Welcome – and I hope that you enjoy (and maybe get something out of) this living blog.
So why “Almost a Farmer”?
We live on a wonderful 12 acres in rural Maine, USA. We bought this place about three years ago – it was a run down farm with a small cottage requiring considerable work. It has 10 acres of open fields and a couple of acres of ‘wet underfoot’ forest. It has all the requirements of a New England farm – stone walls, pretty views of other farms and nice neighbors.
We bought this piece of paradise so we could be near family and have a place for our horse. We already had some small farm-ish experience in Colorado – which I enjoyed – and this was a deal we could not pass up. Walking distance to family in a familiar setting (to Jen at least who grew up here).
Since owning a small farm (4.86 acres) in Colorado, I have been reading and researching all of my options for turning my 12 acres of run-down farm in Maine into a working farm and homestead for the last three years. I have so many plans and so many dreams for this little piece of paradise….but became despondent because my plans and dreams (and those that most of the authors writing about homesteading seem to want me to have) just don’t fit my reality. Their dream – and the one that I feel I have been almost brainwashed to follow is :-
“Throw away all your ties to the world – quit your city job and live off the proceeds of the land”
Its a super nice dream – but my reality, and a feel the reality of many people, is considerably different. Here is why that ‘dream’ does not fit us :-
I love my “city” job.
My job is one of a kind anywhere in the world. It fulfills my intellectual needs, provides me a handsome income, medical insurance and (most importantly) lets me telecommute from home! I travel a lot for work to some amazing places and meet some fantastic people. In a word, the job is ‘perfect’ for me.
My time is limited
We have two small kids (at time of writing 4 and 6). They absorb our time and money cause, like all parents, we want them to grow up well balanced, educated and have a world of opportunity. Living on a farm provides them even more opportunities. How many kids grow up with a horse and chickens, cats, dogs, a rabbit, wild turkeys, deer etc and a whole farm to run around on? But still, it means one eye needs to be on them at all times…which equates to the parents rarely can work on the farm together for any length of time.
We don’t have pockets full of money
We live comfortably but have a mortgage and small car repayment. We work at reducing these…but don’t have a huge fund behind us for farm improvements. We sink money into house improvements when we can (like our tax refund). Ideally we need some homesteading activities that will be sustainable. i.e. the costs are covered by some income. We are always looking at ways to make our lives more comfortable without costing us a fortune. We also like to visit my family in Australia…and that costs heaps!
We don’t have a vast farming infrastructure
We don’t own a tractor. We don’t have miles of fencing. Its sort of a clean slate. We do have a small barn that we have built a stall for our horse and a add-on chicken house. We have a great garage workshop area. So the basics are there even if the big farm toys are not.
We just don’t fit in.
Sometimes we feel that the true homesteaders look down their noses at us cause we don’t want to throw “it” all away. On the other hand, the real farmers look at us as not being committed to the land as we don’t own a tractor etc We are sort of in limbo! We are the classic hobby farmers – and proud of it.
I know that there are other folks out there like us. Maybe they hate their job, but still love the security of the income. Maybe they still have to commute to work each day. But the bottom line is they have some land, they have some limited time and they want to live the best of both worlds.
So my aim is to try and provide advice, through experience, on what works for us and what we can do to make our dreams a reality.
So come on our journey….where we will talk about things that have worked for us, things that don’t and how we are trying to pull it all together to make a happy life for our family!