PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
Rachael Dupree
November 10, 2016

The above photo is what the farm looks like this time of year. Black. If you’re hobby farmers like we are, this might be about all you see of your farm, too. When you wake up in the morning, it’s dark. You go to work, and then when you come home, it’s dark.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t craving winter’s rest. Considering that we moved in during peak growth, we’ve been a bit behind on farm work since we arrived. It’s nice to not have to rush home to mow or weed, and instead focus on cooking a good meal and reading a book. I have grown rather accustomed to evening sunset walks through our woods, though, so I’ll miss that until the days start getting longer again. But now that the season of planning has commenced, I can’t wait to get my spreadsheets started.

One of the most frequent questions we’ve been asked since moving to the farm has been what we’re planning to do with our land. Well, of course, I’ve had ideas and dreams, but given our rather abrupt decision to take on the rural life, I wasn’t prepared to give a definitive answer. Now, Mr. B and I have time to give it some serious thought. Here’s what we have in mind so far.

1. Grow Our Veggies

One of our biggest goals is to grow and preserve all of the vegetables we consume. My green thumb can be rather selective at times—preferring easy-to-grow greens and herbs to the more finicky pest- and disease-susceptible plants—so I know we’re not going to meet this goal our first year. Plus, while we have an amazing 150-by-50-foot bed to get started in, the sheer size of it is overwhelming to me at this point. We’ll have to experiment to figure out what is feasible given our 9-to-5 jobs.

2. Start Some Perennials

I’m fascinated by healing herbs, and I’ve been dabbling in my own medicine-making for several years. It’s been a dream of mine to begin growing the herbs that play starring roles in my balms, lotions, tinctures and teas, and while I did that on a small scale in my urban garden, the possibilities now seem endless. On the to-do list this winter is to figure out which plants I use most often and which ones I’d rather grow than purchase, and then get a start on my apothecary stores.

3. Ducks & Pigs

Having come from a neighborhood where the HOA didn’t permit chickens, I’ve been daydreaming of backyard eggs for years. However, I also like to buck trends. While it would be great to have some chickens for our morning eggs, I’m really keen on getting ducks instead—because even though I have plenty of sources for chicken eggs, duck eggs are a bit harder to find. (Have you ever tried a hard-boiled duck egg? Heaven!)

We’re also toying with the idea of pigs. We have a pasture full of an invasive legume called lespedeza, and so far, the only advice we’ve gotten for nipping the problem in the bud is to Roundup the field. Sorry, that ain’t happening! With bees to care for and potential plant medicine in the works, I don’t want to take my chances. I have what is at this point a not-so-well-thought-out plan of rotating a few pigs through the pasture, following them with a seeding of native grasses and wildflowers, and hopefully getting some freezer meat in the process. I’m still at odds at what to do with the garden, though, so we might be a few years out on this.

Figuring Out The Tools We Need

Part of this whole planning process will be weighing equipment options so we can get our planting on. We know we’re working on a small scale, but we’re also within time constraints, so we’ll need tools that will help make our work efficient and productive. After we identify farming goals, we’ll be assessing our local resources to figure out what we can borrow (either from neighbors or the local extension office), what we should rent and what we need to invest in.

Right now, we have a blank slate in front of us, and as a dreamer, that means I’m thinking about all the possibilities—I mean all of them! This winter will be all about prioritizing and putting a plan in place so that come spring, when the daylight shines a little longer, we can hit the ground running.



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