I love farming, don’t you?
Oh, you don’t have a farm yet? Don’t worry, you will. If you’re anything like me, you’ll exclaim out of nowhere to your husband, “Oh my gosh! GOATS!” And the rest will be history.
Before you sell all your belongings to buy your very own herd of goats, let me make sure you know a few things first. Farming is an adventure, to be sure, and to help set you up for success, here are a few things I’d recommend to know before you begin.
1. Chickens are easy and also, hilarious.
My husband swore we would never own chickens, so naturally, chickens were the first animal I purchased when we bought our new place. Don’t get me wrong, I totally listen to his opinion on most things, just not chickens. Or goats. Or sheep. Or anything farm-related whatsoever.
The best thing about chickens is that they are a simple animal. Just make sure they have food and water and they’ll plop out eggs for you every day or so without complaint. Chickens lay about 330 days out of the 365 days each year. If you want to free-range your chickens (which I highly recommend), then just be sure to lock them up at night in their coop for their protection. If you’re imagining yourself chasing your chickens with a stick each night to round them up, you can erase that thought from your mind. Chickens will naturally go to their coop each night to roost. They’re creatures of habit, those chickens.
And if you’re looking for a good belly laugh, just watch one of your chickens try to run. Their goofy waddle gets me every time.
2. Goats are escape artists. Sheep are totally the opposite.
I almost said that goats are smart and sheep are dumb, but that would have got me in big trouble with you sheep lovers. Here’s a better way to say it… sheep are content with their life, goats always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
Your fencing doesn’t have to be expensive (a roll of 5′ no-climb and t-posts will suffice), but it does need to be tall and you need to make sure there isn’t even a hint of a gap in that fence. Otherwise, the goats will do anything they can to break through.
Goats can also scale walls. I kid you not, I had one goat scale an 8 ft fence with a 2×4 that was propped up alongside it. Check out our great goat escape adventure.
3. Gardening is a beautiful struggle.
Have you ever tried to cook a recipe from memory only for it to turn out completely wrong? That’s like gardening, only with more dirt under your fingernails. If you follow the proper recommendations for carrots, you can produce an amazing harvest. Try doing that from memory next season and you’re sure to flop.
The best tool once you start gardening is to create a gardening folder full of notes from each year with what worked and what didn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to plant peas in August, only to remember a month later that even though IT SAYS ON THE PACKAGE it’s okay to plant then, that peas do much better in the winter here in Arizona. That one is now in my notes.
If gardening seems overwhelming to you, just start with a few easy vegetables that are tried and true.
4. The second you fix something, something else will break.
I don’t know if the universe conspires against farmers, but some sort of curse is laid upon us, of that I’m sure. It’s called the “everything will break so you’d better get good at repairing stuff” curse. I’m pretty sure I read about it somewhere. The good news is that as long as you’ve got a pile of old wood and a portable screw gun, you’ll be fine.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking if you buy something brand new that will nullify the curse. It doesn’t.
On the bright side, at least everything you own will have that sort of “vintage-y” feel to it. It’ll make your farm even more legit.
5. It’s not as expensive as you think (most of the time).
Raising animals isn’t really expensive, it’s mostly the startup costs. And, depending on your need for perfection, the things you start with don’t need to be the best of the best.
If you will only start a farm if you’ve got a perfect herd of goats, a barn, a large coop, fencing, etc., I could see you spending a pretty penny to get that thing going. If, on the other hand, you start small, with a few goats, simple fencing, and a used coop (or re-purposed baby crib one), you’ll be able to start your place and not sell your firstborn in the process.
Check out how much we spend on our farm.
6. It will change the way you look at the world.
One of my favorite things about farming is the way it makes you slow down and appreciate the small things. When I reach into the fridge and pull out our farm-fresh eggs, or when I take a walk to the garden with a line of chickens following me, all seems right with the world. It’s amazing therapy, that farming.
If you have children, they will really flourish. My kids milk and feed the goats twice a day and take care of the chickens. While sometimes they wail when milking time comes around, most of the time they enjoy it. In the evenings, as they head out in the dark to the back of the property to milk, milk bucket in one hand and lantern in the other, I can’t help but be proud of the life we’ve built.
Holly Myers says
Thank you so much for the info you guys are awesome
( I love your goats! )
Fred Olsen says
Thank you so much for this information. Farming is about more opportunities for owners, if you are smart you may make more money by services to the public for weddings or photoshoots and much more.
Daphne Gilpin says
It was helpful when you explained that chickens usually won’t hesitate to lay eggs for us as long as they have access to food and water each day. My husband and I want to buy some chickens and large animals we can raise on the farmland we purchased a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for giving me a better idea of what personalities to expect from the chickens we raise on the farm!
Eileen Benson says
Thanks for mentioning that sheep are more content with their lives than goats and won’t always be trying to escape. My brother and his wife want to start looking at ranch listings so they can start a hobby farm within the next few months. I’ll be sure to pass along the info you shared here to help them choose the right animals for the ranch!
I have been thinking more and more lately about wanting to start a hobby farm. I was jokingly talking about it with a coworker, but the more I think of life on a farm, it gets more and more appealing. I’ve talked with my wife and she would be up for it, if we could get it set up properly.
I think I am romancing things quite a bit. I’m thinking it could be an inckling of a midlife crisis, although I’m only 33 lol I know there would be a lot of work and I’m wondering if it would be overwhelming and defeating. I think of farming as something that involves a lot of skill and it’s kind of out of reach of you haven’t been raised on a farm.
I have a 2 year old daughter and a four month old, so it’s not in the cards for a while. I’m thinking maybe in retirement I would buy some land and get some goats and maybe a purple of horses. We’ll see. Until then, I can romanticize about it. Thanks for the article!
Kelly Sawyer says
Hi! I’m curious what software you use to make your YouTube videos? They’re such good quality! I’m enjoying following your family’s journey. I’m learning a lot along the way! Thanks!
Here is what DaNelle uses for her videos: Canon G7x Mark ii (older camera) & 6d Mark ii (newer camera), Adobe Premiere Pro to edit, and music from Epidemic Sound.
Thank you for watching and for the kind words!
Thank you -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
Andrew Mooers says
Real farming you have worked forty hours by Tuesday noon. Breaking even is a good year. You learn to be grateful and farm with broken equipment and expect set backs that you are prepared for to happen. Nothing better for the rigor of farming digging in the dirt… preparing the seed beds, weeding, watering, feeding the soil amendments. Farming on any scale is rewarding and enriching plus the farm to table means you know what the produce was not sprayed with… the mystery is removed. Love your blog posts!
How funny the world works!
I have been fascinated by hobby farming and homesteading all of my life. It all started with the original Back to Basics Reader’s Digest book my Grandma had in her bookshelf.
I really didn’t think that I would ever see that dream become a reality, but I am typing this from my desk in Kansas, waiting to close on an awesome 8 acre plot of land with a great house for the wife and family!
The irony is that I worked pretty close to where you are. I worked in Chandler and lived in the far north part of Peoria, just a few miles south of Lake Pleasant. I saw your YouTube channel and that got me thinking and wishing again.
After a job came up closer to my family in the mid-west, I really started looking at large-ish property. The first house my wife fell in love with, which to my dismay was only about a half acre and mostly house, fell through. So we got to looking around and the original house that I fell in love with, while sitting at my desk in Peoria, came back on the market!
I am anxious to get started on this journey, though this late in the season, unlike in the AZ, it is not super wise to start planting. However, I have plenty of tasks to do to maximize next season so the winter won’t be a total loss.
Any tips and tricks you have just starting up (other than what you wrote here…) would be appreciated! I am always wanting to learn!
Mark Murphy says
I really appreciate your advice to try and keep your fence tall if you plan on keeping goats. My wife and I have been considering getting a goat so we can have it compete in the county fair this year. If we do get a goat, I will be sure to find the materials to build a tall fence!
I just found a little piece of paradise with your blog! I absolutely love it!!! This article was amazing too! It has been a long time dream of mine to start a small farm! It has been an even longer dream to own goats and chickens! I won’t even go into the names I already have for them all! Lol. Thank you so much for putting the time in to write this blog!
I’ve learned you just kinda have to jump in. Two beehives, 8 chickens, and two baby goats all in the span of a couple of months, and it cannot be more fun. Nothing like watching the bees create their routes and thrive and beard at night, or watch the chickens explore a little more each day, and put themselves to bed every night. The goats are like no other animal I have experienced. Like puppies with a funny, adventurous side. With it all, you enter into a world of amazing people you meet and learn from and share passions and appreciate how incredibly amazing it is to be a part of and experience. Enjoy the work and effort it takes, and the satisfaction of being a part of something more. Thanks for sharing.
I too thank you for posting. I love the way you write and tell your stories 🙂 Did your lifestyle change help your health issues? Would you mind sharing what happened?
Thank you so much.
Hi Mare. Thank you for the compliment! You can read more about my story here: https://www.weedemandreap.com/weight-loss-story-35-lbs/
I’m bookmarking this website in the event I’m ever able to follow through with starting a small farm where we can sustain on our own [mostly]. BUT it will probably not happen- my husband is very…metro? Not outdoors-y, not handy, hates camping and getting dirty, doesn’t really like animals other than dogs and sometimes even that is up in the air! Plus he’s a super super picky eater- like basically whatever is on a standard kids menu is what we’re usually eating (pizza, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, hamburger, etc. etc.); so no vegetables except for either corn or potatoes- no sauces/condiments except for ketchup or BBQ sauce, no unique meat- only chicken or beef (no seafood or eggs either), and very few fruits- no banana, apples, melons, raspberries or blueberries. He also will not eat any goat/sheep cheeses, cream cheese, or strong smelling/flavored cheeses like brie and blue (I barely got him to try Havarti once and that is pretty mild- he said it was “ok”); and rarely drinks milk at all unless it’s chocolate and even then it’s rare. He acknowledges that his palate is limited but growing a big, or even small garden, or having fresh eggs from chickens, or milk from goats and sheep would be too much for just me 🙁 I’ve even tried the “we could sell a lot of it and make a little money” angle but no dice. It’s just not his style and while it is mine, I’ve agreed to the lifestyle we currently are living. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll change his mind! Until then, I’ll live vicariously through you 😉
DaNelle Wolford says
Looks like he needs to change his opinion 😉 My husband was the same way, but we just started gradually and now he loves it all!
Following all this starting mini farm again had one horses only now wanting more I get what you mean when getting “deep” in your bones “NOTHING” like a clean barn & listening to the animals chewing & saying Awah for the evening
Tracie Bradburry says
Yesterday May 14th I bought 3 little goats almost about 2 months old. They are living in my backyard in the city and seem to be very happy with last years garden that we did not put in one this year since we are putting our home on the market this month to sale So we can purchase a home with some acres on it So far they are happy little ones I am sure that i will be posting more as my new adventure proceeds with having my little city backyard farm
Hi All! I’m very, super-dupper, over the hill excited that I found this site. My husband and I are downsizing from our “fancy” “I see 10 neighbors when I go out the back door” house to half the size house with NOT a neighbor in sight house. We are planning on a couple of goats, chickens, garden, deer, bee hive…..I am so over the moon excited and eager to learn and read stories of others. I look forward to learning from all of your experiences! Happy days to all. Laurie
Oh Laurie, you are living my dream to a tee!! I’m a tad jealous but more happy for y’all that you’re able to escape the suburban life. Le sigh. Maybe one day I’ll be doing the same…
My goats are the best. 2 of them follow me around everywhere while I’m doing chores.
Thank you so much for your posts!! We are going to be selling our house in the city to start a farm! I am so excited to get animals (chickens, ducks, goats and some day alpacas maybe pigs) I also plan on growing lots of food for us to eat! I love reading all your posts about your awesome farm! 🙂
These where really cool tips I think its going to help me out a lot I am 14 and my moms bf has some chickens and turkeys and I want to get a lot more chickens and more animals. Another good thing about a farm and taking care of the animals is that is a big responsible job that u have to know that you will take time and do it right and that’s what I think is cool about farms that u have something u have to do everyday.
Sarah Little says
I love goats. I have three fainting goats (two does and one buck). They are so adorable. One loves having her picture taken, if she hears the camera go off she is right by your feet. I also really enjoy the two mini donkeys we have. They follow us around like puppy dogs and if i sit on the ground for something our jenny will lay her head on my shoulder. So it’s probably a tie between goats and donkeys.
DaNelle Wolford says
Luisito vega says
Goats. Absolutely goats. I haven’t worn my husband down yet (working on it….) I am intending to ply him with homemade mozzarella following your instructions but using goat milk we buy from a local farm and then revealing how much cheaper it would be to have milked the goats ourselves!!! They sell their milk for $6 a half gallon!
A worthy endeavor nonetheless….BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!
I am so thankful I googled across this website! Thank you for putting it out “there” you have just fueled my desire to have a farm with goats and chickens. I am definitely sharing with my friends! God bless you!
DaNelle, I just want you to know how much of an inspiration you are to me. When my husband and I were looking into getting goats and trying to decide what breed we wanted, you were the reason we chose nigerian dwarfs! We love our girls. We had already been raising chickens for a couple of years but are slowly starting to expand our “mini farm”. I have also started a blog. Because of you, I finally got the courage and confidence to do it! I just want to say thank you! If there is any other advice you have for me I would love to know!
DaNelle Wolford says
Oh, that makes me so happy! I love our Nigerians!
Anyone know how possible it would be to have goats on a 1/4 acre lot. Basically a typical neighbor hood. I’m wondering about the noise and smell or any other issues. Thanks!
DaNelle Wolford says
That should be fine, but I wouldn’t go overboard with a large herd. We keep 2 does in milk, with our total count being 5-6 year round, but we could have MANY more. I’d say if you had the same amount as us, you’d be good:)
I love the connection to our animals, the land and the rhythm of life. Cleaning horse stalls and the chicken coop isn’t work to me- its ensuring a (free) steady future supply of compost for my gardens, fruit trees and pastures. Once farming gets into your blood, you’re never complete without goats by your side-and I’m still working on that idea with my husband.
Not on our farm yet but I am DEFINITELY looking forward to goats the most! I even have a breeder willing to hold a little ND doeling for me right now so that she’s ready for me to jump right in next year (a prospect I find both terrifying and exciting as all-get-out). What I miss most about living on an acreage (where I lived with my parents couldn’t rightly be called a farm, but we had a barn, a garden and horses) is how deep-in-your-bones satisfying it is to clean the barn, feed the animals, and smell the scent of fresh hay and bedding after a job well done.
DaNelle Wolford says
YES! It’s crazy but doing things like cleaning up the barn, feeding the animals and caring for them is so rewarding!
I can’t even decide, but it might be goats. Maybe some cute little ones for milk, and some bigger ones for wool, if I ever get into spinning like I am into knitting. I love reading about people doing small-scale farming, but I’ve been living overseas and/or in apartments with nowhere to do anything much – maybe grow some herbs in a pot – plus earning my living and keeping my house without anybody to swap out chores or such with. Why do I keep reading blogs like this? In hopes of the “Someday, perhaps…!” 🙂
Great article! We fell in love with goats about four years ago at our county fair. We were there for the rides (and fair food), took a walk to the animal barns, found our way to the goat barn, and three weeks later we had two wethers! We turned our “shed” into a “goat barn” and the rest is history. Enjoy your stuff… keep it up!
DaNelle Wolford says
Haha, what a great story!
I love new life. Like watching the new lambs playing together, or the cheeky new chicks learning to escape their brooder box. And I love when it’s time to harvest veg that grew in our own plot!
Jessica Myers says
Your blog has been so inspiring for me. I’ve always wanted goats but I now NEED goats!
I don’t have farm animals, but I think if I did, I’d enjoy watching them most. I love watching animals. Even my cats. They’re all so different, and their personalities are absolutely insane. I love it!