Transitioning from a Full Time Career as an Engineer to Making a Living as a Full Time Farmer – Darby’s Story – Grass Fed Life – Episode 31

Grass Fed Life

Today’s episode is a special one because both Darby and I are teaching the Farm Business Essentials workshop this week in Indiana.

What you will hear today, is an episode that I published about a year ago with Darby. It’s an interview talking about his transition into farming and his farm beginnings.

If you think you may have heard this interview before, then you probably right. It was published as one of the founders’ stories last year before Pv3.

Given the timing I think that re-airing this interview makes a lot of sense. There’s a lot of stuff in this interview that we haven’t covered in GFL before. And it should help fill in some of the gaps regarding his early days in farm and how he transitioned from non-farm to full time farmer. It also goes to show that the Darby that you hear today, wasn’t always this way, like everyone, he too had to start at the beginning without any experience or knowing exactly what he was doing…

I think that makes Darby’s story relatable and applicable to many people listening to this show.

People who want to transition into farming as a career, but they currently have a full time career in another field, a mortgage, and family.

Admittedly not easy constraints to work with. And pieces of life that can make transition stressful and downright scary.

The thought of going from full time work in on field into full time work as a farm instantly draws up every fear lurking around in your head – what if it doesn’t work, how am I going to pay my bills, how will I feed my family, how will I make money, what if I let my family down.

Again, admittedly scary, and very real, yet all overcomeable.

Darby started with $500 in initial expenses, started farming on the side, while working full time, and with a young family. A very relatable and applicable situation to many people listening to this show. If you are contemplating that jump into farming and making that dream a reality, but you feel like life is standing in the way, here is someone who’s done it with life in the way.


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“At some point you need to stop reading and take the plunge.”Darby Simpson

Advice from Darby

  • Have the faith, yet you have to make it work.
  • Farming and business ownership is a lifestyle. 
  • Your family needs to be on board.
  • Start small and reinvest in the business as you can.

About Darby Simpson

Darby grew up on his family’s seventh generation farm located in Central Indiana, just 25 miles outside of Indianapolis.  However he never learned anything about the family business. 

He began his own farming enterprise in 2007 after reading “Pastured Poultry Profits” by Joel Salatin as well as several other sources of information pertaining to small scale pasture based meat production.  The operation produced 150 pastured broilers that first year that were quickly sold and generated a base of avid customers who were left clamoring for more.   In 2008, the enterprise grew to 1,000 birds while pastured pork was also added, with the hogs all being spoken for thru successful marketing to the existing customer base.

By 2012, the farm was producing up to 3,000 pastured broilers, 125 turkeys, 60 hogs and 12 beef per year while using less than 20 total acres.  Since that time the land being actively managed is now 40 acres, and the farm now financially supports Darby and his wife Brandy, along with their two young boys, Ethan and Zach. 

Darby has transitioned himself from a successful mechanical engineer into a full time farmer and enjoys the many benefits that come with being self sufficient in ones livelihood.   His success shows it is possible to build a business from scratch with little or no knowledge of what Joel Salatin affectionately calls “lunatic farming”.

Darby’s transition into farming…

  • Started out with an initial batch of 50 broilers and spent $500 on the chickens and the chicken tractor.
  • Looked at the initial expenditure as seed money.  “If it all goes belly up, no big deal we aren’t out that much, but at least we tried.”
  • Sold all but 2.  Reinvested the proceeds and built a second chicken tractor and ordered 100 more chickens.
  • Gradually grew the operation reinvesting all of the profits back into the business.
  • Later added hogs, cattle, and turkey.

Interested in transitioning into full or part-time farming?

If so, then check out Darby’s Farm Business Essentials 3 Day Intensive Workshop

Do you want to transition into livestock farming on a part-time or full-time basis? 

Or are you currently farming, but it’s stressful and challenging to manage the farm and life?

Or are you currently farming, but you are struggling to make the enterprise profitable or generate enough on farm income to farm full time?

The Farm Business Essentials Intensive was created to help addresses those concerns and challenges.

In this three day workshop we will take an in-depth look at where you are currently at, where you want to go, what do you need to put in place to get there, and what are some of the next action steps to turn the ideas into reality.

The workshop will take place on March 2-4, 2017 outside Indianapolis, Indiana.


Connect with Darby Simpson

Simpson Family Farm

Simpson Family Farm on Facebook

Have questions for Darby? He does consulting…

Whether you are simply someone looking to raise some or all of your own meat on a homestead, or are looking to follow your dreams of full time farming Darby can help you be a success and reach your goals. Your one on one consultation is tailored to fit you – not anyone else. It’s all about your farm enterprise or homestead, and will answer your questions on a myriad of farming related subjects. LEARN MORE.


Listen to all of the previous episodes right HERE

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