Looking Out For Number One: The Importance of Claiming "Me Time"
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “All I do is take care of everyone else”? If you’re a woman who farms, the answer is almost certainly yes. After all, there’s a huge amount of pressure on female members of the farming community to take on multiple caring roles. You’ve probably found yourself working on the farm while looking after the family, keeping the house in order, and dealing with suppliers, buyers, vets, and the thousand other little things that require attention. But who’s taking care of you?
If you’re used to putting other people’s needs before your own, it can be hard to break the habit. Sadly, there can be a lot of guilt attached to taking time for yourself. In reality, taking a bit of “me time” can be hugely beneficial for your physical and mental health, but it’s often easier said than done. The most important thing for you to realize is this: prioritizing yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Once you’ve put in a full day’s work, you need some downtime to recharge and bring your mind and body back to a healthy, productive state.
It’s natural to have busy days or times when your energy is focused on someone who really needs you. Sometimes these things cause you to cut back on time for yourself. However, this shouldn’t be an ongoing issue in your day to day life. A few days without time for yourself is unfortunate; a few weeks without it is unacceptable. You’ll be a more responsive, effective, and balanced person when you’ve taken some time to recharge, so make it a priority. Schedule me time into your day, if that’s what it takes. Stop responding to emails after a certain point in the evening so you can make time to relax. Delegate manageable tasks around your home and farm to family members or other workers. If you’re a parent, tell your partner to watch the kids for half an hour so you can read a book, take a bath, or chat with a friend.
If anyone around you passes comment on your me time, shut them down firmly but politely. Tell them that taking some time for yourself allows you to run at full capacity the rest of the time, providing the level of work and care that they expect from you. It’s as simple as that. In reality, the biggest hurdle you have to leap over is your own guilt. You understand the importance of nurturing your work and loved ones – now you just need to accept the importance of nurturing yourself.
by Dee Dee Know somebody who is feeling a little …
The Big Business Of Growing Flowers
Vegetables and fruits aren’t the only things that can be grown in the homestead garden and sold for profit. In fact, cut flowers are one of the most profitable crops per acre, with an estimated gross of $55,000 per acre or more on a good year. Of course, you’ll need to deduct your labor and expenses from that to figure out how much you actually made. But, if you start out small and build your cut flower business slowly, you can avoid debt. And, by adding on services like floral design and wedding flowers, you can increase your income even more.
Of course, flower farming is still farming, so it’s hard work that involves physical labor and long hours. But the rewards are many, being your own boss, providing valuable habitat for bees and pollinators, and working outdoors instead of behind a desk. Not to mention being surrounded by gorgeous flowers and making your living doing something you love.
How Much Land Do You Need to Get Started?
Some of the most successful cut flower farms are making a significant profit on only two or three acres of land. If your dream is to own a profitable micro-farm, flowers just might be the crop for you! Typical crops like grains, fruits, and vegetables (or even livestock sold for meat) require more land and machinery for adequate production. With flowers, they are usually planted, cultivated, and even harvested entirely by hand, so limits of time and labor often play a more important role than the amount of available land.
Things to Think About Before You Get Started
In order to achieve profitability on your small acreage, high-intensity production will be required. Startup investments will need to include things like hoop houses and greenhouses to extend your growing season, soil amendments, and things like weed control fabric. You’ll also need seed starting trays and cultivating tools like shovels, hoes, and possibly a rototiller (you might be able to rent one). As you grow, a cooler will be needed for keeping flowers fresh until they’re delivered to your buyer. A van will also be helpful when you start making deliveries or transporting flowers to market.
You’ll need to have an excellent succession-planting plan so that you can get your next crop in the ground within days of when one stops blooming. Mastering this technique will allow you to harvest two crops from the same space each season. Take some time learning about this succession planting before you get started.
You also need to consider if you have a good outlet for selling cut flowers in your area. The amount of money you can charge for your flowers will vary significantly by your location, too. Start small to allow for that learning curve. You’ll need to learn all about germination and harvest times, as well as post-harvest handling for each variety you want to grow. Where you sell your flowers matters… you probably won’t be selling the same varieties at the farmer’s market that you sell to your neighborhood wedding florist.
The Easiest Varieties to Start With
Certain varieties stand out as being easy to grow from seed in a variety of climates. You’re looking for long-stemmed varieties with abundant blooms. Browsing through seed catalogs and reading seed packets can help you figure out if a particular variety is suitable for cutting. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
• Snapdragons: These are a favorite early summer flower that blooms prolifically in a variety of gorgeous colors. The flowers have a lovely citrus scent, long stems, and live a long time after cutting. Best of all? The more flowers you cut, the more they grow!
• Celosia: These heat-loving flowers are easy to grow. You’ll find them in a variety of colors and shapes, from a crested cockscomb shape to a plumed form that works wonderfully as an accent flower in bouquets.
• Amaranthus: Another heat-loving flower that easy to grow, Amaranthus comes in earthy shades with some forms looking like hanging tassels. It’s a beautiful base for market bouquets.
• Marigolds: We are all familiar with these cheerful summer flowers, and they’re great for the cut flower garden, too. They are some of the most abundant, tough flowers you can grow, and they make great additions to market bouquets. You can expect to get up to 15 or 20 blooms on each marigold plant!
• Zinnias: Zinnias are incredibly easy to grow, and they’re prolific producers of abundant blooms in a variety of sizes and colors. They are great for market bouquets in the summer, and they’re a perfect first crop for the beginning cut flower farmer.
• Cosmos: If you want to grow a flower that keeps coming back every time you cut it, you can’t go wrong with cosmos. Every plant will produce armloads of flowers over a period of months, and the daisy-like blooms come in a vast variety of sizes and colors.
Where You Can Sell Your Flowers
One of the first things you’ll need to consider is where you’re going to sell your flowers. Here are some ideas to get you started.
• Farmer’s Markets: If you’re taking your crafts or produce to market every week anyway, why not grow some cut flowers for market bouquets, too? You’ll sell more flowers for more money in urban areas, but even small community markets can be profitable.
• Retail Florists: Upscale florists in your area may be interested in purchasing locally grown flowers. Consider visiting a few shops, ask them what they might be interested in, and leave them your business card.
• Floral Wholesalers: Wholesalers will pay the least amount of money for your flowers, but they’ll also buy a lot at once. If you live in a remote area, a wholesaler might be a good option for you.
• Grocery Stores: Many grocery stores have floral departments and buying from local growers is becoming more and more common.
• Farm Stand Sales: If you live on a well-traveled road, you might be able to sell your flowers at a roadside stand, right next to your homegrown produce and fresh baked cottage foods.
Whether you decide to grow a few flowers to sell alongside your produce at the local or market, or you grow enough to get the wholesalers interested, flower farming can be a fun and profitable side income for your homestead. Remember to start small and give yourself time to learn what grows and sells well in your area.
by Victoria Duff Of all the people we lie to, it is ourselves that we lie to the most. In fact, we tell ourselves whoppers that we would never tell to another human being, much less expect them to believe. Sometimes those lies are just silly little ego-fantasies, and sometimes they are actually ways we …