Of our total 40 acres, about five are in the bottom land and suitable for what we’ll call the farm. Previous owners had garden beds, fruit trees, chicken coops, and fenced paddocks where they used to raise goats. Thus, much of the infrastructure for our farm was already in place. We’ll soon add a small flock of laying chickens and ducks, and a trio of Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. Eventually we’ll bring in honeybees as well. We want to include a variety of critters that will help us produce food, clear the invasive shrubs, eat our compost, and simply provide us with entertainment.
Our farm will follow many of the guiding principles of permaculture, and we will strive towards a sustainable system that improves the soil over time, provides food and habitat for wild creatures, and brings us a bounty of food and fuel so that we can reduce our dependence on outside sources. Here are a few of the tenets that we will work towards:
Grow all of our own feed for our animals– We want to close the energy loops in our food production, not only to save money, but to know more precisely what resources make up our eggs, our milk and our tomatoes. This won’t happen right away, but it’s the goal.
Provide good lives for our animals– If we make the decision to keep an animal confined on our farm, it must enjoy its life. We may take their milk, and take their eggs, and take their honey, and we may take their lives eventually. But while we are their keepers, we will do all we can to give them good food, mental and physical stimulation, and protection from the elements and predators.
Promote diversity at all trophic levels– We will build soil, encourage microbial life, provide food and habitat for wild birds, offer nectar for pollinating insects, and do our best to bring the wilderness into the bottom land.
Add to the bank of knowledge of sustainable food production– We will investigate, test and implement techniques that will provide a better understanding of which methods work best in small scale sustainable agriculture systems.