Monday, June 10, 2013

My Farm

I'm coming to grips with the fact that I am a suburban farmer. It's different, perhaps, from a typical farmer - someone who makes a living selling agricultural products - but the fact is that I do raise food, and while I don't make a living, and I don't make any money, we do use some of our farm products for bartering for goods and services with other suburban farmers. We do have a garden (and I'm struggling to get cabbage to grow, as my chickens keep killing it), and we raise meat animals.

We're not wholly self-sufficient, but most farmers these days aren't either. Those with animals, like me, depend on commercial feeds, and those with gardens (or fields of crops ;) depend on seed. And we work outside jobs, but I know plenty of farmers where one spouse works the farm and the other works a job off the farm. It's the way my grandparents, who had a dairy farm in Ohio back in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s did things. It's the way Deus Ex Machina and I do things (although both of us have paid work, and we both do farm work, too).

My farm is on a much smaller scale, but it is a farm, and it does feed us - at least some portion of our diet. More importantly, though, this farm allows us to dream of some day being truly self-sufficient, living outside the money economy, and being able to produce most of what we need on this quarter acre.

One of these days I'm going to challenge myself and my family to eat for a month (or at least a week) only those foods we produced here on our farm and any foods we can barter - not buy. It would definitely be a challenge and would certainly take some serious thought when it comes to meal times. We'll probably eat a lot of eggs ... and chicken.

Speaking of, the chickens went to see Ken, which is our special euphemism. Ken is our butcher. This time tomorrow, we'll have ten home-grown chickens in the freezer. By September, we will have quadrupled that number. With the pig we'll be purchasing from our 4-H friend and the beef and lamb we still have in the freezer, and the hoped-for deer and/or turkey Deus Ex Machina will bring home this year, and any fish my son-in-law might gift us, we're probably set for meat.

With what we grow this season, and with using our greenhouse for some season extension this fall, we should be set for the plant half of our diet (we're even attempting some rice this year - should be interesting to see if it really produces).

And these guys are being trained to keep it all safe. They look like farm dogs to me.


  1. Your mini-farm is looking gorgeous. There are a lot of developing country farmers who make a (small) living from not much more land than you have.
    Australian author Linda Cockburn spent 6 months with her family of 3, not spending a dollar (well, not many) and living off their large suburban garden several years ago. She wrote about it in her book Living the Good Life. It's a great read, and has inspired me a lot.
    It sounds like an interesting experiment...

  2. We left the rat race and bought a farm here in Spain. Yes we have some plans for self sufficiency and living totally off grid but to be realistic, its very hard and we are unlikely to make a living from our olives and figs alone. Most folk still need to dip their toes into the money economy... the trick is to balance it and not be pulled off track by the current. I enjoy your blog.

  3. I guess I'm a farmer then too by that definition! And not a plant of it is in the actual ground! Ha ha!

    Please keep us up to date with your rice. I'm curious. But mainly because I've got a pot of wheat, barley and quinoa going myself! ;-)

  4. Good post. We're doing a little urban homestead. We both work, but I have summers off, which really helps. We have 3 fruit trees, a veggie garden, chickens. I can, freeze, and dry foods. We still buy the bulk of our foods, but it's much less during the gardening season. We'd need to raise a lot more edibles to really live off the land more. That would probably mean more acerage, not an option for us right now. We do what we can and encourage others to do the same. People laughed at us for having chickens 3 years ago, now it's much more common. Nancy@ Little Homestead in Boise

  5. We were able to get the acreage, but there's definitely not a farm going here. It's been a bit discouraging, actually - we were just discussing last night that with Manly's schedule and the health issues I've had crop up, we might well have been more productive (homestead-wise) to stay closer to town or on base and keep urban/suburban farming.

    On the upside, the chickens are coming into lay and I have a head of cauliflower that I think is about ready for harvest. It's a start, right? ;)