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How to Make a Living on a Small Farm

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Imagine: a small piece of land, a few loved ones and food grown straight from your soil. Living on a small farm can be a dream come true. But with the rise of big agribusiness, small farmers are finding it harder to stay in business and pay the bills. Luckily, communities have responded by setting up weekly farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs. A few simple practices will help you make a living on your own small farm.

Practice sustainability. If you want your farm to be a long-term investment, keeping your land healthy is essential. Practices such as confined animal feeding do damage to water and soil, not to mention the health of your animals. Keep your land healthy by using sustainable farming methods like composting, rainwater collection and crop rotation.

Keep costs down. Learn the basics of animal care for routine procedures such as delivery and castration to avoid high veterinary bills. Repair your own machinery and plan ahead for the next season. A do-it-yourself attitude will take you far.

Avoid debt. Bad seasons happen and you may not make as much money as you had hoped. A mortgage note or large loan can make the pressure of bad seasons hard to bear. Start out small and expand as your profits grow.

Minimize your workload. Think ahead when planning the shape and size of fields, travel lanes and buildings. Balance your own chores with the help you have available.

Maintain your equipment. Routine cleaning and maintenance can keep a small problem from becoming an expensive setback. Regularly check your equipment for problems and keep parts clean and well-oiled.

Keep accurate records. Up-to-date information can save you time and money, especially when calculating profit. Record the cost of all materials, equipment and labor to accurately calculate your prices.

Tip

Store grain and feed for up to two years as insurance in case you have bad weather next season.

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