Empowerment, Innovation, Self Esteem

Farmer to a Webmaster

Allot of people already know I am a webmaster and most people seem to wonder how you would get into that sort of thing. The answer comes from curiosity; one day one of your families gets a computer and an internet connection so therefore being curious you just got to have a look. The internet have evolved mostly in the last 5 years, more and more people (web masters) are finding new ways to make money online, wither that be through internet marketing, writing and selling e-books, web hosting or just plain old services as well as using older already discovered methods of making money online. As for me, I was curious from a young age (around 13-14) at how sites like Google.com and others made their money, even at this young age I knew there was potential to make money online without working a normal 9 to 5 boring job doing the same thing over and over again for the next 30 years, scraping by on rent/mortgage.

Back then I was just browsing different sites looking into how they worked and operated, I never really understood any web programming languages such as PHP, I had heard of HTML but was never sure exactly what it was/does. Still in school I took a keen interest in farming/agriculture, it all started out when my mother bought a horse and rented out a stable on a local farm. So this meant going up to the farm every day after school and mucking out and feeding the horse. At the same time I was doing this you would see the farmer out and about with cows or the tractor, I do not know what sparked an interest in what he did, it was just there. After a few weeks of being there I decided to ask the farmer if he needed a hand, as expected he was pretty skeptical on the idea but went along with. I started out in the milking parlor one night after finishing the usual jobs with the horse, for you that do not know what a milking parlor is ill attach some images.

Work simply by cows coming in, in a cue (ours was 8 cows a side) and like you see in the image, you can see one side of the parlor and the cows lined up. The machines simply go on the cows teats simulating a calf’s mouth and carrying out the milking process.

So when I was helping out I just stood and watched how the farmer did it for a couple of nights so I could grasp what method he used to wipe down the teats and apply the machines. It’s more complicated than it sounds, you have to always look out for common diseases like mastitis, and if you were to milk a cow with a disease the full tank of milk has to be dumped down the drain (1500-3000 liters) which means some mega financial troubles for the farmer so this was my main concern at the time. So my main duties for the first couple of nights was just washing up at the end and making sure everything goes smooth (in most cases it does not). After my first couple of nights I felt confident enough to start applying the machines, looking back now I kind of jumped at it as bosses I have had after working here have had broken hands and arms from putting on these machines by cows kicking, if you can think of a 14 year olds arm against an animal the best part of a tonne it, the chances don’t look too good. So I continued to work in the parlor for about 7 weeks every day after I had done the horse.

One day the farmer approached me and asked if I would be willing to stay throughout the school holidays for 7 weeks during the summer, me being very keen and enjoying the work accepted his offer, I didn’t know what I had let myself in for and the grin on his face after I told him I would didn’t look too appealing. So summer holidays kick in and you get “free” quote un-quote. I shifted my stuff to the farm, small TV, bed clothes, my own clothes and of course my computer (remember while working here I was still investigating the web and finding out more and more everyday). My first 4 weeks on the farm felt really hard, you would be working 24/7 literally, if you weren’t working, you where either eating or sleeping, I took out 15 minutes or so before bed just to watch TV or browse the web. During the first couple of weeks I was shown how to drive, operate different machinery and administer different medicines when needed. Pretty gruel stuff to be thrown into but from my view now it done me better to be thrown into things than to be led in safely and slowly, this is how you learn fast!. after the 4 weeks of general work on the farm I was getting used to getting up at 5am to put on wellington boots and big jackets to setup the milking parlor and walk around a field herding cows to come in for milking (milking takes place twice a day, once at 6am and once at 5pm usually, depending on the farmers system).

So I got pretty used to the work, getting the odd chase from a bull is pretty intense but you can laugh after it if you have managed to jump a fence or gate in time, the rest of the weeks seemed to pass by like minutes I was so used to the whole thing. I had seen my mum 1-2 times a week when she was doing the horse and that was it, apart from that I was separated from the rest of the world which did not bother me at all. After the summer holidays school started back and had seen a great change in myself, being allot ALOT more mature, considering I had been suspended from school about 15 times in total from my previous 3 years at high school, luckily I wasn’t thrown out. Teachers had noticed a complete difference in me, I still didn’t do much work in class but I got by. You could imagine I was looking for a career in agriculture during my 4th and final year at school, so one day in an accounts class I was talking about it and the whole class ended up getting involved in the conversation, teachers as well I don’t think they noticed all work had come to a stand-still. I found myself bombarded with questions about my experience and all seemed very intrigued because farming is little known where I stay in town, it’s full of people working in shops and alike.

So after our conversation a teacher came to me after class and told me an agricultural collage was holding an open day for new students looking for courses. SAC (Scottish Agricultural Collage) is where it was held so I went along and enjoyed hearing about different courses and the general relaxed collage atmosphere. I then applied for the Diploma in Agriculture course for 1 year after I had finished my exams otherwise known as SAT’s if you’re American. I then was able to legally leave school at 15 years old, from there I passed all the exams suprisiling for someone who had been suspended about 15 times and did next to no work in class. I then joined the collage in August of 2004 and enjoyed collage life; it was extremely relaxed nothing like I expected it to be and I wasn’t alone.

Pretty easy year of my life, do your classes, go chill in a classmates dorm for a couple of hours and hit the student bar at night, it was all good. About 2 weeks before leaving collage having passed all exams and tests again I started looking for a job on a farm locally, since the one I started out on was closing down the milking part of the farm and would never be enough work to pay a wage never mind keep me going for a day. Before I started looking I went for a Category F license (Agriculture Vehicles) so I could drive tractors and different machinery out on the roads, pretty easy, almost the same as a car test although your driving something thats 5x the size. Being 16 at the time this was my first road experience. I seen an advertisement for a local farm looking for a general farm worker called up the guy, gave him what experience I had and got an interview. Went up to the farm, it was a completely different set-out to what I had been working with. I found a picture of the farm on Google so I might as well share it.

750 cows, and about 350 milking, rest where bred for beef, after a couple of days I received a phone call from the farmer to go up and have a trial day, so I went up at 12pm, he put me in a very large tractor and hooked up to a slurry tanker, then proceeded to say “you ever put out slurry Brian” (last farm I was on got contractors to put slurry out) Best way I can explain slurry is cow manure collected up in a large pit or as we call it “lagoon” it is then pumped into a tanker which holds about 1500 gallons and weighs in at 8 tones when full., here’s another picture for your viewing pleasure.

So got thrown into that and was putting out slurry back and forth for the best part of the day, quite enjoyed it because it was my first time and I got to drive, which I also love.

I worked up on that farm for about 5 weeks, before hand I had gotten a warning before I took on the job that I could not be late unless it was under extreme circumstances, I was working 12 hours a day 6 days a week, sound fun?. One Friday night I decided to go out to a nightclub with a few friends because working life was getting on top of me and got pretty drunk, by this time it was 3am and I just released that I was working in 3 hours, nevertheless I carried on drinking till about 3:30 and went home, got in my bed beforehand decided that I wasn’t going to sleep so I could get up for work, yea right, course that didn’t happen, crashed out till 10 am when I woke and relised “ohhh shit” got a life up by my father and told him to hang about at the road end of the farm because I knew the job was going to be lost. I at least expected some sort of forgiveness for my 1st time being late even though I had been warned, I found my boss doing my job of feeding the calf’s and told him sorry but I had slept, in, he replied “well, you might as well take your stuff and go home” so there went a good 20k a year job, shit happens eh?

From here I found another job within the week pretty close to where I was working previously and got the job on the spot, my boss was Irish and I had heard rumors about Irish farmers selling expensive land over in Ireland and buying bug cheap places in Scotland along with not paying staff well. We worked out 6 Pounds an hour would be an OK start and I started the next day. Worked on there for about 2 months, under constant strain from my boss about how I wasn’t doing thing how he liked them to be done etc, we call people like him a prick 🙂 worked throughout Christmas and new year for him, got 1 day off for my birthday which I nearly never got, that week I returned back to work finding my pay check was -80 Pounds what I was supposed to be paid, then entered his milking parlor with him telling me every time I work at the weekend he will give me 20 Pounds instead of an hourly rate which you could imagine I wasn’t too happy about. That night when I got home I discussed it with my parents and decided to quit the job and demand the money that was due, this was the final straw for being ignored on the farm, shouted at and now my wages had been hit. Sent out a letter demanding he paid what was owed within 28 days and of course that followed on with the usual angry phone call, but we dealt with it and I picked up my things the same day along with my check :).

That about the most cut-down version of my life starting out on the farm and it ending. During this whole process of working on the farm etc I had learned web site design and a couple of programming languages (PHP, Ajax, Java) so I then turned to web site design as a business model. I went self employed and started the business. It has been going alright, finding a steady work flow is the hardest part really and I am now moving into affiliation marketing to earn some extra cash. That about enough typing for 1 day, you now have an in-sight into my life and how it began and evolved into the internet. Hope you enjoyed reading and maybe it will inspire you into doing more or better at what you are currently doing.

Thanks, Brian Cox

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