Our small 'hobby' farm is located on 10 acres of land, near Richmond Virgina.
We didn't start off with the intention of farming, we merely bought enough land so as not to be right ontop of our neighbors in an area without "covenent agreements".
Our first foray into things started when we found that our land came with a lot of ticks. We decided that we would rather use 'organic' methods to control the tick population - keeping the grass well cut, and getting a few chickens to eat them.
Of course we knew that the chickens would lay eggs, but didn't think much of it until they started. When we cracked open our first 'home made' egg it didn't look like we expected it to: the yolk was a much richer color, more of an orange-yellow
than the pale yellow that we were used to from store bought eggs. When we tasted them, we were hooked..
The goats came a couple of years later. We had a running joke that we should get a miniture cow because the children drank milk all the time, and it would probably be less expensive and more healthy. The counterpoint was that cows are a bit messy.
We had discussed goats as an alternative, and when we saw a sign by the side of the road advertising goat milk soap we thought it would be a good idea to see if we could taste some of the milk, just to make sure that the children would like it. We
ended up with Racer, Zebe and (a pregnant) Zoe. Hearing about things like American milk being banned in Europe, makes us glad we did - even if it's probably more about principle
(Europe seems to be very touchy about anything genetically modified).
The next similar project is to establish a fair sized garden. The spot is already picked out, and some posts (for fencing) have been installed - with a recently (8/2011) purchased sub-compact tractor. I had long ago noticed the decrease in
flavor of vegetables - especially tomatoes. My understanding was that grocery store tomatoes are picked green, then ripened (artificially) on the way to the store. Aside from feeling a bit sad about that, I didn't think much of it until I
read about a study about how nutritional values of vegitables has been declining for the last 50 years. Even if we skip on the fertilizer part of the study,
it makes sense that commercial farmers would select the cultivar ('strain') of what they want to grow that (1) produces the most yield and (2) keeps the longest - they get more for thier efforts and can ship it futher. To put this into perspective,
if a farmer's crop lasts 1 day (8hours) longer, that means that it can be shipped 440 miles further (@ 55 mph), all other things the same this results in an increase in the area that the farmer can service by at least 607,904 square miles. That's a
pretty powerful incentive. It's the same sort of pressure that puts cellulose (aka: wood pulp) in foods.