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Latest from Young Farmers

Planning for the short-term– BOOTSTRAP AT FURROW HORSE FARM

Horses Lady and Abby_cropBy Caitlin Arnold, Furrow Horse Farm 

Before I dive into this post, the farm has a big announcement:

We now have our first team of draft horses! Lady and Abby, two Belgian mares from Sandpoint, Idaho, were delivered to us a few weeks ago. So far they are doing great, and we have already used them in the garden to harrow in our cover crop. We are so excited to finally have them here and realize our dream of owning our own team. Now we can truly start making our way to becoming draft horse-powered. I can’t fully describe just how good it feels!

As for our next big plans, we have a lot in the works for the 2016 season. In September, Brandon spent a week helping our landlords take out an old, unproductive orchard at the lower end of the property. This month we will be tilling up an additional acre where the orchard was, then planting a cover crop so it will be ready to put into production next season. We hope to use it as our potato and winter squash field, to free up space in our main garden for more labor-intensive crops.

By adding the additional acre, we will have about 2.5 acres in production next year. Our hope is to double the size of our CSA to 24 members and begin selling at the Olympia Farmers Market, which is much bigger than the Saturday market we were at this year. We also want to expand our restaurant sales. Between these three areas, our goal is to double our gross income next horses in field_crop

One big investment we’ve made this fall is building a garden shed to store all of our hand tools and the BCS tiller and mower. This will make room in the one existing outbuilding on our property to build two stalls for the horses and to store their feed and harness. Since we are on leased land, building anything new is tricky. We pay for all building materials and provide all the labor, and in theory we “own” the finished product. However, if we don’t end up staying on this land, we either need to disassemble everything we’ve built and take it with us, or swallow the labor and costs and leave them behind. In this case we justified the cost of building the shed knowing we have at least one more year here, and we need a place for the horses. Obviously we are not going to build a barn, so the garden shed plan was the most affordable option.

As I’m writing this, I realize we are still thinking in terms of months, not years, which is disheartening. Oh, how I wish we owned our land! There is so much we want to do, and so much we can’t do, because we are leasing. It really does limit how far we can think and plan into the future.

Right now our biggest barriers to investing in our future as a farm are: 1) not owning land; 2) not having enough outside income to support ourselves in the slow season; 3) not being quite big enough as a farm to support ourselves entirely from farming. I wish I could say I knew the way around these barriers, but at this point in time I don’t. All we can do is sign another year lease and follow through with our plans to scale up and double our farm income. And continue the search for affordable farmland!
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