Setting up your Farmstead
June 30, 2012, 7:22 am
Filed under: June 2012

The girls check out their new playground

                                                    June 30, 2012      

     When you arrive at your new home, farm or farmstead, the first thing to do is just walk around and get the feel of it. See which way the ground slopes. Try to visualize where your barn will go and other buildings as well. Think about fences, where to locate the garden and what will the flow of traffic look like, both mechanical and foot traffic, as well.

      Now, consider what types of livestock you will want. Don’t set up a menagery of animals that are just big pets. Think instead of sustainability and self-sufficiency. Animals that provide food, fiber or power should be considered first. The next thing is the ease of their care… hauling buckets of water in deep snow, is not the time to be thinking about how many cows you should have.

      Go slow. Plant a garden, fruit trees and berry bushes. incorporate these items into the landscape, near the house where weeds are easier to hoe and vegetables are readily picked. If the garden is too far from the house , it gets neglected.

      Plan with your partner what exactly you want your place to do. Is it just for fun? Is it to become a business, contributing to the family’s income?  Will it just be your little slice of heaven that helps to sustain your family, by providing the bulk of the food and peace from the corporate world?

      Equipment needs will have to be considered based upon the farming venture and the size of your farmstead. Along with equipment, manpower should be considered. How much will you need? Will your family supply the labor needed for the upcoming jobs? Be honest with yourself and …. go slow.

      Read, read, read as many books and articles on the subject that you can. Do trials as you go. Plant small plots as you sort everything out, finding out what will work best for you. Build barns and fences BEFORE you get animals!

      Try to find a mentor who shares your vision. Most farmers who farm a thousand acres, will be too busy to help you understand how to care for bees, plant raspberries or set up a pasture rotation for a small flock of goats. Seek like-minded folks with whom,  to share ideas and experiences.

      Do not give up. Your dream is not only real…it’s possible. Go slow, plan ahead, ask questions, but above all enjoy yourself. There is much to learn, but the rewards are endless… the birdsong, on a quiet morning alone, is priceless. The first corn or potatoes grown in your garden, prepared by family and picked at the peak of freshness, will fuel your passion and satisfy your palette.

      Every situation is different and yet very much alike. Water will be needed by anyone wanting to grow flowers, fruits or vegetables. A secondary source like a pond or cistern should be considered and planned. Manure management, like composting must be well thought out and planned.

      Take on one or two projects a year. Follow them to completion before taking on something new. This will help to keep you from becoming over whelmed. Farming on any scale is hard work. I think it is wonderful work that brings on great sleep, but I am a bit biased… I love this life and all that it provides.


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