Striking out as a smallholder

If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of outside space, by which we mean a field or two to roam around in, then you’ve either got or have considered setting up your own small holding.

But what is the daily reality of running your own mini-farm and what would you need to take care of livestock and begin to earn a living from your land?

Here’s our guide to starting out, taking in the pitfalls and problems along the way:

A smallholder's baby goat or kid, lying in a field
Image from Pixabay

Don’t Rush In

As tempting as it is to make use of your space straightaway, at the very least you’re going to need to think about outlay and the kinds of physical upgrades you’ll need to start with. Are your outbuildings up to scratch? Do they need goat or fox proofing, for example?

Aside from the more obvious initial costs there’s the practical side to consider in running your concern. A smallholding is a long-term, full-time commitment. Perfect if you work from home, don’t work or have plenty of time in your day. Not so easy if you’re trying to balance a career with your home life.

Source Suppliers

Look around your immediate area and take note of where you are going to source most of your animal food and animal stock, if you’re branching out into livestock as well crops or dairy.

Shop around for some of your out buildings and explore options such as UK field shelters to house your animals.

Even better, go and have a chat with local suppliers and see what kind of deals they might be willing to offer a long-term customer.

Get Experience

If you’re sticking to crops and dairy, then chances are you’ve had some experience in these fields anyway but if you’re taking on animals for the first time, get advice and even better, get some experience.

Have a chat with local farmers, vets and trawl the internet for bloggers who have experience in the same field you’re getting into. Immerse yourself in research and become the expert on pig, goat or chicken care.

Protect Your Interests

Finally, protect whatever assets you have by making sure you’ve covered by the right insurance. You might even be able to access grants and bursaries for rural business start ups so thoroughly explore any avenue that provides you with funding that you can spend on making your property, buildings and business as safe as possible from outside wildlife and criminals.

Starting up on your own and seeing your land being put to use in the way you always wanted it to be, is an exciting and nerve wracking step to take; more so if you plan on making your smallholding your major source of income.

Get prepared, don’t leave anything to chance and treat it as you would any start up business by creating a thorough business plan, putting in the research and figuring out any problems and solutions before they arise. Then step back and watch your garden and your profits grow.

This is a collaborative post.