So You Want to Buy a Farm?
My bff of all time, Angela, was so excited when we bought the farm. She was going to build a tiny house one day and live off the land. I think she'd be ok with me inserting a LOL or a smh emoji here. She came out the farm several times our first year (and since then, but more the first year). She helped butcher chickens, make apple butter, rehab stalls, move chickens from brooders to tractors, drive the tractor, haul limbs, and lots of other stuff. To this day she says "I'm glad you guys did this so I could learn I don't really want to do this much work all the time." The thing with farming is that its time consuming and expensive. Because we are just starting out and don't have money to purchase new equipment, or dig a new well, or have new gates custom made...we try and work with what we have. It take twice as long to accomplish a task when the forklift doesn't start and you have to diagnose and fix the problem.
For us, it works. We don't have a lot of "off farm" interests. We don't go to live performances, we don't really do movies, we can't afford to travel, so we like spending our time, money and energy on the farm. These are the things we love about our farm. Or homestead. Or whatever you want to call it. We call it a farm. We have a schedule from the IRS saying its a farm. So, yeah, its a farm.
#1) DOGS!!! We can have as many dogs as we want. And they are legitimately helpful on the farm. The
big ones scare predators and warn us when the cows are out. The little ones chase the rodents away and keep us warm in our drafty house. And since we are out in the boonies, we don't have to pick up dog poop. They have acres and acres to poop in. Its glorious.
#2) Experiences. There is something so totally cool about working together to get something accomplished. Everyone's problem solving skills start working and some of the craziest ideas are the ones that end up working out the best. You don't only get the experience of working together, but you get to experience nature and other unplanned things. We have gotten to witness the coolest things from finding our calf right after birth, to watching piglets be born, to a chic hatching in the incubator. These are the kind of things you can't necessarily plan for, but they leave you in awe when you get to witness them. Being out in the country gives you more freedom to do other things too. We can set off fireworks without disturbing the neighbors, skate on our frozen pond, and teach others how to drive tractors and stick shift trucks.
#3) There is always something to do. Its not very often that I feel like I've wasted a day. I used to have times where I was restless and bored and would veg out in front of the tv all day watching reruns of Forensic Files and Criminal Minds. I can't tell you the last time I spent a day like. No matter what I'm doing its usually productive. Like right now the office is closed because of icy roads and I'm catching up on blog posts.
#4) OMG the best food! Eggs, milk, beef, pork, chicken, and maple syrup. Oh my. Not only do you get to grow the best food, but the neighbors also have good stuff. We share our apples with our neighbor and they let us come glean what's left in the garden. Another neighbor used some of our chicken processing equipment in exchange for a heritage home grown turkey for Thanksgiving. We are super spoiled when it comes to good food.
#5) Amazing neighbors. When we first moved here I had no idea how we would ever get to know who lived around us. The homes are pretty far apart (about 1/2 mile) and surrounding by nondescript row crops. After the 943th time our pyrs got out we decided to go to every house within a 2 mile radius and introduce ourselves. Now we have great friends. We get together every week for a neighbor dinner and we all help each other out. In our 10 years at our last house we never went inside one of our neighbor's homes (and they never came in ours), we knew 3 neighbor's names, and haven't talked to any of them since we moved.
Some of the things we don't dig about farming.
#1) Learning is expensive. Just about every lesson we have learned has cost us financially. But that's OK with us. If we weren't spending money on the farm we would be spending it somewhere else. Now we have a skill that we've learned.
#2) Old farm houses require lots of upkeep and repair. And living in the country means you can't just "pop home" over lunch to let the repair person in. You have to take the whole day off and if it gets rescheduled, you have to take off another day. And old house repairs are expensive.
#3) Things die. Predators kill chickens. Cows and pigs go to the butcher. Sick animals get euthanized. Pets get run over. Barn cats run away.
#4) Friends don't visit us as often. Not that we had a ton of friends visit us before when we lived in town but its less now. And its more difficult for us to coordinate going to visit friends. We have to make sure that the animals are all situated before we make plans.
#5) The ever growing list of things to do and the lack of funds to accomplish them.