Let’s face it. Farm families are a dying breed. More and more farm families are selling out to the large corporate farmers and are moving to town. Some of us, however, are here to stay. We believe in the old adage, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” Country life and farming is in our blood. If you live on a farm, or have just moved to the country on a few acres, then you will find this page helpful. It offers advice on everything from raising children on the farm to raising chickens. It will talk about country cooking and making ends meet, and all the old fashioned Country way. If after reading this you have any helpful hints or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me. Maybe I’ll add some of your ideas to this web page. I’ll be updating occasionally.
A is for Acres- Let’s face it. To have a farm, you have to have acreage; whether it be 1 or more. A farm can be any size as long as it is producing something—fruits, vegetables, grain, animals, etc. We call our farm “The Funny Farm,” because sometimes it’s pretty nutty around here. The price of land varies from place to place. Acreage is more expensive around big metropolitan areas. Around Missouri, good farm land (tillable) goes between $800-$2,000 per acre.Of course, you can always come across better deals. You just have to look around.
B is for Bottle-Fed-Calves— If you are planning on bottle feeding a calf, whether to raise as meat or to keep as a pet, there’s a few things you should know. 1) Buy good quality milk replacer. 2) Don’t overfeed your calf , or it will scour (get serious runs.) 3) Have a shelter for your calf. 4) Feeder Beware! There is nothing worse than a hungry bottle-fed calf. They chase , butt, ram and lick you to death. (They have very rough tounges.) When they eat, they butt you with their heads. I guess they think they are going to get more milk that way—a natural instinct.
C is for Chickens—Ahh. There’s nothing prettier than a couple of chickens standing on the lawn in front of a farm house. True, chickens are nice to have around. You know you are in the country when you see chickens. They are beneficial too. They eat all kinds of nasty insects and keep things neat and trim around the buildings and under trees. Plus, they provide you with eggs! They do pose a problem if they are open range though. They do their business in your yard, and if you have a side walk, they love to do their business there. Then your kids (farm kids go barefoot most of the time during the summer) step in it. When visitors come, they have to maneuver around the piles.
D is for Dirt Roads and Dust—Let’s face it. On a farm, you have lots of dust. Whether it be dust from the dirt roads, gravel roads, fields or animal lots. Farms are dirty places, so get used to it. When it rains, the dust turns to mud, and it get tracked into the house from boots and shoes. Sorry to say, you will just have to live with it.
E is for Entertainment—On the farm, there is a lot of entertainment. You just have to know where to find it. On a farm, there is a lot of hunting, fishing, gardening, picnicking, swimming, hiking, berry picking, bird watching,exploring, etc. Kids have fun doing these things as well as biking, tree climbing, flower picking, insect hunting. If you are lucky enough to own or know someone who has a lot of acreage, you can even go arrowhead hunting. Some farms along creeks and rivers have caves that offer spelunking. It’s just a matter of finding enough time to do everything offered on a farm!
F is for Fruit Trees— If you are fortunate enough to buy a farm with fruit trees already planted on it, you are in luck. Fruit trees take several years after planting before they begin to produce fruit. Fruit trees require a lot of maintenance too. They have to be pruned and sprayed regularly. Plus, fruit trees are very expensive to purchase. They are, however, a good investment, especially if you plan on freezing or canning the fruit.
G is for Grocery Shopping—Don’t think you are going to get to run to the grocery store every day once you are on the farm (unless you work in town, of course.)Most farms are several miles from town (10-15 miles,) and it wouldn’t be economical to drive to town daily.When grocery shopping, or shopping from other supplies, you will have to plan ahead and buy for a week or two worth of supplies. You’ll be surprised in the long run on how much money you will save using this approach. You will eliminate a lot of spontaneous buying this way. To make your trip to town worthwhile, you will need to make out a shopping list before you go, so you will not forget anything.
H is for Harvesting Vegetables—If you live on a farm, chances are you have a garden. And, chances are if you have a garden, you’ll need to harvest it. What will you do with all of those vegetables you get? Well, visit my other web page, Canning Garden Produce, and you’ll find out. Basically, you’ll know when it is time to harvest when the veggies are big enough to eat. Veggies like carrots, cabbages,beets, turnips ,and radishes are ready when they reach an appropriate size. Compare them to the ones you have bought at the grocery store. Leaf lettuce is ready as soon as you can easily cut it. Don’t cut it off at the ground. Leave a couple of inches standing; it will grow back. You’ll know the tomatoes are ready when they turn red. You can pick them sooner if you want, and let them ripen in a window. Melons are hardest to know when they are ripe. The end of the melon turns brown, and it has a nice melon smell.
I is for Isolation— A pretty good size farm is usually isolated somewhat from every one else. Stuck on a country road somewhere even traffic is at a minimum. If you like lots of action, have to party regularly, and be surrounded constantly by people, then an isolated farm is not for you. To be happy on an isolated farm, you have to be your own best friend and enjoy your own company.
J is for Jam Making— Do you like “putting up jelly?” Chances are if you live on a farm, or know someone who does, you can get lots of things to make jelly with: Peaches, Pears, grapes,and apples. You can find fruit growing wild which is suitable for jam too: Blackberries, wild plums and even elderberries(I’ve heard about it,but I’ve never tried this one.) For instructions on making preserves, follow this link. Home Preservers Newsletter
K is for Kids on the Farm—A farm is a good place to raise kids. Kids learn responsibility, and they learn how to work. It’s a good place to learn problem solving and about life in general. A farm is a fun place for kids. They can have lots of pets and can go outside without fear of some stranger picking them up. A farm, however, can be a dangerous place. Farm machinery and livestock can be deathly.Loose clothing can get caught in machinery, and livestock can kick, butt, and trample.
L is for Livestock—Livestock can be any animal raised on a farm. Some farms raise ostriches and even buffalo. Mostly, when we hear livestock, we think of cattle and hogs. When considering raising livestock, you have to think about feeding and sheltering the animals. You have to have a lot of acreage if you want to raise cattle. They require a lot of pasture for grazing and a lot of hay for winter feeding plus grain for nutrients not found in or lost in hay.
M is for Machinery (Safety)—It is very important to be safe around farm machinery—especially when it involves little kids. So many farmers and their children have been killed or seriously injured on the farm. Little kids like to play on farm machinery and might fall on a sharp piece of the machinery. They may fall off too. Please instruct everyone on the farm on machine operation and safety. Women, take notice. You may need to know how to shut off or move a piece of machinery in an emergency!
N is for Nature—There is lots of nature on the farm. You have to learn on a farm to co-exist with things from nature, or nature will get the best of you. Wild animals will destroy your livestock, garden, crops. Birds will eat grain. Without annual brush cutting, your farm will look like a wildlife preserve. One thing is for sure, if you love nature, a farm is the place to be.
O is for Oink— Hogs. Swine. Pigs. Whatever you want to call them, they are a major money maker for the farmer—just like cattle and crops. Hogs are good. They feed the country. But they STINK. Hogs are a lot of work! Especially if you faro them and raise them ready for slaughter. It’s hard work, but what else is new? It’s no different from any other hard work on the farm. Sorry if I haven’t said enough on hog farming. I grew up on a hog farm. I personally like row cropping and cattle better.
P is for Processing Veggies from your Garden —Processing your own garden produce is the best way to insure quality food at cheapest prices. If you can get someone to sell you their canning equipment, you will really have very little starting up expense. The pressure canner and jars will be your major expense. The lids and bands are relatively inexpensive. For know-how on how to can, follow the link above.
Q or Quilting—Quilting is such a genuine art. It takes talent and dedication to finish a quilt. Quilts can either be handstitched or machine sewn;it’s up to you. If you handstitch your quilt, you will be able to do it while visiting or watching television. Once it is done, you will have a beautiful heirloom to hand down or to sell for a nice profit. Sometimes people just piece together the quilt tops only and hand them down or sell them. This is a good idea too.
R is for Rain—It seems like on the farm, a farmer is always complaining about the rain.(I’ll admit it, we’re hard to please.) It seems that we either have too much rain, or not enough. No rain will cut crop yields and so will too much. Oh well, such is the life of a farmer.
S is for Soapmaking—You are not a country farm wife until you have tried your hand at soapmaking. This old craft was a necessary one back in the pioneer days and was a lot more difficult then than it is now. Now we can go buy our lard or oil at the store (and the lye too.) Back in the old days, people had to make their lye out of wood ash and had to render lard for oil. Then they had to cook it over an outdoor fire and try to keep the dark ash from the fire from blowing into the soap and making it dark. Now you can just cook it indoors on the stove and in a couple of hours you have soap ready to cure.
T is for Trespassers—I don’t care where you own your farm, you will always have trespassers. I don’t understand why people trespass. I don’t guess they realize that someone owns the land they are walking on. Where I live, it is a very common occurrence to see an unfamiliar vehicle parked along the road, especially during mushroom and hunting season. These people have not asked permission to be on the farmer’s land. What if the farmer who owns the land wanted to find the mushrooms that were growing there and someone without permission just took them? In my opinion, this is stealing. Would you go into someone's property, like someone’s home, without permission and just walk around and take whatever you wanted? I’d think not. Going onto someone’s land without permission is no different. Usually, a farmer will let you go or do whatever you want on their land, as long as permission is granted. Fishing, hunting, exploring, etc. all needs to be cleared with the land owner. There must be rules too— no trash dumping, no driving through planted fields, no vandalism.
U is for Urban Farmer—You don’t have to live in the country to farm. If you live in town or in a city, and you’ve always wanted to try farming, you can use containers to grow vegetables on your patio or in a window box. Plants like tomatoes do very well in containers. Just make sure they get plenty of water and sunshine.
Want to learn more? Visit The Urban Garden.
V is for Vegetable Gardening—The biggest problem I have with vegetable gardening is weed control. I hate weeding. It is so time consuming. Even with a rear-tine tiller, I can’t keep the weeds out. Other than weed control, gardening is fairly easy. You till, you plant, you weed, you harvest. Sometimes you will need to add pest control, especially to cabbage, beans, and tomatoes.( A good chicken or two will take care of bugs on tomatoes and worms on tomatoes.) Remember, however, don’t plant the same vegetables in the same place in your garden year after year. Crop rotation is very important. Each crop robs certain nutrients from the soil. When crops are rotated, a different crop will rob different nutrients, so the depleted nutrient will have time to be restored. W is for Walnuts—Walnut harvesting is fun. If you are fortunate to have walnut trees on your farm (around here we have black walnuts)you should try gathering them if you have never tried this. It gives you the feeling of getting something for nothing. Once you have gathered the walnuts, you can either sell them or hull them for your own use. If you decide to keep the walnuts for yourself, you’ll need to hull them, crack them, and pick out the nuts. Black walnuts have a thick hull over the shell that needs to be removed. I always spread the walnuts out in the driveway and run over them back and forth until the hulls are removed. Then I put on rubber gloves (if you don’t wear rubber gloves, your hands will be stained a lovely brown for about a week) and pick the walnuts up. Once you have picked up the walnuts (still in their shells) you will need to lay them out in the sun to dry for several days. Once they are dried you can get your hammer or whatever and crack the shell and pick the walnut meat out. It’s easy! At Christmas you can add the walnuts to cakes, cookies, candies, whatever you wish.
X is for Xmas—Christmas is very special on the farm. There is something wonderful and magical about a farm country Christmas. I think all of the open country covered with snow makes it a magical affair. Outdoors the birds are singing and the air is crisp and fresh. The scent of cedar or pine trees mingle combined with the fresh air is wholesome and memorable. Christmas on the farm is not about materialism. If you live on a farm at Christmastime, and all you can think about is “What am I going to get this year?” You should take a good look at yourself and discover where you have gone wrong with your life. Christmas in a happy farm house (as it should be in any house ,anywhere) is full of love, whether it be for God, family, friends or country. We should all be thankful for our many blessings.
Y is for Yummy Food (Country Style)— Okay! Are you ready for this? RECIPES! What is Country life without country cooking? Just wait till you taste some of these recipes! Country Beef and Rice, Country Style Venison Stew, Country Pumpkin Bread, Lemon Meringue Pie, French Country Apple Pie.
Z is for Zucchini—If you have ever planted zucchini in your garden, you will know why I gave it a slot in my “Farmlife from A to Z.” One plant will feed a family of 5 all summer long. I have made Zucchini Relish and Zucchini Bread and Fried Zucchini—all great,enough said. Also try this Baked Zucchini with Cheese.