Hobby Farming: The Michael Graham Guide
At Easter time when skies are blue, fluffy white lambs are skipping around the fields and yellow chicks are cheeping in the barns, the idea of moving to the country and living on a farm is enchanting. Living the good life doesn’t have to mean a drastic lifestyle change though. Hobby farming in England has never been more popular. Described as small-scale farming for pleasure rather than profit, hobby farmers usually have a main source of income from a career outside of farming, or from a pension fund, freeing the farm to be a hobby rather than a business. At Michael Graham one of our specialities is hobby farming, so bear in mind the following top tips if you’re considering embracing your inner farmer.
- Before anything else, decide on the animals and crops you want to farm. This will give you an idea of how much land you need and the size of the farm you’re looking for. You don't need dozens and dozens of acres. A country house with a large garden can be a mini-hobby farm with vegetables, poultry, and a few hives of bees. Buying a hobby farm is a big investment so make sure the property meets all your requirements.
- Don't try to be profitable – Raising your own livestock to eat is not necessarily cheaper than buying from the butcher. Factoring in the man-hours, you could probably buy lamb cheaper at Fortnum’s than produce it yourself. But that’s not the point. Remember the word ‘hobby’.
- Read and research - You don’t need farming experience to be a hobby farmer. You’ll probably start out not knowing the difference between a bantam and a pullet, or the first thing about lambing. But qualifications in land and livestock management are far less useful than talking to real farmers or reading books on the subject. The Essential Guide to Hobby Farming by Carol Ekarius is a good place to start.
- Embrace DIY - Learn to love your tools. Fences always need fixing.
- Be flexible – You might discover that keeping sheep is far more work than you’d anticipated, and that’s okay. Just because you’re a hobby farmer doesn’t mean you have to be a shepherd for life. Try pigs instead. Above all, love what you do, that’s what hobbies are all about.
Is a hobby farm your idea of heaven?