If you’re looking at getting started with small-scale farming, you may be overwhelmed by the details in the books and the articles online. You may read them and say, “Oh, my goodness…it’s so complicated!” It’s not.
What’s complicated is trying to make money from the farm life. Life on the farm is not supposed to be a way of producing money…it’s supposed to be a way of producing food, clothing and wood. Farm families are not supposed to be trying to sell stuff so that they can use their money to pay for their electric and gas bill, or shop at Wal-Mart for packaged foods. However, for most families this is what they do and they degrade the farm life.
All of the confusion is caused by money. For example, if you get a book on raising sheep, it will tell you about breeding, registration, identification, docking tails, immunizations, on and on…making care for sheep appear to be a full-time job requiring a degree in animal science. Most of these practices are designed for large farms trying to maximize their profit. They raise hundreds of animals on an assembly line designed to make them money. If that’s the life you want, why not just stay in the city?
If you intend simply to raise your own sheep for your own farm for your own use…and live like a traditional farm family…all is very simple. When you have a small flock of sheep, for example, you can care for them individually. They are not climbing all over eachother, lying in one another’s manure, spreading diseases, etc.. as on a large cash-focused farm where animals are crammed into houses and pens and force fed. They have plenty of clean pasture, fresh air, sunlight, fresh water and comfortable housing. We know every one our animals by name (OK, all except our hens) and observe their conditions every day. If an animal needs care we will notice it within a few hours of the time symptoms first appear. The animals stay clean and healthy and don’t need all the disease prevention treatments that are designed to keep them alive until market day. For example, most farms dock their sheep (i.e., cut their tails off) at birth. Why? Because a dirty tail, covered in manure is a sign of poor care and looks bad on market day. Therefore it’s better to cut it off to keep the animals “clean”.
No. It’s better to raise clean, healthy sheep.
Therefore, before you become discouraged concerning farming…DON’T BE!! It’s not complicated when you run your farm for its products and not for cash. All the technical worries vanish when you’re content with your farm’s products and allow those products to set your standards. Get answers from farmers who enjoy the fruits of their farm and live simply…not from books or farms raising animals for sale. Farm life takes a lot of work, but it is simple and enjoyable so long as you keep yourself free from the love of money.