The countdown to the farm has started and so have the sleepless nights. With so much to think about I am guessing that my recent sleeplessness will last for a good few weeks to come. Its not so much worry about the crazy journey we are about to undertake but rather the sheer volume of learning that I have ahead of me. I am sure that no one who reads this blog thinks that a farmers life is easy, its full of hard work, long hours and so on. But have you also considered the massive amount of knowledge that goes into farming, a farmer needs to be a chemist, a vet, a soothsayer, a meteorologist, a tradesman, a geologist, a botanist and the list goes on.
So as I try to learn all that I need to know, and stay awake thinking about all the things that I don't yet know, I have been reading books and listening to blogs about farming. What I have learnt is that in america there has been a resurgence of people going back to the land and doing exactly what we are doing, so many in fact that they have been given the title of 'the beginning farmers'. And one beginning farmer has an excellent podcast and blog that has been very useful for my planning.
The first thing I have to do on the farm is prepare it for animals, if we were in an office this would be the equivalent of setting out desks, arranging the water cooler and buying the headed paper. But on a farm its a lot more complicated because mistakes really can cost lives, as well as money, and the equipment I need is extensive (having recently moved to NZ from Australia I don't even have a hammer). So I turned to The Beginning Farmer Show for some advice and this is a summary of his 'four great things' to think about when it comes to purchasing items to help you use your time, energy, and money more wisely:
Buy Nothing and Learn Lots! (buy as little as possible and the slowly figure out what I need).
- Buy Equipment That Will Save You Money!
- Buy Equipment That Improves the Life of Your Livestock!
- Buy Equipment That Saves You Time!
So with these simple rules in mind I am about to embrace the world of the Freegan. Sourcing all kinds of materials, tools and even food for the animals from places that no longer need them. Since leaving work in February I have been trying to live as frugally as possible and it has really struck me how little we actually need, how much waste we produce and how I would buy things I didn't even use. I am not trying to preach to anyone, if anything I am chastising myself for all the money I have wasted in the past and actually I'm looking forward to being more innovative and social in my pursuit of the Freegan lifestyle.
So with that in mind I have made a list of all the things I need and it will be fun seeing just how many I can source for free or make for less than just buying new:
- Pig Ark (Shelter). I am going to need a few of these and I have found some really easy plans for them so job number one is to buy the materials and make 3 or 4 of them. For that I will need wood, electric jigsaw, a hammer and patience.
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Each sow needs one of these to give birth in. I plan to have at least 8 Sows[/caption]
- Tractor (with a loader). Oh yes a big red tractor, every boys dream until about the age of ten when they turn to Ferrari instead.
- Live stock Trailer. Actually I firstly need to get a tow bar fitted on my car and then learn how to drive with a trailor on the back (especially when going in reverse).
- Ride On Lawn Mower (and petrol strimmer). This is not really a farm purchase but if I don't get one the 1.5 acres around the house will soon look like a jungle.
- Post Hole Digger. The farm is quite well fenced but I will need to put alot of fence in to make smaller paddocks, I am not looking forward to this as its costly and HARD work.
- Plow, Disk, Harrow, Seeder, Baler. All of these are needed if I am going to start growing crops to feed the animals (and the pigs...)
- Spade, Shovel, Rake, Branch cutters, Axe, Pickaxe, Sledgehammer, Hay Rake and a hundred other hand tools
- Chainsaw. Just so I can scare the neighbours.
Infact the only farm 'tool' I have at the moment is a green Land Rover Defender, which comes with the house, whilst it makes me look the part I am not sure its going to help me make money.
OK, I am off to pretend to sleep and ruminate some more.