The Homesteading Farmer

May 18, 2014 by

The Homesteading Farmer

When I started this journey back to the land I really just wanted to homestead. I dreamed of the self-sufficient life, and I gobbled up all books I could find that taught skills necessary to provide the goods necessary to the good life. However, as I progressed I began to realize that it was going to take quite a bit of farming for capital in order to be able to stay on the land. Even the items necessary to become self-sufficient could only be had by the use of money. Thus it was that I became a vegetable farmer. It was the least expensive way to get started farming, and it provide the most income return per acre. Since I was very limited on land I was pushed into a corner of farming for profit through vegetables. It was enjoyable at first, but as the years have passed I have realized that the more of this type of farming we do, the less time we actually have for anything else. As we have forayed into livestock I have realized how much easier, resilient, and less time consuming they are. There was a time where we had a home garden, four milk goats, meat chickens, and more. Now, we can barely keep up with the vegetables, and we hardly have time for anything else. It has been through much thinking and praying on this that I have come to what I believe is the solution: Homestead Farming.

This really is what a traditional farm was all about. Even the Berenstain Bears books show “Farmer Ben” to be a farmer who first provides for himself, and then he grows a couple cash crops. I just don’t think though that one can grow a huge variety of vegetables and still have time for all the other things that accompany a homestead. I dream of raising  a small dairy herd, and a larger swine heard. These are both less time consuming than the never-ending chores and tasks that accompany the growing of vegetables. I envision having time to actually put up vegetables from a moderate sized family garden. We once made cheeses from our milk, but now we don’t have time. I think this is a vision that is best lived in the context of community. Many hands make light work. Our weather here makes the growing of vegetables even more difficult than other locations. Thus why I dream of moving to the Ozarks where there are trees and much more rain. If God wills then there is a way. I want to have time again to provide food for my family. When I was farming part time along with being a teacher we managed to do much more for ourselves than we do now as full-time farmers! Consternating! Fiat! In the meantime I encourage everyone to learn all they can about farming and homesteading. Read good books, and pray for the success of the New Catholic Land Movement. Things are happening that are causing us all to discern more clearly God’s will for the movement. Pray for us that we are able to see clearly the way God wishes for us to go!

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13 Comments

  1. Melanie Biltz

    I have a daughter and her family who live in Springdale, AR. I love it there. I also have friends who moved out into the AR forests. I love visiting them, too. They say land is rather cheap. Have you ever visited J.M. Talbot’s monastery? Praying for you.

  2. Kevin Ford

    Melanie,

    It is truly beautiful in the Ozarks. We visited two years ago and it has never left my blood. It is a remarkable place, especially compared to our dust hot flatness here in KS. However, we have at least another year here (CSA obligations), but may be here forever. I have a dream of moving to the Ozarks, but we will see if God sees it come to fruition.

    Peace,
    Kevin

    • Josh L

      Kevin,

      I am from the Ozarks and it is much more hospitable for homesteading than your neck of Kansas. I have spend a lot of time crisscrossing Southern Missouri.

      We are going to be in your area this upcoming weekend. Will look you up.

  3. Can you explain in more detail what you mean by “homestead farming”? It’s not clear to me from your post.

    What you seem to be actually suggesting isn’t homesteading, which at least historically is a term that can apply to any sort of agricultural entry on to land in any place, at least in North America, but rather a type of Agrarian farming. In other words, I think you aspire to be a Yeoman Farmer, of the type that would consume most of what he produces on a subsistence level and sell the surplus. Is that correct?

    A lot of early American farming was of that type, and it was particularly predominate in the American South up until the Great Depression. Most farms exhibited agrarian features up until that time, even truly market farms (like grain farms). Is that the concept you have in mind?

    • Josh L

      JD,

      I think what you are describing is what is typically called “homesteading” in the modern sense of the word – or at least it made sense to me when I applied that definition. It really isn’t the classical definition.

      Homesteading, or small-scale, is a step up from “hobby farming” but not full on production for the masses. I would say it is near impossible with the advent of industrial farming to actually sustaining as a small farmer without supplementing your income with an outside source.

  4. Zach

    I’ll say a prayer for you and your family, Kevin. Discernment is a work that can be just as draining as your physical investment in the land.

    In this, as in all things, may God’s will be done.

  5. Chris

    Good article. Thanks.

  6. Chris O

    Kevin, Thanks for your post. Your balanced approach with vegetables and livestock raising makes lots of sense. But pigs can cost a lot to feed and milking/dairy processing can take up a lot of time and does not allow for much flexibility. You are right that some engagement with the market is necessary if one is to be self-sustaining. One good way to describe the traditional approach of American yeoman farming is “safety-first” agriculture, i.e. first growing those products needed for family sustenance and then secondarily producing the crops/livestock you desire to sell for cash. I too live in the Ozarks, in this case their Oklahoma extension. It is a wonderful place to live with large swaths of mixed pasturage and forest, though the soil is not so rich as that in Kansas. Oklahoma has low property taxes and fairly cheap land and might be worth a look on your part. As a new subscriber to the blog, I am also not sure if you are aware of the informal community of homestead-minded individuals who inhabit the vicinity of Clear Creek Monastery near Hulbert, Oklahoma. If not, you might check it out.

  7. One resource that I would highly recommend for anyone interested in homestead farming is back issues of Organic Gardening magazine – I mean way back, from the 70s and 80s! I believe that organic gardening/farming is an essential for anyone seeking to set up a reasonably self-sufficient homestead farm. Quite aside from the (very important) issues of the problems with chemical pesticides, herbicides, etc., organic gardening, being gardening in cooperation with the way the Lord set up nature, doesn’t require the constant purchase of outside materials that you can’t produce yourself.

    I’d like to add that I love the whole premise of the New Catholic Land Movement, and support you wholeheartedly (I only wish I could support you monetarily!)

  8. Our prayers are with you and your family as you faithfully labor to honor Jesus through your lives as Catholic homesteaders.

  9. alfred dubois

    Hello Kevin – can you please give me a call at 973-296-9027.

  10. Bert Clayton

    Greetings!
    When others desire to homestead, really, how many are simply sick of others imposing their worldly behaviors? Or they’re sick attitudes flaunting their illness and expecting otheds approval, or all the artificial attitudes control freaks, ego maniacs, others sticking their nose in your business, or the dysfunctional creeps who want to be patted on the head? Or you’ve already been put to the grind and others can’t relate? Or others who put on their fake dog and pony shows? Or freeloaders always playing their games? Or the racial attitudes where you just get sick of it, including the medias push to have someone of another race pushed on you? Otherwords race isn’t an issue but to others it is.
    Then how many want to unite with others who have faith in God and live accordingly, being able to enjoy peaceful get togethers, laughing and enjoying life, or simply able to escape the misery of life by directing ones thoughts to something constructive? Sick of artificial christianity where the secular world confuses what their ideology of a christian should be or all the other irritants like bureaucracy or the slimeballs always wanting et cetra?
    How many want to have a functional, wholesomesome life shared with others who truly believe in the Divine God of heaven and getting to enjoy the company of others who share the same? As well as not having to put up with the other buttholes who make an issue of anything they don’t think is christian?
    Where these questions haven’t even to begin the Why’s, but I was curious if there’s any correlated views of escaping a sick society that’ll make another sick? Not to mention all the foolish games others play thinking everything’s funny or cute?
    How many are free loving people without rigid ideologies but things kept within bounds? And possibly sharing pleasure of some misfits and others who’re sick of societys’ busybody, thieving, vandalizing self righteous attitudes and the menaces and nuisances always wanting to show their butts?
    Or you just want to be with others who share a sincere faith without maggots imposing themselves or their views on you?
    As written, it’s better to live in the wilderness than with an angry contentious woman, how much.more so all the buttholes who always worry about what’s none of their business and the corporate mentality and all the other illnesses?
    Just asking

    • alfred dubois

      Hello Do you know Richard Fahey – homesteader n Oxford New YORK

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