Dear Readers, I am pleased to bring you a guest post today from my friend, Angela England. She has written a new book all about homesteading in small places and it is a real treat! Backyard Farming on an Acre is a treasure trove of ideas for getting started right where you are with easy-to-follow information. In fact, reading through her section on Beekeeping was the first time I felt like, “hey, I could do this!”
Tips for Backyard Farming as a Family
by Angela England
One of the misconceptions I had about backyard farming and the lifestyle of a homesteader is that it wasn’t something applicable to the modern lifestyle – only for those who want to be semi-Amish. We’ve managed to find a great balance in our family and I want to share how we make it easy, doable, and something we do all together with our five homeschooling children.
1. Involve the Children in Simple Tasks
Even very young children can help with the simplest (or messiest) garden chores. Spreading mulch, planting large seeds like potatoes, garlic, beans or sunflowers, and collecting eggs from the chickens. My kids LOVE to feed the chickens, and collect the eggs each day. And of course, planting things is such a hopeful act it’s like a tiny, every day miracle right in the backyard.
2. Don’t Expect Perfection
3. Work Together as a Family
The thing that I most love about our daily chores is that we usually get to do them together as a family. Sometimes it’s bringing in wood that my husband is chopping with some kids collecting the bits of kindling and others stacking the larger pieces. Sometimes it’s working together to dig up the potato harvest and gather bags and buckets full. But always it is a case of many hands lightening the load and making things go more quickly.
Modern intensive gardening techniques like irrigation, mulching, wide rows and organic pest controls mean that it’s much easier for us than it used to be. Research, selective breeding for various regions, and judicious use of technology (where it’s helpful and not hurtful) can all save you time in the maintenance of your backyard farm. Choose specific breeds of animals that will do well in your area. Touch base with your county extension office to get details on regional soil deficiencies, growing season, and more specifics that will help you plan your garden right the first time.
Backyard Farming can be a fabulous way to develop positive character qualities in your children, to develop a healthier lifestyle and eating habits, or just become a little more self-sufficient while cutting your grocery bills. But it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or take over your life. Weave the tasks into your daily chore time as a family and you’ll find that the addition of healthy food right from your backyard doesn’t have to mean an unbearable burden for you and your family.
Angela England, Author of Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is the Founder of Untrained Housewife, co-founder of Homestead Bloggers Network, and Editor of Blissfully Domestic. She lives with her husband and five homeschooling children in rural Oklahoma where they are learning more about living an intentional and self-sufficient lifestyle. Find her on Twitter and check out details of the book on the Backyard Farming Facebook Page.