What Constitutes a Farm?

I’ve recently received a couple of emails from people who don’t like the fact that we’ve deemed our backyard farm a “farm”. It’s funny because the word “farm” most often conjures up images of cattle grazing in a large field with a large red and white barn in the background. But in all honesty, the word “farm” can define any number of descriptions of property.

  • WSDA defines a small farm as one where the farmer or farm family participates in the day-to-day labor and management of the farm, and owns or leases its productive assets.
  • Merriam-Webster defines a farm as a : a plot of land devoted to the raising of animals and especially domestic livestock.
We are definitely participating in the day-to-day labor and management, we own the assets and our land is, in fact, devoted to the raising of animals. So, we will keep our property defined as a “backyard farm”.

I understand the confusion. There’s confusion about terms in all aspects of life. One day I was having a conversation with 2 acquaintances about voluntary simplicity. Person A was asking me what voluntary simplicity was. I answered that I believe everyone has to define it for themselves as my idea certainly may not be yours, but the general idea is:

  1. Living within our means
  2. Making our money work for us rather than working for money to support our lifestyle
  3. Supporting local farmers, crafters, etc.
  4. Being kind to others and the planet
  5. Consuming less
  6. Doing it ourselves when we can
  7. Making do with what we've got
  8. Being ourselves
  9. Living consciously and savoring moments
  10. Living healthy (food, exercise, relationships)
  11. Making time (prioritization)
  12. Practicing gratitude
I do believe that each person should set their own definition, or at least what each of these means to them. 

After I answered, person A commented she is thinking of setting her own goal of striving toward simplicity. This upset person B since person A lives in what is best described as a “mcmansion” and lives an indulgent life, from the perception of others. After person A left, person B exclaimed “phony”. I understood the thought, but, as I explained to her, if she sets her own vision for “simplicity” how can we determine it as phony? It’s not up to us to judge others and their lifestyle choices.

In all honesty, some people could say the same about us. Jay and I are digging our hands into the homesteading lifestyle, however, we don’t intend to, for instance, ever live fully off grid or slaughter our own animals. To some people, you could not define our lifestyle as homesteading.

We still "indulge", as perceived by us - we have the wonderful Miss Sarah, our petsitter, during the week for our boys, we go out for meals from time to time, buy a latte or two at Starbucks, own 2 new vehicles (although we keep them until they stop running), spend money on hobbies we enjoy and go on vacation when we want.

The whole point is to become consciously aware of how you live your life and make choices for yourself and your family.  Let's face it, tomorrow is no guarantee so enjoy every moment of today.

I'm enjoying my today, right now, drinking a wonderful cup of hot cocoa as the snow continues to fall all around me on my farm.


Verde Farm said...

What an interesting post. I agree with you--for person A to make choices to live more simply--although not simple at all to many folks---still a change for person A. Each person has to decide for themselves. I find it interesting that anyone would question your "farm" or using that title. Don't you think it's interesting what people worry themselves with? I look at it this way--I am not homesteading by any means--but I am thinking about what I need to do in order to shift in that direction. As an example, we don't have a garbage pick up for recycling (I know terrible). I've recently discovered a local place you can take your recycling to. For us--taking our recycling there is a big step in a good direction--to others, they may call us phony but at the end of the day, if you are willing to look at your lifestyle and work on simplifying and just get started--I think that is something to be proud of :)

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

I totally agree. This is where we are at as well, making small changes that are large to us.
Thanks for the comment.

Rural Revival said...

I love this post. In my mind, if you're working the land, with animals, or gardens, it's a farm, it doesn't matter the size or scale, and working at becoming more self sufficient...well that's what the essence of farming used to be all about didn't it? We're on 2.5 acres, and it's all my farm. Enjoy your farm!


Flat Creek Farm said...

Love your post, Staci, and could not agree more. Embrace your farm life to the fullest! -Tammy

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

I totally agree with all of you. A 'farm' is what YOU 'make' of it as far as I'm concerned. What should it matter to anyone else. Living 'simply' to me is just that...making our lives simpler. For some that may mean relying less on store bought items and for others it may mean living off the grid ... but who's to judge who's simple life is right?! Staci your little farm is just as much a 'farm' to you as the family who raises milk cows or grows wheat. It's what YOU make of it. I agree with Andrea and Amy...enjoy your FARM and be PROUD of it!
Maura :)

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks to all of you. It's funny what seems to upset people isn't it? Thanks for the support!

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

In my case my farm comprises of i acre field
and 93 animals

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Wow! 93 animals.....I'd say you have quite a farm!!

Jennifer Fulks said...

I love this!!! I saw the link on facebook to the Grit website but came here to comment since I also blog here and wanted to follow you. We live on a quarter acre lot and are going to start with chickens in the Spring :) I look forward to reading more posts from you.

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Welcome to Andrea, John Gray and Jennifer. We're so glad you found us.

Jennifer - you're going to LOVE chickens, they are such wonderful and absolutely hilarious animals.

Patrice said...

I really enjoyed your post. We are fulltime farmers. I have tried to lead a simpler life. Not bad for a reformed city girl! I'm your newest follower. Please stop by my farm blog and take a look when you have a chance. I'm convinced that us farmers should all stick together! Have a great weekend!

p.s. Don't forget to comment and say hello.

Teresa said...

I think this is just a wonderful post! You really do a lot to explain why size doesn't matter in farming, and I love the way you've chosen voluntary simplicity for your lifestyle.

Millie said...

Love that picture! Of course, I'm fond of goat people, but it sounds like you've got a great thing going on your backyard farm.

Elizabeth (Blue Clear Sky) said...

I'm stopping by from Farm Friend Friday and I loved reading this. We live in a suburban home and have rabbits (although my son is begging for chickens,it is so far against by-law here.) Our son is very active in 4-H and even owns his own holstein cow. We are making plans to have a farm or larger acreage one day, but our jobs are here right now. We have the big-ish builder home squeezed onto our lot, but we love our rural heritage and time spent on farms. Enjoy your farm and don't let anyone tell you it is not one.

from maggie's farm said...

hey there!

i would really like to share this on my blog. so well written and answers questions i think my reader, okay readers, might have. would you like to be a guest poster?

margaret christine
notes from maggie's farm

Moose Hollow Farm said...

Hi Stacy ~ I happened to stumble across your blog and I'm sure glad that I did. I love it!!!!! My husband & I downsized & retired last year and we found a small log cabin on 8 acres at the end of a dirt road ~ I'm in heaven!!!!! We have 2 dogs & 37 chickens. I would like to add some animals (maybe some rabbits). We have a large garden & small orchard and hope to add to both next year. I agree with you that we all have our idea of what constitutes a farm and it could be 1/4 acre with tomato plants in containers and a few crazy chickens or 20 acres complete with cows, goats, etc. You have a beautiful place and a great view on the simple life. Enjoy......