More delusional thinking?

organic_flutterby(5 MO)September 22, 2008

A few threads back mylonite posted a question about whether or not she was delusional for wanting to buy land. I have the same question and read the great advice given to her, but I have another question along the same line. I want to know how feasible is it for a single woman to work and manage a small farm? Will I constantly be needing another person for help? And if so, for what kind of things? Should I have the thinking that I can do it all, but instead of a huge garden I just have to deal with a smaller one? Instead of more of whatever, deal with fewer? Or should I say I can't possibly do it all. TIA

Here is a link that might be useful: my new blog

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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I'd at least set up an reciprocal arrangement with a nearby neighbor to feed & water your livestock and plants in case of emergencies or vacations. You can always start off smaller than you planned and add more animals or crops later, easier than going whole hog and having to cut back. Also, expect chores to be somewhat heavier during seasonal harvestime, planting & Spring when animals have young 'uns. :) You may have to hire short-term help then.

What are your goals for your farm--self-support, marketable produce or animals, etc.? Also, are you in good health and able to manage the physical work of a farm?

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 4:09PM
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Hi Organic flutterby;

Most that try to make a living selling produce at the Farmers Markets-don't. It is new times-thus calls for new ways. If you can build a medium sized greenhouse so during the fall-winter-spring season you can grow salad greens and herbs. Approach the local restaurants (within 30 miles)to buy your wonderful fresh organic produce. I know a young woman who grows Basel (about 15 different species) and makes a 6 figure income after 4 years. Her biggest customer is Wal-Mart. Another outlet source could be the produce wholesalers in the larger cities. Think possibilities-not what ifs. Gain knowledge to obtain success. You can! Think of all the wonderful organic eggs you could get feeding chickens the organic surplus fruits and veggies. Good luck. Keep on Chick'en.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 7:42PM
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Organic flutterby,
Go for it! If you want to do it, try having a small farm. Seasonal help is available from your local 4-H--you get a kid who knows what to do and is used to working. The local high school may also have an agriculture course, and many communities have Future Farmers of America.
Do follow Velvet's advice and start small. Also, keep a journal of what you do and when. It helps in figuring out your work schedule.
If you are near a well-traveled road, you can set up a small farm stand right on your own property. That saves leaving the farm, trucking stuff around, and having to bring the unsold back home.
Meet your neighbors. Sharing equipment, knowledge and labor really helps, and most farmers are more than willing to help a newbie. We have found so.
And, don't concentrate on what can go wrong. Think of getting up in the morning and seeing mist on the fields rather than your neighbor's driveway; hearing the birds wake up rather than the boom-box next door; and sitting down in the evening with a cold beverage and a good ache in your bones. So much can go right!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 7:53AM
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You should definately not say I can't possibly do it at all. If you have a dream, go for it. After I bought my place, my mother said "you've been moving to the country since you were a little girl".

Start out with a small garden, fruit trees and chickens. You won't regret it in any way at all. Try some raised beds too.

Blueberries, thornless blackberries, figs, plums, pears, japanese persimmons (non-astrigent) are all relatively easy to grow and don't demand lots of babying. These also usually produce fruit within a year or two. You will have to find things that grow well in your planting zone.

Barter with your neighbors if you can. My DH trades out painting or mechanic work with our neighbors for sand/gravel or sometimes unused materials they have laying around. Get your friends to help you and have a barn/chicken coop raising and feed them.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 12:09PM
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If you read the other thread then you read my post. I am single, live on a small farm (20 acres), work full time at a bank 35 minute commute, and have a NYS inspected daylily nursery as a "hobby".

I will be 50 next year, I bought this property 11 years ago. I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have a person that weeds for me occasionally ... and I have developed great relationships with local people for other things I need ... hay, wood, trees, projects, mowing ...

I do tons of things myself, get frustrated when I am physically unable to do soem of them. :>) But I've learned my limitations.

With the daylilies, I keep the number of varieties I have to around 400, that's all I can handle. And I have tons of gardens, but am not buidling any more. I have NOT found any kids in my area that are willing to do actual physical work to earn money.

You CAN do it, but you need to have a plan, start small, and realize and acknowledge your limitations as they come along.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farm, flower & animal pictures

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 2:19PM
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organic_flutterby(5 MO)

Thank you all for your advice, I will be keeping it in mind. And thank you for your encouragement, makes me want to succeed even more when I know people are pulling for me.

pamghatten--your pictures are stunning. The "My Farm" album is too much, your place is just perfect. I'm envious!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 2:59PM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

I remember going through Mississippi when we were homeschooling my youngest and we stopped as people baled cotton,we visited a catfish farmer and then a chicken farmer.The chicken farmer was a single mom with a HUGE amount of poultry.She kindly showed us her set up where she cleaned the eggs where she threw the dead ones,,, the ugly and the pretty.She didnt mow her yard she had goats that did that and gave her milk for the children and to make cheese.
I would only hope hope she had some back up help I mean what if she or her children fall ill? And we all do need to get away on occasion.
Still I think it would be a wonderful lifestyle .I loved watching the Beatrice Potter movie(not Harry Potter!) She bought up many,many farms with her earnings.
I have only two and a half acres 2 dogs,a cat, three ducksand two Ponds filled with fish but it is back breaking work and my back does at times scream in pain.And I hate to admit it but I would NOT want to do it all myself.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 2:59PM
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HI everyone. I agree that there is nothing like having your own little farm. We have about 12 acres and I love it. I have 2 horses, 2 dogs, 6 hens and my baby girl PARROT named Sam. We expanded our garden this year. I agree with pamghatten start small and expand a little at a time and you will enjoy it more. It's fun to learn things about farming. I remember things my mama told me as a kid and I sure am glad I at least half listened. She would be proud of me and my family if she were still here. next year I think I am gonna get a pig.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 4:08PM
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Organic, lots of good advice here. Don't give up your dream just because you are single ;) I do agree that you must have a "back-up" or someone you can call in an emergency to help tend your animals at least. I have found that in my rural neighborhood, people help each other out. I have shared my eggs and in return gotten buckets of pears, cukes, plants, you name it. My neighbor puts her horses in our pasture from time to time during the summer and in return her husband manages it for us, as we don't know a whole lot about pasture upkeep.
Do you work fulltime? I hate to say that it does put a damper on things but IS do-able. Another reason to start small. If at all possible, I would live on the land you buy for a year before doing much in the way of planting or animals just to see what the 4 seasons will bring. I had to adjust a lot of my plans after sitting through a harsh winter here. As I stated in the other thread, I think you will be surprised at the amount of time you spend in general upkeep of a property, just to keep the grass mowed, tree limbs cleared, fences maintained, etc. Lots to think about.
All that being said, this past year has been remarkable for DH and I. We love the time we spend here, even mowing, LOL. We have dogs, cats, and chickens. We love the critters and I have converted DH from a chicken-hater to a lover ;) He grew up with chickens and didn't have many good experiences. His participation in my laying flock was to humor me, LOL. Now he eagerly goes with me to check the nests and knows a few hens by their antics, etc. I would definitely urge you to follow your dream! Lori

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 10:03AM
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Glad you like my photos ... that is NOT how my farm looked when I bought it. It was a run down horse farm that needed LOTS of work. Eleven years later, and I am very happy with what I have accomplished as a single woman living alone.

I have great neighbors, we all help each other out with animals and properties ... make sure your neighbors aren't too far away.

I agree with the person above who said to live through the first year and see what the seasons bring. I started all my sale gardens in what used to be the front pasture, planted everything right in the ground, and then watched the whole area flood the next spring.

I have since put everything in raised beds which works much better.

I LOVE my farm and my life there.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 2:45PM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

I think you must have $$$ for good equipment too.Someone mentioned mowing. My Dh mows around the ponds with a walk behind mower and I ride a SCAG. It is something we don't mind doing , We put on our headphones and boogie to the oldies while were at it! If I was further out though Id have goats do it.
With luck you may find a fully equipped farm. I see you are in zone 6. I use to live in PA as a kid I remember having to find the barn in the blinding snow.But once you get to that barn with its warm animals anxious ly waiting for you it is worth it.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 4:18PM
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Goldenpond, I don't necessarily agree ...

I bought a small farm tractor with many attachments right after I bought my farm. I eventually sold most of the attachments and then bought the one attachment (a brush hog) that I could really use.

I also bought an old Dodge truck with a plow ... I eventually sold that for $600, the same amount of money it cost me to buy a plow for my ATV.

Now, the ATV was a great buy ... it's an 1984 4-wheel Honda, and still going strong. I plow the snow with it in the winter. And attach carts in it in the summer.

I sold the tractor this spring since it had a cracked block and needed too much work. The money I sold it for will pay for my hay person to come and brush-hog my pastures twice a year for MANY years.

So I started with 4 vehicles to maintain, and am down to 2. I drive a pickup truck, that is invaluable.

I don't own a lawn mower ... I pay my retired dairy farmer neighbor to mow. He has a lawn tractor and loves to mow .. not me!

PS: what's a SCAG?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 7:21PM
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organic_flutterby(5 MO)

So many things to think about and I thank you for bringing up these points.

To answer some questions, my plan is to work only part time outside the house like I do now. I am an RN and so far have been able to work as little or as much as I want. God willing that will continue, if not then I will just do what I can with the time and energy I have.

My health is good, so is my back, for now at least. I am a hard worker and best of all, I am determined.

I was hoping for some FFA or 4-H kids to help sometimes, maybe that isn't realistic, I don't know. You all talk about relying on neighbors, which would be excellent. I wonder if rural neighbors are different that city neighbors, cuz' I can't say much about mine. I love the idea though.

I have put much thought into farm equipment and a suitable vehicle. I pretty much decided I will have to trade in my VW Bug for a pick up. Don't think the Bug will do me much good on a farm. I plan on only having a small lawn that I will keep nice. I don't know what to do with the rest, I thought maybe put some goats to it every now and again. I really have no idea if that is feasible. But I also have read that if I plan on using milk from my goats that I shouldn't use them as brush hogs. I really don't want a tractor, I'm not sure of the need for one. I will hire someone to clear some spots for me and then hopefully keep up on the weeding or else I have to figure something else out. I will probably have a tiller, but I plan on using raised beds for a lot of stuff. What kind of equipment is really necessary?

Please feel free to tell me how naive I am. I am really thinking things through and trying to be realistic, but please set me straight, if needed.

This is a wonderful forum and you guys are great, thank you.

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 9:03PM
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My country neighbors are definately a lot different from my city/town neighbors. Most country people know how to work and aren't afraid of it. I can't say that about people who live in a subdivision.

You don't have to have a tractor, really if you are only going to do raised beds, you might not even need a big tiller.

Once the bed is made and the soil/compost/whatever put in, you might just need to turn it over with a shovel before re-planting. Or you could just get one of those small Mantis tillers.

Before my DH, I only cut the grass around my house. I used a riding lawnmower. I also use Ground Clear/Brush Killer and Grass Killer products by Hi-Yield that I get at my co-op to help keep things under control.

4 wheelers are great. I use mine to get around the property, to haul a small trailer and innumerable uses.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 12:24PM
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I have a Mantis with all the attachments except the hedge trimmer (wish I had it now). They run like a scalded dog! I have extreme degenerative arthritis and can't stand too long without paying for it over the next 3 or 4 days. I use the Mantis while setting in a wheelchair. I Love it. Sometime I lay on a piece of old carpet to plant seeds and seedlings. I'm building a garden cart that I can lay on so it is easier to move along the rows for planting. Making it so the height can be adjusted from 6" to 18", and the wheels will be able to adjust from 2' to 4.5' wide. I grow in 4' wide rows. I don't walk in the rows at all. Each year we add bone/blood meal, chicken po-comp, Canadian peat, (sand when enlarging-Michigan clay) and lime. Had some sweet corn with 4 large ears on them. Planted 6 straight eight cuks and harvested over 400 cuks. Planted 6 Zucchini and 6 yellow squash-processed enough for the whole year and wheel barrel full each week for the chickens. Can't even guess how many tomatoes-we have all we need for the year and friends and family won't answer the door if we approach with a bag of bucket-but our beloved chickens greet us happily.

I love growing things-caring for them-but most of all EATING PRODUCE THAT TASTES LIKE IT SHOULD!

You'll enjoy doing this-it will be good for you.

Good Gardening! Keep on Chick'en. To see picture of some of my Feathered Friends visit:

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 1:45PM
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seramas - you are so right about produce tasting like it should.

I admire your strength. So many people with a dehabilative condition would just give up. Good for you for not doing so. My mother with severe kidney disease, kept working. She said as long as you work, you live. When you quit working, you have nothing to live for.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 2:20PM
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organic_flutterby(5 MO)

You're an inspiration seramas, love your chicken photos, can't wait until I can post some of my own.

Lots of reasons for growing your own produce: freshness, abundance, cost perhaps, grow what you want and you don't have to buy frankenfood, organic and like you said for taste. Control of your own life.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 2:33PM
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The pickup is an absolute necessity for most folks on a farm or homestead. Not only for hauling stuff, but because lots of country roads aren't well-maintained all year (up here it is mostly Spring "break-up" that is the problem) and you may need the clearance that cars don't have. We have worked up here for 16 years and haven't needed equipment beyond a garden tractor to mow and haul a wagon, but as I have gotten older and many of my children have moved away, I don't have the muscle power around that I used to have. I used to rent equipment if I needed it for big jobs in the Spring and Summer, but I purchased a small John Deere tractor this summer and am finding it absolutely wonderful for moving and lifting heavy items and soil, manure, gravel, etc. When I rented equipment, I would have to line up all the jobs before the equipment arrived; now I can do them as they come up and as I have time, and I don't have to wait. We do most of our gardening in beds or greenhouses, so I use a little tiller (mantis-type) or a shovel and hoe for cultivating, but for turning the compost piles or moving compost and manure into the beds, the tractor can't be beat!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 4:36PM
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Hi Organic Flutterby,

Some thing you probably already know about-but for others that might read this is quality seeds from the past called 'heritage' seeds. So many of the current store bought seeds do not propagate true and many are genetically engineered. If things fall apart as some think-it will be impossible to save seeds from year to year. When you have grown some of the 'lost' varieties from the past and eaten them you will wonder why they were ever lost. The taste of an heirloom tomato comes to mind-brandy wine is my favorite. There was a verity of sweet corn I really liked-early evergreen-lost my seeds about 10 or so years ago and haven't found anyone that might have some to trade with.

Keep on chick'en.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 8:44PM
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organic_flutterby(5 MO)

Seramas--Have you tried Seed Savers Exchange for your corn? They have a variety called Stowell's evergreen corn. I don't know if it is the same as what you are looking for or not.

Genetically engineered stuff scares me, I will be using heirloom stuff the whole way. Saving seeds will be a way of life for me. And don't even get me started on what they do to the animals that end up in the meat department with what they inject into them, feed them, slaughter them, process them, et c. If you think about it enough you might not want to eat anything from the grocery store.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 10:49PM
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doninalaska is absolutely correct about a pickup being an essential need for a farm or when you have animals. I have a honda element for traveling back and forth to work, but it can also haul feed when raining, big walley world trips, pets to the vet and so on. But, I have a truck for the big loads and bad weather (4 wheel drive).

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 10:17AM
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I'm not single or female, but my wife is semi-crippled and my kids are way to young to help so my farm was built by me alone in spite of time out for the kids. I also run a business which takes eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week, twenty eight or nine days a month.
In spite of a full life, my family and I pretty much live off the land just five years after we bought the property. These are the hard and fast rules that make it work for us.
1. Don't start anything on the farm that you don't enjoy. It's a hobby first, if you feel like you are working you will put a $value on your time and it won't make sense anymore.
2. -NEVER- rely on hired help for anything much more important than weeding flower beds. For one, paying them will cost you more than the job is worth and two, Nobody will care about it as much as you will so count on it being done half-ass.
3. Don't ever start out wanting it all. Self sufficiancy for us is the accumilation of about thirty different hobbies. If I had tackled it all as one big lifestyle project, I wouldn't have made it past day two.
4. Do your research and do it right the first time. I've wasted countless hours trying to save a few minutes only to have to re-do the whole thing.
5. Don't ever count up how many hours a day you work. Go until you feel like stopping. When you feel like stopping...STOP! Burnout is your worst enemy and will turn a dream into a nightmare.
6. Do it for yourself and those close to you. Don't sell anything until you have more than you could ever possibly use. Don't produce things that you intend to sell, that's called work. We tried that and lost money. Now I give away whatever we don't use and come out ahead and happier.
Good luck

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 7:00PM
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tejas_pacas(z8 SC TX)

Organic flutterby,
Yes, a single woman can run a farm. I'm getting there. Single and 52. Still work full-time and have 1 hour commute each way. I was able to adjust my work time to 6:45am -3:30pm, so I miss some of the horrible Houston traffic, and I do most of my errands on the way home.

I bought a new 13 acre place in January, but wasn't able to move till April (run-in with a semi). So got a late start on getting the new place going. I have 4 cats, 3 dogs, 13 chickens, 2 horses, and 23 alpacas. Six of the alpacas and 1 horse are boarding with me.

I built the chicken house/run myself and the temp fencing. But my parents were great and loaned me the money to get the permanent fencing done by a contractor. Otherwise, I'd be at it for the next 5 years. But I did a lot of the fencing at my last place. Used the money from the last house to get the barn built - shell only. I'll build out the feed room and interior pens. Have a friend that is an electrician, and he's going to help me layout and put in the electricity. I'll do all the plumbing. I found a couple of great guys to help with cleaning up this place (previously timbered property) and build fences from word of mouth and referrals. They were great and gave me preferential treatment when the hurricane hit. One guy helped me get the generator set up, and the other came and checked on me the day after to see what damage I had. He put me on the top of his list for tree clean-up.

By next year, I'll have my garden laid out, citrus trees in, fig tree in, and the rose garden started. May take a year or two, but plan on having a greenhouse for propagation too.

Definitely get to know your neighbors. My new neighbor across the street has already offered to mow my pastures once I get the stumps out, help me with electricity (he's an electrician, too) and has offered to let me borrow his flatbed trailer once I get a gooseneck hitch on my truck. His wife has already mentioned their teenage daughter would be available to feed my animals when I go out of town to shows.

Our local feed store/John Deere dealer realized there are a lot of women running area farms, and is planning a set of seminars just for us. Small engine maintenance, tractor maintenance, and using a tractor (hooking up implements, driving, proper use of gears, etc).Check out your local community college. Many of them have continuing education classes on all sorts of topics. I want to learn welding. Also, there is an organization here that sets up classes called Leisure Learning. Tons of short courses on all sorts of things, from gardening to small engine repair. Computer classes to gournet cooking. Mostly night and weekend classes.

Definitely contact the county extension agents for your area. They can tell you what varieties of fruits and veggies do well in the area, what the market is for animals, and they may put on adult education classes. Oh, and when looking for land, if you can get ag-use, that helps on taxes, but you need to understand the county's rules for qualifying. That's why I moved. The 6 acres didn't qualify.

Most valuable? My truck - 3/4 ton diesel that gets 28 mpg, my John Deere riding mower with cart (buy good quality - the cheaper mower lasted 2 years), my big Rubbermaid hand cart, my fully equipped shop (got more tools than a lot of guys). Next purchase - a planer to plane down fence boards for my feedroom wall. Oh, and check craigslist for freebies and sale items. Got 100 t-posts for 2/3 of what they cost new.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 11:26PM
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I love your 6 rules, especially #6. Giving your extras-before long you'll receive others extras. We have chickens as a hobby (large hobby!). As you know when it comes to chickens, they = eggs. We started giving eggs to friends, family or who ever wanted them. Now when they come for eggs they bring home made baked goods and such. It is really contagious this giving thing.

To see pictures of our chickens visit and

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 12:55AM
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