From Farm to Neighborhood: A Different Kind of Life

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by brenda on August 15, 2014

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We sold our farm in February, and moved to an apartment for 2 months. In April, we moved into our home, in a neighborhood, on a 1/4 acre lot. Last weekend someone asked us what the biggest difference was between living on a farm and living in a neighborhood. Can I just share a few with all of you?

Food Scraps

On the farm, all of our food scraps went to the animals, and even chicken bones got buried in a big compost pile. In a neighborhood house, we have a garbage disposal! It is way too easy to waste away all of those great food scraps into the sewer. I built a compost bin for this purpose. I want to be thoughtful about how our food is being used. It takes a tiny bit more work, but the compost bin is right outside of our kitchen, and our kids enjoy throwing things in it. I miss having animals to feed our scraps to (the escaping baby pigs were my favorite!).

compostbin

Time/Laziness

When we lived on the farm, we felt bad because our kids helped with animal chores and there was a lot of work to do. In a neighborhood, you really have to search for work for kids to do. We have 3 boys and a girl–they need to be moving, being productive, using their muscles…Otherwise, they want to sit around and play the Wii, Minecraft, or watch Netflix….If we let them, they could literally spend their entire days doing these kinds of things. I miss having work for them. We’ve seen attitudes go downhill–more of a “I deserve fun” attitude. We did not foresee this coming with a move into a neighborhood. We also have time, nearly every evening, to watch something…many nights on the farm we were just too exhausted, or up too late working on something. This is so very different….

Time/Fun

However–we have more time to have fun with our kids. We’ve gone to the beach twice this summer, gone camping twice, and gone on multiple bike rides. We’re enjoying all of that. I want to get chickens in our backyard–however, traveling is SO easy when we only have 1 cat, 3 rabbits, 1 dog, and some plants to water. We can get help from the neighbor boy–we do not have to train someone how to milk our cows anymore, or pray that they got the chickens back into the coop before the coyotes came out….No worries!! My husband works from home, and all he needs is a phone and an internet connection. I homeschool our kids. If we do not keep lots of pets, we can travel, almost anytime we want to (and if our budget allows us to). 🙂 So we’re really going back & forth on the idea of getting chickens…We have a lot of freedom without having all of the animals we used to have. We miss the animals, but we enjoy that freedom, too.

beachtrip

Food Buying and Prep

When we were on the farm, food was our LIFE. If we didn’t grow it, we usually bought it from other local farmers. We shopped at the local grocery store very rarely. We shopped at Costco about once a month for some staples, but mostly we ate meats, veggies, and fruit that were home-grown or local. It’s not on our mind every single day anymore. This last month I had a few weeks when I did not feel well and was not my “normal self.” We also had a camping trip before that and after that….Needless to say, we spent a lot of our food budget at the local grocery store rather than at local farms. We have not picked any berries or stone fruits this summer, at all! I have not canned or frozen anything. Can you believe it? Me. Really. I have an Excalibur dehydrator and a huge stainless pressure cooker, and they’re just sitting there…What are we going to do this winter? Goodness. And, I have not been to the farmer’s market in weeks, due to feeling sick and/or being out of town. I am so sad about this, I believe in supporting local farms!! I can’t wait to go tomorrow! 🙂 (Oh I take this back! There was a tiny farm stand outside of my daughter’s dr. office yesterday and I got apples, lettuce and broccoli! But I haven’t been to the big farmer’s market.). 🙂  When you live in a neighborhood, it is easy to just get so busy with your neighborhood life (house projects, and all of the other things that fill in the schedule) and to shop at the grocery store….Organic produce is pretty easy to find at the store (though it is not nearly as good/fresh tasting as the farmer’s market stuff!!). Easy food, even easy organic food, can be found readily. (It’s expensive, but it’s out there). We, as neighborhood dwellers, really have to make a conscious choice to support local farms and to get out there to get the good food. And then, to prepare it and save it for future months….

Visiting the Fair

Our county fair is going on this week, and it’s 5 minutes from our house. First of all, it’s amazing that we can afford to go to the fair! It’s easily $150 or more for our family to go. When we owned the farm, we didn’t go to the fair. We just couldn’t spare that much…Before we got the farm, we would go to the fair and stare at all of the animals. This year, I wanted to do the same–I love the frizzled chickens and the silkies, and the tiny little banties, and the baby ducks with their mama…My kids had a “been there, done that” attitude and said “MOM, can we keep going….Let’s go ride more rides….” But….but….These are farm animals….These are what give us food, and life, and….Ho hum. They really are turning into neighborhood kids. What a quick transition that was. My farm boys and farm princess care little about the farm animals, and they’re more into games, rides, movies….This shows me we have to make a conscious choice to get them onto farms, and to keep encouraging the love for farm life that we once instilled in them….

ride

These are the changes I have noticed, the biggest things that stand out to me….How would you deal with these changes, if you were me? How do you deal with these attitudes and dilemmas, if you are a neighborhood dweller? I believe fully that we are where God has us, and I am content. I just want to keep food and local farms on our minds…how do you do it?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Century Farm August 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm

It is such serendipity that I stumbled across your blog today. We purchased a small 6 acre farm in central Iowa a little more than two years ago. Although we have neither animals (other than our pups) or children, I am often overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done. Our home is 130 years/+ old and it needs a lot of love. Until reading about your struggles, I was actually considering raising chickens (among many other things) for additional income. I can’t imagine selling our place but I so appreciate your willingness to share your story. I can only imagine the pain of selling. I love our land in a way that is beyond my ability to articulate.

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OBPI Mama August 20, 2014 at 2:57 am

Don’t be nervous about using your land for a purpose. No sense in just mowing it all. Chickens are a great place to start… Layers or Meat Birds. With all due respect to the author of this blog, there are many ways to raise chickens (both broilers and layers). We are more conventional in our methods of raising (as in we don’t buy organic feed and the feed does have corn in it… which makes it cheaper to raise and thus cheaper to sell… allowing for a profit), but they all are pastured on fresh grass during Spring, Summer, and Fall (it snows in the winter here). We raise meat chickens the Joel Salatin way during the Summer months (our last batch is butchered August 29th). -Once you work your land, your love for it grows even more. I’ve learned this as a 6th generation farmer’s wife…

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Mountainman Sam September 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

I agree. I’ve found that if you have about 15 chickens and sell eggs for around $3.00 a dozen they’ll pay for themselves and you get all the awesomely dark delicious eggs you need (we have 5 in our family). We buy organic feed but it’s nothing fancy. It does have some corn in it, but it is mostly made up of different grains. We now run 40 chickens and make enough to cover our property taxes as well. It would be tough to make a living on just this but it helps with the bills and gives us better food. Ducks are another good option. We have 6 ducks and sell there eggs for $6.00 a dozen and they cover their feed with this. The ducks are more of an experiment at this point, but if people keep buying eggs, we’re looking at getting about 20 to up the income a bit more. My biggest recommendation is to start small, work out the kinks and then grow slowly. This will also help ease you into how much time critters take. I used to have pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, horses, and cattle also, but had to sell out do to lack of time. I’m slowly reintroducing critters back into the equation as I’m settling down more and getting ready to start a family.

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Michelle November 26, 2014 at 12:28 am

First, love your blog, your recipes, your meal plans, everything! Thank you so much for doing this! So, you asked for ideas for how to handle the changes. Some cities offer urban garden plots where people and groups can sign up for a plot and use it to plant a garden. What would be really great would be to do something like that, not just with your kids, but with some kids, or even families, who are in need of mentoring – maybe you could get connected with some kids or families in need through a program like big bros/sis, through a local church, or through a program that is helping refugees. Hopefully, you could also get some other adults/families to help 🙂 If you can not get a plot of land through your city, perhaps a local church or other organization might lend a corner of their land – or you could even contact the owner of a vacant lot – I know someone who did that with success. Getting a group involved would be a great way for you and your family to use your skills together to mentor and role model other kids – and with other adults/families doing it with you, it wouldn’t have to be all consuming. Just an idea – if it’s not a fit for you, maybe someone else reading this will take it up 🙂 You’re helping a lot of people with the blog – keep it up!

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