Flip through any country lifestyle magazines and you’ll feel like you’ve already escaped the bustle of the city. Less noise is just one of the obvious perks to owning a farm or ranch property, but there’s even more to love beyond the patina and rustic charm. Here are eight ways to make the most of your rural living:
1) Embrace life lessons from Middle Tennessee nature. Enjoy the free therapy of experiencing wide-open spaces, amazing sunsets, and the bright stars in the sky at night; these natural wonders are all truly good for the body, mind, and spirit. Being close to nature can also help bring you back to basics with more space and a better environment for working with your hands. Spending the whole day outside building and tending to your land can result in some pretty amazing life lessons in value and appreciation. Spending a weekend fixing and building things with friends and family will give you a sense of accomplishment that only comes from a job well done.
2) Sleep better for less stress. In the city, many acclimate to the noise pollution from car traffic, sirens, and even your neighbor’s barking dogs. Take a step out your Nashville front door on a farm or ranch and you’ll enjoy a whole new flavor of noise— wind, crickets, and maybe a few non-domesticated animals. Sleep will likely come more easily with only mother nature outside your window, too. Sounder sleep means you’ll likely be more productive and generally happier throughout the day.
3) Start small and don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, explore, and ask questions. Keep showing up every day and be willing to try new things. Plenty of your efforts may fail, but the successful ones will be well worth it.
Some first-time Nashville farm and ranch owners may start out with reasonable goals that turn into big ones. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, try starting small, perhaps with a family-sized vegetable plot or a few chickens, and learn along the way— then scale up when you feel you’re ready.
4) Have a little faith. Every time you plant a seed in the soil, bury it underground and nurture it even if there’s not yet proof of growth. Eventually, that invisible seedling will show up and…. poof – you’ve got food! An important part of running a ranch or farm is knowing that some things can’t be controlled. This can be both humbling and frustrating, so try focusing on the former sentiment.
5) Become self-sufficient. Learning how to grow your own food and raise your own animals are important lessons you’ll keep with you forever. The farm and ranch lifestyle often involves less access to amenities you might expect in more suburban areas or, at the very least, such resources will likely be farther away. Because of this, you’ll likely become more resourceful as you find ways to fix and repair things around your home and equipment on the farm. Along the road to becoming self-sufficient, you’ll also find the enjoyable opportunity to raise your own chickens, goats, livestock, and horses.
6) Realize the income potential. Your real estate dollars will stretch farther on a farm, especially when you can use that land to grow food to sell at local farmers’ markets or as part of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is a membership-based network or association of people who pledge to support one or more local farms; growers and customers share the risks and benefits of food production. Participants pay for their share of the harvest in advance, so you’ll have the money to invest into your crops. While they assume some of the risks, they also share in the harvest at the end of the season.
If you have ample land and aren’t farming it all, you could even consider renting some of your land out to people who don’t have the space to grow their own food. There may also be opportunities to teach local classes on any of your farm-honed skills such as canning, beekeeping, or organic farming.
7) Build deeper personal connections. In our hyper-connected world, many of us spend more time staring at screens than interacting with people. A more rural lifestyle allows you to spend a lot of time interacting with your land and any animals, but don’t forget to forge stronger connections with your neighbors and your community, too!
Building trust and knowing that your neighbors are looking out for you might just be the most valuable reason to embrace farm life. You are not an island and you certainly don’t need to figure it all out on your own. If you’re not sure how to do something—ask! Chances are, your farm neighbors are more than happy to help.
8) Be part of a story to pass down. Who lived on your farm in the decades or centuries before you did? It could be that your new home and lifestyle are sitting on a rich history. Start by talking to your neighbors and others throughout your community to discover more about who lived there before you. Online research may uncover details to fill in the gaps and you may end up uncovering some interesting stories and cool connections.