Backyard Farming: What Constitutes a Farm?

| 11/9/2010 10:13:22 AM

Goat close up 

I’ve recently received a couple of emails from people who don’t like the fact that we’ve deemed our backyard farm a “farm.” It’s funny because the word “farm” most often conjures up images of cattle grazing in a large field with a large red and white barn in the background. But in all honesty, the word “farm” can define any number of descriptions of property.

  • WSDA defines a small farm as one where the farmer or farm family participates in the day-to-day labor and management of the farm, and owns or leases its productive assets.
  • Merriam-Webster defines a farm as: a plot of land devoted to the raising of animals and especially domestic livestock.

We are definitely participating in the day-to-day labor and management, we own the assets and our land is, in fact, devoted to the raising of animals. So, we will keep our property defined as a “backyard farm.”

I understand the confusion. There’s confusion about terms in all aspects of life. One day I was having a conversation with 2 acquaintances about voluntary simplicity. Person A was asking me what voluntary simplicity was. I answered that I believe everyone has to define it for themselves as my idea certainly may not be yours, but the general idea is:

  1. Living within our means
  2. Making our money work for us rather than working for money to support our lifestyle
  3. Supporting local farmers, crafters, etc.
  4. Being kind to others and the planet
  5. Consuming less
  6. Doing it ourselves when we can
  7. Making do with what we've got
  8. Being ourselves
  9. Living consciously and savoring moments
  10. Living healthy (food, excercise, relationships)
  11. Making time (prioritization)
  12. Practicing gratitude

I do believe that each person should set their own definition, or at least what each of these means to them.

After I answered, person A commented she is thinking of setting her own goal of striving toward simplicity. This upset person B since person A lives in what is best described as a “mcmansion” and lives an indulgent life, from the perception of others. After person A left, person B exclaimed “phony.” I understood the thought, but, as I explained to her, if she sets her own vision for “simplicity” how can we determine it as phony? It’s not up to us to judge others and their lifestyle choices.

11/19/2010 1:07:32 PM

Nancy, I use dryer lint by placing it in a mesh bag (from store bought onions or oranges) hanging near my dryer. When full, I tie the bag closed and hang it outside in early spring for the birds to use for nest building. I also put excess hair from brushing my pets into the mesh bag.

11/19/2010 1:02:23 PM

Am I already registered? I can't remember.

Nancy Peltzer
11/19/2010 10:22:45 AM

It's fun to ask people, "If you were homeless, with nothing but the clothes on your back, what would be the first thing you would look for?" We all need water, food, clothing, and shelter, but if you have nothing at all, the definition of "necessity" would change radically. I don't believe simplicity means going without any enjoyment and always slugging it out, but it's interesting to see what can go and not be missed. Now to figure out what to do/make with all that dryer lint... Nancy

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