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Monday, March 21, 2011

Cold Feet

Veronica, Amber, Marisa, Nora
 A few years ago some friends and I decided to do a triathlon. We trained together for months, swimming, running, and biking. It was a blast! A few weeks before the actual race, we decided to try swimming in the lake where the race would be held, instead of the swimming pool. I had swam lap after lap in the pool. I knew I could swim the distance because I had swam much further as part of my training. Yet, as I approached the lake, this enormous terrifying fear swept over me. What if I couldn't swim that distance once I was in a lake? What if I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was? What if I start to sink and nobody could see me?  What if....what if....what if??? I had to push past those fears and just dive right in.

Right now I'm having those same fears with my backyard farm. On our little .11 acre backyard farm (swimming pool) in the suburbs we had our chickens, we had our berry bushes, and we had our small yet productive garden. Now here we are on an acre (the lake) and I feel like we are going to drown. What if we put all this time and money into our backyard farm, and we fail? So many of our neighbors have told us that they can't get anything to grow on their property. What if I can't keep up with it all? What if I have been dreaming of this for years, and I don't enjoy doing it on a larger scale? What if...what if....what if??? I know that I just need to push past those fears and dive right in. 

Sorry to be such a downer, maybe I just need a pep talk. 



Squirrel Leigh said...

You'll be fine! Keep in mind, the majority of people who say stuff like "Nothing grows on MY land" really mean "Nothing grows here because I don't actually know what I'm doing and just expect plants to do great without any help or effort from me". It's amazing the amount of people these days who don't realize gardening and growing is a skill set like any other that has to be learned, and just assume when it doesn't happen all by itself they have brown thumbs.

You know better, and are gonna do great!!!

Anonymous said...

I recommend trying a couple of things to boost your confidence because your farm will work out.
1.) Take a soil sample (this means small amounts of dirt from different areas of your property) to your local extension agent for complete analysis. Maybe you need to amend the local soil to optimize it for what you intend to plant.
2.) Ask the locals what they've tried to grow and why they think it didn't grow. Then formulate a plan to fix the problem they stated. For example, if the problem was drought, plan how to get plenty of water to your crops. If the problem was flooding, raised beds may be the right solution. If it's bugs, deer, or whatever the problem, there will be a workaround. If you can't find the workaround in books or the Internet, go back and ask your local extension agent. Then you can implement the workaround.
3.) Maybe to build your confidence you should plan year one as a trial run, homesteading only a portion of your new land. Then grow that portion each year as you gain familiarity with what needs to be done differently from your previous homestead.
4.) You've already put more work into homesteading than the average person.

Knowing that you are going into this armed with knowledge (from experience), knowledge (from the soil analysis and problem discussions with locals), and a good work ethic, you will be a success.

Also remember that homesteading is always a bit of a gamble. There are good years and bad years, often from factors you can't control (such as weather). So if you feel yourself sinking year one, it doesn't mean you will drown over time. It just means you need to learn to tread water.

Good luck!

Rachel said...

Don't do it all at once. Don't take on more than you're ready for. Start with something similar in size to what you had previously and as time goes on slowly increase it as you become more comfortable. Remember, it's not all or nothing.

Jennifer said...

Great analogy in your post, and great insightful comments here.

My two cents is to establish a water source BEFORE any plantings. Also, try "audition" areas before making a huge garden plot. As you know, principles of sun- and wind exposure can help direct you in choosing a site, but there are other factors out work we can't even predict. So maybe three smaller garden beds in different parts of your acreage can give you a feel for what area is best (should you wish to consolidate another year).

I know whatever you do will be amazing!


Build your soil up.
Don't turn this into a triathlon. This is a major marathon that will never, ever be finished.

You might also have your water tested along with your soil to see what you've got.

Have fun.

daisy g said...

What happens if you give up without ever having given it a real go? You'll never know if you could have done it. That could be haunting...

We all have faith in you and yours.
Now, go get some compost!!! ;0)

Kids and Canning Jars said...

Take baby steps. The would of, should of could of and what if's are super counter productive. I will work, Melissa

Jenna said...

You can do it!

But, of course, you don't have to do it all at once. Babystep your way to full-scale success!

Unknown said...

By the pics that you have posted I am guessing you live close to me and I will tell you that you can grow stuff here. I have had a garden two years in a row, my first by the way, and have done great!

P~ said...

like some of the others have said, I would just reiterate. grow the soil and the plants will follow. you might think about designating a couple of areas to start small with and see what kind of results you get while planting a green manure, legume type crop for a year in the rest of the grow areas. after a year you can reassess, increase the production areas and continue to build the soil.
to grow your garden naturally will take time and seasons just like everything else in nature.
best of luck...

David said...

Marisa, I have to smile because anyone who has the determination, stamina, and endurance to train and complete a triathlon can do anything they want. During the not so good times in my life I could not look at the big picture but had to look at only the bite size things that I could do that would complete the big picture. All the folks here have given you great advice. With my own garden I started with one 4X8 foot raised bed that lasted me two years. Then I expanded it by two more beds and last year I expanded it again by two. This year I maybe expand two more or not depending on how things go this year with the garden. I am not above stretching it out a year or two before expanding again. The total garden will eventually be 13 beds but it will definitely take several years to get there or maybe never. When things get overwhelming I just back off to a comfortable level. It works for me but then again it works differently for every gardener. I'm sure you will find the last triathlon mile of grit to overcome those fears after you get started with the new adventurous season of life.

Have a great new garden day.

Dollwood Farms said...

Awww, you can doit. You can do anything you want. It is trial and error and you will get thru it just like the rest of us...ARE. :) I started small (container gardens) and am still learing and getting a little bigger each year. We have 7+ acres but most is shady with trees. I love it, but need more sun! :) Oh well, It is very enjoyable and addicting. I agree, soil samples and ask the neighbors. I bet they really haven't tried too hard or gave up early.


Sister Erlyn Madsen may have some helpful tips for Utah gardening.


Holly said...

I think this has been touched on in a few different ways but here's my take: Having all this space doesn't mean you have to fill it right away with whatever you want to put there permanently. It just means you now have the flexibility to keep adding on to what was already working for you at the old house. Just like having a bigger house now doesn't mean you have to have more kids....just that you could if you wanted.