One question I am asked frequently by people is how I got started farming and how difficult it may or may not have been to start. Because this is such a hot topic I have decided to write about it here and call it part of my Motivational Monday. We have plenty of critics when it comes to building a farm life or homesteading life, but I want to focus on some encouragement. So the question here is how do I start my farming adventure?
I know that when we bought land and decided to move and do more homesteading and farming it was a bit overwhelming. I followed a few bloggers at the time who farmed and kept cattle and bees and hens. One lady I loved to follow even made her own cheeses from the family cow she milked! I so wanted to be her and spend my days canning veggies from my back yard garden and make cheeses from my dairy animals. Have you felt that way too about someone?
I made a list of all the things I needed to build or buy in order to farm, and that list was huge and expensive. I thought I would need a barn with stalls, a tractor, a fancy chicken coop, a fruit orchard, a milking parlor, and a wooden perimeter fence around the property. Not only did I think I needed all of these things, but I also had many other people tell me the same. It became a little depressing honestly. I had a budget and could not figure out how I would ever afford a 20k barn. How would I ever get started with so many expenses and structures to secure?
Fortunately I figured out how to overcome all of these obstacles and get my little farm going, even with my very tight budget. It was simple: start with one thing and ignore the critics. I studied my list and decided I needed to scale it back and just start with one item. I chose laying hens because they are easy to keep and they do not need a fancy coop. Beginning with just one project not only got me started right away with farming, but it built my self confidence. Once you have even a little experience under your belt, you can then make more confident decisions for your farming future. They say backyard chickens are a gateway farm animal, and this is very true. Those backyard chickens will give you the boost you need to learn to deal with challenges and then to move ahead.
As far as the critics go, they will always be around. I have always said that there is something about bucking the system that gets the nay-sayers going. So if you are living the nice suburban or city life but decide to sell it all, opt out of the rat race and move to the country, plan on hearing some criticisms. It’s okay. You are brave enough to ignore the status quo so you are brave enough to weather some negative nellies. We all have a path to take and it’s okay if your path doesn’t look like your friends’ or family’ path.
So what happened after I had hens for a while? Well, I got some beehives and then I planted a nice large garden. After a few years I got a family cow and without a barn to milk her. I literally had my husband throw up a small sheltered area with wood and a tarp roof to cover my milking equipment. The tarp needed replacing every year for a whopping $20, but I milked cows under that make shift “barn” for 3 years. When I finally had the money saved, I bought a large metal carport and we converted that into a barn, complete with two stalls and a nice milking area. It didn’t cost a grand 20k either.
My point in all of this is to just get started! Do not feel like you must have everything all at once because sometimes that just isn’t feasible. There will be times when one must really sink lots of time and money into a farming project, but that is not most people I know who have started or who want to start farming. Pick one thing and go for it! You will eventually tweak and add and even stop some aspects of your farming. You will find your niche, your passion, and you will be a farmer.
So now, what are you waiting for? Time waits for no one. Let’s get out and encourage one another!