It’s not uncommon for those who move to rural environments to find new desires within. They may find that the idea of building a smallholding of various farm animals and cultivating a humble amount of land grants its own reward. While this is unlikely to be a hugely profitable adventure, it can be very nice to raise farm animals and to encounter said work in the countryside.
Of course, some smallholdings do make their costs back through the sale of certain animals, or rearing and breeding, or in making up for smaller costs such as selling eggs and meat. But while running a small farm can seem like a great step for cultivating land with a little more enjoyment, it’s also very important to consider the real rules and principles behind success.
This is not a hobby after all, but a lifestyle. If you can fit that in to the usual scope of your income, or you simply want something to fill your retirement, the following advice can be thoroughly useful to you:
The Correct Licenses & Medical Requirements
It’s important to ensure you have the correct licenses and medical requirements before you bring animals into your small farm. A land ownership deed is of course the foundation of this, but you must also register as a smallholding with your local authority. The medical records for your farm animals must also be kept up with and regularly updated. Injections, anti-disease preparations and protocols, and a good standard of land are all important to ensure a healthy environment for the smallholding you set up, and you can be sure that the farming associations will make sure you are operating with efficiency before they come and assess your approach.
Cultivating Your Land
It’s very important to cultivate your land properly, and to secure it as appropriate. Certain farm animals will require different amounts of land to roam in. For instance, horses will require much more land than sheep, which will require much more land than pigs. Additionally, you must be careful when allowing certain animals to co-habitate or stay within the bounds of one another, as not all are compatible in this manner.
Cultivating your land means it is well irrigated, that the water has a means of draining off and not turning the farmland into a blanket of mud. Additionally, fence posts with chicken wire and security barbed wire can help you keep your farm animals safe and protected. Remember, farm animals such as cows and sheep have a habit of knocking over fence posts and escaping, and so it’s important to make sure you are regularly inspecting your perimeter and keeping your animals safe and within your bounds.
It’s also important to use custom barn sheds and other shelters to protect and organize your farmyard animals at night, to store materials, or when caring for them.
Finding Your Farm Animals
It can seem as though farm animals are very difficult things to buy, but that’s not true at all. In rural communities, local auctions and even online, you can find many excellent and beautiful farm animals, from chickens for your chicken coop all the way up to full dairy cows. Traders of this nature must be registered, and you must be registered for purchasing in kind. Additionally, while farmyard animals of course have a price tag, it’s not uncommon for rural farmers to sell off certain stock they no longer need, or to enter a form of bartering with you should you own a smallholding. For instance, they may be happy to grant you a discount price on the older animals they cannot use for meat, as this will help them liquidate some of their assets.
We would recommend starting slow, becoming involved in the community and visiting auctions to ensure you’re on the right track before you import all of the animals you may feel ‘complete’ a smallholding into your collection. Better to take it one at a time than to become overwhelmed.
Scheduling Your Work
It’s also important to make this smallholding a vital underpinning in your life. This is not a hobby, but a passion, and something that will often take the first two hours and final hour of your day at the very least. This is not something to bemoan of course, this is a labor of love.
It’s very important that you schedule your time. Otherwise, a smallholding can get on top of you. From checking the perimeter each morning to checking and inoculating the farm animals, going through the birthing process with them, deflea-ing or worming them, making sure that infections are attended to, booking and attending farm veterinarians as they help you with deeper issues, and cultivating your land are all tasks that you should keep in mind when scheduling your work with care.
What To Expect
New smallholders can often be awestruck by the natural beauty of running a small farm like this, even if they have no profit motive behind it. However, it’s important to shake a few misconceptions from your mind before you start on your approach.
First of all, like any farm, a smallholding can often be quite unfair in terms of an income stream. You may spend a hefty investment in equipping yourself with sheep for lambing, only to have 30% of those lambs die due to complications during the birth. Sheep, especially, are notorious for finding ways to become ill, injured, or closer to death. Even if you’re spending all day and all of your money trying to fight these issues, you cannot ensure a 100% success rate.
Additionally, smallholders and the local community are often thoroughly connected and close-knit, and so attending the local meetings, making sure you’re an active part of your local rural environment and caring for security issues, such as neighborhood watch, can be an important measure of keeping your investment safe. These knock-on effects you may not have anticipated to begin with, but the more you can do this, the better off you will be in the long run.
With this in mind, we hope you can adhere to the most worthwhile principles of running a smallholding. You’re sure to make this a great success.