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Hello all, I am new to the site and this is my first post. So, I'm buying 40 acres in the Ozarks. Beautiful Arkansas! I have lived here most of my life and love the land. I plan on building an Earthbag house and running a self sufficient farm with income primarily coming from Fayetteville farmers market (extremely busy) and the sale of goat dairy/meat, eggs and odd jobs/bartering with neighbors. I know most everyone in that area (either worked for them or played football with their kid) so bartering, working or trade is going to be a valuable asset. So my question, how would one go about planning this? Say I have 60K with 25k for the land. What can I do with the remaining 35k? This land is a holler between two hills. It has a seasonal flood creek, about 10-15 acres relatively flat land and 25-30 acres at a gradual to somewhat steep slope. All is wooded with oak/other hardwoods. Thanks!
 

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AH. I didn't read the last, so my questions now are
How will you winter the goats\
How will you supply grain to all animals needing it
How rocky is it?
Can you make money selling rabbits to Pel Freez
IF its all wooded, how will you have a garden big enough to sell at farmers mkts.
 

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Wintering goats I can accomplish with pallet barns. I know a ton of people with tons of pallets. Nails from a garage sale or barter. I plan on clearing 10 acres for garden. Selling timber (oak/hardwood) and then selective cutting the rest to get some good under plant growth which is perfect for goat. Grain for the goats will come from an acre of the cleared garden land. Rabbit would probably be an income here as well. Fayetteville has gone into a health movement and rabbit would be a seller. As for the rocks, the land here has rocks but it also has some wonderful soil mixed in. I would more than likely sell the bigger more valuable ones to the landscape company's. The other Arkansas rock I would probably use for underground cold storage rooms for vegetable/fruit storage and a smoke shack.
 

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Though use of bio intensive small farming tactics you can increase the yield over the traditional yields of a forty acre family farm to a yield of about equal to the yield of a 70 to 80 acre family farm however you cant bio intensify livestock farming you will be constrained to or possibly further due to current environmental and animal welfare regulation than the classic "40 acre family farm".

You will also have to take into consideration that classic 40 acre family farms generally had families of 8 to 10 members tending them in addition to bartering/teaming with neighbors when necessary and also some family members taking town jobs for covering overheads when needed and even then they often lived hand to mouth aging far ahead of their years.

If when considering your options and possible short falls as too few hands, different social environments than existed 70 to 80 years ago , etc. you may have to consider unique or niche markets.

A 40 to 50 acre farm family of 4 , two teen children near here use most of their land to grow corn in a maze layout and pumpkins while stocking from a acre garden and limited livestock.

The husband works his rat race job and the wife and kids work the crops for the fall entertainment income and pumpkin and corn harvest.

Self sufficiency is one of those things that never really has existed as all farmers in addition to providing crops for their own consumption also bartered or sold to individuals or grange organizations in addition to working regular society labor jobs when needed to save the family farm.

Look all around inside and outside your 40 acre box and mix the factors you have to in order to keep and maximize your farm and not burn yourself out while doing it.
 

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That does bring up another point, I would need to be able to run the majority of this farm. However, the local high school aged guys love stacking them bales for gas money and whatever else we did back then. We use to bale 1200 a night and got maybe 100 bucks. But it was worth it and we had a lot of work so I always had a full tank. Picking in a harvest shouldn't be too hard if I can work in a few hundred extra bucks for labor or possibly a food/labor trade plus the kin come pick for a weekend. My brother is going to college next year so I'm sure I can talk him into coming out and helping. Anyhow, how would you arrange 40 acres?
 

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Wintering goats I can accomplish with pallet barns. I know a ton of people with tons of pallets. Nails from a garage sale or barter. I plan on clearing 10 acres for garden. Selling timber (oak/hardwood) and then selective cutting the rest to get some good under plant growth which is perfect for goat. Grain for the goats will come from an acre of the cleared garden land. Rabbit would probably be an income here as well. Fayetteville has gone into a health movement and rabbit would be a seller. As for the rocks, the land here has rocks but it also has some wonderful soil mixed in. I would more than likely sell the bigger more valuable ones to the landscape company's. The other Arkansas rock I would probably use for underground cold storage rooms for vegetable/fruit storage and a smoke shack.
That all sounds good.

How do you get there, from here?

Have you ever cleared an acre of land? By the 5th tree, it starts to look like real work! ;)

You can have the wood harvested, but will have a mess left. You can put goats on the mess, but you need to build a fence first. You need to get the mess cleaned off before you can plant the garden.

But if you plant a garden, you need to to tend it, won't have time to do more clearing... It becomes a vicious circle of your time.

In 5 years you'll have something, and then in a couple years the garden will be productive and you will make some sales, but.....

That is 7 years from now.

You have to live on something between then and now.

An acre of grain - 100 bu? You,would do very very well to raise that on an acre of forest land, until you get the soil built up. Will 100bu feed your livestock? My neighbor raises 5-10 head of cattle, he buys 300 bu of ear corn from me, a few 100 bu of shell corn from the elevator, and many 200lb lick tubs. I don't see the one acre going far maybe?

Selling rocks to folks in an area that has lots of rocks..... Nope. I got a pole of rocks, big pile, segregated even on size so can load up what you want. Never was able to sell any. Dad sold some back in the 1960s, they went for rip rap on a river bridge. He had to load them and haul then in his truck, he said he about paid for the gas when he was done, 20 grain truck loads, he was just happy to be rid of them.

I'm not against your plan, just some of the things you will run into. Its a great plan mostly, you just need to get there. Got a spouse that has a paying job, something to tide you over the next 5-7 years?

Everything you mention is a long time project, you are one person...

I sound like a downer here, you are starting on a new adventure, doing what many can only dream of doing! Have fun, good luck, enjoy life. It will be great.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Paul, I am definitely planning ahead. This is a long term goal and honestly, I plan on doing a lot of bartering work for building supplies. I can pick up an electric fence off of tradio or buy one off of a neighbor. Goats would be my second investment after house. This would give me a small amount of income. I have a friend with a dozer who will help with clearing if I pay fuel costs plus enough for a case of beer. Good deal I think. I also plan on getting an old Ferguson Massey tractor with till, auger, bucket and backhoe. On just about every farm out there, there are tons of attachments for tractors that are cheap or can be obtained by working for it. Thanks for the feed back. My hopes are to find a way to make it all work.
 

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You mention that you might have 35k after buying the land. Will that 35k have to go toward the building of the home? If so, I would suggest getting accurate estimates on how much of that money will be needed for the building of the home, well, septic, and furnishings. Then you will know how much you really have to work with. A couple of suggestions I would recommend, is that you always be very honest with yourself about how much things will cost, and how much profit you might make off different ventures. It is too easy to tell yourself that you can build a home for or X amount, or you can sell animals, or produce for X amount without counting all the true cost. I will leave you with these thoughts for now, and will wait to hear your response. I have ideas, and thoughts, but with need more info from you to be any help to you.
 

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Thanks for the reply and I have crunched numbers for several months now. I actually just put a house on the market after a flip. Redid the bathrooms, kitchen, wood floor, and that's including plumbing, welding and electrical. My father in law and my late wife's grandfather both built their own houses themselves and we are confident we can build this house with little to no paid labor. The house of course will cost and take time. I plan on the house taking a couple years so a pull behind camper will have to do for a bit. I can pick up a water storage container from a farmer not using it for a decent price. The water from the rains come off a cliff and there are parts where water really pours in a good rain. Put a filter and pump and that's my water. So all in all, the bags for the house may stretch to $1000 bucks. Then you have the barbwire, nails, doors, windows, cabibets , toilets etc. I'm thinking with some creativity and searching I can barter for about 90% of the things I need. Every neighbor I have out there has huge barns full of golden junk. I'd like to get ideas about what to barter for. Or where to find what I need.
 

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Based on starting off with a paid off property, you are ahead of most when they begin! Add to that, the ability to work as much as you want without the constraints of a job away from the property, you will get a lot more done than most can fathom. If you are in good health, can stay that way for an extended time, I don't see any reason why you can't accomplish your objectives. If you have access to heavy machinery and can get assistance from other fit folks (since both genders may apply), a lot can be done in a relatively short period of time.

I'd determine the best area for a fruit orchard and buy the largest fruit trees you can find (I have bought trees already bearing fruit and they are well worth it). Be sure and check with locals for the best varieties. We have had great success planting trees in large holes filled with half good soil and half aged compost. The Fall is the best time to plant trees, due to the root development. In addition, I'd buy all the fruiting vines/bushes that grow well in your area. If you know where your garden will go? Then, prepare the area, layer it with compost, and cover it until Spring. Sounds like you have a lot of building to do, so I'd get on it by building the shelters your livestock will need, as well as put up fencing.

Speaking from our experience, you absolutely CAN get a lot of your building materials free or via bartering. We have been collecting windows for years, have a birch kitchen set we bought years ago for a rental & kept, and are building our home with logs from trees my husband is felling. Right now, we are building a utility cabin. I posted a thread about what we are doing.

Have you considered building a tiny home on wheels? Reason I ask, is that it would be much more comfortable than an RV. Otherwise, even building a small cabin for an additional living space would help ease that transition.
 

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I wouldnt worry too much about what to do with that 35k because it'll be gone in the first or second year. Fencing, your tractor, and all the little bits of equipment you will need; wheel barrows, chains, ropes, shovels, mattocks, tiller for your garden, pump for your well, roofing for that house, outbuildings, livestock, etc,etc You cant barter for everything and you wont have anything to barter WITH until after you have it up and running.

I think you can do it, but its always going to cost more than you think it will and your expectations of what you will do by hand is usually exaggerated. Good luck and keep us posted with your progress. There's plenty of people here done/or doing the same as you so you've come to the right place.
 

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Have you thought about converting all those trees into your house building materials instead of going with earth bags? The trees could also be a source of income to you. But anyway you go, if you decide to clear cut to get some tillable land, you need to have a plan to control erosion if it is on hilly land. Another point would be is to really take a look at your soil beforehand to be able to know what you may have to add/grow/reshape to make it useable for pasture, grain, and garden. Once you get rid of the trees, that will be the main question of whether you will become self-sufficient. Your soil is always your bank account. We all recognize it won't happen overnight, but on that morning sometime in the future when it does, you will only have your soil...

geo
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I thought about using the trees for building material, just not for the house. The house will be partially underground thus reducing need for A/C or heat. I will obviously have fans in case I can't hack the heat any longer and an old wood stove which I plan to heat with. As for the timber to build with, I mainly want that timber for extra cash but will probably use some of it for a shop or small milking barn. It will also serve as some of my home furnishings. Any suggestions on how to control erosion? It is rocky but the Arkansas hills that have decent tree cover grow pretty thick underbrush that is perfect for the goats. By rotating them on the remaining 30 acres of forest (a few small patches of cleared will be in that 30) I hope to be able to keep a good herd. I raised fainting goats as a kid in Berrville for a while. I'm not new to the goat world but could certainly learn more. Thanks everyone!
 

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Oh and I plan on green manuring the cleared ten mixed with free range chickens for a couple years before planting the big crop. I plan on having a small garden soon after arriving on the property to limit the amount of outside food I'm having to pay for. The rest will be bulk vegetables/beans/rice from local canners and deer, squirrel, turkey, fish and any natural vegetation found on the land.
 

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There's a video out there you need to watch.. I won't post it here because some of the language is a little strong and may get me in trouble.. but here's the jest of it...

Did you know chickens lay eggs? You can sell those eggs, or you can eat them.. and when the chicken stops laying eggs, you can eat the chicken..

Cows make milk.. You can sell the milk, you can drink the milk, and you can eat the cow...

Farming is so cool.. You can make a ton of money because everything gives you something..

It's simple really... buy a farm, get animals, plant a garden, PROFIT...


Now seriously.. If it was really so simple, don't you think most people who live in the country would all not have jobs and would have a ton of land to make a fortune off it?

I've got 60 acres... I would never expect to be able to live off my land... wooded and some pasture... I might be able to subsidize my income, but unless I find a gold or diamond mine on my property, I'm not going to make a living on it... ESPECIALLY since I too am in the bottom of a hollow... Have you sat and watched your sun all day? Usually not conducive to great growing...

OH, and if I find gold, it's not mine.. someone else owns the mineral rights...

Seriously... You have great intentions, but reality is far far away from what you'd hope for.. Wait until the first year incects get the garden, or you don't have enough sun, or you have too much sun and no rain.... It really isn't very simple...
 

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Time.

Money.

Personal needs/ wants.

Those are the three issues.

If you want the typical American lifestyle it won't work. Sounds like you are on a different path and have some experience so that is cool.

I think you will struggle with running out of time before you run out of money. Time will be your biggest need, or limiting factor.

Paul
 

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I understand it will be hard. I understand that at times I may be in for some rough times and unexpected budget problems. My goal here is to work those problems out. Get ideas from folks on this website and ways to manage what I want to do with the land. I am 23. I just got out of the army and have slept in some cruddy places and learned to survive on the land through military training and just living in this area most of my life. If money is short on some projects I can do farm work around there for supplemental income. I know a ton of farmers in that area and have worked for many of them. Supplies should be easy to come by as these people have barns full of old equipment and building material used on their old projects and demolitions. The land will be paid for, I am healthy and able to work long days. Between my family and myself, I believe we have the knowledge and ingenuity to make this happen. Barn raising is not dead in Arkansas! I can find help from friends when needed. As for the crop insects and disease, crop rotation and proper management of wild bird population can help with this. I also plan on eventually (2-3 years) having an acre of blueberrys that will be sold into Fayetteville. Again, Fayetteville is in a huge health movement and businesses and individuals pay well for rabbit, free range chicken and organic fruits and veggies. Farmers market is extremely busy and better than most so that will also provide an income. Any ideas?
 

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1200 a night and got $100???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Back in around 63, We bailed 1400 and the temp was 104, in the daytime, and we got $1.25hr. Total $5.00
 

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Funny you say typical American lifestyle. The only typical American lifestyle I know is feeding goats, collecting eggs, shoveling manure, stacking bails, diesel smoke and riding four wheelers to the blue hole to fish. I need food in my belly, work so I don't get bored and a place to sleep. Im not a fan of sonic and prefer holes in my Walmart jeans. :cowboy:
 
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