Michael Moose was standing on rented land in mid-November. His finger was bleeding and he was waiting for his dad to return with a hydraulic pump for fixing a tractor older than he is.
At 34, he has a bachelor's degree in business administration and experience as a police officer but, Moose said, he grew up farming. He has struck out on his own, building a farm in northwestern Pennsylvania's Mercer County from the ground up.
So has Paul Critchlow Jr., named for his dad, the last dairy farmer on Route 8 between Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa. The 31-year-old tried working in landscaping and in paving and concrete. He even had his own business trimming hooves.
Then a farmer in Butler County's Mercer Township, near Critchlow's father's farm, was getting out of the dairy business. Under articles of agreement, Critchlow and his wife Marla have purchased the cows and the equipment, and have 10 years to buy the land.
While high tech start-ups generate buzz, thousands of people like Moose and Critchlow are going into business for themselves in a more traditional way: with land and livestock.
It's hard to go into farming. Once someone gets in, it's nearly impossible to get out. In the bad years when farmers would want to get out, Critchlow explained, there's no market for the equipment or livestock. In the good years, no one wants to sell.