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One question that we get asked a lot is “so, what are you going to do here?” On the surface, this seems like a simple enough question, but I often find myself struggling to answer it. To a large extent, this is because “what we want to do” doesn’t fit any of the typical farming models. We don’t want to just raise cattle, or veggies, or pigs. We want to do all those and more. This often leaves people with the conclusion that we really don’t have any idea what we are going to do. Partly this is true, it is still forming, but we do have some rough ideas. Here are some of the current thoughts:
– Cattle – When cattle prices come down a bit, we would like to do management-intensive rotationally grazing of cattle
– Pigs – We intend to “pasture” pigs, very much similar to what Joel Salatin does. We aren’t sure yet if we will just raise pork for ourselves and our families or for sale. Eventually, we would like to incorporate tree nuts and other tree products.
– Goats – We already have a small herd of dairy goats that we keep for our own milk. We would like to also raise some goats for meat. Since goats and cattle have very different grazing requirements, it just makes sense to graze them together. Brushy things are a real issue in pastures here too, so having an animal that prefers brush is perfect.
– Sheep – Sheep are on our try list. Neither of us have any experience with sheep, but both find them interesting and enjoy lamb. We’ll give this a shot and see how it feels.
– Fish – We intend to create more ponds on the property. It makes sense to raise some fish in at least one of the ponds. This would likely be mainly for our own family’s needs, but if it is enjoyable and productive, we may consider expanding.
– Veggies – We will raise veggies in our own garden, of course, but also expect to have a small market garden, probably selling at a farmer’s market.
– Melons – We would like to grow a lot of melons for our own consumption, but also for sale at a farmer’s market.
– Tree Fruit – At this point, this is likely one of our main focuses. We both enjoy trees and tree fruit, so intend to start a large, rather unconventional, orchard.
– Tree Nuts – We will experiment a lot with nuts, but have plans to start quite a few nut trees and see where that leads.
– Honey – we will continue to keep bees, hopefully expanding a bit each year
– Other stuff – We have a long list of possibilities. We will constantly evaluate things and see what fits into what we have, what isn’t working, what niches are available, etc. Ideally we can find things that tie into other enterprises, to improve nutrient flows, energy cycling, etc.
Another aspect of “what we are doing” involves more about how we are living too. Our goal is to reduce our needs(/wants) such that not as much income is required. Moving to the Ozarks certainly helps lower the cost of living, but we also want to reduce our dependence on off the farm food and other inputs. We want to greatly decrease our energy inputs for the household, such as electricity, natural gas, gasoline, etc.