Sunday, April 27, 2014

Diary of a Microfarmer: Confessions


I don't want a microfarm. Or a micro-farm, or a micro farm for that matter. However you choose to spell it, (or misspell it, as I normally do), It's not a source of pride for me, and often not a source of joy. It's simply all I can have.

Don't get me wrong- I passionately believe, that in this overpopulated world, the more people learning to homestead and farm on a small scale, the better. It's so important. We can do so much more with what we have than we realize. I've personally done more than I thought I could with what I have, and I'm continuously blown away when I realize these little things that I, at one point, thought were impossible. Did I really think that I could keep goats in my side yard beneath the Weeping Willow? Heck no! But I can, and I am, as could any ol' homesteader, backyard farmer, or farmer wannabe like myself.

There is a very important trend spreading in this country- America, home of the fat, sick, and genetically modified- towards urban farms, and backyard farms... microfarms, if you will. By trends, I don't mean like bell-bottoms and skinny jeans... things that come and go in waves of cool and uncoolness.. but a growing population of regular people holding regular jobs, and farming on the side to supplement their families table, or satisfy a hobby, and help save the Earth of course. Then there are the health conscious stay at home moms like me, who dreamed of becoming  horticulturalists before diverging off the path of education and onto the path of all consuming motherhood. Perhaps the latter is just me... but I see that I am one among many farming on a small speck of land.

But it's not what I want. I'm not happy with it. I'm stuck with it. I'm trying to make the best of it. We bought this house at a bad time, and it was the best option there was, and now we're stuck here. I live in this gorgeous spot out in the country, and I'm surrounded by a vast expanse of land that is not mine. It's not even being farmed. Just empty. It would be a gorgeous view all around, if it didn't piss me off so much.

View across the road, taken last Fall

It's a view that reminds me every day that my dreams are just out of reach. That if I'd chosen a different path in my past, maybe I wouldn't be poor, or stuck. Maybe I would have obtained my degree in horticulture, and be operating my dream greenhouse. Maybe I would have bought a house at the right time, with a few acres of land, and be starting a fiber farm right now, instead of cramming a couple of goats, a couple of chickens, a few ducks, and a bunny into my side yard beneath the Willow.

Aw, who am I kidding. I do love my jolly barnyard beneath the Weeping Willow tree, and my tiny vegetation-packed gardens. And I can't think of a path I could have chosen in life, that would have resulted in the three incredible children that I have now, that I would never choose to live without. I embrace what my microfarm represents.

This tiny speck of land is rebelling against all those rage-inducing, perfectly mowed green lawns in my area (what? doesn't everyone experience rage when seeing a big, boring, mowed lawn?). This little flake of the Earth is screaming, "See!?! Look what you could do with that perfectly uniform and weed-free lawn, if you tried! Haven't you ever heard of permaculture??? We could drive out the factory farms, and the mono-cultures! And if you don't use it, why don't you just, give it to me!?!"

And I am making it scream out in rebellion, and sing with butterflies and bees.

In all seriousness, I'm not quite that judgey about the lawns, although I do covet them. I want my own expansive green lawn to cultivate.

There are plenty of sad looking old farms around here, and I'd love to bring one back to life. There are also lots of inspiring, small farms, that provide local food via veggie stands, and "Fresh Eggs" signs... there is much hope and promise for a small farmer in this town, if I could just wrap my arms around my own slice of heaven.

No, I don't want to be a microfarmer. I want to be a shepardess, a fiber spinner, a grower in my own greenhouse, a beekeeper, a tree-tapper, a goat farmer, a road-side egg and veggie provider, a master gardener, an herbalist. If only my years of education and accumulated debt that resulted in nothing, could help me achieve that. But alas, it can't. And I have not traveled a straight path in my life, or any sort of normal one at that.

I have to indulge in this darkness, from time to time. It really does help me come back up and see the light.

You light up our lives, Miss Red Hen...

I'll never forget that day, last summer, when an elderly neighbor from up the road, whom I'd never met, knocked at my door, and asked, "who's responsible for the garden?"  I said, "That's me!" And he handed me a copy of "Grit" magazine, and told me that he'd been watching it grow all season, and chuckled with his wife because, "I think they're putting a vegetable patch on the front lawn." 

Sometimes there is validation that my ways are not that odd, after all.


  1. That was a great post. I totally identify because we used to live on a quarter acre lot. I used to dream as you dream now, and thought I'd never have anything better. But eventually we found our way to a full acre lot, where I can do a lot more. It's funny though - I think we humans are always looking on the other side of the fence no matter what. I am often jealous of people with more land or a better layout which allows them to do more than I can do. So I'm working on being satisfied with what I have. As for you, it seems that you are still quite young, well educated, bright, and ambitious, so I have a feeling you will eventually realize your dreams. Best,

  2. Thank you, Janet, for stopping by the blog, and for the encouragement. It always helps to hear people say that they were in a similar situation, and that things eventually turned around for the better... yes, the grass is always greener... and humans are not usually happy with what they have entirely, or what they have accomplished. I strive to be more wise, and calm, and patient... but for now, I find that it helps to acknowledge those strong feelings, and then try to move on. Best wishes!