Monday, December 31, 2012

A real farm?


A farm,

A hobby farm,

A homestead,

A farmette,

A farmstead. . .

How do we define a farm?

What do you need for one?
How much land?
Do you need to process livestock to be a farm?
Do you have to sell vegetables?
If vegetables are needed, how about fruit?
How about livestock, do we have to have those?
What about just bees? 

One thing we know, in any of the above situations, tremendous work needs done and it revolves around a desire to connect with the beginning and basics of life, I suspect.

I hear the term "real farm" in circles when someone wants to overlook the very small farmer who may only have a home garden and a few hens where they sell tomatoes and eggs now and again.

 The statement is used to try to make very small farmers know they aren't taken seriously by the big guys.

By definition, a farm is,"An area of land and its buildings used for growing crops and rearing animals, typically under the control of one owner or manager." 

The area we live in here has little large scale farm land, and the bit that exists isn't available to most people for purchase at any price. West Virginia isn't, in term of geography, a large farm friendly area for the most part. This might be why we were historically not a highly settled area. The land isn't conducive to extremely successful larger farming endeavors.

It is hard to farm in a grand scale here on hillsides. 

I reckon I prefer the term Small-scale agriculture verses large-scale. Agriculture is the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming or the production of crops, livestock, or poultry. No numbers, no acres defined - this is where many of us are who consider ourselves "Homesteaders: "small or large.

No matter how big you are, someone is bigger. No matter how much you do, someone is doing more, doing it better. Keep this in mind. Try to grow as your needs and situation and allow and do better, as you can, when you can.

If you're working your 1/2 acre raising herbs, chickens and rabbits - you ARE taking an active part in agriculture. That is work. If you're using your 5 acres for goats, if you have only bees, if you have only tomatoes and eggs.

"Give a man to fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

If you are more involved in the production of quality livestock for those who are also working on this lifestyle to purchase instead of supplying the final product to a consumer, this is valuable, as well.

Give a family a pound of beef, they will eat for a day, but give them a cow, they will learn to milk, make butter, cheese, yogurt, manage land and eventually have beef for ever if they do it all properly.

That is where my care is, for the people going back to the land. .. having the right tools for it, giving them a good start. I'm not as interested in supplying the consumer as empowering and selling to the homesteader. I want to help people work toward self sufficiency.

Maybe you have pigs, bees, goats, a garden, sheep or cows a bit of it all. . .and know these efforts will never be your sole source of income, but you look for ways to manage it. because it matters deeply to you.

Many very small farms must find a niche to fit in. They find fantastic, creative ways to connect with buyers, friends and fellow farmers by using local meet and greet events, facebook, twitter, websites and social media in all forms. These folks often go out of their way to bring the farm to you, per say.

They show you the life, the trials, the good and bad times, the weather, the animals, the process in all forms – they little farmers usually work to bring the life to you, to compel you in some way to take an interest in agriculture, in your food, in your farmers.

I find the truly small farms work really hard to be connected and relevant in the real world, your world.

We have done so much to bring "farming" to our communities: urban and suburban and rural, in a way large scale farming never could have, really.

We bring folks in to make agriculture approachable, personal and warm, I think.

And By the Grace of God, we are Farmers in all senses of the word, folks – but I think most of you here already believed this.



















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LUCAS FARM

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27




"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington