Allow Yourself The Opportunity To Fail

Anyone who has spent any time on this blog will know that I am no stranger to hard lessons learned. Aka: failure. Before you go crazy about the word “failure”, let me say, it is okay to have failed. Contrary to mainstream thought, failure is a good thing.

We should be proud enough to say, “Hey, I totally tried that and it didn’t work for me. Now I’m going to try it differently.”


That is the difference between defeat and creating a learning experience for yourself. In modern society we are always told to take things slow, start small. I don’t know about you, but that sounds simply droll. I like to find things I am passionate about and jump in head first and at full force. Sure, I buy books and do research when it comes to the livelihood of another creature, but I certainly don’t wait until “the right time”. Geez… if I did that, I would be absolutely nowhere. I wouldn’t have driven 18-hours to buy my first three angora rabbits, I wouldn’t have bought Trevor that book that made him want to be a beekeeper, I wouldn’t have tried to raise quail, and I wouldn’t have tried a second batch of chicks after half of my first flock was mysteriously eaten. All of those wonderful things started at “the wrong time”. And now I have beautiful rabbits with gorgeous wool (and yummy meat), I have two thriving beehives, I have had the experience of raising quail, and I have eaten home raised chicken meat and fresh farm eggs. Just because you allow yourself the opportunity to crash and burn, doesn’t mean you will.

If you will notice, I listed my experience of raising quail as a benefit, and it was. Was it successful? Maybe in showing me how much I detest quail. No, it was a failure. But it was a failure that taught me so much about the finicky diet and outrageously high maintenance temperament of some animals. Not everyone can be as laid back as a chicken I guess. But this brings me back to my point.

Sometimes you need to allow yourself the opportunity to fail.

Without failure, we have learned nothing. Without failure, we cannot enrich our day-to-day life. So when you get knocked in the dirt, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and yell, “Thank you for the learning experience!!!” at that damn quail*, because they have made you more awesome than you were yesterday.

* Feel free to substitute the word “quail” with: goat, stubborn cow, carrot, testy eggplant bush, or any other aspect of life that is giving you grief.

25 thoughts on “Allow Yourself The Opportunity To Fail

  1. Sarah,
    I never think of things tried as failures but learning experiences. But on the other hand, don’t you just love it when everything works first time every time. Those little gems keep you going to do more…like my/your fodder growing.

  2. This is me too 100%. Its how my garden went last year, I finally got my garden dug, by hand mind you and my soil is heavy on the clay side, got the sod removed and things planted and growing 100% better then i had imaged only to be laid up with a badly bulged disc in my lower back. Well that ended in having emergency surgery right at the full swing if harvest and I had to watch all of my winter food be given away since I couldn’t can anything nor barely walk. But now I had the surgery and I’m getting back to normal I will be back at my garden this coming spring in hopes I have a better garden. It’s also how I learned to crochet. I’ve frogged (undone all my work) many of projects until its clicked.

    If you can’t learn from your failures then how can you truly learn from anything?

  3. Every garden year we have our successes and failures. That always leads to doing things differently next year. We are already getting things planted under lights in the house. More flower seeds this year for the bees. Scabiosa, meadowfoam, salvia, lobelia, gallardia, penstemon. (You can’t have too many flowers for the bees!)

    • I am so jealous. If I weren’t in house-buying-purgatory, I would be starting seeds too. Well, maybe it is still a bit early for my area. We usually can’t/shouldn’t plant anything until mid-May, but this year (and the last 2-3 years) have been unseasonably warm. Now we are in the middle of a crazy, record-breaking drought here in California, who knows what will happen come spring.

  4. Our first attempt at goats was an utter surprise with a goat who was pregnant. She birthed stillborn premature twins. Our first attempt to mate her again found us with a buck who simply wasn’t interested. My gardens are loaded with highly alkaline soil and poor crops, half the branches I used to build hugels have sprouted and need digging out and all of the strawberries and raspberries I purchased died in our dry summer. My gardens are an ongoing failure if I choose to look at it that way (and I haven’t even listed half the things that are wrong in there) but the successes keep me hungering for more and I already have more harvest than last year. 🙂 I have tomatoes ripening from the “weeds” I dug from a friends garden (self seeded), I have pumpkin vines running amok and buttercup pumpkins harvesting. My yacon look terrible but I have no idea if they’ve only failed above ground. The pond I hand dug in thick heavy clay hasn’t worked as well as I’d hoped and I killed all my fish but I have gatecrashing and very welcome frogs instead! It all depends how you look at things. Everything is a failure if you choose to see it that way. If you choose to see the lesson learned and the challenge raised however, life is a barrel of fun. As for the goat? We have 2 now and 2 sheep (the sheep are an experiment I won’t repeat) and hopefully in about 140 days we shall have a goat in milk and kids. 🙂

  5. I came here via rabidlittlehippy and she was right…this IS an amazing post. Amazing and refreshing in its honesty. Social media has given bloggers a platform/soapbox to stand on whereby all success is shared and NOTHING ever goes wrong 😉 Its amazing how many people out there lead perfect lives isn’t it? I never realised how “perfect” the world was outside my front door and if I was to believe everything that I read I wouldn’t go outside my front door because I would think that I was the most unlucky person alive and wouldn’t want to chance it…the most important thing about failure is that bit where you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off and you have another go at something. Failure is our only chance to learn anything in this life. We never learn anything from constant success. I guess that’s why Mr Murphy and his laws are sent to try us, just another one of those little life lessons 😉

    Here on Serendipity Farm we are 2 step forward one step back people. 2 middle aged student hippies trying to give permaculture a go on what could otherwise be considered to be a craggy arid desert of a heinous slope on heavily rock filled clay “soil”. We fail more than we succeed but each lesson shows us another little part of the puzzle and allows us to see the bigger picture a little bit better. We have learned SO much from our failures about natures cycles and attempting to assert our will over her…it just doesn’t work 😉

    We have chooks (hens in Aussinese) that are past the borg and are, each one of them, a small Attila the Hun, hell bent on scratching up the soil that we so lovingly try to heap up in order to keep the few twigs that have shown signs of growth with a bit of soil moisture around them…they might be just about to go the way of your quail because no sooner do we find a few eggs out in the blackberries (so not very often 😉 ) than another one marches triumphantly out of the undergrowth with 100 babies and starts the whole terrible cycle again. Anyone who thinks that chickens are small fluffy gorgeous benign little creatures who are the farmers friend, doesn’t have chickens 😉

    Our first vegetable garden was completely destroyed by our native possums and wallabies. What the wallabies couldn’t reach from the ground, the possums ate from above. We ended up having to make Fort Knox around the garden beds cobbled out of bed bases, heinous amounts of chicken wire, large pieces of reomesh and anything else we could throw over the beds in order to harvest a few tiny remnants of vegetation. We failed…BUT we learned…we picked ourselves up…went back to the drawing board…we planned… we and we built a fully enclosed, tennis court sized vegetable garden that is running amok and producing copious quantities of vegetation and NO invasions (aside from an early break in that showed us where a weakness was). Now we just need to learn to NOT put so much nitrogen into the soil at the expense of the root crops (next seasons lesson 😉 )

    Failure is the bomb. It gives you a chance to feel good about yourself when you overcome and builds character and fortitude. I, for one, am perfectly glad that I fail :). Cheers for this wonderful post. I have heard that California is in the throes of a terrible few seasons and get the feeling that you guys, of all people, “get” how it is to live in Australia. Rain is a total luxury and we have only had 1 tiny sprinkle of rain since early December. We did a rain dance! 🙂

    • Thanks! I am always suspicious of people who never have things go wrong… either they aren’t trying very hard or they are omitting some of their most valuable experiences. 😉
      Lol! I agree with your view on chickens. They certainly aren’t my favorite animal on the farm, but I do like to use eggs, so they stick around as long as they are useful.
      I am going to have to go check out your blog, because it sounds like you have some real fun over there!

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