Farmer

Farmer

Peaceful Valley Farm

La Selva Beach, CA

Female, 47

I've been a full-time farmer for a couple of years now. Our farm is rather small and very diverse. We raise rare and endangered breeds of turkeys and chickens. We also have alpacas, sheep, goats, geese, and recently harvested a 500-lb pig that we raised from a piglet! We grow organically, using heirloom seed stock. I'm able to provide meat and most of the vegetables for our family of 5. In the Spring and Summer, we sell chicks and eggs and have educational farm camps for kids.

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Last Answer on January 28, 2013

Best Rated

What's the most frequent question you get from the kids at your farm camps?

Asked by biggups over 6 years ago

Our camps are for kids ages 2-7, so the questions run the gamut! The ones I hear most often (and their answers) are 1) What are the animals names? A) because most of them aren't pets, they don't have names. With about 40 chickens at any given time, it would be impossible. The large livestock have names. 2) Why don't you have cows or horses? A) We don't have the proper fencing (or use) for a cow and horses don't serve a purpose for us. 3) Where do you sleep? (usually asked after taking the tour of all the animal pens) A) In the house (which they usually haven't even noticed until then)

Do farming families get to take vacations? Do you have farmhands who can watch the store while you're away?

Asked by Princeton99 over 6 years ago

We weren't able to take a vacation for the first 2 years. Then we found a great, experienced farmer, at the time without a farm,, who knew exactly how to keep things running. We were able to go away for a full week! Now we've trained our neighbor, and get weekends away whenever we like! We don't have any outside help, besides this.

How much does rainfall (or lack thereof) actually affect your harvests? Don't farmers have irrigation/sprinkler systems at this point, such that one way or another, their crops will get the water they need?

Asked by je55e over 6 years ago

Yes, most farms have irrigation, but that water has to come from somewhere, right? Water costs money. If a farm is lucky enough to have a well (like us) it's much less expensive, the water is, basically, free, but you still have to pay the electric bill to pump the water, maintenance, repairs, etc... The more money we have to put out (or borrow), the more we have to charge for our animals/produce. Because consumers, and the middlemen, are only willing to pay so much, this can mean a serious loss in income. A lot of animal farmers rely on growing their own feed/pasture to keep costs down. When they can't afford the water, and it isn't falling from the sky, they're forced to buy feed, which has an inflated price because the feed growers are having to pay for the water, so raise their prices. It's a vicious cycle. This article, written by a farmer, is really interesting...http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/23/opinion/chinn-drought/index.html

How have technology and the internet changed farming over the last decade, or is everything still pretty low-tech?

Asked by J.cal over 6 years ago

Social media and the internet have been a big benefit to small farms. We're able to have websites, blogs and Facebook pages (I have all 3 and invite everyone to follow along) that tell people about us, our work, what we have available, etc. It's a great way to communicate, become known, and increase sales. I'm always surprised when a feed store or farm doesn't have an active website or FB page, but there are still some folks who aren't into computers or haven't realized the benefit of doing this!

Do you hope that your kids will eventually take over and run the farm when they're of age?

Asked by Jameson over 6 years ago

Unfortunately my kids (like many farmer's kids) have no interest in farming. A lot of family farms are just closing when the parents are too old to work, and the kids want a different lifestyle. It's sad.

If someone wants to get into farming but doesn't have any farmland or experience, what's the best first step? Do farmers hire outsiders?

Asked by Jameson over 6 years ago

I got started by researching and reading books written by people who had done this. "The Accidental Farmers", "Farm City" and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" are all about folks who had no experience and what happened when they got started. There's also a program called WWOOF that can match you up with a farm/farmer where you'll live and get hands on experience for a period of time. Also, lots of small farms welcome interns or volunteers. The only time I have found a need for help, is when I have Farm Camps, then I hire someone with preschool experience. But, yes, there are definitely opportunities to get dirty and learn the ropes.

Is there any way to minimize the manure smell that seems to be everywhere on farms?

Asked by Sorry Charley over 6 years ago

How funny that you ask! We've been having rain for almost a week and the smell is SO bad, I was wondering the same thing! It's much easier to control in dry weather. We do lots of raking and adding wood chips to keep everything decomposing. With the rain and poor drainage, I think all we can do is put down hay and wait for things to dry out.