Well, the tour of sustainable farms over the weekend was inspiring. I took lots of pics, and talked to farmers, and so we have at least a tentative plan now for the new barn and fencing. I realized that other than fiber farms (and dog kennels), I haven't visited too many farms since I was a kid, or really, ever. I remember my uncle Price's farm when I was little, but I wasn't at all clear on what it is that he farmed. He was just a grumpy old dude with lots of beautiful land and critters. Mostly, my pastoral vision was borne out this weekend, with colts gamboling in flower-filled meadows. There were lots of interesting new-to-me ideas for planting and raising all sorts of critters. There aren't a whole lot of fiber farms around here - the sheep farms we visited all raise hair sheep and sell lambs for meat. I'd really love to do fiber farming, but I'd prefer not to go broke, and selling the lambs is just a non-starter. Hopefully we'll learn a lot more this coming weekend at the long-awaited Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!!!
Most farmers tend to do a number of things, and the advice usually is to grow a number of different products that all work together. But I'm a little concerned about having a steep learning curve and investment in time and equipment for a bunch of different farming projects. So the frontrunners right now are apples and eggs - both fairly easy and passive, and we already know a good bit about about raising chickens and taking care of an orchard. And we're also talking about shitake mushrooms and other woodland crops, like ginseng and black cohosh. This is all in addition to the angora bunnies, although I haven't figured out yet how to manage very many of them or harvest enough fiber for more than a hat. And maybe sheep, we'll see - at least they would give the donkeys something to do!