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From farmer to homesteader.

Their goals changed. It all started with the trash...

I didn't start out to be a home-steader. It just kinda turned out that way.

When my husband and I moved to the country, we had a mission: to become successful farmers, i.e., lots of acreage, lots of machinery, lots of crops and livestock, lots of money! We wanted no part of those flower children who lived in a hut with no electricity, no heat, no running water, no money. We did not want to live on tofu, wormy apples, and sell macrame plant hangers to keep the taxes paid.

It takes money to make money

But somewhere on the way to successful farming we discovered that unless we inherited the family farm, (which neither of our families possessed) won the lottery, or held up not one but several financial institutions, we could never, in our lifetimes, obtain the money for one large tractor, never mind the combine, the Harvestore, 1,000-plus acres, 300 producing sows, etc., etc.

Nonetheless, we purchased 33 acres and a moldering farmhouse, along with 13 sickly barn cats. After roofing the barn, installing a furnace, sink, toilet, tub, floors, and purchasing several tons of commercial cat food, we found ourselves a bit short of funds. We started cutting all unnecessary expenditures.

First to go was any remaining social life. That didn't help much because most of our city friends were now tired of hearing about backed up septic systems, sick cats, and sleeping in a room with an average temperature of 29. We canceled newspapers, magazines, and finally, trash removal.

Canceling the trash removal was Destiny at work. I figured we would save a minimum of 150 dollars a year by disposing of our own trash. After all, recycling was a trendy thing to do now, wasn't it? It was easy to separate all the glass, aluminum and plastic and haul it to the recycling plant, which happened to be across the street from the grocery store.

The food rubbish was another story. All those crazy "natural" magazines kept telling me to compost it. Okay. So I guess I now need a garden to throw all this moist, crumbly stuff onto.

Saving on groceries

The garden turned out divine. I never knew homegrown produce tasted so much better. And surprise... I saved a lot on the grocery bill. But, it did seem a shame to throw all those leftover dinner scraps back onto the garden.

One January, at a farm auction, I walked over to the side of the auction barn to throw away my coffee cup in what I thought was a trash bag. I opened the bag and there were four chickens inside. Their legs were tied together with baling twine. Softie that I am, I whined to my husband that they looked cold. (How does a chicken look cold?) He bought them for me at a buck a cluck, as he puts it.

So now I had something to throw my dinner scraps to, and in return, Huey, Luey, Duey, and Red provided me with the best tasting eggs I'd ever known. I saved further on the grocery bill, too.

Huey, Luey, Duey, and Red laid more eggs than my husband and I could consume, however. It seemed a shame to let all those good eggs go to waste.

Larrie, a successful farmer down the road, mentioned to us one evening that he was going to shoot two piglets because they were "poor doers" and his other pigs were pushing them away from the feed troughs. Well, after I whined to Larrie about "the poor starving piggies" he just gave them to us.

So now I had something to feed my excess eggs and garden refuse to. Those "poor doers," with individual attention and high protein eggs, made the best ham and bacon I'd ever tasted. And, cha ching! The grocery bill was further reduced.

I also had an automatic composting machine in Piggly and Wiggly. And after the ton of commercial cat food was consumed, I no longer had to worry about any kind of rodent or pest in my barn or garden. Leftovers from our butchered hogs, I discovered, also made great cat food.

Sustainable agriculture works

So before I knew it, we were researching this new sustainable agriculture idea, starting to sell a little extra produce and meat as organic food, and lo and behold, actually make a little money. We acquired three sheep to keep the back pasture short and Curly, Larry and Moe further provided us with meat and organic sales from their offspring. We now have some cattle to keep the pastures further conditioned, and they provide us with still a little more money.

Now, we'll certainly never be considered successful farmers by our conventional neighbors, but we are keeping the bills paid, keeping our land healthy, eating and living healthier, and having a lot of fun along the way. I haven't started to sell macrame yet, but I did pick up a book on spinning and weaving wool, the other day.

It seems such a shame to let all that shorn wool go to waste, doesn't it?
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Stickdorn, Lisa
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Previous Article:How much land does it take to grow feed for animals?
Next Article:Making the transition from commercial farming to homesteading wasn't easy ... but homesteaders do have some advantages.

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