in that regard, this book was EXCELLENT.

The most important message that Salatin drilled through my head with "You Can Farm" is this: Carve your niche first, start the farm later. Most of us have it backwards. Perhaps too many people have seen "Field of Dreams" and assume "Build it, and they will come." It simply doesn't work that way with farming. That's why so many agricultural operations depend on off-farm income and/or go out business completely.

Then there's the little fantasy of having a patch of land to call your own. I'm no stranger to it; I want to own the land I farm, too, for no reason other than I just want to. But it comes at a high cost, and Salatin won't let you forget it: "Land should only be acquired when you know what to do with it, and the size should be less important than location. Be patient and let your farming enterprise drive the land base, rather than the land base driving the farm." If you latch onto a piece of land too early on, you'll probably end up painting yourself into a corner--a tight, unprofitable corner.

And that brings me to Salatin's next major point: Stay flexible. In order to succeed in farming, you've got to be an opportunist. That means you've got to have an eye for chances to fill a niche, and be adaptive enough to fill them. If you invest in a specific type of farming, if you weigh yourself down with unnecessary expenses, or if you're too hung up on waiting for the "perfect" opportunity, then the REAL opportunities will pass you by.

This book is for farming ENTREPRENEURS: people who need to turn a solid profit from farming in order to pursue it at all. If you're interested in having a farm more for a lifestyle than for a living, or if you don't mind working an outside job, or if you're at all squeamish about livestock and everything it entails (including "processing" and "culling"), then you may prefer titles by Eliot Coleman and the like. But if you want to learn how to approach farming as a business, this is a must-have.
103 internautes sur 108 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book ! 1 mars 2002
Par Brent Railey - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book is not designed to give you exact deails on a farming enterprise, his other books do that well. This is a book designed to show you that YOU CAN FARM. It gives you the appropriate perspective to take when beginning a farming enterprise. I have read all of his books and this is one intelligent man. While you may not agree with all of his personal views, if you want to start farming, READ THIS BOOK FIRST!!! My family did well in their agricultural enterprises when they followed methods similar to Salatins. When they began using so called "conventional" methods, profits went down, work increased and headaches abounded. This is a must read for anyone thinking about farming. One of the few times you will see farming presented in a positive light.
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