Introducing a New Blog Series! How to Fail at Farming (Or, Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Succeed at Farming) Post #1

by brenda on May 15, 2018

If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you know that we bought a farm in 2010 with big dreams and goals. I had been reading every homesteading book I could get my hands on before that. Our oldest son said emphatically that he wanted to be a pig farmer (of course, he was only 8!). We had planted as many fruit trees and as big of a garden as we could manage on our tiny neighborhood lot. We were ready for space and a real farming adventure!

We did end up having many farming adventures, and also many failures. Farming was a giant learning curve for us, as neither one of us grew up on a farm or had anyone remotely close to us who could guide us. We couldn’t predict the expenses, the time requirements, the things we just didn’t know, or the things we would need to give up.

Ultimately, I say lightly, we failed at farming. I say it lightly because really, we have so many good stories and we are thankful for the experience that we lived through. The farm wasn’t a total failure for us, even though we didn’t profit financially and we’re not farmers any longer. I say that we failed, because in 2014–almost 4 years after we purchased nearly 30 acres with such immense hope; we sold our farm and moved into a tiny apartment and then eventually a home in a neighborhood.

I can’t confidently write posts about how to succeed at farming, unless I am merely relaying what other farmers (who are indeed successful) share with me. (Which I will do from time to time on this blog). What I can share with you, what I know, and what I hope to share with you in the following series, is how to avoid some big mistakes in your own farming adventure.

Honestly, putting this out there feels a little vulnerable. I am going to walk you through, step-by-step, our mistakes….I already get negative comments on this blog, telling me that we did things incorrectly, or “obviously” everybody knows that the way we did things was stupid. I want to start off by making it very clear: we knew nothing about farming before we started. We were newbies, with oh-so-much to learn, and we were also raising kids and remodeling a house, all at once. I’m absolutely sure we did things the wrong way, and that is exactly what I’m going to tell you about. I hope you’ll giggle with me, learn some things as you read, and that you won’t shake your head at me or call me stupid–or leave rude comments. Please be nice.

For the next several Tuesdays (I have 35 post ideas so far, so it’ll be quite a few Tuesdays!), I will be pouring out my heart and sharing every bit of farming experience I can remember to share with you…and how you can avoid ultimately selling the farm that you always dreamed of owning. I am calling this series “How to Fail at Farming, or…Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Succeed at Farming…” I hope you enjoy these posts! 🙂

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

ciska burger May 16, 2018 at 3:17 am

first time reader of your blog. (.from the netherlands). brave decisions…the buiing en the selling…..looking forward to your stories…kind regards, ciska

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bobbi July 1, 2018 at 5:47 am

people are always so quick to judge when they know NOTHING of the situation. You do you. That is all. I am an expert in this field BTW, I used to judge everyone for everything so I know, haha. It is so freeing to let everything go though, and one day they will see it too. I love your blog and look forward to your series.

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brenda July 1, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Bobbi, THANK YOU! It is refreshing to get KIND comments like this! Yesterday I got a pretty mean one, so thank you for being one fo the nice people! 🙂

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anne July 1, 2018 at 8:46 am

Am looking forward ti your series. I am not a farner, raaaather a big gardener. When our kids were little, we lived in upstate New York, and had a big garden, and made lots of mistakes We knew nothing about compost, and wasted a perfect opportunity to improve fine silty water-repellent soil with; litter from our yard and litter from our chichillas. Rule #1, improve the soil. We raised nine kids, and they turned out great, so we must have done something right. I movewith d here to northern Idaho in 1990 and have gardened ever since with mixed results. My ultimate goal is to leave the land better than I found it. It has been all organic for the 27 years, so that is a big plus. The short season in a frost pocket area is a minus, but forces learning of many kinds. Still. I am 90 now, and learnin g not to trip over the hose! Ny first advice to anyone would be to start small enough to manage easily, and focus on the soil with cover crops and compost. I wish you could have been able to do that. I admire your trying, and being willing to admit your mistakes, using your knowledge to help others. Much happiness to you and yours, however you eqrn your living. And I hope you have a small garden wherever you are.

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brenda July 1, 2018 at 10:06 pm

Anne, WOW, you are 90 and still gardening? That is AMAZING! Thank you for your kind comment! And great advice, YES, start small! I agree!! We did not start small! I bet YOU could write a blog post with some great advice for others! 🙂

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Lessy November 6, 2018 at 8:37 am

Thank you for this post. I am also a city girl who hopes to one day have a farm (well a larger piece of land within reason). I am growing on what I call a postage stamp area of grass in my back yard. I know for sure that I can’t manage a large track of land and have no previous skills of living on a farm that can even start to prepare me for that. I love farming, and I love the fact I get to plant something and watch it grow. I do day dream about needing a large track of land, but in reality I know I only want what I can manage, and I can afford to keep up. I have in the recent year, focused on growing on smaller pieces of land, which I know to stay within the city limits of living (don’t want to be deep in the woods, and having the best of both worlds (country/city) there will be things on my land that I can’t have (like large animals). As time goes on I think I am ok with that.

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