Although I am happily employed earning a reasonable salary, the idea of enjoying a small, 3-acre farm has always appealed to me. I love to work with my own hands and never faced reluctance in getting my hands dirty or mixing cow’s manure in soil.
My Farm, My Hobby
My farm quickly became the hobby I reveled in the most and, naturally, the idea of making it sustainable did cross my mind several times though not out of necessity. After all, a farm can (and should) generate its own revenue. Perhaps these ideas were influenced by my colleagues who also happened to own their income-generating farms nearby.
In the beginning, making the farm sustainable seemed like a purely materialistic approach. Transforming all of my feelings from simply enjoying plantation and the spiritual content it brings to thinking in worldly terms and focusing on making money. The dreams and hopes I had for my farm became overpowering – building a poultry shed, hundreds of chickens, goats, cows, and even making organic jams and dried fruit. The list of possibilities was endless!
I did what most people do: conducted some internet research, met commercial farm owners, made several feasibility analyses and met with experts and advisers all the while keeping the initial financing plan in mind. One factor, though, remained in the back of my mind and that was the faint dream of an ideal farm minting money day and night. It was not until half a year later that hard realities started pouring on. The farm required more time than I could afford to spend on it. It required much more knowledge than I had. It had many factors affecting it that were out of my control like diseases, pests, weather, and politics. Other factors that affect production, human resource issues and mechanical equipment breakdowns couldn’t be ignored.
After a few months, I finally came to a more balanced approach. I decided to make it a commercial adventure instead of a serious commercial project. I mean, if I am to develop a self-sustaining farm why not enjoy the ride?
Starting a Commercial Adventure
The question remained: How do I get there? The first step I took was to change my own thinking and approach towards the whole farming idea – to think about it as a lifestyle and not as a business. At the very least, I can cope with the ups and downs in a lifestyle quite easily as compared to the ups and downs a business brings and whatever lifestyle I choose shall bring me a peace of mind.
This lifestyle gave me much more knowledge of farming than perhaps any commercial adventure would have given me because the failure of my business or commercial project might have kept me from carrying on. But in this case the lifestyle that I had chosen kept me going. Whether it was planting the same plant several times because it didn’t grow well the first time around or starting from scratch with poultry over and over again because they died of some cause or the other.
I gained insight and knowledge of plantation which I never dreamed of before I shifted my approach to the matter. Now, I have a poultry shed where I have tried keeping chickens and guinea fowls (ducks to follow!) made plans on how to start a commercial poultry farm with little investment, planted around 400-500 fruit and exotic trees, tried several organic and inorganic kinds of fertilizers, sprayed several types of commercial products and homemade organic sprays, and I still continue to do all this. I have learned a lot from this experience and have so much to share about managing and planning a farm effectively.
In my next article I will elaborate on the above, give you updates on the current state of my farm, and show you what can effectively be grown and how to manage soils the best way possible.