Friday, January 21, 2011

I have a dream.....

I know its a little after MLK day but that title of this post completely describes the day dreams I have been having lately (as in the past year or so). After read through my Murray's Hatchery catalog (for chickens and other fowl), I decided to put these ideas into a post to make it known to the world, or just those of you who still check my blog, what I would love to do with my life.

I want to farm. There, I said it. I want a large piece of land to play on and live off of. I want to be able to provide my family with organic foods and homemade things, as well as sell these to the people in our area that are moving towards a more Eco friendly lifestyle.

Do I really think we could survive, financially, with this dream? Its a possibility. It could totally fail and leave us poor and searching for jobs working for "the man" again. Or, it could be a huge success that would feature us in country living and inspire thousands all over the world. Ok, so maybe that it wishful thinking, but hey, it could happen, right?!?

I would start small, with things that we are already doing but on a larger scale. First, we would need land. Preferably land that was already being used as a farm, with barns and such. We would need equipment. Mucho dinero, yes. An investment, yes. A little scary, yes.

I would then purchase at least 50 chickens, of different breeds, but mainly just good egg layers. Here are the types I want most:
This is a crested polish chicken. They are so cool looking!!!
These are a smaller breed, known as sebright bantams. They are so pretty and cute! Small eggs though.
This is a feather footed friend. I love the interesting feet and colors of this one.
This is a white leghorn chicken. We currently have one, and they are amazing layers!! White eggs.
This is a Rhode Island Red chicken variety. We also have one of these. BIG brown eggs, really consistent layer!
Now these are cool. Ameraucana (Araucana) chickens lay tinted eggs. Kind like pastel Easter eggs! Any kind would do.
This is a Dominique breed. Early American, featured at Williamsburg. Really pretty breed.
This is a light Sussex chicken. Really good egg layer as well.
This is a speckled Sussex. Good egg layer and really pretty!
This is a Buff Orphington chicken. I like the coloring in these. Pretty Blondes.

So there are many others that I am looking into: Black Star, Red Star (both commercially made for egg production), Cuckoo Maran, Plymouth Rock, Barred Rock, and any Sex-linked chicken (also made for good egg production, usually a combination of a couple breeds).

When I have all the chickens I want, I would start selling farm fresh eggs at the farmers market, to neighbors, and others in the community. Not a huge money maker but I believe that this project would pay for itself in the end, while providing my family and relatives with free fresh eggs. Plus, the variety of eggs we would get as well as their freshness would be a draw for customers who are used to the white walmart eggs. We could also sell and use the meat, although I would have to hire someone to butcher as I tend to get attached to my girls.
Here's another thought: There are people in this community that would love to raise interesting chickens in their small backyards. It is a new movement, check out The City Chicken, if ya don't believe me. We could raise chicks and sell those, as well as pullets (in between chick and chicken sized, kinda like teenagers=).

So there is the chicken plan.

Next, I would focus on the garden. We have one now, but if we were really gonna do this, we would need to increase it's size to provide not only for us but the farmers market as well (or hopefully a larger customer, like a hospital?).
Zach and I came across a really cool website about Spin Gardening. The basic concept is to rotate high demand, high yielding crops for the maximum profit in smaller plots of land. Things like salad greens, micro greens, green onions, etc, as well as corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and potatoes. I would also want to try out some veggies that are not easily found at our farmers market like:

This cauliflower, named Romanesco.
Rainbow carrots!!

Micro greens

These are just to name a few. I will continue to brainstorm and research what would do well in this area=).
Off seasons have the possibility to be difficult to make money at a farmers market, but I was thinking homemade breads and canned goods.....?
Another thought for items at the farmers market.......FRESH FLOWERS!! I got this idea when we were at the market at Williamsburg. There were vendors who sold beautiful flowers of all different kinds, along with their veggie goods. Marketed right (in tin inexpensive watering cans), these could be a huge hit. There is nothing like that at our local farmers market.

So on this land I would also need an area for an orchard. On our current property (right around an acre, hence the name, "Brown Acre", that we use when speaking of our yard), I have several fruit trees that I have planted since moving here. The oldest one was planted three years ago this month. It is growing but no fruit yet. I currently have a granny smith apple tree, red delicious apple tree, Winesap apple tree (good for apple butter), a pear tree, a peach tree, and a plum tree. None of these are old enough to put on fruit, but I am looking forward to the day they do!! Maybe this is the year=). This past fall, we discover a paw paw tree on our property. They are fairly common in this area and have fruit that tastes like a mix between a banana and a pear. Its small, but produced fruit that tasted good! This year I will probably plant an apricot tree.

If we got land and had a farm, I would totally increase the size of the orchard and include many different types of each variety. Not only could we sell these as fresh fruit, but we could also can them for pie making, etc. I like this idea.

After we got started with the above mentioned plans, which I realize are HUGE, I would want to include some livestock on our property. I'm thinking goats or sheep. Can't decide yet. Goats would be beneficial for their milk, not only to drink (?!?) but also for making goat milk soap. This would be another thing I could provide for my family, and sell at a farmers market. Sheep would be cool and interesting, because I have a good friend, Melissa Irons, who not only is my friend, but also my husbands best friends wife, and neighbor (she literally lives right down the road), who is very into knitting. She just got a spinning wheel this past Christmas and we could use the sheep wool to make our own yarn!!! How could would that be?!? She knows all about dyeing the wool as well. This could be a huge hit in our area as well, because we have the "in" with knitting groups and shops.

My last idea of the day is to continue with the homemade items that I already have on my etsy shop, just expanding a bit. I could sell aprons at a farmers market, and even a few crafty type stores that are in our area. I am also really digging my button earrings. I think those would go over well in the shops around here.
I got an embroidery machine for Christmas from my awesome hubby. I am still learning that basics of embroidery, but I have made two new aprons, one for myself, and one for Zach, with embroidery on the front (his name, and a big M for me). I have a couple other projects lined up as well. Maybe I will post some pictures of these at some point.

I know these are big ideas and we would have to start small. But we have already started some of them, and I can continue to dream! Farm life isn't easy, I am aware. I think I would really love this lifestyle, and wouldn't mind that hard work, because I would be happy doing what I love.
I don't know if these dreams will ever really happen, but just writing this post is exciting! I'm putting my thoughts down on paper (or screen), and just that feels good.

I am sure more ideas will continue to flow through my daydreams, and I will write about those as they do.
For now though, this has been a VERY long blog, so thanks for reading!!!


Zach Brown said...

Well, I love you and I'm in!

Anonymous said...

WOW!WOW!WOW! Can you tell I am excited about your dream?? I just finished writing a comment that must have been too long, because it did not print! I am familiar with White Leghorn, Dominique (We called it Domin-eck-er!), Plymouth Rock, and Buff Orphington chickens. Love you.

Mom said...

If anyone can, YOU can! It all sounds exciting and very enjoyable. The dreaming part is fun at least. Everyone had to start somewhere. Might as well be you!

Aunt Becky said...

Meg - I LOVE, LOVE your ideas. This is more than just a "dream" - you have really thought some things out and have started the process. Take it step by step and you'll have it one day. This is so cool :)

Aunt Donna said...

What a fun blog to read! And everyone is right, if you don't dream something, then you just continue with the same thing you have been doing. I love chickens too -- mostly fried though! ;) Really, I know you can do this. Just wish you lived closer to me so I could benefit from the "free eggs for the relatives" part! Happy planning and dreaming!!

Deborah said...

I loved reading your dream!! I have no doubt you could do it!

Keep posting--you are a great writer!

Elizabeth said...

What a great post! I love reading all about your thoughts. You have clearly done a lot of research about chickens. I had no idea there were so many chicken options. :) That sounds funny.

You can totally do this! And, I wish I could live next door so I could also benefit from the "fresh eggs for relatives" part. And, I would love for you to teach me all of your great skills. You are one talented girl!

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