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Article: A Farmgirl’s Dream
by Dee Dee
Have you ever taken a daydream so far it starts to become your reality? I did. I obsessed over DIY projects, crafting, canning, gardening and then finally, husbandry. To the point that caused my husband to throw up his hands in a surrendering motion and say, “fine.” I’ve set up this page of resources to show you what came next. From the moment the hubby was on board, I got busy and found a farm. The following is a summary of where I started to where we are now.
I first searched for farmland at this short list of sites specific to land and foreclosures. I made a list of favorites and called around. This led us to a realtor (in the area we were focused on) that knew exactly what we were looking for who found us a bank-owned property that was dirt cheap. We negotiated the price to the cost of the land alone, since the house was a fixer. Also keep in mind that it is possible to negotiate the price when dealing with land that has non-tillable areas on it (is a portion in the woods? on a rocky hillside?).
Now let’s get real and determine affordability. This is where we had a bit of an advantage because we sold a home that gave us enough to own our fixer farm outright. That isn’t an option in most cases so you’ll have to be extremely keen on keeping track of your money! And speaking of fixers, a key question to ask yourself is: Am I willing to purchase one and do I have enough saved for a remodel? Doing so will save you a bundle. Use the calculators below to help you make this once-in-a-lifetime decision.
Closing Cost Estimator
Now that you’re starting a brand new life, what comes next? Well, my first thought was to start the actual “farming” part of it first. (We kinda ignored the house in the beginning.) I started a market garden and bought a bunch of chickens. I knew if I could do that, I could do anything. Now, we sell pigs and turkeys and we’re building a barn for our first family milk cow. So ask yourself, “what do I want to do?” Do I want to grow crops? Do I want to raise animals? Do I want to sell at the local farmers market? To neighbors? The genius in starting with the hard work first is that you’ll know what you’re made of. Map out your new property and come up with a design that you can see yourself managing. A kitchen garden and chicken coop should be close to the house for easy access, and then continue from there. Here are some resources to help your plan turn into a success.
- Book – The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It (highly recommended)
- Book – The Art and Science of Grazing: How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems (highly recommended)
- Book – Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business
- Book – Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, 2nd Edition
- pdf download – Pastures for profit: A guide to rotational grazing
- pdf download – How to begin your small farm dream
- Website – Pasture Management
- Blog – Fresh Eggs Daily
- Blog – The Chicken Chick®
- YouTube – GardenGirltv
- Supplier – Peaceful Valley Farm Supply – groworganic.com
- Supplier – Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. – rareseeds.com
- Supplier – Wood Prairie Family Farm
- Supplier – Filaree Garlic Farm
- Message Boards – Homesteading Today
Finally, after all that hard work we were able to turn our attention to remodeling the house. By this time I was feeling like I deserved to have everything I wanted. I searched for hours on end on houzz.com for design inspiration, bought stacks and stacks of House Beautiful and Traditional Home magazines, the complete set of Pottery Barn design books, and I recorded every known design and home-improvement show on HGTV and DIY Network. But I should also mention that we are actually a lot more makeshift and frugal than that, so we did a lot of the remodeling and all of the decorating ourselves. 🙂
Even More Ideas
Finishes and Decorating
If all the above is just a little bit too ambitious right now, then it’s time to think outside the box. Why not rent/lease farmland? Or before deciding your next move you might want to volunteer on a farm or become a farm manager. You’ll be gaining invaluable knowledge that you can one day apply to your own farm. You go ahead farmgirl, get your hands dirty!
craigslist.org – skip shiny and new, buy everything and anything used and cheap.
Manage It – the app that makes managing tasks (and people) easier.
LegalZoom – you tell them what you’re thinking about doing, and they send you all the right forms for making it legal.
And here’s a little help to stay organized… Woman’s Day, Grit, Good Housekeeping, Hobby Farms, MaryJanesFarm, Real Simple, Farm Show, Martha Stewart, Mother Earth News, Mother Earth Living, Capper’s Farmer and Heirloom Gardener.