While we have been doing a lot of planning and we need to get ready to put seeds in dirt and start growing things, we just aren’t there yet. I’m torn on what I need to be doing. I want to grow things, I want to tear up the soil and start a farm. But I know that tearing up the soil just isn’t the best way to do it. It’s not good for the soil, it encourages weed growth, compaction and erosion. That is the way conventional farmers do it.
I think it is interesting that we refer to the the big business, large scale environmental destroying methods of farming as ‘conventional’ farms. While that is what we are trying to move away from, conventionally, centuries ago, farmers were using basic organic procedures with fairly good results.
We are still planning. We’ve decided that we would rather waste a little growing time and do it right rather than rushing into farming and having regrets. We want to base our farm on being an example of both sustainable family life and sustainable growing practices. In looking into making pasture land into a vegetable farm, I think that using animals to turn the soil would be a great bet. My wife found a system of turning soil and planting cover crops that virtually eliminates weeds, but it takes two years before you can plant a crop. I don’t want to rush into anything, but I can’t wait two years. Pigs do a great job of tearing up soil and eliminating grasses, but I don’t especially want pigs. I think the scratching action of chickens could eliminate grass, if given enough time. Follow it with a rototiller and I think we can lessen weed presence, decrease workload of the tiller operator, and feed the chickens… or turkeys, I bet turkeys would be better than chickens.
The point is, we want to do the right thing for the land, not necessarily the thing that grows us produce first. I had envisioned growing crops for a couple of years before getting into raising animals, but as I look at the need to till, I see that chickens and turkeys would be quite useful in managing the land. I am also looking at sheep or goats to help handle the upcoming blackberry problem (before it becomes a problem). But before I invest in the infrastructure, equipment and feed to get animals, I want to make sure I know what I’m getting myself into. And I don’t want to invest in animals to the point that I don’t have money left to start the vegetable part of the farm.
The reason I started this post was to tell about what we’ve been doing instead of farming. We’ve been getting settled in a new house. Wednesday I built bunk beds for my four boys. Yes, four high bunk beds that fit into a small bedroom. The boys love it and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.
I also moved the mailbox in front of our house. The way the land used to be subdivided, there was access to our house through the neighbor’s land, but with recent changes, we now have our own driveway, but our mailbox remained in front of the neighbor’s house. And the UPS guy is confused beyond belief.
We have been measuring things to figure out where the future home will be and where we should put a storage building. And I spent a few hours this afternoon digging the organic matter out of an agricultural ditch that hadn’t been maintained in many years. The water is now flowing better and hopefully the land is drying out a bit.
Hopefully this week we will close (we’re close), and I hope to go buy a greenhouse in the near future. That would be a good step toward farming.