Having a farm in the US

(VOVworld) – Hobby farms – also known as “lifestyle” or “retirement” farms, are on the rise in the US. Many small-scale farmers are raising horses, cattle, livestock, and other animals, in addition to growing their own fruits and vegetables. In fact, 36% of all farms in the US are considered “hobby farms” – with an additional 21% of farms considered “retirement farms”. Today we are talking to Charles Jensen from the US to hear how his parents take care of their farm in the Idaho state.

Q: Hello, Charles. It’s always felt great to have you on the show. Last time you told me that your parents own a farm in Idaho, where they live now. Is having a farm a popular thing in the US?

A: Not in the city, but in the countryside where people usually have at least a chicken coop (a house for chickens). It just depends on the family.

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Hobby farms are on the rise in the US (Photo: the spruce)

Q: What do your parents raise on that farm?

A: My parents have chickens, ducks, and goats. We have a little farm ranch in the mountain. It’s not as big as the one we used to have because my parents are retired. It’s not their main jobs but something they do for fun at the house. We never actually eat the chickens. We just eat the eggs from both the chickens and the ducks. As for the goats, we just use them to eat the grass so the grass will never get overgrown. Our farm is 9 hectares so there is a lot of land. We do not use it for anything except for the animals. My mom raises horses for horse jumping while my dad does motor racing in an area of 2-3 hectares of the farm. They share each other’s hobbies and it’s pretty cool.

Q: Wow, a 9-hectare farm sounds very big!

A: It’s pretty big but it’s not enough for the style of farming in the US. Most farms in the US are industrial. So, we are talking about 50-200 hectares at least and they have to use machines working on those farms. So we are just growing oats and hay for the horses to eat, not for money.

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Many hobby farmers raise goats on their farms (Photo: groveschool.org)

Q: Why not? I think it’s pretty cool to earn money while you can do something you like.

A: Yes. It wouldn’t even be worth it because of the time you have to put in. In the US if you want to make money from farming, you have to do it on a large scale.

Q: How do you manage a farm like that? Are there any wild animals, wolves for example, around?

A: There are no wolves in the area but there are coyotes. They are like wolves but with the size of a dog. Those will come to hunt the chickens. We have 5 working dogs to protect our farm. There are also some mountain lions that look like African lions but without the mane. They are really big and they can kill a person for sure.

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Many farmers in the US use guns to scare off wild animals. (Photo: fwi)

Q: And what about guns?

A: Yeah! I’m not trying to get into debate but certain people in America live in an area where there are no police. We cannot call the police and say: Hello, there is a wolf in our backyard. Can you come? You might have to wait for 40 minutes. I know there are a lot of gun crimes in the city but for us living in the countryside, we need guns to scare wild animals away. We try not to kill them to avoid disturbing the habitats. We just shoot up in the air or over their head to make them take off running. And on our farms we have dogs. Dogs like to pee on everything to mark their territories and that smell scares other animals away. So we have never had those problems. It’s kind of interesting to live in the countryside like that.

Q: How about sheep? I have seen a lot of movies about farms in the US with farmers raising sheep for wool. Do your parents also have sheep on their farm?

A: Yes, but again, not for eating. My mom shears them and uses that wool for sewing. She now teaches how to make rugs out of wool at the university in Idaho. It’s her hobby and retired job now. She used to be an engineer.

Q: Many figures have shown that hobby farms are on the rise in the US. Is it easy for you to buy a large piece of land like that?

A: I would agree that in the US it’s much easier to own farms because there is so much empty land. I don’t know if you can imagine but there areas of the size of Vietnam that are empty.

Q: Do you plan to maintain their farm once you go back to the US?

A: I don’t know. I think one or two hectares would be nice. There I will raise dogs and several other animals. It will be a really good place for my daughter to grow up!

Charles, thank you so much for joining us on air and sharing with us your parent’s stories. And, guys, thanks for listening! I’m Dieu Ha. Good-bye!

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