Hobby Farm Heaven is a key resource for the Hobby Farmer and Homesteader.
Our goal is to provide meaningful information and best practices so that you can experience more joy and success with your hobby farm.
The Hobby Farm Story
My name is Todd and I started Hobby Farm Heaven to help others learn about and enjoy hobby farming. This is my Hobby Farm Heaven story.
By 1997, my wife Debbie and I had five young children and we lived in northern Virginia. I was a career active-duty Coast Guard officer (CGA 86’) and life was good.
We were part of a great homeschooling group, and the area provided plenty of wonderful opportunities for our family.
The plan was that I would eventually retire from the Coast Guard and gain employment with one of the companies in the defense industry surrounding Washington D.C.
It was a great plan and we were excited, thinking that we had our future all planned out!
Then something happened!
In 2003 we became interested, very interested, in having our own little homestead, our own hobby farm. Neither my wife nor I had a background in farming or raising animals.
We were primarily focused on the following advantages for our entire family:
- Working together as a family to achieve our goals
- Living a more independent and sustainable lifestyle
- Learning how to raise more and more of our own food, in a traditional, healthy, sustainable, manner
- Becoming less and less dependent on highly processed foods
- Being outside more and experiencing a great connection with nature
- Having real and meaningful chores that make us strong and smart
- Honing meaningful skills in small-scale, traditional farming and the associated trades
- Having our children experience all of this as they matured into adults
Moving away from fantastic friends and a very robust job environment was a bit scary, and many people thought we were making a mistake.
We had faith and moved forward, conducting a ton of research along the way that included some intensive hands-on experience with sustainable family farming legend Joel Salatin at his famous PolyFace Farm in Staunton, VA.
I read everything I could get my hands on regarding homesteading, hobby farming, animal husbandry, soil chemistry, pasture management, sustainable gardening or permaculture, out-buildings, fencing, ponds, wells, septic systems and more.
I eventually gathered a great library of reference material, including many wonderful books that explain the old, traditional ways of the homesteading life. What a great history in homesteading.
The sustainable hobby farm concepts really grabbed us. The tremendous depth and breadth of skills and activities involved in hobby farming were very appealing to us.
Over the next two years we visited more than forty hobby farm properties in a two-hour radius around Washington D.C. This helped us realize that there are many types of hobby farm properties and therefore many trade-offs to be made when choosing a hobby farm property.
For instance, does the property have a pond, a barn, a creek, pasture, fencing, an adequate home, a wood lot? Is the ground still fertile? Does the creek flood in the spring? Are their specific, restrictive covenants in the property deed?
In February of 2005, with 6 inches of snow on the ground, we visited an old (circa 1785), federal style, stone home, with outbuildings on 28 acres in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. We instantly knew we had found our hobby farm.
It was a best-value blend of all that we were looking for in a hobby farm property.
A big home for our large and growing family, pasture, wood lot, outbuildings, creek, pond, barn, etc. Nestled in a beautiful little valley in the country, it was close enough to amenities in town and sports teams for the kids.
In the late summer of 2005, we moved in, and the real adventure began!
In early 2006, I retired from the Coast Guard and began working for a small beltway-based firm. I was fortunate enough to both telecommute from PA and support several Coast Guard Headquarters projects. Supporting Coast Guard projects is still my primary job today.
In March of 2006 our seventh child was born, and then one more child followed. By May of 2008 we were a family of 10 and our hobby farm life was thriving.
We worked hard and all the goodness, all the advantages, that we had anticipated came into being. Yes, we failed a few times, but we carefully managed risk, succeeded more than we failed, and everyone loved the hobby farm life.
Subsequently, my dear wife became ill and passed away – far too young. With this devastation and heartbreak for the family, I took a break from the hobby farm to focus on more urgent matters in life.
Eventually, I came back to the hobby farm life. I’m happy to say that I continue the glorious hobby farm path today.
Further, one by one my five oldest have gone off to college and are now out on their own, making their way in the world.
I have no doubt that several of them will eventually settle on their own hobby farms. Each of them has wonderful memories of growing up on the family hobby farm.
The three youngest children are in high school and still live with me. They keep me on my toes… and help me with our current hobby farm adventures.
We are now on a smaller hobby farm property, still in Franklin County. We continue to learn and have fun on the farm. It is a great way to raise children, a great way to live.
The pages of Hobby Farm Heaven speak to many of our successes and failures along the way and provide a rich knowledge base for you. I hope you find these pages valuable in the pursuit of your Hobby Farm Heaven.
Peace and Best Wishes,
Todd & Family