How to start a hobby farm

How to start a hobby farm

If you have a large garden or a piece of land that you want to use for something productive, you could look into starting a hobby farm. Hobby farms are not the same as commercial farms, in that hobby farmers often do not sell their produce but begin farming for their own gains such as a more sustainable way of living. Follow the advice below if you are interested in starting your own hobby farm.

Find the right equipment

The right farming equipment is vital to a successful hobby farm. You will need to choose high quality equipment such as that offered by Radium or other equipment companies, and listed below is the equipment you will need to buy.

  • A truck to transport goods around your land
  • A compact tractor for working the land
  • A livestock trailer if you have animals to transport
  • A manure spreader if you plan on using this for fertiliser or compost
  • A wheelbarrow for smaller pieces of land
  • Garden tools for those who are farming on smaller pieces of land

This list is not exhaustive, but if you have these basics you will find that farming becomes much easier. Having transport is vital to any farm as you may have large loads or animals to move.

Know your land

Before you think of buying one piece of equipment or look at a cow, you will need to get to know the land you will be farming. Is it rocky and hard or is it softer and verdant? Rocky land is not ideal for animal farming, and crops will need fertile soil.

You should look for ways to test your soil. Soil tests will show you the phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium levels, and sometimes trace nutrients too. These levels will tell you how fertile your soil is, allowing you to decide what crops you can plant and whether or not you will have a successful hobby farm.

Know your zoning laws

If your hobby farm is in a residential area, you will have to find out about the zoning limitations or homeowner’s covenants for what kinds of animals you can have or which plants you can grow. If you do not take this step, you may find yourself in legal trouble should a neighbour report you.

The zoning of the property attaches to the property itself, so you may have to ask for your property to become rezoned from a residential property to an agricultural or commercial property. You could appeal for ‘consent use’, which is given to the owner of the property and not passed on to subsequent owners. Consent use will have strict conditions to be adhered to.

Plan your farm

This is a vital step in starting a hobby farm. You will need to lay out an exact plan of where you want everything to be, such as where your animal shelter will be situated or where your crop storage shed will be.

You will also need to plan where your crops or orchards will be placed and what tools you will use for these areas. An important part of your farm is to plan is your water management strategy, such as how you will provide water to your animals and how to irrigate the fields for effective crop growth. You will also need to plan which areas will be fenced off from any livestock and what equipment you will be using on a daily basis.

Choose your livestock and/or crops

Once you have planned out your farm, you will need to move onto the next stage, which is choosing your livestock and/or crops. Poultry such as chickens, ducks or geese will provide you with an abundance of eggs.

If you have a larger piece of land, you could look into cattle, sheep or goats. It is vital to know your land before you introduce animals, which is why having your soil tested is so important. If you would like to stick with crops, be sure to find out from other farmers what crops are best for your area. Start with one or two crops or animals before you move onto any more.

Embrace DIY

Part and parcel of having a hobby farm is that you will be doing your own DIY work. If you can learn to love fixing things yourself, you will save a lot of money that would have been spent on hiring hands to help you.

It can be very satisfying to build your own waterer for your chickens rather than buying one from the feed store. The less your farm costs you out of pocket, the more you will have to pursue projects that interest you such as growing unique crops or looking into other livestock options like goats or chickens.

Photo by WhatsUnderTheSnow

Authored by: Pete Anderson

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