Friday, January 21, 2011

Hobby farms

My work boots and gloves

I was working with my pigs in the front pasture and I noticed a car driving by slow, and then park across the street.  When I was done with my chore, the car was still there, so I walked over and introduced myself.  Turns out that the fellow was a commercial fisherman who was working on a boat that is docked nearby. 

My farm is on an island, maybe a mile upriver from saltwater, and there are many commercial fishing boats that dock at one of the docks around the island; he fishes for salmon in the summer and fall. 

We talked a bit about the pigs, and he said that he actually drove out of his way to look at my pigs, and had taken pictures of them and sent them to friends. 

Towards the end of the conversation, he gestured towards my farm and said "that's a pretty big operation for Washington; certainly not a hobby farm".  It took me a minute to figure out why that bothered me, and then I said this.  "Hobby farms don't usually generate enough income to make a living off of, so even the smallest hobby farm is the farmers 2nd job". 

In fact, most of the farms in the USA, no matter what the size, are run by people who have an off-farm job, or off-farm income.  I've heard many people refer to "fake farms", or "hobby farms" as if they're second class citizens, or somehow worthy of scorn.  I think it's a labor of love.


Mike said...

Very true! We are making a very small amount of money from our farm, certainly not enough to live by. We have jobs off the farm which just makes us appreciate the farm more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! As a small farmer with off farm income, it is refreshing to be understood and appreciated rather than sneered at.