Imagine creating your own microcosm where you are almost entirely self-reliant for food and other necessary supplies, shelter, and even energy. Going “off the grid” and becoming self-reliant with your own small farm-based home is possible.
First, becoming largely self-reliant isn’t cheap. While it may eventually be less expensive than buying all of your food and supplies at the grocery store, the initial costs to create and maintain a small farm on your premises are high. Your biggest expense will likely be the property. If you plan to operate your farm on land that you already own, that’s great. But, if you plan to buy a new property or want to buy additional property adjacent to your home, you’ll have to consider the cost. Oregon State University recommends finding a real estate agent who is knowledgeable in zoning, easements, and other complicated rural real estate issues. The costs of maintaining a farm, after the initial outlay of supplies, should pay for itself as an entity, says Ron Macher in his book, Making Your Small Farm Profitable. Macher points out that less that 12 percent of farmers make a living wage from farming.
You may be asking yourself if you can live off the land, procure your own livestock, gather your own eggs, safely store and maintain a water supply, and even generate your own power. It’s all possible, but you should know what you’re committing to. Assess your comfort and ability levels, and dedicate yourself to learning all you can about starting a self-sustaining farm.
You can stock your farm with a dairy cow to provide your family with fresh, un-pasteurized dairy products, says Mother Earth News, but it will cost much money to feed a cow on a yearly basis. You can also stock your farm with plenty of chickens to make fresh eggs every day. Part of your farm will contain a garden for freshly grown vegetables which you can harvest on a seasonal basis. Good canning and storing skills are also necessary to make it through each winter with plenty to eat.
Creating a safe well or rainwater reservoir on your property is another option, but you’ll have to be careful to collect, store, and filter the water properly to avoid getting sick. Using rainwater is a great way to conserve resources, but the Centers for Disease Control points out that rainwater may wash contaminants into the water you collect, carrying with it bacteria, parasite viruses, and chemicals that could make you sick.
To generate power, you should consider installing solar panels on your roof, or a putting up a wind turbine to capture energy. The method you choose to produce energy will depend on your climate and locale.
Shift in Farming
The shift to small farming is gaining momentum. Large, mass production farms are losing their price advantages to food grown by local farmers, which has historically been more expensive, according to a New York Times article. In fact, based on a recent survey by the United States Department of Agriculture, the local food industry is growing by leaps and bounds, upwards of 4.8 billion and counting. This has many people pointing to local farming as less of a lifestyle or political choice, but more of a strong, feasible economic option for those looking to live off the land.
This article was provided by Charity Bailey, environmental studies student and earth-friendly consumer. If you’re looking for the right hay for a farm of your own, Charity suggests high quality alfalfa hay.