A Farm is Born

| 11/19/2012 7:54:43 PM

Tags: Surry County cooperative extension, Sustainable Agricultural Conference, soil samples, Pauline Hylton,

Pauline HyltonThe farm bug hit us kind of like the flu. Fast and furious.

One day, we were happy and content living in sunny Florida, running our own charter fishing business. The next minute found us purchasing plastic farm animals to set alongside the Monopoly houses on a life-sized satellite map of our property.

The trouble was the size-scale. Our plastic chickens towered above our red Monopoly hotel like a bad scene from an old Japanese Horror Show. Plus, my dog ate most of them.

Our first inquiry about farming began with the Surry County Cooperative Extension. After hanging around their lobby for over an hour like groupies, collecting pamphlets about everything from what kind of blueberries to grow, to how to keep your children safe (ours are grown), a kind agricultural agent ushered us into his office.

“We want to be farmers!” Tom and I chimed in unison, smiles plastered on our faces.

Terry pushed back his chair and smiled. “What do you want to grow?”

Cindy Murphy
11/22/2012 3:10:31 PM

Hi, Pauline. My suggestion would be Tillage Radishes - check them out on the Internet. The tap root grows very large, drilling through compacted soil. We use them as a cover-crop at the nursery where I work, and I've seen them grow as big as my leg. They're a warm-weather crop, so they start to rot when temperatures drop below freezing, adding nutrients to the soil as they decompose. I'm not sure if it gets cold enough for that where you live, (I'm in Michigan, so here it gets well below freezing), but they're an excellent choice for a cover-crop, and it might be worth you checking into. Good luck in your endeavor!

Pauline Hylton
11/21/2012 5:50:02 PM

Thanks for that, Dave. I'm forwarding all of this advice to my husband. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

11/21/2012 2:34:09 PM

Pauline, how big is your farm. From mentioning Surry County, I surmise your farm is located in North Carolina. The extension office Websites are a terrific place to get information about organic growing. Check out some of the other states extension Websites as well. Steven has some great ideas on how to loosen up the soil and grow organic material to mix into the soil. My suggestion is to start on a small scale or you will be too overwhelmed. Farming is a lot of work, so expect to wake up early and go to bed tired. Do you want animals? Remember animals need care every day so unless you have reliable neighbors that can care for your animals there will not be days to get away. Farming can be a lonely venture especially since you are coming from a people oriented business. In my humble opinion, it's all worth it. The people that are involved with farming are the greatest people to know. Of course farming crawled into my DNA at birth and stayed dormant for 40 years of career life only to reemerge at retirement. My outlet now is gardening. Good luck with your venture and keep us in the loop. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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