I get a lot of comments about having a little farm from lots of different people – people online and people I have known for a long time and people I just met. The comments can be funneled into one of two categories: “You are CRAZY – just buy all that stuff at the store!” or “I wish I could do that!”
The ones who think I’m crazy are the people I just chuckle at and agree, saying that I must indeed be crazy to do what I’m doing. The ones who wish they could do it………those people are part of the reason I write this blog and share the ups and the downs. Those people are trying to figure out if they could physically and mentally do it, if they’re cut out for doing it, and if they could afford it.
The affording it question is easy: You will afford it if you want to badly enough. That’s an honest answer, plain and simple. You either will pull money that you spend elsewhere on unnecessary things (cable, expensive car payments, coffees on the way to work every day, fast food lunches and dinners, expensive cell phone plans, always having the latest in fashion or technology, etc.) to be able to build up your farm, or you will think that’s too hard and won’t do it. There are some offended folks reading this right now who are saying, “I can’t cut out anything else! I already live paycheck to paycheck!” That is a VERY real thing, and let me tell you: I’ve been there, too! Please realize there are options, but those options are likely to include moving somewhere that the cost of living is much lower, getting a different or better job, or pooling your resources together with like minded friends so you can all benefit from some fresh _______ (fill in the blank).
For example, if you have a small bit of a yard and want to garden, you can often find seed exchanging groups online or at the local library around this time of year. For a dollar or two, you could get together with them and exchange some seeds. One seed = one plant once it grows! Another option would be to get together with a friend who has a $10 or $20 to spare, and that friend could purchase the seed packets while you provide the little plot of land and the water necessary to grow fresh vegetables. You could agree to work it together, sharing the work as well as the harvest (turning over the dirt, each saving your eggshells and orange peels and coffee grounds to add to a small compost pail, planting the seeds, weeding the garden a few times a week, and then harvesting the bounty together). You can also do this with raising chickens together to get fresh meat (if you get Cornish Rock Crosses, you will have huge birds to butcher in less than three months!) and fresh eggs (note: it takes six to eight months for a young chicken to begin laying eggs).
Can you physically and mentally do it? That is a question that you alone can answer. There are things that are going to happen when you have livestock. Are you physically fit enough to chase down loose animals or reset fencing if your cattle, goats, chickens, or pigs get out? Can you round them up by yourself (again and yet again and still yet AGAIN – my goodness, we really did not know how to keep those animals contained, did we???) and if not, do you have someone who can help you
if when they do?
Personally, I find the mental part of farming far more exhausting than the physical part. I spend a good portion of my free time reading up on livestock feeds, illnesses, holistic care, and how to make this little hobby farm into an actual self-sustaining business. Can you handle the mental portion of it? For instance, what will you do when you have a sick animal? Do you know or are you willing to learn how to doctor the animal yourself and get it to the vet if necessary? Are you compassionate enough and able to put a dying animal out of its misery? Can you take an animal that you looked in the eye daily, fed, watered, and cared for to the butcher? Can you handle it when an animal you’re raising dies accidentally or from an illness? These are all questions that only you can answer, and they’re things you really need to think about in depth before you bring home a fuzzy bunny, waddling duck, or cheeping chick from the feed store this spring. Those animals all grow up, and you’re then responsible for their quality of life whether you intend to have them as pets or as food later down the line.
For those of you who are thinking about doing it, for those who are ready to jump in feet first, think about what you’re picturing. Do you envision yourself like that farmer lady you saw in a television or print commercial, sitting atop a gorgeous new tractor, fresh-faced, make-up perfectly applied, not a hair out of place? That’s not farming; that’s an advertisement. It’s a lot of fun to picture and to think about ourselves looking like that though, isn’t it? I’m guilty of it; I want to look like her, too! What I usually look like is this, no make-up and crazy hair, surrounded by laundry (OMG the NEVER. ENDING. LAUNDRY!!!):
If, on the other hand, you don’t care that you’ll fall in the mud or sink in it up to your ankles at one point…….if you watch some of those survival type reality shows and think to yourself, “I could TOTALLY DO THAT!”…….if you truly know your physical limitations and can figure out a way to get around them…….if you just simply KNOW in your heart that you are meant to be on a piece of ground somewhere and aren’t complete until you are…….then you, my friend, are ready. You have the mindset – what are you waiting for?