DEAR NEW FARM:
I just found your web site tonight and am excited about looking
at it all. I've just scratched the surface of your site and it seems
to be just the web site that I need. Thank you!
At this point I have only one question: I'm turning 40, about ready
to retire from 20 years in the Marines working in high-tech communications
and, rather than seek employment in the civilian-tech sector, I've
convinced my wife to move to upstate New York (from Ohio) and start
a production goat dairy farm.
The question? Well, am I nuts? Is this a bad move? Am I too old
to be starting a farm at 40 (especially a goat farm)? My wife has
been raising 7 goats, 50 chickens, 6 turkeys, and we have horses,
rabbits, cats and dog—on 3 acres. We will be starting our
new goat farm on 11 acres until the business builds to a point to
expand. As crazy as it sounds even to me, I have this never-ending
drive to become a farmer and, to be quite frank, it's the first
time that I haven't been 100 percent sure of myself in a new project.
I’ve been learning and reading all that I can. What do you
Your story sounds cut straight out of a Barbara Kingsolver novel
Summer, in our bookstore, to get reference). All kidding aside
(whoops, bad pun), it sounds like your mind is already made up and
that you’ve got the drive and vision to breathe life into
those dreams of yours.
Your doubts are understandable, though—farming is not an
easy vocation. The good news is that you are not alone. Several
organizations and initiatives in your area—such as the Northeast
Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), www.nofany.org,
and Growing New Farmers, www.northeastnewfarmer.org—are
poised to help you learn an approach to farming that is both ecologically
sound and economically viable. An abundance of recently published
books, such as Natural
Goat Care by Pat Coleby (Acres U.S.A., 2001), is at your disposal
goat page of our online bookstore for this and other titles
on the subject). And of course there’s The New Farm® Talk
section, offering you an ongoing forum for asking questions of other
farmers, inspiring farm stories (check out our two recent pieces
on dairy goat operations in California: Redwood
Hill and Capricious
Cheese), the latest news and research, and ways to market your
products and connect with the services you need.
Working together with a number of writers and organizations, we’re
also developing a series of practical articles for beginning farmers
that will continue through this year and into 2005. The series will
cover everything from tractor basics to finding a mentor, from business
plans to finding land, from best farming practices to best buys
at auction. Stay tuned.
As current events continue to call into question the wisdom and
safety of an industrial food system that puts corporate profits
ahead of human health and animal welfare, individuals and communities
are looking to food producers they can trust—farmers like
you who are committed to raising meat and produce ethically, on
an appropriate scale, and in harmony with the land.
What do we think, J? We salute you, and we wish you the best of
Do you have advice for J? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
and we’ll pass it along.