By Jennifer Woolwine

A Day in the Life of a Hobby Farmer


baghdad to barnyard

January 11, 2021

A day in the life of a hobby farmer.png

Hobby farms differ from commercial farms because hobby farms are for pleasure over profit. When my husband, David, and I came home from our deployment in Iraq, we purchased a house in the suburbs close to our jobs. David was a mechanic for Roanoke Electric Steel, and I was a Rating Specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs. We both worked a lot of overtime, including weekends, and we felt cramped in a subdivision. It was only when I had to take early retirement due to medical reasons that we decided a change of pace was necessary. If you want to read more about our farm story, you can check it out here.

Blue Ridge Mountain Views- New Castle, Virginia

My husband, David, and I run our hobby farm and always do morning and evening chores together. Having a partner to help divide the many responsibilities of having a farm and the animals that must be taken care of is excellent.

We usually get up around 8 am, and the first thing David does is let the chickens and ducks out of their coops. I prepare fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables for our four house bunnies while both my parrots sit on my shoulder. If I do not let the parrots out of their cage in the morning, they all start screeching, which can get deafening.

Animals love a routine, and you better not be late with breakfast or dinner, or you will hear about it.

Our pekin pair, Donald and Melania enjoying a morning nap by the creek

After I feed the bunnies and top off their hay feeders, I put the parrots back in their cages. David provides for our dogs and the barn cats while I catch up on any laundry, pick up all the dog toys thrown all over our house, run the dishwasher, and wipe down the kitchen. Then we FINALLY get to enjoy a cup of coffee on our back porch.

Morning Chores

The donkeys wait at the top of the mountain and watch for any movement at the house, and as soon as they see us on the back porch, they start braying as if we never feed them. The mornings are hectic at first, but once everyone enjoys breakfast, things are calm and peaceful again.

We head to the barn for morning chores, including cleaning out four barn stalls and picking up any manure in the pastures and riding rings. For us, it is easier to do it every day and keep everything looking semi-decent. After we clean up our hobby farm, we give the donkeys and goats their morning hay.

Fresh water

It’s important to clean out all buckets and troughs and refill them with fresh water every day. Thankfully, there is a creek that runs throughout our property, so the animals always have access to fresh mountain water too.

Breakfast in the riding ring

David and I are usually done with all our farm chores by 10:30 am and then we enjoy hanging out with all our fur and feathered critters.

Some of the herd at Little Mountain Ark Farm

Having a farm keeps us busy, and there is always something to do. From fence repairs, tending to the garden, painting and composting. In addition, we  spend a lot of time in the summer prepping for winter, including stocking the barn with 300 square bales and chopping wood for our outdoor stove.

Winter on the farm

In the winter months, a lot of farm projects are on standby. With shorter daylight hours, by the time we finish our morning chores and run any errands, it is time to feed the donkeys and goats for the evening and lock everyone up for the night.


We are so grateful for our small hobby farm. It has brought so much peace to my husband and me. We feel more fulfilled now with animals instead of materialistic items like fancy clothes and cars. Providing a safe and loving home to animals that have been abused or neglected fills a void in both of our hearts.

Our little farm is home to donkeys, goats, horses, bunnies, peafowl, chickens, ducks, dogs, chinchillas, parrots, and 13 barn cats. My dream is to add Scottish Highlanders, emus, and swans, but one thing I have learned with having a farm is not everything goes according to plan. You never know what to expect.

Selfie time with Willie

I hope you enjoyed peaking into my daily life as a hobby farmer.

xo, Jen

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  1. Good to know your animals also yell at you like they have never been fed in their life! Haha

Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a combat veteran and wife who is passionate about animal rescue, homesteading, and mental health advocacy. Jen's amazing journey of transitioning from military service to homesteading can be followed on her blog and social media platforms @baghdadtobarnyard.

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