Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farmer, Hobby Farmer, Homesteader, Wannabe? Which am I?

Farmer:  One who earns a living as a farmer.

Hobby Farmer:  A hobby farm is a smallholding or small farm that is maintained without expectation of being a primary source of income. ...

Homesteader:  Okay, there were lots of definitions for this one.  Here's the one I liked best. 
As of 2010 the term may apply to anyone who follows the back-to-the-land movement by adopting a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. While land is no longer freely available in most areas of the world, homesteading remains as a way of life. According to author John Seymour, 'urban homesteading' incorporates small-scale, sustainable agriculture and homemaking.
I hadn't thought of it this way.  See below.
Homesteading may also refer to the practice of squatting — occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use.

  1. One who aspires to a role or position.
  2. One who imitates the behavior, customs, or dress of an admired person or group.
  3. A product designed to imitate the qualities or characteristics of something.
I guess I fit 3 of the definitions, hobby farmer, homesteader and wannabe.  Definitely not a farmer.

Today I spent another day helping process poultry.  While we work we're separated into different work stations but we can hear conversations going on nearby.  Today one of the men helping was a young (compared to me) farmer who liked to talk about farming.  It was clear he had quite a bit of experience and loved what he did.  The young, single woman I worked next to and I talked about how she would like to "meet" (have a relationship) with a farmer but it would be nice if he'd also talk about other things, say, maybe literature.  Note to self:  find other things to talk about besides goats. 

I happened to find the conversation interesting since this is all so new to me.  In a year's time I don't really feel like I can even call myself a hobby farmer.  I'd have to say I feel more like a homesteader/wannabe.  I want to live a sustainable lifestyle.  I'd love to grow all our own food and maybe eventually produce our own energy via water or sun, though that seems like a very far reach right now.  It seems like we should be able to do this with Elk Creek and the James river bordering our property along with sunshine on our copper roof.  Can these things really be done by a 47 and 57 year old couple?  Is it too late for us?  I'd like to think we can still do it.  We're definitely on our way though.  James grows way more than enough vegetables to sustain us for years in just one season.  As of this year we'll have grown our own meat though I'm poud to say we've been buying meat locally for the past year or 2 (in addition to meat that wasn't, I'm not as proud to say).  Today I was paid in chickens.  We have no solar panels but we do heat with wood as much as we can.  We have no air conditioning which doesn't matter to us since we're outdoors most of the day and have fans at night.  Tonight's dinner is a chicken that may have passed through my hands stuffed with my homemade bread, home grown onion, homemade goat cheese and homemade bread.  We'll also have a salad that I need to go out and pick soon.

I'm feeling pretty good about our efforts right now but I know we can do lots more.  Maybe by the time we're 87 and 97 we'll be completely self-sufficient.  Will it still be cool and will most people be doing the same thing?


  1. How about self-sufficient farmerette. All the energy and ingenuity of a farmer but not all the heavy equipment.

  2. How about a hobbyfarmsteader? Steady now.

  3. I follow both blogs, and enjoy them so much! I have already typed this once...guess my google account flopped. I'll try a different tack. When I was younger (even in my 40's) I did some journaling...what fun to go back and read them. We forget so much...even waterfalls I thought I'd never forget. I hope you go back and read these. J

  4. You're definitely not old. You are an inspiration to Joe & I, remember we are pretty much just starting on our farmsteader, farming, hobbyist adventure also - I'm 38 and Joe is 41. Here's what I put in my email when I sent your link to some friends:

    "Karen, a lady who helped us process chickens yesterday, wrote a nice post on her blog regarding her experience. You can see it here:

    "She has a picture of Jon at the killing station on there.

    "Make sure you view her video she made.

    "BTW, Karen and her husband have goats, turkeys, chickens, garden, and the thing that interested me most is that they grow their own wheat, oats, and (barley? – a third grain anyways), they harvest it with a sickle, stomp on it, store it and have enough grain to last for the entire year without buying any grain or flour. Wow."

    You're amazing! :)