Estimates date our farm back to somewhere in the 1880s. In our area it’s known as “the old Ralph Neily farm”. When we purchased it in 2013, it hadn’t been lived in for several years.
The pastures were full of weeds higher than our heads. The big barn had collapsed at some point, apparently hanging several cows in stanchions in the process. It was raised again, but we found it with no floor and a lot of issues. The house was habitable but in need of serious TLC. The price was right, though, and we like a challenge.
The land was what sold us. Almost 30 acres of completely usable property. A brook that never dries up or freezes. Several acres of hay field. Lots of rolling pasture. A couple of small wooded areas, and a small orchard, to boot. It was an old dairy farm, but it had the potential to be pretty much anything we wanted it to be.
Since moving in we’ve put a new kitchen in the house, a floor in the big barn, a tack room in the small barn. We cleared and fenced acres and acres of pasture (ok, the goats are mostly responsible for the clearing). We’ve established a small market garden, and built a tiny greenhouse. We made a riding ring. We’ve cleaned the place up substantially.
The work is ongoing and it will be years before everything is the way we want it. Still, this property has become functional again, and for us and our critters it has become home. It’s allowed us to produce vegetables, fruit, maple syrup, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, and milk. It’s provided the infrastructure to run a CSA, to sell produce at market, and to substantially grow our miniature nubian goat herd, and the related goat milk soap business.
We’re figuring out this farming thing as we go, and so far we think we’ve done pretty well. By remaining diverse and putting our eggs in several baskets, we’ve become reasonably self-sustaining and even paid some bills along the way. The paycheque may not be great yet, but the satisfaction bank is overflowing. That’s a sign of a successful farm, if you ask me.