Hobby Farming For Dummies Cheat Sheet
From Hobby Farming For Dummies
By Theresa A. Husarik
If you’re thinking about taking up
farming as a hobby, educate yourself about the responsibilities. Research hobby
farming by using local resources (like the library and neighbors), using the
Internet, and volunteering at a farm. When you decide to plant, make sure you
know your area’s growing season and to rotate your crops to maintain soil and
plant quality. Keep your farm animals healthy by providing basic care and
provisions and watching for signs of illness.
Hobby Farming: Know Your Growing Seasons
Deciding which crops to plant
depends on how well things will grow on your farm. The length of the growing
season is vital because you want your plants to produce fruit before the first
frost. Determine the best times for growing by checking the back of seed
packets or by consulting the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.
The following table shows the
average last and first frost dates, marking the start and end of the growing
season for various regions in the United States.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone
Plant Rotation Suggestions for Hobby Farming
Rotating the plants (crops) on
your farm enhances plant health and soil quality. To rotate your plantings,
divide your garden into several sections and plant each section with a
different family of plant. Next year, plant something from the next family. For
instance, plant squash in section one the first year; the next year, plant peas
there; next year, plant tomatoes; and well, you get the idea.
Gourds Squash, melons, zucchini,
Legumes Beans and peas
Nightshades Eggplants, potatoes,
peppers, and tomatoes
Carrots Carrot, dill, parsnips,
Mustards Broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard,
radishes, and turnips
Beets Beets, spinach, and chard
Onions Onions, leeks, and garlic
Hobby Farming: Basics of Farm Animal Care
What’s a farm without animals? A
hobby farmer who wants to raise animals must understand that he or she is
responsible for their care. Animals need food, water, exercise and clean
shelter everyday. Good hygiene and care can deter health problems. This is the
minimum care you should give your farm animals:
•Provide clean (and unfrozen)
•Provide sufficient food (each
animal has different diet requirements).
•Keep the living area clean.
•Provide proper grooming (each
animal has different needs)
•Provide exercise or the
opportunity for the animal to just get out and run.
•If animals are herd animals (such
as alpacas), be sure to have at least two.
•Interact with your animals
regularly not only so they get used to your being in the pen but also so bonds
Hobby Farming: Warning Signs of Illness in Farm Animals
A hobby farmer, like a commercial
farmer, must keep an eye on the health of the farm animals by checking them
routinely. Daily observation tells you the animals’ habits, and will help you
determine if something is wrong or if your animal is sick.
The following signs are warnings that your farm animal has an
•The animal is lethargic or just
not very active.
•The animal isn’t eating.
•The animal is getting thin.
•The animal’s milk production is
•There’s a change in the animal’s
stools (you notice diarrhea or straining and a lack of stools, indicating
Deciding on Farming as a Hobby
If you decide to leave the hubbub
of the city for farming, remember that farming involves tasks that aren’t part
of the responsibilities of city jobs. Here are some ways to lessen the learning
curve if you decide to take up hobby farming:
•Do some research so you can make
a more informed decision. Besides all the pencil-to-the-paper research, like on
the Internet, you can do some feet-to-the-pavement research — get out on the
streets and go to the local businesses, the local library, the local county
building, and so on.
•Do volunteer work. Maybe help on
a local farm — milk cows, clean animal stalls, help with the weeding or
picking. Not only does this give you some good experience (and let you test the
waters), but it also gives you the fun experience of being involved.
•Hang out on a farm and watch what
•Start your operation small and
leave room for expansion.
•Build off skills you already
•Keep detailed records to
facilitate trial and error (so you know what worked and what didn’t)
Where to Find Information on Hobby Farming:
Finding information about farming
(hobby or otherwise) isn’t hard — plenty of resources are available. After
you’ve exhausted all of the books at your library and scanned the Internet for
information about farming, try these other sources of agricultural information:
•Your local cooperative extension
•Your local county office
•Your state’s official Web site
•Your neighbors, friends, or
friends of friends who’ve taken the plunge
•The staff at the local feed store
•Your local county library system