Tips for Starting, Running, and Maintaining Your Hobby Farm
People don’t generally associate the term “hobby” with the word “farm”. After all, farms are notorious for being places of extremely hard work that starts before the sun rises each day. We all hear tales of the hardships brought on by inclement weather that can destroy crops in one fell swoop and the devastation of illness or natural predators sweeping through and killing livestock. No, no one ever said the farm life was easy, but if you keep it simple and small, a fruitful hobby farm can bring your years of joy.
Follow these tips for starting, running, and maintaining your hobby farm:
1. Research, Research, Research!
Don’t walk blindly into the farm life because you think it will be fun or cute or trendy to do so. As previously mentioned, any kind of farming is hard work, but it’s also rewarding work. Decide what kind of hobby farm you really want, and consult with experienced farmers before digging in. Though very busy, they’re usually happy to carve some time out to chat with you about your dream of having a hobby farm. Take copious notes!
2. Make a Plan
Once you figure out what kind of hobby farm you want to start, write down everything you hope to achieve from it. Will it just be produce, or will you have livestock as well? How much do you want to be able to harvest each season? Will you maintain the farm year-round, or just for one or two seasons? Do you have enough startup capital to buy the initial supplies you’ll need, or will you have to take out a loan? Will you sell the produce, processed livestock, or other goods you produce on the farm, or will you keep it to yourself? Do you need special insurance to have a hobby farm, or permission from your town regarding zoning for such a thing? So many questions! Be in the know before you grow!
3. Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst
Farms are very much subject to the risk and bounty that nature provides. One bad frost can kill an entire crop. Animals can eat your garden rendering it harvestless. Predatory animals can kill your prey animals. However, you may reap more than you’d ever hoped to. You may add just a few more chickens to your already large flock. You may love having animals so much that you add a goat, a cow, or a horse! Things can go either way on the farm and a thick-skin is required to cope.
4. Be Environmentally Conscientious
If you’re willing to take on the endeavor of being a steward to your own slice of earth, avoid dousing it with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. There are plenty of tried-and-true ways to care for your crops and animals with involving poisons of any kind. Treat your animals humanely and feed them the highest quality feed available. Owning animals and growing food is a big responsibility!
5. Love What You Do
You started your hobby farm to have fun, and if it ceases to be so, reconsider. Once you have copious animals in your care, you’re in it for the long-haul. Become friends with your vet, farrier, and eager volunteers who will help you keep your hobby farm running smoothly. Embrace the good and the bad of farm life and have fun!
A hobby farm is a wonderful venture for anyone who’s willing and able. You can provide nourishment for your family for years to come, and if you choose, tenderly care for animals along the way. With a little research and planning, you can live and love the farm life!