One of the boasts of a farmer is she is a jack [jill?] of all trades.I've seen this a number of times over the years; even used it myself in writing about my father. It's true enough: being a successful farmer requires a broad spectrum of skills. What's often not considered though is the difficulty a small diverse farmer has. This thought was triggered by this post on learning to be a stockman. It's from a blog I just discovered, the Foothill Agrarian blog (mostly sheep), a farmer in California.
He's relatively specialized, compared to some. The accumulation of knowledge from academic research and the more efficient sharing of knowledge means there's more and more to learn. It's one of the ways in which the market economy leads to greater specialization. Not only can a larger more specialized operation cut costs, but the operator can learn more and put it to use more effectively.
There are still people like Walt Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm who are able to combine many skills and out-compete the rest.