Idealist, Artisan, Guardian, or Rational?
It can be beneficial to pigeon-hole yourself into a thought experiment just to see what comes out on the other side. As a teacher I’ve taken numerous personality tests over the years and can tell you confidently that I am a Green- Rational- INTJ- with- learning- and- command- focused- strengths.
While the staff development leading to these revelations was well-intentioned, the facts of the matter never played much into my practice as an education professional. In short, the job is what it is and I don’t have a ton of latitude in what I do every day. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it often and act accordingly in my personal life (especially when it comes to trip planning or farm management.)
To start organizing your life around your personality, type one must begin with a test. I recommend the Keirsey Temperament test found here. Get as caught up in the details as you like, but sometimes it’s better to just get on with your life. Whether your focus is on farm, outdoor fun, or both, see the sections below to help get a start on your outside spring plans.
In the early 20th century Roald Amundsen purposely froze a ship into the pack ice for two winters in an effort to reach the North Pole. If the first thought that comes into your head is that this might be a useful way to spend 2.5% of your life expectancy, you are probably reading the correct section of this post.
Extreme elements will likely dominate the planning process of an Idealist. Just as in Amundsen’s day, the demands of modern life will preclude most of us from a forced seal and walrus meat cleanse. But that doesn’t mean you should compromise on whatever trip you are spending your weekend on.
As an idealist, plan to do at least one thing 100%. For example, spring for the carbon gunnels when you order that ultra-light canoe, you will appreciate the feel of the fibers under your hands as you lift that boat overhead right before you tackle the 2,720 rods (8.5 miles) of the Grand Portage.
Just face it, you are going to have to take it to the limit with at least a few of your on-farm projects. Odds are you already have reusable ziplock bags and tirelessly scrape and season your heirloom cast iron pan. The “normal” people might get concerned when they see where you put your efforts next, but that’s their own fault for wasting so much effort on eyebrow-raising.
The opportunities for an Idealist on the farm are endless when any animal or crop can be leveled up at any time. One idea that I always thought would be fun but never pursued due to a heavy case of rationalism would be to harvest downed oak logs on a weekend canoe trip and then use them to grow shiitake mushrooms in a shady spot of the yard or an unused corner of a shed.
But don’t let me pigeonhole your fun. Pick your favorite food, turn on some Eagles music, and make a plan to grow it in the most extreme way possible.
An outsider looking in might tell you to just show up and do what you want. That is, recreate on a whim so to speak. But honestly, I don’t think that is really what being an artisan is really about. As a performer of sorts, you might feel at home providing an experience for others. Better yet, use your skills to promote the outdoors every chance you get. Odds are you have a deep perception of the value in nature and others will follow your lead when they see the grandeur in your plans.
The ground we borrow from God is the canvas through which we paint a portrait of nature. No statement could be more applicable to the Artisan who will see agriculture as a means of self-expression. In seeing the farm as an ecosystem, your palette isn’t limited to colors and harsh lines. Rather, the artistic farmer uses the gifts of nature to construct a system that is aesthetically pleasing. Focus on companion plantings in the garden and pair animals to places where they fit the micro-climate. Avoid permanent structures and don’t hesitate to re-organize when the mood suits you.
Every day is a step towards a more perfect companionship between human effort and the environment.
Guidebooks are going to be your friend. And for good reason, if someone was already successful, why reinvent the wheel. While striving to be the next Lewis and Clarke is a noble endeavor, the reality is most of the day to day or even year-over-year trips we do have been mapped out previously. To get the best experience, most Guardians will follow these tips to the letter and as such, will be sure not to miss much on the trip. Anyone with a different personality type will criticize you for being too rigid in your planning but who cares, they’ll miss half of whatever there is to do and that’s their problem.
Straight rows and right-angle corners might be in order here. In fact, there is nothing wrong with this approach, there is a reason that large producers keep things organized and if you are a guardian you should, too.
As for what to plant straight or pen into squares, the options might be overwhelming. Don’t let this advice hold you back, but if I was a Guardian I’d get really good at one or two things before moving on. Look at your grocery list, pick out the most common items by volume and then focus your efforts on whatever sees the most consumption. On this farm, it would be beef and Brussel sprouts. Stemming from a love for large animals, our beef is superb, but sadly, lacking a Guardian in our household to actually follow the instructions on the seed packet, the Brussel sprouts either succumb to weed-filled neglect or lack in sunlight due to poor placement.
Search out trips that combine activities, think multi-day triathlon but with many different options to choose from. For instance, I once Kayaked the Brule River in Northern WI. After a night in a primitive campground, we headed up to kayak the sea caves on the south shore of lake superior and ended up spending the rest of the day on the beach. A Rational will benefit from a series of experiences that fit together. There is as much fun in the doing as there is in the planning; but only if the plan is new, don’t try to take a canned trip, it won’t be epic enough.
In homesteading and agriculture, Rationals will benefit from a systems approach. Try to have at least 2 (or more) items that work together. As a Rational, I enjoy rotationally grazing cattle and using chickens as the nitrogen input to my pasture. The fitting together of grass, cows, and birds appeals to my analytical nature and provides enough room for growth to keep me interested.
If cattle are too much for your homestead consider combining just about any animal with a garden. A friend of mine once rotated pigs between two different gardens year after year. And if starting small is a necessity, chickens in a small coop can provide enough fertilizer for a few raised beds.
Coming up next week: Epic Couples Trips in Minnesota Based on Your Combined Personality Types. Sign up for our newsletter below to get it sent to your inbox.
This post was written by Nick Schmitz, December 2020.