In his blog, Whitaker Gardens and Micro-Farm, Tobias Whitaker plans to "document our micro-farm in as many aspects as possible, including but not limited to vegetable garden, herbs and berries, and small livestock." He also plans on promoting sustainable husbandry and gardening techniques.
The family farm is located near Sidney, New York. "I grew up in Sidney," Tobias says. "After years of traveling it was where my wife and I thought it most appropriate to raise our children." The garden was planted initially because of the excitement of owning their own property, he says. "Shortly after, I lost my job not once but twice due to cutbacks, and the garden became the backbone of our meals during those very rough times."
That garden, over the course of the year, contains more than 65 varieties of vegetables, berries, herbs and edible flowers on a 1/16th-acre piece of land.
Tobias' current project is raising and harvesting meat rabbits; for the future, he hopes to raise broilers, switch their home to wood heat, and add solar panels and rain barrels.
The family shares the homestead with eight hens, a mixture of leghorns, a Tetra tint and a Rhode Island Reds, which provide a wealth of eggs. "Currently there are seven rabbits as well," he says. "Only two have names, our doe Lilac and our buck Hazel Rah. The others are for the freezer, and we thought it was better not to name them. We also have three cats that warm our laps while the mice play. They are Mew Mew, Saturn and Professor McGonagal."
Tobias defines a homesteader: "I believe a homesteader is anyone making a conscious effort to be more self-sufficient. There are certainly varying degrees. For some, it may simply be seasonal food preservation; for others, it may mean the ability to live off the grid."
He counts among his country skills, foraging (not only for the family but for the animals as well), gardening, heirloom seed saving, pruning fruit trees, composting, food preservation techniques (canning, freezing, dehydrating and pickling), cooking, and small livestock husbandry.
And his philosophy on country life: "I believe in attempting to be a contributing part of my environment. Though some control is helpful, my goal is not to dominate my surroundings but rather nurture them so that a symbiotic relationship develops between the plants, the animals and my family all sharing the same space."
Read more about the Whitaker family's country life at Tobias' other blog, Seed to Harvest.