One thing is for sure: reading You Can Farm makes me want to go investigate the local farmer’s market! As far as becoming a farmer myself – well, not so much, or should I say, not all at once? YCF is targeted towards people who want to know how to make a good living from farming – and in today’s social and regulatory climate, means becoming a designer-food farmer targeting a niche market, rather than yet another commodity-food factory farmer. Which means marketing. And people. Not exactly my comfort zone!
However, I also feel like I’m coming to the whole “farming as business” thing a little late in my life cycle. With the goal of having children soon, caring for an income-generating farm – when both my family and my husband’s family are suburbanites – is probably not a good idea. And my husband would rather homestead a bit while keeping his “town” job! In this case, I’m not truly the intended audience for this particular book, or at least, I’m part of the audience that will take the philosophy and the advice without trying to replicate exactly what the Salatins did in their family. Farming done right is a multi-generational enterprise – that much I totally agree with! – so our idea is to get the ball rolling, slowly, and raise children who will be able to expand and go on to greater things. Especially since they’d have the background knowledge from growing up on a homestead that J and I totally lack.
Going back to the book – a couple things really stood out to me. The first was the question, “What are you doing NOW?” My answer is “Not a lot, actually.” Sure, there are various restrictions on how I can use my postage-stamp yard for things, but I shouldn’t be letting that stop me from practicing good homesteading management of the plants and animals that I already have! So I’ll be upping my backyard gardening skills as much as I can in the winter, and hopefully I can take the lessons of YCF to heart and actually get off my lazy butt more often next summer.
The next thing was that to make a living farming, you need to go retail, not wholesale. Wholesale is a corporate game in today’s regulatory and commercial environment. Of course, since I’m a lazy bum, I’m sitting here thinking “Drat! I can’t just grow the thing and hand it off to somebody else to make it into something? I’m not an inspired cook!” But since I’m not planning to make a living off my farming, there’s no excuse for me not doing all that I can to prep and “retail item” everything that my backyard garden produces. Next year I’ll do Roma tomatoes instead of a massive cherry tomato vine so that I can make spaghetti sauce and tomato soup. If the fruits I planted this fall do well as they mature, I can make jam. (Next summer I may enlist the local family to aid in harvesting wild blackberry for canning adventures!)
I’m also thinking about what I’d have to do to add non-aquatic animals to my household setup. I’d love a little flock of chickens, but that’s out of the question in this house’s backyard – HOA regulations. But what about a house chicken or three, like urban pets? If it’s a pet that doesn’t live outdoors I can probably bribe the neighbors into not complaining with extra eggs and an “introduce the kids to the pet chicken” campaign. And I’m pretty sure I’m within two degrees of acquaintance to people with homestead-sized animal processing facilities who would be willing to give a friend a hand with turning an older laying hen into dinner! Figuring out how to build a chicken habitat inside and still capture all the manure for use in the garden would be the big hurdle…