Why would someone want to start a farm? We started our farm on accident. We just wanted a few fresh eggs from a handful of chickens living in the backyard. Nobody warned us that it is a slippery slope! Slippery Slope that we are still sliding down! We had no idea how empowering it is, to be able to control what is being put into our food. How crazy satisfying it is, to sit down to a delicious meal that we had a huge part in raising.
Once you manage to keep a dozen chickens alive for a while, you start to ask, "Well, what else can we raise ourselves? Can we raise our own healthy meat and what else can we keep alive?" So we got 40 meat chickens and had mild success. We really didn't know what we were doing, we put our meat chickens with the laying hens. Broilers seem to not even know how to get into the chicken coop for the night. Every night we would have to get them all into the coop. Also the broilers would lay down next to the food and eat themselves to death. They would also lay down next to the waterer and somehow die. Not sure if they drowned or just died of a heart attack. I can't remember how many of those birds ended up in freezer camp, I just remember dreading going out to check on them, because it is so disappointing to find a mostly grown meat bird just a bit shy of harvest day, dead in the feed tray! Those birds were our first attempt at putting meat in the freezer for the family. Thankfully, we have learned a few things on how to raise these dumb meat bird with better management.
As we got into our 30's and realized the impact our food choices were making on our health and knowing it was going to be tough to afford the food that our bodies needed, we thought how hard can it be to start a farm? Can we raise some pigs, maybe have a milk cow? Can we raise our own beef? We have worked really hard to stay out of deep debt. It is a lot harder to meet your goals when you don't take out loans. A few times, we ended up taking a small loan and would work to pay it back before we would think about buying other big purchases. We have also re- purposed a lot of building material, watched the local Sell and Swaps in order to score on used farm stuff. Yep, we could accomplish so much more if we owned our own utilility tractor with all the gadgets. But we keep pinching pennies and someday that will happen!
We really started small and kept adding every year as we grew our confidence. We raised 2 pigs a couple years after having chickens. One pig for our freezer, one to sell. A couple years later we got our milk cow along with a steer; that we harvested the next year. Every year, we sink a bit more into being farmers. Every year, gets easier knowing that you can be happy with some manure on your boots!
Besides having the ability to be able to raise a lot of our food, we are happy with the thought that we are starting to enjoy hard work. This country needs good work ethic. Don't you want to raise kids that have learned the value of hard work? A farm helps you develop good work ethic.
Farm kid's learn how to work and to be responsible. Frankly, our farm wouldn't make it, if our kids didn't do farm chores around here. Your kid's need to learn how to do hard things. Farming helps them problem solve, look for ways to help out and to work as a team. That being said, we don't have it all together. We have had days of frustration when we check up on our kids and they are being sloppy or negligent. Maybe it's all a learning process. I am just glad our kids can work on something that is bigger than their own little lives. For that matter, bigger than my own little life!
Everyday, this farm needs attending to. It's very hands on. Animals are depending on us to make sure they have new pasture and fresh water! More fencing. Please, don't think it is going to be easy and cushy! However, it is a rewarding experience. We end up having more fresh air and work than we ever thought possible. My experiences with melancholy in the past, have disappeared. Hard work and constant enjoyment of being outside, in a green space (A.K.A. as a field) has done wonders for my mood!
I say, "Put down that remote, forget about your computer and go outside! Get some chickens. Or cows! Chase some rogue pigs around your yard! Your happiness factor will go way up!"