Life on the farm has advantages and drawbacks
Kyle Donnan, a 2009 graduate of Galway High School, has always had the goal of owning his own farm one day. In August 2012, he got just that when he purchased the family farm from his father and became the 6th generation of Donnans to own and work the farm.
To prepare for his future, Kyle attended Murray State University in Kentucky on a rifle scholarship and majored in Agriculture Business. Kyle graduated from MSU in May 2012 with a bachelor of science degree.
So how is life on the farm now? The current projects that are taking place include clearing out stone walls and putting up new electric fence, ultimately breaking his land into usable pastures for the beef cows. At the moment, Kyle has 60 head of beef cattle, which are made up of Murray Greys, Angus and mixed breeds. These cattle are sold locally as freezer trade beef, which means that it is sold directly from the farm to the consumer. Kyle’s goal is to reach 1,000 head of cattle in the next 9 years.
In addition to the cattle, Donnandale Farm also sells square and round bales of hay and straw, high moisture shelled corn and pork.
Owning and managing a farm is no easy task, as Mrs. Donnan, Galway High School tech teacher and Kyle’s mother, stresses. Many obstacles come with being a farmer, some that years of hard work and dedication don’t make any easier. For example, there are no guarantees you are going to make a certain amount of money every year. This is due to market prices, which are dictated by factors such as weather, government pricing and consumer demand.
Additionally, price increases for farm supplies, feed, fuel and equipment play a major role in the year-to-year profitability of a farm. Expanding a farm and adding human labor are other areas where additional costs come into play.
Mrs. Donnan explained the difficulty of being a small farm operation and trying to find smart and reliable people who want to work for you. Wages for employees are directly related to the profit that is gained when selling a product; therefore, if a product doesn’t sell for much, the paychecks reflect that.
Another reality of farming is the immense work and dedication it takes in order for the farm to be successful. As Mrs. Donnan says, it is not a get rich quick scheme. You must be available 24/7, and sick days don’t happen. You must prepare for a worst-case scenario in the market prices for the next year, because you never know if they will be low or high.
Despite all the challenges that come with owning and operating a small farm, there are multiple advantages to be had. For example, local farms impact the local economy by creating jobs, generating revenue for local establishments through purchases and the circulation of money, and bringing more money for the county, town and schools through taxes.
Purchasing farm produce locally is good for both the environment and our health. Local produce only has to travel as far as the farm to the farm stand or farmers market. This means that the food is fresher due to not having to travel cross-country or even overseas before it makes it to your kitchen. Additionally, the short travel distance also results in fewer carbon emissions and decreased use of fuel needed in order to make the trip.
Local food, such as freezer trade meat and fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, do not contain the preservatives, artificial colors, additives and chemicals that are commonly found in processed foods. When you do buy fresh and local produce, you notice that it does not have as long of a shelf life as frozen or canned produce, but that is a positive sign that ensures the consumer that their purchase is truly authentic and natural. As for meat, when buying locally you can guarantee that the beef comes from a single cow, not hundreds all mixed together.
So if you’re ready to support local farms, think about visiting the Galway Farmers Market, coming next summer, where you’ll find fresh and local nourishment, including sweet corn, eggs, pork and beef from Donnandale Farm.