The farm is a constant source of entertainment and learning for us. We try to view it as a hobby and wonder what else we would do on our weekends if we didn't have fields to plough, cattle to chase and fences to mend! Of course our long term plan is to only have one farm, but we currently have our Eight Acre property (for which this blog was named) and our 258 A property (which is sadly still a hobby farm! 8 acres becomes 258 acres). I hope by sharing some of our experiences here, new hobby farmers don't make the same mistakes that we did, and more seasoned farmers might pick up some of our ideas that work and use them for themselves to improve the sustainability and viability of their farms.
No matter what size farm you have, you will relate to this post: The truth about farming
And if you do have a small farm, here's some ideas for you: What to do with eight acres
We strongly belive that farming can only be profitable and enjoyable if it is sustainable and that current practices based on chemical fertilisers, monocultures and herbicides/pesticides are not sustainable in the long term. While I don't have the answer for you yet, I think I am looking in the right places! I think that permaculture, organic farming, biological agriculture, and the teachings of Joel Salatin and Peter Andrews are a good place to start, and we then have to work to adapt what works on our own property.
Permaculture - Observe and Interact
Permaculture - Catch and Store Energy
Permaculture - Obtain a yield
Permaculture - Self-regulation
Permaculture - Use renewable resources
Permaculture - Produce no waste
Permaculture - design from patterns to details
Permaculture - Integrate rather than segregate
Permaculture - use small and slow solutions
Permaculture - Use and Value Diversity
Permaculture - Use edges and value the marginal
Permaculture - Creatively Use and Respond to Change
Planning our property - Keyline design
Perennial plants and trees - a food forest
Organic farming from the consumer's point of view:
Why choose organic produce?
Biological agriculture as a transition to organic farming:
Biological agriculture - a transition to organic f...
Biological farming - mineral management
Making use of microbes in the soil
Natural Sequence Farming - using Peter Andrews' me...
Joel Salatin - adapting Polyface farming method
And then to some more practical matters, we seems to spend a lot of time with fences! Either checking and fixing barbed wire fences or setting up electric fences and changing batteries...
Checking the fences
Shocking tactics! Confessions of an electric fence...
Electric fencing for beginners
Splitting up paddocks for intensive grazing
We also have spent a lot of time trying to grow forage for hay and realised two things, it is cheaper to buy hay from a farmer who knows what he's doing and we'd rather be growing a perennial pasture than ploughing. Here are a few thoughts on pasture, forage and hay:
Growing forage or perennial pasture
Fabricate a round-bale holder at home
Planting forage oats
Forage crops, pasture, hay - isn't it just grass?
Managing pasture - is burning necessary?
And a few other things that you may find useful:
GPS mapping our property
Buying a bigger tractor
Water for stock - setting up a dam pump
Harvesting water for the house and animals
Water for small farms
So that was a bit of a summary of the last year and a bit on our farm, how was your year and what are you planning for next year?