Sunday, February 14, 2010
Grass Works Family Farm
Begin with the end in mind...I don't know exactly where this will END but within the next 5-7 years we would like to be living a very different lifestyle. This will be the home of our retirement, the homestead which we will bequeath to our children.
What are we hoping to find in the country? The first is space -both physical and emotional. To get away from such close proximity to the consumer rush, to watch the sun rise and set on land in our stewardship. Personally it is also a test; a way to gauge and build my grit and gumption. I have always been the smart one, good at reading, comprehending and taking tests. This has gotten me far in my life, but I wonder, do I have what it takes to thrive and persevere when things get tough? Take me out of the office- can I cut it? A measure of self sufficiency is important to us-food as well as power. That will certainly not happen in this home, we are too comfortable here with the status quo.
We plan to create the Grass Works Family Farm as a small business this spring. Admittedly the first years will be significantly in the red but that is part of the plan-the losses will help negate some of the (taxable) profits from my small business. We plan to market pasture raised meat chickens (Freedom Rangers). The first summer we will only be able to raise one run for immediate family; but by 2011 we should have some kinks worked out and be able to direct market (we have some ideas for that too).
We have been reading alot about rotational grazing this winter and it is our goal to stay within a permaculture model. Allow chickens to be chickens and cows to be cows, let them do the work! To get by with the least amount of physical struggle and capital investment. Instead of bullying the earth with equipment to use our minds and our creativity to achieve our desired outcome. Hence to farm name: Grass Works.
Nineteen acres of beautiful productive grass pasture for pastured meat and layer chickens, a dairy goat or two, the Norwegian Fjord horse. Field rows of native oak, crab apple and other food and cover for wildlife. A large garden from which we can feed ourselves, a garden for medicinal and culinary herbs. The orchard and small fruits, such as grapes and blueberries. All very idyllic, no? What about jobs, property taxes, health insurance, college saving for the kids, and let's not forget the 5 months of winter in wonderful Wisconsin!
For this story-book ending to happen we need to do a couple of things. In the next year or two one of us needs to stop working outside the home(stead). We are both pretty well paid professionals, we have a nice income but also alot of debt (student loans, loan for purchase of business). We need to pay down our debt to allow one of us to devote time to the farm business. If this is to be more than a hobby farm one of us will need to not be working outside the home. If worked full time I would have the higher income but DH has the health insurance. Is is a good problem to have in these times. We have so much to learn about food storage, gardening, livestock, real cooking, and oh how I could go on... it is exciting and a more than a little daunting, but it is REAL now, no longer a dream.