Want to start a farm? Me too. So I’ve begun interviewing local farmers to find out how they did it. These are the heroes who have been there, done that and crushed it. They are the farmers who went from knowing nothing to becoming experts in their fields. They are the people who didn’t come from farming backgrounds or were handed down the family farm, but who were able to succeed through a lot of hard knocks, research and pure grit and determination.
Here is the first one:
City Slickers to Profitable Farmers – Maplehurst Farms, New Brunswick
There will be more to come, but until then here are a few tips from my own experience on how to go from wanting to homestead to living out your farming dreams….
From no headstead to rockin’ dirty fingernails and rubber boots
There is no perfect time to start a farm
You don’t have to live in the country and own 100 acres. Start homesteading wherever you are. Back when our family lived in a fourplex, I grew strawberries and vegetables in containers on my balcony and I started learning how to cook from scratch.
Get off the computer
Wait! Except for my website, of course. What I mean to say is you can research everything to death, but the real learning begins when you get out there and do something. Do it. Do it. Do it.
Sure, take some time to think about what you are really passionate about and what your strengths are, but then get out there and dig a vegetable garden, order those chicks, volunteer on a farm…. Hint: We would love some help over here!
Get out there and take a few risks NOW when you are in the testing phase. Don’t wait until when your back account depends on success.
I started with one small garden bed and then two and then three and now my garden is about 1000 square feet. Next year I hope to expand a little more. Baby steps.
When you have no idea what you are doing, time is your BFF. Now if you have farming education and experience, you wouldn’t do this. But when you’ve never planted a seed or held a chicken, you’ll want to give yourself a little more leeway.
We are here. Trying on a few small side hustles and learning what it takes to produce a product for sale. To be honest, I feel like I’m going to die before my chickens lay their eggs or my bees produce honey. But with a little luck and a bit more time our first sales will turn our farm from hobby to business. Our plan is to gain some experience and then scale up or look for other complementing farming activities.
Multiple income streams
I can’t wait to hear what the real experts have to say about this, but I have a feeling they will agree. Farming is unpredictable. So if a crop fails, your bees suffer from a mite infestation or your chickens get eaten by a fox, you want back up. You want another source of income. And that brings us to…
Start a side hustle
A side hustle is your lifeline. A little extra insurance if things don’t work out perfectly. Who am I kidding? When things don’t work out perfectly. If you can, start a side hustle you can operate from the homestead.
We rent out half our farm and own a couple rental properties. I would also like to rent out a part of our barn. Basically, if you stand still long enough, I may try and rent you out too.
Rental income is great because just like most other investments, the income is passive. You have to do very little “work”. Not into rentals? No problem. Check out Chris Guillebeau’s side hustle school for ideas and inspiration.
How badly do you want to start a farm?
I urge you to embrace the new minimalism and frugalism (yeah, I just made that term up. It is totally going to catch on.) trend. I joked earlier about wearing snowsuits indoors to save on energy costs, bicycling around town and avoiding land taxes by building a church on your land. The truth is I’m not joking.
When the house gets cold, I put on a sweater. When it gets colder, I put on a housecoat. My husband has bicycled to work to save on gas and car expenses.
No, we aren’t going to build a church on our property, but we are willing to think outside the box to save money. Once your farm is turning profit, you can pat yourself on the back and thank your former self.