What Everybody Ought to Know About Living on a Farm

Living on a farmI grew up in the suburbs. Neighbors twenty feet away on all sides. Eating the typical standard American diet. It was all I knew. Then I got married. My husband grew up on a farm and couldn’t even fathom the idea of a vegetable out of a can. So once we bought a house we started our own little garden. I began learning how to can and freeze to preserve our homegrown food for the winter. I’ve always loved to cook and bake, so making things from scratch was just fine with me. We did our best to eat well (or what we thought was eating well – still low fat, mostly SAD) and grow some of our own food. Then in 2009, when my first child was one, I stumbled across the book Nourishing Traditions. And my views on food did a 180. I did a pretty big overhaul of our diet. And it’s been a learning process ever since. Almost ten years of baby steps!

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Living on a farm

The Farm is Calling

As I gained more knowledge (and even started my own blog about real food) I realized that I wanted to be more self-sustaining. I wanted to go back to the way my husband grew up. Back to the way my grandparents lived. In 2015 we started to search for the perfect little farm. It was a year long process. And in spite of our best efforts to buy other houses, God led us right where He wanted us to be. I couldn’t have asked for anything better! In December of 2016 (in a blizzard!) we moved to a ten acre hobby farm with a barn and a small orchard of about eighty apple trees. We have a good size garden where we grow as much of our own produce as possible. In the spring we’ll be planting peach and pear trees as well. We currently have ten chickens that we raise for eggs (and fun!) and of course a few barn cats. Our hope is to eventually get other animals (pigs? cows? goats?) inspired by fellow contributor Lori who has raised animals humanely. But all in good time. We are welcoming a new baby to the family this spring. So a new animal will have to wait another year. We’ve been on our farm one year now. And I must admit it’s pretty awesome. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.From a non-country girl, here are some things I’ve learned about farm life over the last year.Living on a farm

Living on a farm is a lot of work!

I don’t know about you, but when I visit a farm it’s like stepping into a dream world. I think how awesome it would be to grow and raise everything myself. To not have to rely on the grocery store every week. It just makes me feel happy. Now that I live on a farm, I realize there is so much work that goes into making a farm run! And we don’t even have a full-fledged farm yet. There are chores to be done every day. Lots of food preservation. Simply keeping the inside of the house clean as all the dirt is brought in is quite a task. There is never a chance to get bored. Farm work is very fulfilling, but if you’re not up for the challenge, a farm may not be for you.Living on a farm

A farm costs a lot of money.

The most surprising part of farm life for me has been the cost. At least the upfront cost. We’ve only been here a year, so there is still a lot of updating to be done. Both inside and outside the house. Since we’ve been here we’ve put in a new driveway, culverts, insulation, propane, new windows, gutters, washer, dryer, refrigerator and more! Before we can get any more animals we have a huge pasture that needs new fencing. Our barn could use some updates (it’s probably about 100 years old). Our orchard is in serious need of pruning to make the trees more productive. Simply keeping up with the cost of animal feed is a big undertaking. Especially if you want quality, organic feed. It’s expensive! Once the farm is up and running the costs do go down some. But up front, there is a lot of money that goes into making a farm work.Living on a farm

There are so many opportunities to teach kids.

As a homeschooling mom, I love any opportunity we have to learn. Especially when it’s part of our daily lives. Over the past year, my kids have learned so much about creation, stewardship, God, quality food and keeping their bodies healthy.Last year we studied land animals in science. This year we are studying human anatomy. Combine those with farm life and you have a lot of great discussions about how our food impacts our bodies and how we are to care for God’s creation.Next year we are looking forward to studying botany so we can understand more about all the fruits and veggies we grow.Living on a farmA farm is also a great place to learn about the life cycle. The kids have seen kittens that are only hours old. They have also seen some of those kittens not survive for more than a few weeks. We’ve had to deal with a hawk trying to kill our chickens (thankfully we were able to stop it!).Whether you homeschool or not, I can’t think of a better place to learn about God’s creation!Living on a farm

Develop a new appreciation for farmers and well-raised food.

Knowing how hard it is to raise good quality food, we have all developed a deeper appreciation for what we eat. Cauliflower is not just cauliflower. It’s planting, weeding, watering, picking and preparing. An egg is not just an egg. It’s daily care for a chicken.We are not just thankful for the food we grow ourselves but for the amazing local farmers that we support. I don’t take it for granted that we can purchase grass-fed beef from a farmer one street away or that we can be part of an organic CSA just down the road. I love knowing that our money is supporting other farmers with a common mission.

You have to drive everywhere.

One of the downsides to farm life is living far away from everything. I love the peace and quiet. But I also don’t love a half hour drive everywhere. I try to keep doctor appointments and grocery trips to a minimum. But our kids are involved in a lot of activities. So we do have to spend quite a bit of time on the road.Living on a farm

There is really no need to leave home!

Since the drive is so long and we have so much space, I love staying home!There is no need to go to a playground. We have a playset and sandbox. And the kids can explore all day long. There is no need to go camping. We can build a bonfire and camp in our own yard (though my husband still does love to go camping). We’ve got plenty of activities right here at home. I love that other people like to visit us! I’m such a homebody. And can go for days on end without leaving the farm. I do enjoy having visitors and watching friends come and explore.Living on a farm

Kids learn how to work.

Growing up I didn’t have any assigned chores or family duties. My mom pretty much did everything. I know she was working hard to keep us happy and healthy. But it was a disservice to not give us responsibilities.I am fortunate that two of my kids love to work. I mean, love it. They are always wanting to help. And I want to foster that desire. We are a family. Not simply parents and children. We all work together and contribute.Every day my son feeds the chickens and cats and collects eggs. In the fall we all chip in with apple picking. Everyone participates in the gardening. The kids help in the house as well with cleaning, unloading the dishwasher. putting away laundry, etc. And of course, they help with cooking! With so much work to do on the farm, everyone has to do their part.My desire is to teach my kids to find joy in working. They may not always want to do the work. But they can do it with a good attitude.

Freedom.

One of the best parts of farm life for me is the freedom it gives. I know that even if I don’t get to the store for a few weeks we still have food from our garden and from local farms that we preserved to keep us going. My hope is to become more and more self-sustaining over time. There is also a feeling of freedom from the chaos and busy pace of life. My kids aren’t constantly stimulated by noises and activities. They get to play and explore without distractions. Especially with homeschooling we can slow down and go at our own pace.

Keep learning as an adult.

I tend to focus on my children. What can I say, I’m a mom! But I must admit that I’ve been learning just as much as my children by living on a farm. In one year I’ve learned so much about raising animals and growing food. My husband has helped push me out of my comfort zone and start helping with duties I never thought I could. I love that I get to keep learning right along with my children. We are in this together. My goal this year is to research how to maintain a chemical free orchard. We were so blessed this past fall to invite lots of friends over to pick from our orchard, knowing that the apples had not been sprayed at all. It brought me such joy to share this good gift of God’s creation with others. I never want to stop learning. And I don’t think I ever will here.Living on a farm

Dependence on family.

Living out in the country fosters a deep dependence on family. Although we do have neighbors not too far away, we still do pretty much everything ourselves. I love how our family works as a team and everyone takes part in just about everything we do. I know I can count on my husband and my children if I need help with anything. And we love spending time together. My kids are best friends and will happily explore together for hours outside.We are a team. Everyone chips in.Living on a farm

Farms are dirty!

I had to throw this one in here. It’s something a lot of people overlook. Farms are DIRTY. Farm work is dirty. Even a farmhouse is dirty. Our entryway goes from the garage directly into the kitchen. I have pretty much given up on trying to clean the kitchen floor. The doorway is usually covered in dirt, hay and whatever else the kids (and hubby) bring in. One of the next big projects on our to-do list (see item number 1 above) is to redo our mud room…so that the door from the garage actually leads there instead of the kitchen. Maybe it will help cut down on how much dirt is brought in.If you don’t like to clean, farm life may not be for you. My kids always come in covered in dirt. There is a lot of hand washing going on from working with animals. I rarely go outside in anything but muck boots! When it comes to living on a farm, you really have to embrace the dirt.Living on a farm

Living My Farm Dream

Our whole family has learned a lot over the past year. We’ve had to work together on projects big and small. We’ve seen God’s creation blossom and flourish in front of our eyes. It has become very apparent that we have a long way to go as a society to become good stewards. So we are doing our part to care for it.Farm life is not a glamorous life. But it is my dream life. And I am so thankful this girl from the suburbs is now a farmer. One year down. Hopefully many, many more to go! The next time you visit your local farmer’s market or a farmer, be sure to thank them for the hard work they do!
Do you prefer city life or country life? If you don’t already, would you consider moving to a farm?
Living on a farm

15 thoughts on “What Everybody Ought to Know About Living on a Farm”

  1. Michelle Garcia

    What a beautiful and inspiring story! I can imagine everything beautiful and tiring but full of accomplishment.

    1. Loved reading your story! I’m looking at renting a 4 acre farm in the mountains of SC. It’s just me so I’m a bit scared but I’ve homesteaded 1 acre before and I’m tough….so it’s exciting at the same time!

  2. I often hear that you can’t get away from a hobby farm lifestyle to go on vacation or for us, visit family, who lives on the other side of the country. Do you find this to be the case? What would the cost be for a neighbor to take care of the animals for a couple of weeks?

    1. I guess it just depends on your neighbors 🙂 We have never gone away for weeks at a time. We don’t travel that extensively. When we are gone for a week we do have the neighbors or friends watch our animals. They do it for free. Often in exchange for watching their animals another time or in exchange for whatever produce and eggs they collect while we’re gone 🙂 Definitely something to consider, but at the same time doable.

  3. This is so full of life. I enjoyed reading about it. I was looking for moving into a farm living. I would love to hear more from you about when it happened and initial costs. I have never lived on a farmland, but have loved it. I have been a city gal my entire life and was wondering if I would survive 2 weeks. I am scared of bugs, mosquitoes, and snakes. Is that something you feared or you overcame? and how? I love my kids to grow up enjoying the nature and was wondering where is a good place to buy a farm. Welcome suggestions!

  4. Shayla Cademis

    Thanks for mentioning that your kids have learned a lot about creation, stewardship, God, food, and keeping their bodies healthy. My husband and I have been thinking about moving to a horse farm. He grew up on a horse ranch with his grandfather and speaks highly of the environment he was raised in. I love the values that it instilled in him and want those for my own children. Hopefully we can find a great real estate agent who can show us some great horse farms!

  5. I love reading your blogs about your life and family, It is all very inspirational. I have always wanted to live on a farm ever since I was a child living spending most of it in Jamestown with my grandparents , and the only neighbors back then were cows. It is a great life being one with nature and closer to God.. You are an inspiration to everyone Mary, Keep up the good work !!

  6. Becca @ The Earthling’s Handbook

    I love living in the city, in a walkable neighborhood! But I also enjoy visiting farms. It was especially interesting to visit the farm where our CSA vegetables are grown; now we can picture it as we eat our veggies! Thanks for this tour and summary of the pros and cons of farm life.

  7. We presently live in the city but most recently I have found myself desiring more space for my kids to run around. After visiting a friend who lives 30-45 min out of the city and on 10 acres with farm animals, I found myself craving more air and peace. My kids enjoyed it so much. I don’t know that I could do the full blown animal farmstead. But perhaps start off small. Thank you for your story!

  8. You might consider wood chips (chipped branches of different sizes) for your orchard and garden…any tree services nearby that can deliver? have you heard of Paul Gautschi’s garden? It’s pretty amazing.
    backtoedenfilm.com and there are also youtube videos that show his tours. The awesomeness of God!

  9. I grew up on a 500 acre dairy farm. I met my husband in college and after getting married I moved to his hometown (a suburb of Philadelphia). Needless to say, I miss the farm life very much. We did buy 7 acres of the original family farm (in upstate NY) when my mom sold it after my dad’s death. We have planted fruit trees, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries on our land. We spend as much time as we can there during the summer. I also have a garden at home which I enjoy spending time in. However, I long for the day when I can live on a farm again. I would love to have chickens, a goat, and maybe even a few beef cows.

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