When we moved from central Florida to Westen New York, one of the reasons we moved here was because we wanted to be able to do some small scale farming, or at least have a garden. We have tried various times to make this work and always had some trouble. I think most of that trouble was that we were not really willing to put in the work that it required to get it done, and our results showed.
This year, I think that we have what would officially qualify as a hobby farm. We have chickens, sheep and now a small garden plot. I think and hope things are a bit different than they have been in the past. First, we have other people relying on us to keep the sheep alive, and second we have kind of a model to follow, even if that is kind of our own model.
Four of the six sheep we are hosting belong to folks who belong to our little collective farming project. We all come and work one piece of property and we will all get a share of the crops. It works out pretty well. So there is that motivation. We have to make it work because other people are expecting us to.
But the model that we are following is a little different. Like I said, part of the reason that we likely failed in the past was the amount of work. We were not prepared for it, and not willing to put it in. This year, we are working on the collective hobby farm and getting an idea of what needs to happen. I call this the real hobby farm because while we are using about a 1/3 of our 5 acres for farming and most of that is dedicated to animals, they are using 4+ of their 5 acres. They are using it for various crops. But by putting in the work there, the work that we have to do on our own small garden plot seems almost negligible. Sure the sheep and chicken require work, the middle children and I get up early every morning to go tend to their needs, but it is not a lot of work to feed and water the chickens, or to move the sheep from the barn to the field where spend their days.
Alright, the work that we did yesterday on our own plot did not seem negligible, it took us almost all day, to carve out the plot and get things planted all by hand , and only with hand tools. We decided not to try to rent a tiller or any of the other power tools that we normally use, so everything was done with shovels and a pickaxe. It was slow, hot and hard work but I will be honest it really felt good to get it done. I am a bit sore from the two days of work (between 6 and 8 hours each day) but it really kind of feels good. Besides getting out and working with the kids is always a lot of fun, not to mention good for all of us.