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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Backyard Farming

I have written several articles for this blog (mostly about poultry which I love) and I would like to tell you my story which I hope will encourage many of you in your pursuit of backyard farming. I was raised in Idaho where I farmed with my dear father and brother (Marisa’s father-in-law). It was a wonderful experience but the economics didn’t work out and we had to go our separate ways. I ended up as a farm management specialist for the University of Maryland. This sounds great but it wasn’t. I had a modest salary and a small home on a tiny lot in College Park, MD that wasn’t big enough (or so I thought) for a backyard farm. My wife, LeAnn, (whose biggest interest is horses) and I scrimped and saved and prayed for years so that we could move to the country. My salary increased little by little and then the University gave me the opportunity to transfer my office to a University research farm. We jumped at the chance! We found a small farm that we could afford on the Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, MD and we have been living the dream ever since. We have had most species of animals and love gardening. We renovated the house, fenced the property and built a barn. It has been a great place to raise our children. I continue as a farm management specialist teaching at the University and consulting commercial farmers and hobby farmers alike. My experience with backyard farmers has taught me the following:

1. Growing your own food is incredibly fun and fulfilling.

2. I could have done a lot more with that tiny lot in College Park. No backyard farm is too small.

3. People with no agriculture experience often make the best farmers. Eagerness to learn is most important.

4. Dream’s can come true. If you want a little bigger farm, it may be possible. But even if it isn’t, you can be happy on your backyard farm.

I wish you all well in your dreams and look forward to reading your articles and comments on this great website.

Dale M. Johnson, backyard farmer


ChristyACB said...

Great post with a wonderful boost to the overwhelmed and new :)

Kristi said...

Thank you! That was very motivating and inspirational!

Darren (Green Change) said...

As someone living in suburbia and longing for an acreage, it's great to read about what can be done in a smallish backyard.

Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Sofia Ganborg said...

I really admire, who you do, especially, because I really am lousy at this!
love from Denmark, sarah sofia

Dale said...


A few years ago I had the opportunity to tour Denmark visiting dairy farms there. The farmers are very progressive. Denmark is beautiful! It is one of my favorite places in the world!