Episode 25: What Raising Pigs Taught Me About Being a MompreneurJul 20, 2021
Jenn Uren shares the experience she and her family had raising pigs and chickens and what that taught her about being a mompreneur
This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 25
For the past two episodes, we have had a chance to talk with two moms about homesteading, homesteading, and hobby farming. And if you haven't had a chance to listen to them, check them out. They're episodes 23 and 24. And I will put a link in the show notes below.
Now several summers ago, my older three kids and I had the opportunity to get a taste of homesteading and hobby farming. A group of homeschooling families, we all joined together to raise some pigs and several chickens. Now the end goal was to have them butchered to fill our freezers with meat. Side benefits included helping our kids better understand where their food came from, as well as giving them some opportunities to have some regular responsibilities. There were morning chores and evening chores, each of which included some aspects of feeding the animals cleaning, their living quarters, and you know, other things that needed to be done to ensure that they remained healthy and alive as we raised them over that summer.
Now, at the end of the summer, we were so thankful for this experience, the pigs had grown to be over 300 pounds each and we had some pretty amazing meat in our freezer. But we were equally thankful that it was over. Now that said there were several things, though, that I learned from raising pigs, that not only applied to being a mompreneur, but can make life easier. And I am all about making life easier.
So the first of these things that I learned from raising pigs was that it's good to do things yourself. Raising the pigs and chickens was a family affair, several families, in fact, but none of us had really had experience raising animals before. So one mom was in charge of each type of animal. And she kind of worked it out, worked the system, figured out what needed to be done and then she taught the adults how to do it. We then did the work and figured it out and taught our kids. So each family got to the point where we could easily begin to delegate specific aspects of the chores so that we could, you know get in and out fairly quickly. But the delegation only worked because beyond understanding what needed to happen or be done, I understood how it needed to happen or be done. I understood the process.
Now pigs are very clean animals. Seriously, don't let the mud fool you. They're clean animals. And they don't like rolling around in their own filth. So just like with a dog in the yard, we had to pick up after the pigs. By knowing what was involved with that chore, I had an appreciation for what needed to happen, how long it should take, when it needed to be done, and how to know that the task was completed. So understanding the process helped me to know how specific pieces fit together.
So as a mompreneur, it is good to start out doing some things yourself. For example, when it comes to producing this podcast, I do most of the steps myself. I plan the topic, I invite the guests, I schedule the interview, I write the questions or the content, I audit the transcription, I prepare the social media, I upload the edited files, and I add everything to the website. By doing these things, I understand what is needed. I understand how long it takes, and how to know if the task is completed. And - this might be the most important part of all - how they all fit together. It gives understanding of the order in which it needs to happen, and also why the steps are important.
So the second thing I learned from raising pigs, you don't have to do it all yourself. Now this is actually the opposite side of the same coin of do things yourself. It's, it's related. When it came to pigs and chickens, there were some things I didn't enjoy, specifically, picking up after the pigs and getting fresh water for the chickens. When it came to overseeing the animal chores, you can bet that these were some of the first things the specific tasks that I would delegate to my kids. But knowing what was involved, I knew which child I could delegate to I knew how long it should take them and I knew how to inspect the work to know if it had been done well. There were also some jobs I did enjoy, but that just didn't make sense for me to do because they were jobs that my youngest daughter could easily handle.
So the same is true is mompreneurs. There are some things in our businesses that we can delegate. And usually we do this by hiring someone either to work regularly, or as a contractor for a specific job or project. So using my podcast example, I can better decide which aspects I could hire a VA to do and which pieces it makes more sense for me to continue to handle. But it might also mean that I need to let go of things that I do enjoy, because they're easy to delegate while there are things that only I can do.
So knowing when to let someone else come in, and help may be one of the hardest parts of being a mompreneur. We are wired to believe we can handle it all. And we might even have the skill to do it. But just because we can do it doesn't mean we should do it.
The third thing I learned from raising pigs; everything has a trade off. Now the pigs were actually a lot of fun. They had personalities. And we can see week after week that they were growing bigger and bigger. And we looked forward to the end of the summer when we would ship them off to the butcher and simply pick up our packaged meat a few weeks later. And bonus, all the pigs survived the summer. So it was a relatively easy process.
The chickens, however, were another story. Chickens are not very intelligent. It was not uncommon to arrive in the morning and discover that a chicken had slept by the open door to the co- to the coop and had froze to death overnight. Over the summer, I think we lost almost half of the flock, just because they did things like that. They're not intelligent. The chickens also didn't experience growth quite as extreme as what the pigs did. And they certainly grew. But while the pigs could keep going, we had to make sure that the chickens didn't get to be too big or their hearts would give out on them. Plus, we were going to actually butcher the chickens ourselves as families.
So chicken processing day was an experience for sure. I will never forget this. And I have a new understanding of the phrase "running around with like a chicken with its head cut off". processing the chickens required several different steps and lots of us to accomplish it. It was hard work. And at the end of that entire experience we went home with one processed chicken. One. The time that went into feeding them the cost of the food the feed the time to process them, made that the most expensive chicken I have ever eaten. Never have I been so thrilled to pay 79 cents or 99 cents a pound.
There's a trade off time versus money. Knowing where my food came from versus simply choosing the grocery store. I had to decide what was more important. And as a mompreneur, there are trade offs. Do I spend my time on something or do I spend money to hire someone to do it? Do I work around my kids schedule or do I create their schedule so I can work? Do I cook dinner every night? Am I saying no to mom's group so I can say yes to building my business? Am I saying no to checking emails once more, so I can say yes to playing with my kids?
In a few weeks, we're actually going to talk about a filter through which to make decisions like this. So be on the lookout for that. But for now understand that it is important to know what your "why" is, so that you can choose your trade offs wisely.
The fourth thing I learned from raising pigs is that routines keep everyone on the same page. Part of taking care of the pigs and chickens was certainly the chores but those chores were part of a bigger picture. They were part of a regular routine. And having these routines ensured that nothing was missed. But when something was missed, it was fairly obvious to the next shift as it caused a ripple effect. And so it was addressed.
The same is true as a mompreneur routines can be leveraged to make sure that nothing is missed. But more than that routines give us mental energy to invest into creating. It keeps us on our own same page. We talked a lot about routines in Episode 22, so if you haven't heard that one yet, check it out. But routines can make all the difference.
The fifth thing I learned from raising pigs is the power of a transition. My very favorite part of that summer of farming was actually getting up early - like 5am - to go and do my farm chores. I chose Sunday mornings, and there was something very special about rolling out of bed before my family, arriving at the farm as the sun was rising, and enjoying the tranquility of the farm. It was a peaceful way to transition into Sunday morning. And when I got home, the family was just starting to stir. But instead of starting my Sunday with a jolt out of bed and racing around, I eased into it.
As a mompreneur transitions are an important part of the rhythm of your day, especially when it comes to starting and ending your day. When I transition into work, and out of work, I'm able to be present in my work, and present with my family. But when I just work in the cracks, it's easy to not really be present for either. Transitions don't need to be huge, they can be as simple as closing a door. When the office door is closed, you're at work and not available. But when it's open, you are. It might be putting on shoes to signal that you're working in slippers when you're "home". Or maybe it's the walk between home and the bus stop. So when you leave the bus stop to head for home, you're transitioning into entrepreneur. And when you leave home to head back to the bus stop at the end of the school day, that signals it's time to transition back to mom.
The sixth thing I learned from raising pigs is just because you did it doesn't mean you have to keep doing it. Or another way to say this is pivot. You aren't obligated to do it again. Or maybe not the same way again. And that's exactly what raising pigs and chickens was for me. I loved being on the farm. I did not love farming. If I ever have the chance to live on a farm where someone else does all the work, I would take that in a heartbeat. But I am still grateful for the experience that I did have. It served a purpose and it accomplished a goal.
So the same is true for mompreneurs, you have permission to only make decisions for this next year or season. You are not obligated to do it for the rest of eternity. You might decide to do an in person event this year, and hear me on this. Even if it goes well, you are not obligated to do it again. Or this might be when you refer back to number two and bring in someone else to do it. Either way, you have the freedom to make the choices that fit best for you, your family, and your business.
The seventh thing that I learned from raising pigs is you can involve the whole family. Raising the pigs was a family affair, we all did it. Sometimes all of us together, sometimes just a couple of us would would go. But at the end of the summer, however, when we all sat down to enjoy the bounty of our work, we all were able to take pride knowing that it was a shared experience.
The same is true of our businesses. As mompreneurs, we have the privilege of being able to include our kids if we want to. Sometimes it's an opportunity to nurture a natural interest. And other times it's an opportunity to teach them a skill. It can look like working side by side with you or it might be having them handle something at home so that you can focus on a work project.
So recently, a photographer I had booked was no longer available for our appointment. I was able to involve my middle daughter. It was an opportunity for me to coach her on how to take a good picture, as well as an opportunity for her to earn a few dollars. At the end of the day, we both ended up benefiting and she has an even deeper understanding of what I do, which means she can better help in some things down the road.
So am I encouraging you to raise pigs and chickens? No. You can just live vicariously through me and learn from my experience. But I am encouraging you to think about these seven things and how they play out in your life as mom and entrepreneur.