Lessons Learned With Murray Vollmer: An Ontario Hog Farmer

We sit down with Murray Vollmer to find out what he has learned along the way to building a hog farming operation with the help of his family.

By Tharran E. Gaines | Photos By Jamie Cole

FarmLife: What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Murray Vollmer: Well, the biggest thing is to be patient. Also, don’t do something just because everybody else is doing it. Do it for the right reasons. And common sense plays a big part.

FL: What have you learned from older farmers?

MV:  You’re responsible for your own decisions. You can’t go looking for someone else to pin the blame on. It’s always good to seek advice from others, but, ultimately, you have to make the right decision on your own.

FL: Name a mistake that taught you a lesson.

MV: I must not learn well, because I seem to make mistakes every day. But when you do make a mistake that affects someone else, step up and acknowledge it and hopefully you learn something that will help you next time.

FL: How have you changed since you were younger?

MV: We’ve obviously become more independent and more diversified, but I think I’ve also learned to be more observant of what is going on around me. If somebody has adopted a different tillage program, for example, pay attention because there might be something you can learn from it.

FL: How has your lifestyle changed?

MV: We’ve always liked to do things ourselves, whether it’s electrical work, equipment maintenance, welding or whatever. So, I like to learn from others and watch how they do things. I try to pay attention so that next time, I can maybe do it myself. I’ve always tried to advance.

FL: What have you learned about predicting the future?

MV:  Don’t do it. I think you can predict where you want to go in the future; but I don’t think you can really predict the future itself.

FL: Has your definition of happiness changed?

MV:  Well, after 25 years of building up the operation, I think we’re where we want to be and our sons know the business well enough that we can take some time off now and then. However, even though we’ve made a few trips to a warmer climate during the winter, I’m probably just as happy right here on the farm. To get away is great, but I’m just as keen about getting on the plane to head home.

FL: What’s something you’d like to learn or do?

MV: I would love to travel to Australia, and see the open range and how they raise cattle over there. Our son had a work visa there when he was younger, so I’d like to see how they do things differently. But other than that, I’m content to just do what I’m doing. 

FL: What advice would you offer FarmLife readers?

MV: I guess if you have an opportunity to start farming or to do something else you’ve always dreamed about doing, go for it. There will be hard times, but there will be good times, too.