FINDING THE HERITAGE FARMER INSIDE ME
Hello Little Bend Friends, my name is Steve and this story is about finding the heritage farmer inside me. Some background about me is I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, moved to Texas as an adult, and then in my forties I moved back to the Midwest.
As a boy growing up on the farm in the Midwest we raised the typical livestock consisting of milk and beef cows, hogs, chickens, sheep, and I even had a pet rabbit! I was one of seven kids and we lived on a 200 acre farm and rented another 100 acres. We grew hay, corn, and soybeans. We were also fortunate enough to have an orchard that was planted when my father was a boy and some of my favorite memories were harvesting all the wonderful and diversified fruit that it produced. We also had a 2 acre garden for our vegetables which keep us kids busy hoeing and taking care of the garden. My brother and I also raised chickens for the eggs which we would eat and the sell the surplus. I was told by my mother that I was self-sufficient by the time I was seven, and would often try to live the heritage life as a child. However; the first years of us living on the farm we really did live like heritage farmers. I remember not having running water or a toilet in the house and baths were taken in a galvanized tub standing up!! I further remember harvesting acres of corn by hand and we put up loose hay. Our milk was stored in metal milk cans and we put them in our water spring by the barn to keep the milk refrigerated.
When I graduated from high school I got married and moved to Texas to work in the oil fields and later worked in the semiconductor industry. During that time it was always a dream of my wife and I to return back home and to our roots. Our wish came true about 7 years ago when we returned to the Midwest.
Upon returning to the Midwest we searched for some land that we could buy to start our farm but the prices were all out of our price range. So we settled for a house on the edge of town which was nice but not what I needed to do heritage living. So during that time we did what I call the 3-P’s which is PLAN, PREPARE, AND PRACTICE.
Then in 2010 we sold our house and bought a house with 20 acres in the country, which consists of about 10 acres of woods and 10 acres of pasture land. Yes we are in heaven. We moved in around Thanksgiving of that year right before we got 12 inches of snow and we then weathered one of the snowiest winters in years! Spring came in 2011 and we were ready to start our heritage living. One thing that we would need to do is get the infrastructure up and we spent all of 2011 doing so. I knew with 20 acres we would need a tractor and we purchased a tractor with all the implements that I thought we would need. We also bought tools for woodworking, firewood, and other tools for heritage living. We took the rest of 2011 planning and preparing for our heritage life. The year flew by fast and we soon found that with our regular 9 to 5 jobs it would take longer than expected.
Before we knew it was 2012. We took our income tax refund for that year and put in our own orchard. It is one acre and we put in apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, grapes, and blueberries. We invested our time and money in putting up a 8-foot tall fence to keep out all the deer and rabbits that we have at our place. While it may seem excessive and to some overkill I could not get any sleep knowing that my tree investment was just deer and rabbit food. Plus with the many years it will take to get fruit from the trees just one major eating from the deer can set us back many years if we needed to replace the trees. In the end when the trees are mature enough not to worry about damage we will simply use the fencing material for another project in some other way.
We bought some goats to use as weed mowers and we butchered them in the fall for meat. We also bought 12 baby chicks and are raised them for the eggs and meat as well. The chickens were very good for getting rid of all our produce waste since we have not started composting as of yet. We found a farmer for our beef and pork needs so I thought we were set up in the meat department. We started the garden to get some fresh vegetables and be able to can them for winter and the coming years.
Next it became 2013 and we embarked on a journey that I never expected but I now know was God’s plan for us and the farm. I was introduced to Bourbon Red heritage turkeys from a coworker whose children raised them for a 4H project. Little did I know it would propel our farm into what it has become today.
I did some research on heritage turkeys and found them to be the perfect meat source for a heritage farm like ours. Unlike a cow or pig, turkeys can be butchered one at a time lessening the need for preserving the meat via freezing or canning. Also they lay eggs which taste just like chicken eggs; except larger from March until October which can be eaten since they lay more than any person would need for raising turkeys for meat. Also, unlike chickens heritage turkeys winter very well and that is a good thing with the frigid Minnesota winters. Plus the heritage turkeys forage well and the Bourbon Red variety are delicious, have a wonderful temperament, and are not too prone to broodiness but do set on eggs which will to help in hatching eggs in the spring for meat in the winter and replacement of the flock.
I am a person who believes in living off the land and taking care of the land that takes care of you. We are organic people and we don’t use chemicals or anything bad for our earth. In the future I will be sharing some of our tips and tricks for growing vegetables, animals, and other things like beekeeping, blacksmithing, and other homesteading, and farming ways of life. I was also fortunate enough to grow up a carpenter’s kid and I learned mechanics so I will be sharing wisdom in those arenas as well.
So that is the story of how Little Bend Heritage Farm LLC got started and in the upcoming blogs I will catch you up on 2014 and 2015 and from there I will continue with the rest of Little Bend Heritage Farms LLC journey.
Till then “God Bless friends and we’ll Gobble at ya later!”