A hobby farm is any small farm that is raised for fun and pleasure and not necessarily as a primary source of income. Starting a farm, maintaining and running it is not at all a cake walk given the unpredictable nature of weather and other natural elements. Hence we have enlisted some useful tips and guidelines to help you get started with your hobby farm.
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- Research, Research, and Research!
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Whether you are starting a hobby farm or setting up a local business, you definitely don’t want to jump in with poor and half baked knowledge regarding its working. Therefore before getting started, it is always a good idea to gain some wisdom about hobby farming browsing through books and the internet. You can also check out Youtube tutorials for the same. To gain hands-on practical experience consider interacting with the old generation of farmers they understand the needs of farm animals, know how to deal with livestock and crop diseases, and know which crops can thrive better in your piece of land.
- Plan in Advance
There are many things that you need to consider before starting a farm. You may have to answer questions like how much to produce? What crops to opt for? Should you raise animals along with crops? Will you work year around or cultivate only during seasons? Will you sell your extra produce from farm and livestock in the market or store it for yourself? Do you require permission for starting a farm from town?
- Start Small
It’s understood that you may like to plant and cultivate a variety of crops and rear different farm animals so as to have a variety of food on your table. But caring for 4 to 5 species of crops while simultaneously looking after livestock can be overwhelming and exhausting. Instead, cultivate crops in succession on small land that is just enough to bring a variety of food to your table and leave remaining land for pasture. This pastured land can be helpful when you start rearing farm animals like cows, pigs, sheep, etc in the future. Stick to only 2 to 3 projects in a given year so as to learn more with a lower rate of losses and failures.
- Natural and Organic
By using natural and organic methods of farming you won’t have to compromise with the health and structure of the soil in a given piece of land. Plant pest-repelling herbs like chrysanthemums, chives, chamomile, etc along with regular crops instead of utilizing harmful pesticides. Turn home and garden waste into compost and add peat moss, chopped leaves, wood chips, and other organic mulches for controlling the weed. Once you are done with harvesting, leave plant debris in the field to soften and till lightly just enough to loosen the only top layer of soil. Overworking soil can make it prone to erosion by changing its structure and accelerating run-off. To keep soil structure intact and healthy opt for no-dig farming methods as far as you can.
- Modify Expectations
Be flexible with your choices and expectations. If sunflowers don’t grow in your land then try something else. Don’t have a rigid set of expectations. Remember that this your hobby farm where your main intention is to enjoy while you earn and learn. Grow and play about responsibly as this is solely your own farm and you are free to change and switch from one thing that does not work for you to another that does.
- Skip Profitability
Consider hobby farming as a hobby without being keen on earning high yields and gaining profits. Instead, try to learn the ropes of farming while saving up money for equipment and other resources for the future when you will be ready to take farming as a full-time profession. Trying to make huge profits while managing various other tasks can be overwhelming.
While trying your hand at hobby farming never forget your main intention, i.e pleasure. When hobby farming becomes tedious and stressful it is no more hobby farming. Therefore stick to a few major projects, go organic, skip profitability and keep experimenting so as to have fun as you amass wisdom and knowledge.