Real Farm: What Is a Farm and What Is Farm Life Like?

Reader Contribution by Andrew Odom
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I am an avid reader of Jenna W. and her Cold Antler Farms blog. In fact, it was one of my early introductions to homesteading and following one’s rural dreams. Like her I am a graphic designer and I have to work a day job to keep things rolling around the farm. I digress though. I really just wanted to point out a rather remarkable post of hers from May 29. Entitled, “a real farm?” she tackles the question(s) that many of us face on a regular basis – What is a real farm? What makes it real? Her answers are spot on.

As the weekend continued and I found myself moving at a pretty good clip from task to task (in fact, as I write this I have one eye on the screen and another on the burn barrel just outside my window as I am trying to get rid of some old scrap wood that is too soggy to use for anything). Friday evening brought front yard work and cleaning the water feature. Saturday was invested in pressure washing the house and main fencing (complete all day job). Sunday was consumed by finishing up the solar heated outdoor shower (more on that in an upcoming blog post). Monday was spent cleaning out the garage and barn and trimming up the gardens. Of course we did BBQ in the evening and that made all the sweat and tears worthwhile. But mind you, all of this was done in between harvesting plants, taking care of chickens, doing odds and ends, moving dirt from one pile to another, dodging impending rain, etc. It is a balancing act, to be sure. “Where is he going with this,” you might be asking. Well, all of this work and its products make Odom’s Idle Acres every bit a farm.

As Jenna puts it, “As far as I’m concerned, if you have a backyard with veggies and a few hens, and you not only consume it yourself but others do as well (friends, neighbors, your community) you are a real farm. You are a producer. You are feeding people. You are real.” So OIA is a real farm – all 2.35 acres of it. We have 3 gardens, a corn field, a barn, solar power, chicken houses, etc. We feed ourselves (almost 60 percent of our monthly diet is sourced here), and we feed others. While we don’t sell we tithe our extra and donate it to whom we feel led to. So yes, we are a real farm. And the aforementioned tasks – work, some may say – is what life is like on it!

[Jenna also sometimes contributes to The Happy Homesteader on the website of our sister publication, MOTHER EARTH NEWS. – Ed. ]

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