Homestead/small farm: Where to start?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Freestep, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. Freestep

    Freestep Guest

    Hello everyone,

    I just found this forum and I hope it is a good place to ask these questions.

    I currently live in town, and am thinking about trading up to a larger piece of property in a more rural zone.

    I have always felt that I would be at home managing a small farm, but I'm not sure what to raise. I've always been good with animals, so I'm thinking maybe poultry, sheep/goats, something like that. I am a single female, 37 years old, healthy, no kids, and I work full time. Basically, I want something that is relatively simple to raise that doesn't require a lot of specialized equipment or that is extremely labor-intensive, so I can run it myself if needed.

    As far as things of the plant variety, is there a crop that can be raised for profit on a small farm, just for people who do not have a green thumb? I have tried keeping a garden and just couldn't keep up with weeding and maintenance. I seem to be very good at raising weeds, ivy, and privet trees. :( Is there any type of fruit/nut tree, vegetable, herb, grain, etc. that sort of... grows itself and isn't particularly needy?

    I'd be willing to devote more time to a crop if it allows me enough profit to quit my day job. :)

    I am a dog groomer by trade and, ideally, would like to run my grooming business on the property as well. That way I think I could better tend to things.

    I keep thinking back to animals. Rabbit? Alpaca? Emu? Bees? I have had a small backyard flock of chickens for several years now that seem to be easy keepers and provide me with an bumper crop of eggs.

    I live in the Northern Sacramento valley of California. Our area is renowned as prime agricultural land. Almonds, walnuts, olives, rice, all kinds of crops grow extremely well.

    I eagerly await your ideas and suggestions!

    Carla Freestep
    "Freestep Farms" .... I like the way that sounds.
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Welcome Carla,
    You've come to the right place for advice you might seek. Your dreams are probably on the right track if you want to do it.
    I think Dog Grooming is an ideal 'kick start' to doing that and other things to develop since you like dealing with animals.
    Grubbing around the land and garden are hard work and takes time. Often it feels like a 'small job' has a lot more to it than at first thought. Many do it alone, whether male or female. It just takes the desire to live in rural land and also it can take quite a bit of resourses in money to 'take the leap'.

    My successes in farmsteading (or at being able to live in the country) have ups and downs. I started by the seat of my pants. You can learn and practice with tools and power implements to do many jobs. The beauty of starting from scratch is that you can set goals and expectations to reach in increments.

    As for garden plants that 'grow themselves', I can't imagine, except to study some material like no-till or lasagne gardening methods. Even at that, you'll need to accumulate and distribute material on the garden, thus is somewhat labor intensive. About the only thing I can think of for a harvest without planting is to go foraging on land where things like berries grow naturally. That may be limited in your part of the world.
    The thing about farmsteading is that it does take some physical presence and application of using your hands to use equipment, or labor to do things manually.
    The other thing you mention that your area is 'prime' for agricultural use. That means it is going to be expensive to buy any land to start with, and then what you can do with it would help if you got some local ag. extension office information and help. I would start at that angle unless you consider moving elsewhere that property is cheaper, and then it's another ball game of what you can do there.
    I don't know if there is any easy 'fix', except to just start doing it. If you like Dogs and grooming, obviously a kennel operation could be a good fit for you, but then again it is quite an investment for that operation and detail to keep it running right, as well as regulations and costs. Perhaps something that is an offshoot to your dog interests like making something dog owners would want to buy and develop a small business operation if that takes off. Once you have your country property and decide on what animals or poultry you might choose to raise, there is plenty of advice here on that with some of the specific forums you might want to check out.

    Good Luck with your interests.

  3. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Wow! I think a dog grooming/kennel business is a great idea! I'd look into hot composting that dog doo (not for veggies, just ornamentals) and sell the greatest looking perennials money can buy as well. Think of it, you already have the clientele coming there--just have a sign about what else you have to buy that week: squash, beans, fresh eggs--whatever!

    Wish I wasn't so squirmish around strange pets or I'd do the same!
  4. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    NW-IL Fiber Enabler
    No reason to not use all manures in the vegetable garden after hot composting them.

    The only 'easy' gardens are the ones that are deeply mulched, perhaps with a good piece of cardboard or multiple layers of newpaper under it. The weeds pull out easily and your growing your garden soil.
  5. rzrubek

    rzrubek Flying Z

    May 12, 2004
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Well I can tell you from experince that once setup properly, rabbits are very low maintanance. Now that i have our rabbit barn setup with hanging cages, automatic waterers I only spend about 10 mins a day in there, and maybe an hour or so a week doing maintanace, cleaning and breeding and such. We currently have 7 producing does and 8 more junior does and 3 bucks. With the dog grooming business you may see if any of your clients feed the B.A.R.F. diet. If so, there would be a good market for rabbits. Not to mention they are good eating and the best meat out there. Also along the lines with the dogs would be a kennel or boarding while people are on vacation. Good Luck, Randy