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A Stupid Fantasy or a Calling? Please help!

 
Posts: 64
Location: central Pennsylvania
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Hi Azita, and welcome!  I, too, have the fantasy, as well as a husband who doesn't "want to be a farmer!!".
I've had this dream for ten years, and only now, at 59, am beginning to take steps toward it.  I long for open spaces and the peace that comes with it, and for lots of stars at night. But land is expensive, and savings have gone to college educations for our kids.  So my dream of acreage  has morphed to a large (very large, if possible) sunny backyard and under-the-radar chickens/ducks.

The tips from more seasoned permies are great!  Some of them I can vouch for (eg, even 1/8 acre garden produces a lot of food).  Others I am taking note of, myself, for my backyard farming endeavor.

Good luck to you, and keep us posted!
 
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Wisconsin, Zone 4b
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Azita Williams wrote:
quote]

... in 7 yrs his loans will be forgiven and he definitely wants to take advantage of that. Of course he can get another public sector job if we move.  

The compromise we talk about is if we own acreage in the right zoning, he'd like to build a few tiny homes to airbnb and an event center and maybe a tree-house.  But he definitely wants to work in his field.  
I think it all can work out with right planning and patience.  



I won't reiterate all the other wonderful ideas in the thread, but I wanted to comment on these things a bit.

Seven years is a great timeline. If this is going to happen for you, you'll need to time to learn and expand on your existing skills. You will definitely want those loans paid down before embarking on a larger-scale farming/gardening dream. And if your husband wants to do tiny homes and an event center, well what could be more natural than offering fresh and locally grown foods to those staying in your airbnbs and having parties in your event center? In addition to the money you'll save on your own groceries, you could maybe sell to those customers.

Permies may be the perfect forum for you, not only because of the wealth of knowledge that is freely shared here on a daily basis, but also because permaculture could help you make your dream a reality. The emphasis on using perennials and native plants, the work-smarter-not-harder philosphy, it seems to me that permaculture is a good fit for what you want to do. Best of luck to you, Azita.:)
 
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You Can Farm by Joel Salatin!
 
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Your husband is absolutely right.  It is a ton of work, and he will end up doing a lot of it because unless you spend a bunch of money anything you want to do requires sheer physical power, of which he likely has more than you.  If he doesn't want to do it then you will not succeed.

However, we do live in a technological society and if you can afford to spend the money on machines to make the work easier, that changes things.  But you still are going to fail if you don't have the support of your spouse.  Either you will fail, or your marriage will fail. Don't do that.

However, there is a lot you can do just where you are.  Bloom where you are planted.  It really is a great life, and without knowing your situation I will say it would almost certainly be more rewarding for both you and your husband.  Perhaps if he sees a "proof of concept" on a small scale he will become more supportive.

If that doesn't work, doing it on whatever small scale you can manage will almost certainly interest your kids.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to homestead for selfish reasons, because it's a ton of work and extremely stressful and working a normal job is a lot easier.  You can still give your kids a lot of the benefit even if you don't "homestead" full time.

On the subject of homeschooling I will point out that every parent is a homeschooler, it's just that some of us outsource school to other people part of the time.  Nobody can prevent you from teaching your kids things when they are at home.
 
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Terri Matthews wrote:I ALWAYS wanted to farm!

My husband is a city boy and wanted to STAY a city boy, and so he got a job in a SMALL city as that way we could live on a small parcel of land and commute. We bought a house on an acre of land that was close enough to his city job and then later we bought 5 acres outside of town.

Because he DID get a job in a small city, my husband simply followed a highway from his job to outside of town to what he thought was a reasonable commute, and that was where we bought the house on an acre of land.

Every morning he followed that highway to work, and I also took the highway to the job I got in a hospital.

So, you want to farm. Fine. That means that you will want to sell what you grow. Or, you can do child care and farm in your free time: child care providers can bring in a decent wage and then you can work your land in the evenings or on weekends. Because you have school debts you might still need your income for a while

So, if you want to sell what you grow you might get a job in a store for the practice in selling, or you can raise plants in your back yard and sell at a farmer's market on Saturdays, or whatever. At any rate it is almost spring: you might raise a fine garden in your yard for experience.

A farm is a business but a homestead is not. I am not certain: are you wanting to farm or to homestead?



The more I research the more I realize that starting with homesteading makes more sense.  Yes, as you mentioned, we both have to work to payoff our student loans.  So I have to put the dream of homeschooling and full time farming on the back burner until we are debt free.  I can work part-time and still have time to tend to our homestead.

I'm learning new terminology on this forum which is amazing!  I love the phrase "food forest" and had never heard it before.
 
Azita Williams
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Emilie McVey wrote:Hi Azita, and welcome!  I, too, have the fantasy, as well as a husband who doesn't "want to be a farmer!!".
I've had this dream for ten years, and only now, at 59, am beginning to take steps toward it.  I long for open spaces and the peace that comes with it, and for lots of stars at night. But land is expensive, and savings have gone to college educations for our kids.  So my dream of acreage  has morphed to a large (very large, if possible) sunny backyard and under-the-radar chickens/ducks.

The tips from more seasoned permies are great!  Some of them I can vouch for (eg, even 1/8 acre garden produces a lot of food).  Others I am taking note of, myself, for my backyard farming endeavor.

Good luck to you, and keep us posted!



Yes, on top of our own student loan debt, we contribute to the little one's college funds.  We want to make sure in 14 yrs if she decides to go to college, she's covered.  Kid's education definitely is a big expense that keeps people working longer than they sometimes want to.  
 
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your in the prime of your life at 40, follow your dreams, get debt free if you can, build your greenhouse. running a farm can be a rewarding life long endeavor. plan your work and work your plan and don't wait till your golden years to make your move.
 
pollinator
Posts: 156
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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I grew up in a part of Kansas that was primarily agricultural.  A few of my summer jobs were on farms.  So I can say from experience your husband is partially correct.  Farming can be loads of work.  But, a large point of permaculture is setting up things to be easier as time goes by.  Also, there is nothing saying you have to do all of it at once.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  That's 7 colors in the rainbow, right?  Actually there are thousands of different wavelengths of light.
What's he talking about?
This principle is true in agriculture as well.  People have huge farms with thousands of acres of cultivated crops.  People also have a few pots of herbs on the window sill of their apartment.  And, there are thousands of variations in between.
I would guess there is some level of production the two of you could agree on.
The internet is loaded with examples of people turning part or all of their yard into garden.  Some do market gardening.  Some make deals with neighbors to turn the neighbors yards into gardens or market gardens.  The possibilities are quite numerous.  So, you don't necessarily need a lot of your own land.

My sister homeschooled her kids.  It is a lot of work.  But, in this area there is a homeschool association that can help people get started and find curriculum.  We even have the Wichita Area Homeschool Athletic Association so the homeschool kids can be on teams and play sports.  You might look to see if something similar is available in your area.

Land.
You might find this article interesting.
https://www.kansascitymag.com/six-rural-kansas-towns-offer-free-land-to-transplants-heres-the-deal/
This one has a few more.
https://morningchores.com/free-land/
 
Posts: 527
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I did/do most of the homesteading work in our 1 acre back yard. Since I am now 65 and handicapped I need a lot of help on any large project but this was not always so! I am only 5 ft 2 inches tall, but there are a lot of ways to make the physical work easier.

If you live in a house with a back yard, can you start right now or would that hurt your property value? Different areas expect different things of property owners, and since you want to sell the house you will want to keep the property value up.

At any rate, I think an excellent place to start would be to grow a variety of salad greens. I plant a bed of them and my salads tend to be half bought lettuce and the other half will be rainbow swiss chard, bok choi, spinach, etc from my raised bed.

ALso children adore cherry tomatos! They love to pick them and eat them right off the plant.

In my area of late frosts my fruit trees do not always bear, but when they do bear they are great. This year I am pretty sure I got 60 pounds of fruit from the 2 dwarf trees that did bear. The apples did not bear because we got a frost just as the apples bloomed.

This summer my husband helped me build 2 more raised beds. I have a  bed of onions that winter over and can give me onions all year round. I will now include, I hope, a bed of potatos that will winter over but I am not sure I will succeed with this: This will be my third year growing potatos and there is a great deal that I have not yet learned.
 
Posts: 315
Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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Neil Moffett wrote:Your husband is absolutely right.  It is a ton of work, and he will end up doing a lot of it because unless you spend a bunch of money anything you want to do requires sheer physical power, of which he likely has more than you.  If he doesn't want to do it then you will not succeed.



I would hazard a guess that this is what most of the people are thinking who tell you it is a fantasy. There is a reason rural communities have experienced a drain of young people -- young people leave because they see options in towns as more desirable. If you can, I suggest you have a conversation with one or more young people who grew up on farms and have since left. Ask them their stories about their reasons for leaving. That way, you can go forward armed with firsthand knowledge instead of nostalgic dreams.
 
pollinator
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Young people leave the 'country' because they want sexual freedom, anonymity, access to more events/schools/cultures/prepared foods/etc. They also don't want to be a shameful backwards homesteader/hillbilly/farmer. And even if they themselves never make it to really become pure-bloodied city-slickers there ofsprings will only know city life and will not have to be ashamed of being poor farmers. Except most city dwellers are just as poor, working 2 jobs and can't event afford the time/money/energy/clothes to go to all the available events rsp after they have 2 kids. And then they start thinking I want to move back to the country when I am 50.
 
gardener
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Because you are close check out my last post. 5 acres on the key peninsula You will have an 80 year old homesteader next door to coach you and your husband. Very quiet, less than one car per hour during the day but just around the corner from arterial road.
 
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Dear Azita,
Hello! I'm going to throw in my opinion too, though I am very happy to see such thoughtful and good advice from others.
Firstly, all real goals are born from fantasy, so don't overlook the creative aspect of dreaming and value in dreaming big. It's not crazy to want something that is different to what is seen as the norm. Are you Bahá'i? The writings say that the mother is the first educator of a child and so I was encouraged to homeschool my children. I don't have the finances for a lot of land yet, but I am establishing fruit trees and veggie patches, will get chickens and yes I am homeschooling my kids. My friend homeschools and rears pigs and rabbits for meat and grows all her own veggies. It is totally doable. But it is a big lifestyle change and I would suggest it would be better to develop some skills before you sell everything and buy a farm. I live in a 'hippy' area known for its constant migration of city folks looking for a treechange, a lot of people end up with the trophy organic property with lots of fruit trees, and animals, but in the end they don't have the skills to manage the property and sell it on, or still shop at the supermarket! Start with the skills you will need and grow those. I remember years ago when I had the dream, i couldn't afford even my own house ( the inflated property market in australia is a killer) I still wanted to feel like I was chasing my dream so I focussed on developing my skills at the other end, processing and mkaing things from scratch, I learned to bake bread, make pasta, pickle and bottle. I also taught myself to knit and sew. Now I find as I plant my first veggie patch I am planting what I know I can use and harvesting and using it all. It was only something simple like pizza at first. It has now become a tradition to have pizza every saturday made from scratch, it now has our own herbs and fresh tomatoes, eventually I will have a big enough tomato crop to can my own sauce. It's little steps. This year I harvested green mangoes from a street tree and made a years supply of pickles. I just finished knitting a jumper for my kids. My kids help plant the garden and look after it and learn a lot. So the point is.... baby steps. Learn what you can while you can, read, try to do things as you get the opportunity.
Have you looked into square foot gardening? You can grow a lot in a backyard.
I can understand why your husband would be a bit hesitant... its a long way out of his comfort zone. Realistically, most of the self-sufficient properties in my area still rely on someone having off-farm income, so him not being a farmer is ok! I think start gently and do what you can, but don't give up. There is still a lot to do to be ready to manage a farm, grow your skills. You can learn to do most things. I have experimented with espalier fruit trees and they are great!  Train the fruit trees onto a fence and they Still produce lots.  Espalier trees are easier for someone small to care for as you can easily net them and care for them. I fit 26 fruit trees (apples, pears, cherries) into a suburban backyard. You can keep fruit trees in a chicken pen too. Look out for workshops and learn what you can. Try and figure out the details of the dream and what exactly you want and develop your knowledge and skills in that area. Now my dream farm involves tea, Fish,  mulberries and silk! Homeschooling becomes a lifestyle, and you can grow and manage a property too, you just need to be realistic about what you can achieve at each stage, it doesn't happen instantly. Homeschool kids make great chicken chasers!  You could try having holidays in the areas you are looking at, doing homestays. Maybe seeing the lifestyle would help, and I guess finding a way to balance your dreams and your husbands, what are his dreams? Is there a way to realise those while pursuing yours? My husband works in IT, so he's no farmer, but he's willing to live out of town and drive longer distances, in a lot of areas a small farm doesn't have to be that far from town anyways. And he happily helps me out with anything too physical I can't manage yet. Now, I am exactly one of those people who the idea of running a farm seems completely fantastical! I have a history of chronic illness, family expectations of financial success and prestige, no money (due to chronic illness) and nobody much thought I was capable of homeschooling. My 9 year old is just starting year 5 and my beautiful caring clever kids now have convinced everyone.  we have only just stopped renting and got a garden of our own (you can't plant in a rental property here). So I am planting out my first garden, and I know it is all the more successful for me having to wait to try it. I first had this dream 10 years ago!  I will have my farm one day! And for all the waiting It will be even better.
 
Victoire Peverill
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Another tip.... from the wisdom and experience of others. It is very common also in my area for people to start their permaculture dream in their late 40s-early 50s. Which is great, but I have also seen some issues with this. You have to be realistic about what your body is able to do and your long term plans. There is also a constant migration "off-farm" of people in their 60-early 70s into town because they don't want to do the work anymore, or the body isn't up to it. So also plan ahead for the older years of your life, don't develop a property that solely relies on heavy labour, because it will be too much later on. It can take time to establish a good permaculture property, orchards take time to develop, breeding animals need generations to get good breeding stock etc... so don't plan for anything that will take too many years to get going. You don't want the dream over before you really get started. How off-grid do you want to be? What creature comforts do you want? There are a lot of choices and diversity in what your permaculture dream might be. Soil health can take some time to improve. Maybe consider buying a property with some things already developed. Do you have to do everything from scratch? You might find a place where someone want to retire and you can take over custodianship of their farm. I just read about your husbands more business minded goals. That's great! agri-tourism is massive over here, and many farms do well to diversify income streams. In my village one couple does a paddock to plate business. She grows chickens (also runs a childcare centre in town) and he runs a cafe that uses the eggs in town!
 
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I think you should go for your dreams but also follow the Permaculture Principle #9 - start small and slow https://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/_9/

You mentioned selling everything and heading for the country, which is certainly a dream for alot of people, but you really aren't sure if you will like this lifestyle - so start very small.

I spent the better part of 5 years preparing to market garden on 1/3 of an acre, taking classes with Jean-Martin Fortier and others. Reading ever book I possibly could, Eliot Coleman, Curtis Stone, SPIN Farming, etc.  I interviewed local growers and checked out their operations. I was totally into it. I market gardened one summer and worked my part time job while my wife ramped up her hours to cover the expenses.

It was so much fun, I loved every second of it. I had my production down and was showing up each week at market with a bunch of quality product. It sold out in maybe 2 hours and each week I headed home with  cash. I turned the beds over 2-3 times that summer and maxed out the fertility of the compost that was brought in.

Once again, it was so much fun but the reality is that we have a mortgage, health insurance, bills, etc that have to get paid. It doesn't matter where you live in the US, some of those will have to be paid.

At the end of the season I had basically broken even from inputs, tools purchases, etc. Once again, I loved it but the reality is that you would really need to have zero to minimal expenses to make a go of it where I live. There's a huge market for the product, but land is at a premium here.  My part time job changed as well and you have to shift with the times. I have a food forest now.

You can move somewhere with super cheap land, but there isn't the market to support niche veggies b/c its rural. Everyone probably has a garden. You can move to a region hungry for niche veg and the market is there but it super expensive to live there. That's the reality of small ag in the US at the moment.

I would suggest tht you start small where you are at - are there 4-5 local families you can offer a small CSA to?  Buy JM Fortier's book and take his online class to learn more. Check out SPIN Farming and also Curtis Stone (who's work is basically based on SPIN farming). I would start with something like that if I could do it all over again. Really nail the production in a small garden for those families and grow from there.
 
pollinator
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Azita Williams wrote:

I brought up the desire of wanting to live on a farm, growing our own food and maybe running a CSA and quitting my job.  I also would love to home-school our child.  My husband tells me that I just have a fantasy and that running farm is a lot of work and he does not want to do it.  But I don't think it's a fantasy, i believe it's my calling in life!  My husband suggested building a small green house in our backyard for me to grow things to get it out of my system basically, but I plan on signing up with a local Wwoof host to start learning how to run a farm on my days off.  

I have been looking at farms for sale all across the US for the last few months and if we sold everything, we could buy a farm for cash in a less expensive part of the country.  Then if we get solar panels installed and if the farm is on well water and septic tank, we could potentially become self sufficient and not stressed out about big living expenses as we get started.  

Anyone else on here in the same predicament?  spouse not on board? thinking it's a fantasy? Maybe grandparents and father mourning the farm life has made me subconsciously fantasize it?  I'm trying to figure it all out!



In my opinion you are entirely on the right path! I am interested to know what is your ethnicity, if not Persian? Of what religion were the people there, if not Islamic? I have had a lot of Iranian friends in L.A. and know how badly things have gone since the "Revolution", under the Ayatollahs.

I'm from the USA, from old Appalachian families in West Virginia, and I have the exact same dream you have. I've been farming in various places on land I don't own, now live with my original true love in the Piedmont but would rather move to the mts in WV, but she won't do it...

Of course you can grow food almost anywhere, but your idea of being in the Pacific NW is good... I used to live in Western Washington. It is nice, and lots of wild food in the forests there!

Good luck with all this!
 
Azita Williams
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Sarah Milcetic wrote:I'm sorry I don't have time to read all the replies right this moment (outside is calling us to come back quickly) but this post really spoke to me when I saw it on the daily-ish! I didn't know that I dreamed of farming until we started down the path. My husband and I lived in NYC and grew herbs in a skylight and composted with worms in our 40 sq ft kitchen, then moved to an urban lot just outside the city when our oldest child was a toddler. We turned 50x100 foot lot with basically nothing but lawn to a nearly year-round food forest. We sold our house and bought an old RV and 8 acres. My husband didn't quit his job but started telecommuting and has reduced his hours as he has become more open to the farm and more involved each year. It has been hard but I wouldn't go back for anything! I'd be happy to talk to you if you'd like to.



Wow! Sarah, I'm so excited for you! going from living in NYC and growing herbs in a skylight to living on 8 acres ... you are living my dream!  And a year round food forest sounds so amazing! I'd definitely reach out to you with questions!
 
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Hi Azita!
I am new here too and I relate with your post as My husband and I bought a land in Senegal (his country of origin) and are looking to start a little farm with vocational training for the village located near by. It seems to me, a born and raised Montrealer used to the concrete more than anything else, as a huge challenge! I understand your husband's feelings but I also relate to yours. Its a huge change but it also seems that it will become a necessary change soon with the state of our planet. Anyways; would love to chat some more about this via email if you are interested to exchange on the subject. Take care! Aimee
 
pollinator
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This is NOT a bad idea at all.  But its a bigger change than most people can comprehend!  It seems there are so many stories of people who bought land thinking they would get away... but then then got swallowed by it.  Its not just that it takes effort, but there are so many unknowns when you try to do something different.

My farm motto is "Fail Small" - so I do things incrementally, learn, repeat.  This way any failure should be small enough to not derail the whole plan.  I have a few head of cattle, tried four hogs, started with the smallest tractor, etc.  Jumping in to commercial farming AND off-grid is putting a lot of eggs in one basket - and that's a great way to get stressed and not enjoy life!

I'm surprised it hasn't popped up yet - Paul's idea of "gardening" instead of "farming."  In a nutshell, farming is very non-permaculture because of the demands of markets, customers, etc and so its really hard to not end up tilling, planting in rows and generally engaging in labor intense growing and processing.  And so you spend a lot of time growing cash-crops and driving to markets. The permie idea of building systems takes time (years...) and can produce an abundance of food but not on a commercial schedule.  I think there is a lot to be said for the homestead first model - it allows you to blend the requirements of student debt service with living the life, and perhaps preparing for the time when commercial growing is desirable.

So get property? sure.  Don't stretch and go off-grid at the start because that's a bigger change.  You can also disconnect later, but for now the grid is remarkably cheap!

A great way to ease in and, um, not bet the farm, is to rent/borrow land.  Washington and Oregon have Farm-Link programs (http://wafarmlink.org
 and https://oregonfarmlink.org
) - basically a dating service for connecting landowners and landseekers. The terms vary widely- rent, partner, lease to own, purchase.  As a land-owner I've essentially built my business model around Farm-link and folks like you. I regularly talk with couples seeking a change - and there are many who have some experience, but can't afford land in the area and/or aren't ready to commit to owning land.  Since I'm on the other side of the equation and have to evaluate the probability of success I have more concerns than just dreams!  If you're interested in that, please allow me to coach you a bit on writing your profile and how to reach out to landowners.
 
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Holy smokes ya’ll - I have learned so much in this thread!

I am seconding Tyler on this. If your husband does not want to work on the farm, then in any plan you come up with you should expect him to NOT work on the farm.

I am in a similar situation. We have compromised, we saved and bought 5 acres. He doesn’t want to garden, farm, or help with any animals. He will help with canning and is slowly getting interested in diy solar and wind. He also likes to build things. In addition we are going to be starting our family later this year, and he has 10 years on me. These are all things that limit my dream of what I want. Instead I have compromised on the things and then there things I don’t want to give up.

We will have a large garden, I want chickens/ducks and maybe rabbits for meat. We will probably get a livestock dog since he travels for work and I don’t want to be at the house by myself and a kiddo without one.

I am very jealous that his family has land in GA, I lived down South for a good chunk of my childhood and you get used to the heat. Not to mention the cost of living can be very cheap depending on where in GA you live. I would look at the numbers of relocating to family land to see if it makes sense and maybe try a season down there to see if you get used to the heat.

We both love the PNW too much to leave, but if I still had the family land in Upstate New York I probably would be there and never had met my husband.
 
gardener
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You seem to be on a reasonable path. Take baby steps ....especially with your husband not on board.  Your dream may not be his dream.
 
See where your hand is? Not there. It's next to this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Plans - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/7/rmhplans
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