Hillside Pasture

I was flipping through a “Hobby Farmer” magazine the other night and realized that the whole idea of hobby framing is really aimed at those who have an expendible income. The advertisements are full of expensive “farm toys”. The articles talk about high bloodlines and innovative ideas…if you have the money to implement them. You hear stories about “When we moved from our city house to our cute farmette in the country” or “we moved from our suburban 3,000 sq ft home to our country estate/cottage to enjoy country life”. I don’t know what part of farming was done for just enjoyment. Yes, an agricultural lifestyle can be enjoyable and fulfilling…due to the hard work. But it was mostly born from necessity.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very interesting magazine and you can get many ideas from it.

I thought it was ironic though that hobby farming is basically for the “rich” these days, when in times past, that’s how the poor lived.  Making the most out of small rural acreage.  In these economically hard times, hobby farming should be aimed at doing more with less….less money that is. I can not say that I live on a farm, nor that I am a farmer. We only own less than 1.5 acres. I have a regular job that pays the bills…barely, and a side business to make extra money to fill in the gaps. We do live in a rural area but that is only because I made the choice to go to college in a rural area. It’s the first place I settled before I even had a family of my own. So we had that going for us from the beginning I guess. I don’t think we could have afforded to “move to a country lifestyle”.

That’s the whole reason that my wife and I decided to pursue raising our own food. At least as much as we could handle doing ourselves. Each year we have expanded to do a little more. We increase the garden every year, we are increasing the diversity of animals we raise as well. Each one has its own function in the process of raising healthy food. We have a garden, so compost and insect control are a must. We have chickens that take care of the bugs (and the tomatoes too unfortunately). We have goats that provide us meat, and milk will be flowing next year hopefully. The chickens also take care of mixing in the goat droppings with the grass and dirt. We take out the goat shed bedding to the compost pile since its basically hay, wood shavings, and goat droppings. The chickens provide us with eggs and an occasional chicken dinner. Hopefully in the spring we will also have two piglets to raise. They will be placed where our current garden is. Pigs do a great job mixing in compost while providing their own manure into the garden. We can fence in the current section of garden space for the pigs, then rotate the next year.

Pig/Garden Rotation (www.cricketbread.com)

All of this is done with minimal expense.  I use old second hand items when possible. For instance, our current goat shed is the old metal shed that came with the house. I asked a farmer about a broken calf hutch one day and he said I could have it for free…in fact I got two and let my friend have one. Two lengths of our electric net fencing were basically given to us as long as I went and ripped them out from being buried under tall over grown field grass…It was literally a treasure hunt! Our neighbor graciously lets us use the steep hillside along our house to pasture the goats. I think he is just glad to have the hillside mowed and rid of multiflora rose.

If anything needs to be bought, I ask around first to see if anyone nearby has the item and aren’t using it. If I cant find it, I search for used items on the internet. My last resort is to buy  something brand new. We cant afford tractors and other large motorized farm tools, nor do we have the room to store them. Once you can afford to buy the equipment, you have to afford to build outbuildings to store them in. So our work takes longer and gives us more exercise. It also will hopefully instill in our children a good work ethic. That is the second reason why we chose to start raising as much food for ourselves as we can on a low budget.

So, I think there needs to be a magazine focused on low budget hobby farming. I am sure there is one somewhere already.

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This was used from www.sheepsheep.com

(The above picture was used from http://www.sheepsheep.com)

If you have been following this blog, you’ve noticed that we like to keep busy. Between two children under 3yrs old, an energetic dog and restoring an old house, we keep busy. We are either rushing to visit friends, driving downstate, working on the house, or taking time to be together as a family.

Our latest idea/project is to raise goats. We have mulled this over for some time now. We have a few friends that currently raise goats and we have made visits and talked with them about the pros and cons of raising goats. Many of our friends have a family cow and maybe a few beef grazing around. Seeing firsthand the benefits of raising such an animal is inspiring, but when you only have 1.3 acres, there’s not much you can do but continue to watch. That’s when the idea of goats seemed to just pop in my head. I found out that you can raise them for meat or for dairy, and they are quite tasty providers of both! Also their size is a lot more convenient for those without large tracts of land. We are currently looking into Nubians and Boer goats.

I must say though that we did get permission to use an adjoining 1.5 acres to our land. This has really been the green light we needed to start looking a bit more seriously. Otherwise, I’m not so sure how it would go, if at all. If you look at some of my past posts of our home, you will see that on the hill side above our house was used for steer a few years ago. It is now perfect goat pasture. Lots of brushy stuff, and lots of grass along with fully grown shade trees.

Showing the pasture behind the house.

We also have a temporary shelter for goats until I can build or purchase something more convenient. Its our old metal shed. It already sits right next to the adjoining land, so that works well.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

The next thing we will need to do is work on fencing. Figuring out what kind and how much. I’ll keep you up to date as things progress!