It’s been amazing to see how quickly we’ve built our farm over the past two seasons. It seems like the more time and money we invest into this journey, the more comfortable we become with planning for even greater investments in the future. I debate with myself about how much to share, but I figure that anyone with access to google and our Instagram can figure out what we’re spending on the homestead, so let’s go ahead and talk about what it has cost to start a farm in our backyard. . .
But before I do that, I need to make sure our motives for farming are clear. This isn’t a hobby. We’re not spending tens of thousands of dollars on hobbies and recreation. The notion of such a thing makes my skin crawl. In fact, our farming is an intentional decision to live differently from the world. We reject the blissful ignorance of the masses. We insist on understanding and sharing in the labor that brings food to our table. We rejoice in the natural order that God has instituted. Most importantly, we desire a generational shift. I want children who farm. I want grandchildren who farm. I want great-grandchildren who, while their contemporaries are all subscribed to lab-meat monthly deliveries, insist on breeding, raising, slaughtering, and devouring their own food. One of the primary reasons why we have moved so quickly to get our farm started is to get our children exposed to animal harvests while they are still very young. Every year we wait would make it that much harder for them to accept these realities. We see this most clearly in our 11-year-old son, who will have nothing to do with our processing discussions except to say, “leave me out of it!”
This also isn’t a brag. I’m not boasting in my wealth. In fact, we are far from wealthy. A lot has had to happen in order to make these investments in our farm — certainly more than I’m willing to share. This is simply an honest discussion about our journey that I would have appreciated from someone else before we started down this road.
On to the money talk. . .
Initially, I never dreamed we would be investing as much as we have. On paper, it seems insane — especially considering what we actually produce. There’s a legitimate reason why small farms charge so much for their products. Even the poor quality stuff is expensive to grow on a micro scale. All the more reason for small farms to differentiate themselves as much as possible in terms of quality.
Obviously, our biggest investments have been infrastructure:
- Our greenhouse cost around $2000 to build.
- The pig tunnel was $800.
- We invested nearly $1800 in electric netting this year.
- The perimeter fence will cost around $6000 once completed.
- I’ve invested $1500 in equipment to help with multiple tree removals.
- Most recently, we purchased a new tractor (more on this decision in my next post) for $21,000, plus another $700 on implements.
The animals aren’t cheap right now either:
- Our two pigs, from weaned to freezer, will have cost $2200 over 7 months.
- Our new lambs (more on that later) were nearly $1000.
- The chickens eat $200 in feed every month.
Let’s be clear, that’s an insane amount of money for our family. That’s a FOOLISH amount of money for any hobby. That’s a STUPID amount of money that most parents would be putting into college and retirement funds. What can we possibly expect as a return on our investment?
- Eventually the grocery bill will reflect a return. Certainly not yet (we’re just now prepping for our first animal harvest), but this time next year we should see the difference in the budget. Higher quality food at a lower cost. And over time we intend to see our costs going down as we move toward growing our own feeds and breeding our own stock.
- Our land will flourish. People who live in HOAs spend a lot of money to make their yards look nice. We do too, but we go about it differently. In a few years we expect to see our land transformed in a way that only farming can accomplish. Working farms often lack a certain aesthetic. Ours will be beautiful.
- Our medical bills will be lower. Consider the cost of even one medical emergency. What if the exercise and smart eating inherent in farming saves us or one of our children from a cancer diagnosis or heart attack? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to believe that the farming lifestyle adds years to our lives and reduces the risk of expensive illnesses.
- Our children will thrive. They won’t play video games, they’ll farm. They won’t understand pop culture, they’ll understand natural law. They won’t be ignorant about food or work, they’ll have an intimate knowledge of and love for both. This alone is worth every penny we spend.
- The Lord will bring the increase. These other returns are just my guesses. I don’t know what the return will be. In reality, the farm could just as easily fail. Whatever the return, we acknowledge that the Lord is the one who will provide it.
Seek first the kingdom. . .
Just last night I sat under a sermon and heard the Lord’s man deliver this charge: Seek first the kingdom of God. How do I justify the money and time spent building a farm? It’s obvious that I’m not spending even more money and time in ministry.
I can’t offer a blanket justification for our investment. There’s no chapter and verse that gives me permission to buy a new tractor or build a greenhouse. But I can tell you that this is what I’m called to do and I’ll do it until I’m called to stop. For whatever reason, the Lord wants a small 1-acre farm in Greer, SC for his kingdom. Who knows why, but I’ll happily keep building it for Him.