The Legal Fickleness of Starting a Farm

Well, we made a venture down to the town office to ask what we had to do to become a registered and legal farm. We knew that in this day and age farms can benefit from tax breaks and a series of other things. Besides my dearest is a very by-the-books kind of guy. He is so painfully law abiding that he glares at me every time he sees me eat a grape at the grocery store (Hey! I’m not wasting my money if they’re sour!)

We want to start this farm out right. I want to make it a poultry farm that raises chicks for local sale and hatching eggs for sale abroad. I’d also be super happy to start an herb and veggie garden aside from all that. So we asked, what does it cost and what do we need to do to make our farm legit? No one had the answer. We went from office to office until we found ourselves at the building inspector’s office. She had a lot to say… mainly we didn’t own enough land to really be a legitimate farm (5 acres) so we’d have to apply for approval to be a “non-exempt” farm, a process that’d cost us over $500 and require a board of people to all say yes. Well that didn’t sound good. She said we had to draw up a business plan and tell them every little detail of every activity we planed to do with the farm, our animals, and whatever else was going on on the property. She said make it bigger than we initially plan because whatever we say in this proposal we’ll be held to, by the letter. In other words if we say we’ll have 100 chickens then that’s what we’re allowed to have, no bending the rules after the fact. This greatly annoyed me. It’s an antagonizing thought to the expansive nature of a farm and besides how do I know what we’ll have?! They’re asking us to draw ourselves in a box. Wonderful.

Right now I have no idea how many chickens we’ll have because I have yet to plant the pasture and set up the rotational fencing to see how many chickens the land can stand before going bald. This is my cap, not some number plucked out of the air, and I have no idea how many chickens this would be. Besides this what else are we going to have that aren’t “just for personal use”?? I mean I was going to have a small number of ducks, turkeys, and a handful of alpacas to keep the weedier weeds from growing too high but what if we’re bound to that when we  for instance discover that goats or sheep are much better at this than alpacas?? Or do we just go all-out nutcase and say we’re opening a zoo for every farm animal known just so we have our asses covered?! (Including the donkey kind!)

I can’t know exactly what our farm will be doing 4 months from now, much less forever. Do we have to be re-approved every time something is added?? I mean the whole idea of a farm is flexibility. I might have a vegetable garden and a farm stand, I might not. I might get into quail, or sell off extra roosters for dog food, or start teaching others about my methods or general farm knowledge through classes held here, who knows! And as for putting every detail down… we just moved here. I don’t even know what the market needs or wants. For example I want to sell chicks to the locals in the warmer months but since I haven’t tried selling chicks to anyone I have no idea if there’s any interest or how much, therefore I can’t make a business plan and state how many chicks I will have at any given time because I just don’t know! That depends on the market!

I’m not feeling too great about this. I am thinking this might be the brick wall I have run into every time I start anything. My beau is unconcerned, stating if it is a problem perhaps we can just buy the land behind us. It’d make us over 5 acres but that’s another 100K, for what? A large lot of completely forested area that makes us look better on paper but does nothing else?? I mean it gives us land to expand to but that’d take a lot of effort and money to do so, not just because it’s wooded but also because we’d need to build access to it going over a huge cliff-like hill. I just don’t know anymore…. I think this is why most little mini farms don’t report anything and just fly under the radar which is exactly what I’d be doing if I weren’t being encouraged to be legitimate by my dearest. SIGH.  Too late for that now.