Should You Build a Homestead or Hobby Farm?

How to Homestead

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Let’s Define What it Means to Have a Farm, Homestead, Ranch or Hobby

You may be considering moving to the country to raise some farm animals, maybe grow some gardens too. And as you dream or start to build your place, you may be wondering, “What are we building here? Is this a farm, homestead, ranch or a hobby?”

In this article, I am breaking down the definitions of what to call your country living situation. We will cover:

  • Homestead Definition
  • Farm Definition
  • Ranch Definition
  • Defining a Hobby Farm or Hobby Ranch
  • Why it may be important for you to use the correct term for your place
  • Why it may not matter too much what you call your place
  • Also, other fun ways to define your place

Deciding What to Call Your Place

When we moved to our acreage in late 2016, friends would say, “How is the farm coming along?” That never felt right to me because we weren’t farmers. Our livelihood didn’t depend on the animals and land.

Some friends would say, “Your ranch is so beautiful!” And while ranch felt better as we do raise cattle and they bring in the most income to our business, we are certainly not the Duntons or the Drummonds.

Lately, the term homestead has become popular and friends have asked about our homestead—which also, doesn’t feel right. We don’t live off of our land, and we don’t plan to pursue that lifestyle, at least not fully.

Even still, hobby farm or hobby ranch didn’t feel right because we are running an actual business. The animals are not exactly pets and I have hopes to utilize the land in other business ways.

Maybe you are in the same boat as I was, or maybe you had no idea that there are specific definitions for each of these terms. My hope is this post helps you get clear on what to call your place and why it may or may not be important as to what you call it.

Do you have a homestead or a hobby? Learn more at by Katie O. Selvidge

What is a Homestead

There are few technical definitions of a homestead:

  1. A home and surrounding land owned by one family.
  2. A home, land, and buildings on the property exempted by a homestead law from seizure or sale for debt.
  3. May be used for growing crops and raising farm animals.
  4. Often used to describe a family whose goal is to be self-sufficient and live off of their land.

Someone who I feel is a true homesteader, and a great example for you to consider if your goals align is Jill of The Prairie Homestead.

What is a Farm

I think that a farm is much easier to define for the average person. Some definitions include:

  1. Land and its building devoted to agriculture production.
  2. The primary objective of a farm is to produce food and/or other crops.
  3. Typically, the farm is the owner’s main livelihood.

This looks like your local farmers who you may purchase meats and veggies from, Prairie Creek Farms near us comes to mind. Or, it can look like someone such as Erin of Floret Flowers who raises a good or commodity, previously flowers now predominantly seeds, as the lands’ prime production and her family’s main income source.

What is a Ranch

Again, a ranch can be very easily defined:

  1. Typically a large farm, dedicated primarily to breeding and raising farm animals for meat.
  2. Often times, a ranch is known for raising cattle, pigs or sheep for meat.

I think of the (fictional) Duntons from the television show Yellowstone. And I also think of our “neighbor” Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman.

What is a Hobby Farm or Hobby Ranch

While the terms Hobby Farm and Hobby Ranch can cover a multitude of set-ups, it is typically defined as:

  1. A farm or ranch, where the owners are not dependent upon the lands’ production as their sole source of income.
  2. Often much smaller than a farm or ranch, a hobby farm or hobby ranch is often used to describe a beginner’s or novice’s attempt to raise animals and crops either for pleasure or education.

Many times, bloggers and social media influencers fall under this category who may have full-time jobs, but also manage a small farm or ranch for fun, for a side income or even as an educational place for their community, in-person or online.

Why Understanding if You Have a Farm, Homestead, Ranch or Hobby May Be Important

Knowing What Your Building Will Give You and Your Family Clarity on Your Personal Goals

As they say, if you can name it, you can claim it.

Being clear on what it is you or you and your family want to create as you pursue life in the country will help you stay on the same page, communicate clearly and achieve your goals easier.

Plus, what a great way to teach your kids not only what you are pursuing, but to appreciate the others who are pursuing similar things, but in different ways.

Knowing What Your Place is Gives You Legal Clarity

Whether you are pursuing a tax exemption or working on a business plan, clarity on what exactly your place is or what you are building will be helpful, and in many cases necessary to understand.

Defining Your Place Gives You Business Clarity

As mentioned before, this will give you business clarity.

Not only in writing out your business plan, but it your business strategy and attracting the right partners.

Why Calling Your Place a Farm, Homestead, Ranch or Hobby May Not Matter

Any interest in learning more about agriculture and where our food comes from, what our farmers and ranchers do, should be encouraged. And if you want hands-on experience by changing your lifestyle and moving to the country, all the better!

So maybe you start a social media account or a blog to share with your friends what you’re learning and doing. And maybe it’s easier to just call your place a farm than explain that’s just acreage now, and then it’ll be a hobby, but one day you want it to be a working farm, maybe but you’re not sure yet, etc.

I’m here to tell you it’s totally fine. Don’t sweat it.

Most farmer and rancher neighbors will be happy to see someone eager to put in the work and learn, they won’t care what the sign says on your gate or what your Instagram hashtag is.

Why We Call Everly & Raine Co. a Farmette

There are other fun names you could name your country living dream, and one that appealed to me was farmette.

It literally means small farm.

Hobby farm didn’t feel right because it’s more than a hobby for me. And farm didn’t feel right because it isn’t our sole income; but maybe, one day, we may want it to be.

We currently utilize 10 acres, but plan to use more of the property. I have a very small flock of sheep, but once my daughters are a bit older, I plan to expand. And not just with sheep, we have so many ideas and dreams.

We’ve been living in and will continue to live for a few more years in a place between hobby and farm—and that’s where farmette was born. It fits this season.

Would You Consider Your Place or Place a Farm, Homestead, Ranch or Hobby—or Something Else?

In conclusion, it is good to know what these terms mean and why using the correct terms may be helpful.

But at the end of the day, it’s about so much more, right?

It’s about the lifestyle, the dreams, the goals, the work, the community.

Focus on what matters, consider these definitions, then decide for yourself what is best.

Are you a farmer, homesteader, rancher, hobbiest or something else?

I’d love to know what you think!

Affiliate Disclosure & Content Disclaimer

This post may contain affiliate links from a sponsor, Amazon Affiliates or other program. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to continue creating more content that you love. The content of this article is for general information purposes only. My goal is to provide you with the best information possible from my personal experiences for you to make the best decisions on the given topics for yourself.

Photographs by Shalyn Nelson