Starting out on Little Bit Farm
By Laura Conner Massengale
I am a born and raised North Carolina girl. Although my life has been full of adventure, I have never lived more than 60 miles from my birthplace. My grandfather and eventually my daddy grew up on a 254-acre dairy farm in Chapel Hill. My great-grandfather Luke Conner (1891–1974) bought the farm in 1929. University Mall now stands on the Conner farm's land that once pastured cows named after movie stars and grew fields teeming with corn and hay.
I am a registered nurse in a local emergency department, so my work days are filled with life, death and everything in between. My husband, Gabe, is a firefighter and emergency medical technician, working 24-hour shifts for a local city. When we are not working in the community, we are home enjoying our bustling mini-farm.
Along with our passion for people, we have a deep passion for taking care of animals and enjoying the wonders of nature. Gabe and I own several acres in Orange County. I nicknamed our mini-farm "Little Bit Farm" because we have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. On our mini-farm we have four trouble-making Nigerian Dwarf goats, two always-hungry mini-potbellied pigs, seven vivacious hens, two rescue dogs and a mini-multitude of crops.
Since there is never a dull moment on our mini-farm, I decided to create a blog, "Homestead Redhead," to record and share our many adventures. From covert animal escapes to the birth of a compost bin, "Homestead Redhead" recounts our experiences. Our hens are full of life and personality and are a constant source of entertainment and fresh eggs. We are hopeful that our pigs, Houdini and Lady-Bug, will be expecting their first farrow of piglets in the near future. Our goats are not very productive members of our mini-farm; they mostly eat, get into trouble and keep us on our toes. We do not have plans to eat the pigs or goats, but we enjoy learning more about their nature and how to care for them. In the near future my husband and I, along with my parents and my sister's family, will be purchasing property to begin farming on a larger scale. We plan on having a small herd of beef cattle, a mini-Jersey cow for milk, chickens, hogs, horses and meat goats. We will also be growing lots of organic fruits, vegetables and flowers.
It seems to me that appreciation and respect for the old ways of doing things have been left behind over the years, especially by the younger generations. I am passionately interested in homesteading and bringing new life to these forgotten ways. My husband and I have a goal of one day living on a completely self-reliant homestead. I currently make our own butter, cheese, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and toothpaste — just to name a few items. I like choosing what to include in our foods and household products, rather than being limited to processed and commercial items. We try to utilize our crops as our main food source. We also belong to a local co-op that delivers fresh food from other farms in North Carolina.
Although caring for the crops and animals involves substantial time and effort, it brings me a great sense of purpose and fulfillment. I love the cyclical rhythm of farm life: you take care of the land and the animals, and they in turn take care of you.