3 Rules For Starting Your Own Farm
Do you dream of starting your own farm, having your own land, becoming a farmer, growing food and taking care of animals? Then farming can be a great thing for you, but also for the wider community. You might yearn to work in that environment, but be prepared for a life of physical toil. In addition, you may possibly have some uncertain times with your finances. However, it can be such a rewarding thing to be doing, and there is much need for it too.
According to an article in The Atlantic, there are more bus drivers than farmers at the moment. This can seem like a bit of an arbitrary statistic to start with. But when you think about it food, is something that is going to always be a need. Therefor we do need more farmers and those people that are prepared to work on the land.
If you are genuinely thinking about farming , then here are some of the rules that you need to follow and think about, before you get ahead and make a start with it all. As you pursue your farming dream, it is a good idea to keep them in your mind. They might not guarantee success, but will set you up on a strong path to economic and agricultural sustainability.
Avoid Debt when starting up your farm
The economy has been unpredictable in recent years, and that is something that farmers are not immune to either. There have been many that have had to abandon farming dreams because they had debt that was spiraling out of control. In a nutshell, debt allows us to be able to speed up our goals a little, as it can mean things happening now, rather than in months, or years down the line. Agriculture can be fraught with uncertainties and some surprises, but if you are adding monthly payments to this, then it can be too much.
The agricultural industry is changing rapidly, making it more complex all the time. The info-graphic below shows some of the changes that have happened over the years.
Agriculture then and now
- Then: Small farm feeds 5 people.
- Now: Larger farm feeds 120 people.
- Then: By hand, 1 acre per day.
- Now: Combine harvester, 150 acres per day.
- Then: 1 cow produces 1,000 liters per year; milked by hand one at a time.
- Now: 1 cow produces 8,500 liters per year; automated milking equipment.
- Then: Growing season spring and summer; storage up to 6 months in a root cellar.
- Now: Growing season all year; storage up to 12 months in climate controlled storage facilities.
Download the agriculture over the years infographic
(PDF, 136 KB)
These changes bring with them the need for financing. Farm equipment is not cheap, and you will have to decide what is the right equipment for your farming needs.
Identity Your Market Before You Start Your own Farm
Before you get started with your own farming business, it is a good idea to think about what kind of farming you want to do. Do you want to raise cattle, grow watermelons, or start a pick your own vegetable farm? Maybe you want to raise sheep and use their wool for materials to sell.
But how are you going to find the customers to make sure your business will make money? Where will your farm be; will it be close to a town or more remote? What kind of farming machinery will you need your farm to run it as you would like to. How much will your charge for things? Think about what you will do with excess stock, as well as things like too much demand.
Set Reasonable Goals
Making sure that you take care of yourself in farming is really important. So although you might have some big dreams for the place, burnout is something that can be big in farming. Physical work is taxing, and as such, it has some unique demands unlike any other industry. So set yourself annual goals that are going to be measurable, to help you to get to the big goals.
We live on a family farm. It is not a very big farm, only about 400 acres. My husbands grand father bought the farm in 1922. Since that time the land has been worked by his sons, and now we are farming the land. I grew up in Holland, and am a city girl. Over the past 30 plus years, I have adapted and become to love life on the farm. Now we are preparing to leave the farm in the hands of our sons.
The info-graphic shows some of the changes that happened over the years. Even myself have seen many changes since I came to live on the family farm. Tractors and combines have become bigger and the work is done more efficiently.
The husband is big on sustainability and rotating his crops. This helps reduce soil erosion, and preserves water. In addition, the manure from the cows, and the residues from the grain crops, are worked back into the soil, helping to build them up.
Some other things that have changed, and dramatically affect those who are looking into starting their own farm, are:
- Rising cost of land, unless you are following in your families foot steps, or have deep pockets, and lots of money available to you, purchasing farm land is very expensive.
- Farm equipment can be very costly, especially the new, shiny stuff 😉
- Seed, fertilizer, weed and pest control can add a burden to the finances.
- Buying good livestock, feed and vet expenses can sometimes be hard to control.
And the weather cannot be controlled or predicted, so even our best efforts can not guarantee good crops.
It is however, a wonderful live and a great way to raise your children and grand children!
And just for interest:
Surprising uses for agricultural products — who knew?
- Soy fibers are used to make the foam in car seats.
- Soy is used in crayons.
- Oats are used in biodegradable plastics.
- Products containing wheat can include golf tees and liquid laundry detergent.
- Potatoes are used in garbage bags.
- Corn is used in toothpaste and windshield washer fluid.
- Canadian mustard is used as an environmentally friendly pesticide and a natural fertilizer.
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