An Encouraging Word to Backyard Farmers?

We will all figure this out together.

We will all figure this out together.

It has been a little while since I wrote a real post. I just keep in touch by posting stuff on Facebook.

School is hard. We are working on tearing down the long beds and installing a sprinkler system-to attract an HOA type home buyer. So I am juggling too many plates. So far I have not dropped any.

Steve had originally set a goal to put the house on the market Dec 1st. Will he make it? I hope so, but a goal is better than nothing. I am not worried. I see the Hobby Farm coming.

But when I look deep into my magic computer, I see cries for help and a bit of discouragement going out from my friends who call themselves Backyard Farmers. I want to be in the middle of it all-believe me. But for now, all I can do is send encouragement. That will change soon though.

For the rest of you-who are reading for entertainment value- let me help you understand this by giving some common definitions.

Backyard Farm-most people use this term to describe a “lot” that is a half acre or less- where animals and gardens are grown for some type of food or fiber production. The owners have an outside source of income. The plants are more than just ornamentals and the animals are more than just pets. I guess that by this definition, I would consider myself a Backyard Farmer. Many people that I know fall into this category.

Hobby Farm-most people use this term to describe a “lot” that is a half acre or more and is used to produce more of the household food. On these places you might see chickens, goats, pigs, and cows. These people also have outside streams of income, because a hobby farm would not normally support all of a families needs. I know several hobbyists living on 1-5 acres of irrigated land.  These people may even sell some of what they produce; like milk, eggs and vegetables; to offset some of the costs of this hobby lifestyle. Steve and I hope to be bumped to this level in the next few months.

Farm is a term used for larger lots that are used to not only produce food for the resident, but also food to sell to others. A farm would have multiple acres to plant; not only to feed the family and animals, but also as a cash crop to sell large amounts of produce to others. In addition to the cash crops, the farm may also have animals to provide food for the family- as well as large amounts of excess to sell to others. This type of production provides the farmer with an income stream that is capable of keeping a family going without an outside job.  With all the regulations that are being applied, this is getting harder and harder to do though. I only know 1 farmer.

Homestead- a home on acreage that is used to produce most of the products that are used by the residents and animals. The goal is even more self sufficiency; without bringing anything from the outside. Very few can really do it. It is pretty hard, but there are those who you will hear that are living totally “off-grid”. I do not personally know any homesteaders.

Lately I have been pretty quiet about my backyard “farm”. There is a reason.

I have been successfully raising vegetables, fruit, and animals in my backyard for many years. Yes, there were many who did not understand, and some thought I was crazy. I did not even stop to think whether it was “legal” or not to do so in my area. But as long as I kept my animals clean and relatively quiet, no one really cared too much about what I was doing in my backyard. I was respectful of my neighbors and they were respectful of me.

I have seen that in the last 5-10 years though, it has become quite a trend to keep a few chickens and raise a garden on a residential sized lot. I have had many people come to me wanting to know how I have done it. They are on the path to “self-sufficiency” and want to know how this can work for them too. With all this new attention to Backyard Farming, there are more people who are also pushing against it. There is a general belief that a farmer is someone who is less educated,  and less clean. So I am less likely to share what I do in my backyard.

But with all new trends, the pushing and pulling will eventually balance things out. Time will help with that. Those who are serious will find the way to do it in a way that will be more acceptable to those who push against. Those who push against will get used to it as long as it is done properly.

As I meet the new people who are attempting to follow this trend, I notice that some of them have been very successful at keeping things clean, quiet, healthy and visually appealing. Some are not; they get caught up in the idea, but get overwhelmed and unable to care for it all. Some are very respectful of their neighbors, some are not. Some care that we all live in this big world together, some only care about what they want to do. Then there are those who do all the good things mentioned and still have neighbors that have nothing better to do than to peek over the fence; making it their business to see what the neighbors are doing.

Many Backyard Farmers start out very clean and quiet. You do realize don’t you that it all starts with just two chicks:) It grows from there. and it is very easy to get carried away. Soon you have 20 chickens, 4 goats, a pig, a pony out back, and the Code and Compliance officer knocking on your front door.

I believe that we all should be able to keep gardens and honey bees and a couple of chickens in our backyards. Maybe even a couple of goats, if we have the room to make it right. But there is a line between having just enough and having more than you can manage. That my friends more often than not is what gets the notice of those that push against.

Where is the encouragement that I promised? The good news is that with so many new people following this way of life in the last 5-10 years, our magic computer has become full of information. There are more and more people everyday coming up with new and clever ideas of how to do it better, cleaner and healthier. I myself have been collecting mentors. Some of these people are a source of information, some of them actually have beautiful examples for me to visually enjoy and attempt to emulate. You too can find a teacher online, or even better- in person. Find a mentor, register for a class or go to your favorite search engine. But with any new and wonderful trend comes a responsibility. Let’s help  to clean up the image of the “uneducated and dirty farmer”.


About sharinglifesabundance

I am a backyard food producer. I grow 800 square feet of organic vegetables in the desert year round.
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2 Responses to An Encouraging Word to Backyard Farmers?

  1. Joe Mammino says:

    I have been following your lifestyle with more than general interest. What really is your goal? To be a nurse you can accept the fact that you will be working 12 hours a day for 3 plus days a week. That is brutal.
    There are many hobby farmers who sell their veggies at Farmers Markets. My suggestion is to specialize. Visit high end restaurants and talk to Chefs, not cooks. Ask them if the want a speciality item that is not sold on the average market. Get enough orders to lock in a market fo those restaurants.
    How you can juggle a 12 hour day and tending to your farm will be a decion you and steve will have to make.
    You two are real woraholics and all of your followers are rooting for you.
    Joe Mammino

    • What a kind man you are Joe to be concerned.

      My number one goal is to grow as much of our family’s food as I can. I have researched quiet extensively how our current food supply is grown. The chemicals in vegetables and the the way that animals are treated that bring us our eggs and milk, and meat is very troubling to me. I would also love to share my knowledge openly with, and encourage others who would like to raise their own food as well.

      The nursing idea was Steve’s. He believes that my years in the medical field has served me well in every way but monetary. I have worked in front office, back office and respiratory therapy. None of those jobs paid very well.

      Steve is older than I am and is very concerned that I would wither away if something happened to him. He told me that I could be a stay at home gardener as long as I took the time to get a degree that would serve me well in his absence. He makes more than enough for the two of us to live happily ever after, but wants to feel the peace of knowing that I could take good care of myself.

      I will never work the 3-12 hour shifts. I have seen what it does to nurses, their families and the poor patients that have to deal with a nurse that is on her 3rd 12. I just do not think that it is right. I may be a workaholic as you say, but I will only choose work that brings me joy!
      I will probably land a very nice part time job, so that I can indeed have it all. No Coach purse or sports car for me. Just a whole lot of happiness while I am feeding my family and my friends.
      Hugs to you.

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