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What to Know Before Starting a Farm

What to Know Before Starting a Farm

While most of the food production in the United States today is done by agribusinesses utilizing huge warehouses, artificial lighting and genetically modified seed, the traditional farm has by no means gone out of vogue. Anyone with the will to get his or her hands dirty and the knowledge of how to plant, care for and properly harvest crops can find some land and start growing. In farming, like anything else, if you don’t know what you’re doing then your outcome is going to be very far from optimal. This is what to know before starting a farm.

First and foremost, unless you’re working out of a warehouse yourself, the odds are good that your farm of choice will be some distance away from the rest of civilization. Living on farm land is kind of a necessity since you need to be there to watch out for the health of your crops, build fences to keep critters out and do everything else that needs to be done. If you want access to things like TV and the Internet though, your best bet will probably be some sort of satellite connection. Consider this heavily before you commit to any move to any farm.

If being out of the loop doesn’t bother you so much, then that last point won’t be such a big deal for you. However, no farmer can ignore the specific needs of the crops they’ve chosen to grow. Before you even buy the seeds for planting, you must research a few things, like what crops are in demand in your area (cash crops), what kind of special care they need to reach maximum yields, and what sort of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other tools you can use to boost your bottom line without killing off your crops.

Different plants have different needs, which means the tools that work for one type of plant may not work for another, or might just kill it outright. Having access to the web would make all this research much easier, so again, we want to stress that first point about having some sort of Internet access at your farm. Once you know what you want to grow, what the specific needs of those plants are and what you can do to meet those needs, then you will finally be ready to actually start growing stuff. The next thing you need to know is the where.

Like with many businesses, location is very important to a farmer. If you must haul your harvest farther to get it to market, then that will cut into your profits more and more for every mile you have to carry your produce. Look for land which is close enough to a major city that you will have easy access to a wide market, but not so close that you have to deal with things like pollution, violence, noise and other woes. Finding the perfect spot which has the balance you want will take some time, and again, some research.

Making money should be the ultimate goal of any farmer, just like with most other businesses. That means you want to give your crops the best possible chance of survival, which in turn means that you need to stay away from heavy sources of smog, like congested city streets loaded with cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles. If you want to raise livestock as well, then you will need to look into crop rotation and how you can grow multiple different crops on different sections of your plot, rotating those crops every few months so you don’t completely deplete the nutrients in the Earth.

Using crop rotation and the four-field rotation system specifically, you can grow a couple of cash crops as well as fodder and feed for your animals, all at the same time. The wheat, turnips, barley and clover system was developed in Great Britain back during the 1500s and it is still used today, but you may want to change up the specific plants you grow based on your needs. Also, remember that some crops simply do not mingle with other crops. One great example of this is tobacco, because it kills practically every other plant it touches.

Because it can be difficult if not impossible to turn a decent profit unless you are running a mega farm that rakes in government subsidies, you have to diversify the production while cutting costs on your farm if you want to come out ahead. This might mean foregoing livestock completely, and instead installing several artificial beehives on your property so you can start producing honey, royal jelly and wax. All of these items command a good price on the produce market, and the bees more or less take care of themselves, all the while fertilizing your crops for you and promising bigger, better yields.

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How to Make Money with Your Farm

How to Make Money with Your Farm

If you’re wondering how to make money with your farm, you’re not alone – figuring out what crops are in high demand in a given season and finding buyers for the things they grow is a difficult thingn for all farmers to do. If you want to be profitable and not just grow a barn full of stuff that you can’t find anyone to buy, then you’ve got to be smart. For starters, investing all of your land into a single crop is almost always a bad idea. Just like market investors with their portfolios, you will have a better chance of financial success if you diversify.

This could mean growing things you normally wouldn’t even consider, like mushrooms for instance. Mushrooms used in medicine, as well as those which find their way into gourmet recipes and high-priced restaurant dishes, can be a very lucrative crop for any farm. Many mushroom types will give you 2-3 crops a year, every 4 months or so, and some of these can sell for obscene amounts of money, like the truffles some people love so much. Compared to things like corn or tomatoes, mushrooms have very specific needs which must be met, so as always be sure to research before planting.

Another way to make money with your farm is to get out of the ground entirely. Not that you shouldn’t be taking advantage of your available land, not at all; but there are other ways for farmers to make money besides just growing things. For instance, honey and other bee products tend to command high prices, much like the mushrooms mentioned above. Installing several bee hives in a quiet corner of your property will give you a steady supply of honey, wax and other bee products, and on top of that you’ll have your own little fertilization crew working for you.

The truth is, some 90% of small farms make the majority of their income through activities besides the actual farming, at least here in the United States. That means you may want to open up your farm to the public, if you think there’s a way to make money out of it. This could be something as simple as renting out parcels of your land for campers to use, or opening a bed and breakfast and renting out empty rooms in your home to people who can afford to pay for them.

Breaking into as many markets as possible is key to making your farm a profitable one, regardless of its size. You could easily put together seed packages with dozens of seeds from a handful of different plants, then sell those through the Internet to avid gardeners and would-be farmers all over the world. This is a much better use for all those seeds left over at the end of every growing season than just throwing them out or using them for animal feed, plus you will increase the knowledge of your farm with every package you sell. Happy customers will lead to more customers, you know?

What It Takes to Live on a Farm

What It Takes to Live on a Farm

You may be thinking about going into farming for yourself, but also rightfully wondering what it takes to live on a farm. It’s definitely not the same thing as living in a big city, that’s for sure. There are good and bad points which can be argued for both rural and urban life, but that’s not what we’re here to do right now. If you’re thinking of becoming a farmer yourself, then there is a world of knowledge you need to pick up before you get started, not the least of which is what to expect from farm life.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that there are no vacations on a farm. You may think the winter season would at least give growers a few months of peace during the year, but winter happens to be the perfect time for aerating soil, collecting seeds from the crops which were left in fall to go to seed, chopping trees, breaking rocks and clearing land. If you really want to be a farmer, you need to realize you’ll be doing the farmer thing for (probably) 12 hours a day, every day, with only the occasional day off. No week-long vacation for you!

Isolation isn’t necessarily a part of the farming lifestyle, but you’re definitely going to notice fewer people around you if you move from an urban area to a rural one. This probably won’t bother you if you actually enjoy peace and quiet, but social people may suffer for living on a farm. Thankfully, you can make up for decreased human interactions with all the phone calls you’ll be making to nearby restaurants, grocery stores and other food vendors, all of whom you’ll be trying to sell your farm products to in order to make a living.

Animals die for all kinds of reasons, and nobody knows this fact better than the farmers who raise those animals. If you want to live on a farm, you’re going to need to be able to not get too attached to your livestock. It sounds simple enough to look at a cow and see a couple hundred steaks rather than a living, breathing thing, but some people will struggle with this concept. You can always hire someone else to butcher and process your meats for you, but that’s more money you could hold onto and save, and every little bit counts when living on a farm.

A level of mechanical aptitude is also crucial if you want to live on a farm. Equipment breaks down even when treated with care, and knowing how to repair a broken piece of machinery can be the difference between continuing to use it and needed to buy something entirely new. You don’t need to be a certified mechanic to live on a farm, but it sure helps. It should go without saying, but a willingness to get your hands dirty is also a sort of prerequisite to living and working on a farm.

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