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Spot the tiny farm!

Rototilling on the Kubota

What’s in a photo? Depends what you’re looking for! Take this pic of Andie, rototilling today with the Kubota. Pretty straightforward: woman, machine, field. BUT, can you spot practically  EVERY main part of a really tiny farm (at least, of this one), represented right here?

It’s mostly hand work, but there’s some gear: Of course, we have the Kubota compact tractor, flagship of an motley assortment of gear specifically suited to tiny farming. It’s rugged, very much a diesel TRACTOR, but small, and designed more for the big estate crowd than agriculture. Around here, though, it’s the workhorse machine, a people multiplier with its bucket and essential 48″ rototiller. As far as I know, rototillers aren’t core gear on tractor farms, but it’s our ONLY field implement so far, a huge labor-saver over walking up and down with the walking rototiller, or digging by hand. And the turf tires seem to work just fine.

New people diving in: And then there’s Andie, doing (tiny) tractor work within the first few hours of her entire market garden experience. (It’s cool that she’s already looking over her right shoulder, it’s a classic tractor farming pose—except maybe not with GPS?) She also has DIRTY HANDS on the wheel, from checking out the tilling results, and they’ll stay dirty as she moves off the tractor in a few minutes, on to hands and knees to plant onions.

A big shed (aka barn): A barn of some sort is the main, sooner-or-later essential, working structure that separates clear land from a working tiny farm. Really, a basic barn is just a big, all-purpose shed  (this one, 20’x32′, is pretty tiny, just four walls), for getting things out of the weather. You use it to store harvests and gear, and to work out of the wind and rain  (and of course, we have winter). With rough carpentry, you remodel and reconfigure it to fit: an extra hook here, new door there, closed off room in a corner, whatever you need!

Lots of work, all day long: Elsewhere in the pic, less obvious but clear signs of tiny, labor-intensive veggie growing.  In front of the barn, tables of seedlings are hardening off. They’re brought out in the morning, taken in at night, back and forth, back and forth. That’s because the greenhouse (hoophouse frame on the left) isn’t finished yet. And THAT’s because there is just SO MUCH TO DO ALL AT ONCE. Like, mow the grass for mulch, before it gets outta control. And get a new battery for the John Deere riding mower (on the top left), so it can haul around the trailer loaded with whatever we need to get LOTS MORE STUFF done. It all weaves into one big picture of tiny, simple, interdependent tasks that go on and on and on, all day long…

It can get a little intense, but it’s also really fun, if you don’t get all grim and serious about it and try to tie in the state of the entire planet (try to stop following the news!). You get to pretty much see where you’re going. Meet people in a really interesting way. Eat well. Sleep well. Kinda…simple! I think that’s a pretty good start…



  1. I love this and especially agree with the very last part about keeping it simple. In my (short) experience, that’s one of the most stupendous parts about farming — the connection with those essential, obviously useful & important, and oh-so-human things: making food, eating food, using your body…

    Isn’t it so rad to be completely exhausted at the end of the day? Or to eat a huge plate of beans and chard and eggs and feel so so full and happy?

  2. Days are very full, very busy, very blessed, and very fun. Spring keeps you running. LOL But I still keep up on the news, because that’s exciting stuff.


  3. Charlotte

    I always hated the news, until I started listening to NPR on Wednesday and Thursdays from 4 am – 7am while I’m running around the bakery– and I love it!  It grounds me during those hectic three hours, plus makes me feel less alone.  The news programs on that early are really great and not nearly so terrible as, say, NBC, or whatever.

  4. Faith: Yes, news can be addictive. But it’s generally bad, and bad news does no good!! :)

    Charlotte: You’re right, proper current affairs type news can be pretty good, especially when people get a chance to speak, not just a bunch of alarming headlines and one-minute stories hurled at you non-stop. I used to listen to ENDLESS hours of CBC (our kinda NPR in Canada, government-funded and commercial-free) in my first couple of years of tiny farming, when I worked mostly alone in the field for hours on end. The radio (I liked that better than headphones) was as important a piece of gear as any of the tools I was using! BUT, what turned me off news entirely was the CBC’s hourly news, which is kinda like any other station’s, around 5 minutes of just disturbing, depressing flashes. It wasn’t just the disaster-crisis stuff, but the repetition of government and business stories, which is also droning and low-level depressing. Since I was more or less listening for 6-8-10 hours a day, I’d hear the same headlines over and over. That was bad. That’s what really made me aware of how it was affecting me, having such obvious repetition (usually, you don’t notice how much the same alarming, simplistic stuff is repeated, but it’s still there…a little TV, a little radio, newspaper, online, over and over!!!). So I quit, easier to turn it all off than always be waiting for the top of the hour. And then, I didn’t miss any of it! It felt great! But now, since I started playing with the insidious TWITTER, news is creeping back in… I can feel it burrowing into my system!!

    Anyhow, that’s my news story! :)

  5. Lisa

    I love your tractor!!


  7. It’s great to see how much you appreciate the process of farming as much as you do the results of farming. I feel that there is joy to be embraced in the labor and I admire that you too are as passionate about the process of farming. Hard work truly does pays off.

  8. Monika

    Very informative and entertaining. Looking forward to reading more on your site.
    Keep it up!

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