Small Scale Farming
A guide to small scale farming.
Can one be a farmer on a minimal amount of land? A periodical called the Mother Earth News has boasted that anyone can live self-sufficiently on less than one acre. I myself have 2.85 acres. I am not self sufficient, but I could be if it were my goal.
Here on my little "farmette", I raise between 100 and 200 hens for eggs each year, plus 10-20 calves each year from spring till fall to be sold as feeder cattle.
The eggs produced by the hens are referred to as "range eggs" because the birds are not cooped up inside of stuffy hen houses like commercial birds are. These eggs are sold to private citizens and to local farmers markets for resale.
I currently feed my birds a rounded diet of 16% laying mash, and what is commonly referred to as scratch; it is a mix of high calcium oyster shells, cracked corn and fresh hay clippings. Fresh water is also provided periodically throughout the day.
The calves come to my farm at anywhere from 1 day to 1 month old, and as bull calves. As soon as the horns come to point, they are humanely pasted to stop growth, for safety reasons. When their testicles drop into the scrotal sack they are castrated by way of "banding". This also is more humane than many other methods of castration.
Both the feed for the birds and for the cattle is purchased at the feed mill my husband is employed by. Albright's Mill in Kempton, PA. Most farmers do not have the advantage of working in a feed mill and farming. My husband not only oversees the feed that our animals eat, but he makes it as well.
The local farmers that purchased our calves from us in fall told us that they were the tamest most docile calves they have ever bought from anyone, and there have never been any complaints over the health of any of the animals.
One acre of land is fenced into pasture, One acre of land is a hay field for the calves, which we shred and feed to them in pasture with calf crunch steer feed. Young calves are bottle fed with milk replacer (a.k.a. colostrum) and then weaned off to eat calf crunch and then steer feed and hay. Approximately one third of the remaining acre is designated as chicken territory, and the remaining two thirds contains the house shed nice sized yard and huge garden.
This year my garden consists of tomato and pepper plants, green beans, zucchini, red beets and sunflowers for the seed. Weeds are a problem this year and have caused many plants to choke and die before I could weed them out. I do not buy my seeds at any one particular place, nor do I use sprays and chemicals on them. I do, however, recommend getting your seeds from a reputable source and be sure they are packed for the year you are planting them.
Can one farm on a small amount of acres; in my case three acres? The answer is Yes!!!