advice on moving to SW Wisc

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by duboisj, May 5, 2004.

  1. duboisj

    duboisj Guest


    My husband and I, in our fifties, live in Minneapolis now, but are looking for homestead property in SW Wisconsin. We've been down to Richland Center a couple of times, but haven't found anything great yet.

    Is there anyone in this area who'd be willing to give us some pointers on what to look for? We'd like about 5 acres of trees and 5 acres of pasture. We'd like to work towards a diversified farm, along John Seymour lines.

    It would be nice to be in a farming-type area - lots of what we've been shown has been recreation/vacation oriented, with lots of restrictions on what you can do.

    Hoping to find something around $150,000 with a house and barn, or around $40,000 if just land.

    Thanks for anything you can tell us.

    Jeanne and Scooter
  2. Jane in southwest WI

    Jane in southwest WI Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    My husband and I have lived in Vernon County for about 5 years. We own 147 acres, I telecommute to a company in TX and my husband is full time homesteader. This area is both rural and recreational, we have neighbors who are homesteaders, farmers, and some who only come here on the weekends and holidays.

    I like this area because there are Amish (they provide many services - inexpensive organic eggs, reasonable lumber prices, produce, etc.) and there is a strong commitment to organic farming and sustainable forestry/agriculture. The county seat, Viroqua is a nice town, and of importance to me, has a great natural foods coop.

    I suggest taking a trip out to Vernon county; you will find it is very scenic. (Take a drive on county road P through the Kickapoo Reserve - the wildflowers are out now.) As far as real estate prices, I'm not real current on that, but you could contact Hometown Real estate in LaFarge. It is a small office and the folks are friendly.

    Taxes are high here, but I guess that's relative. Other than not knowing what taxes will be like in the future, I love it here and wouldn't want to move.

  3. duboisj

    duboisj Guest

    Thanks, Jane. I've been thru Viroqua and looked at a couple of properties in the area. It's very beautiful country, and I like the independent spirit of the people I've met there. Just haven't found the right property yet - I didn't realize that there was such demand for places in this area!

    What I've learned so far, is, yes, taxes seem pretty high, about double that of Minneapolis, and, make sure you can at least 'climb' your woods, before you buy.
  4. Check out Crawford county for the lowest taxes and cheap land. It's close to Richland Center if you need to work there - or might need a decient hospital.
  5. Leay

    Leay Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2004
    I live in Crawford County. In my area, it seems that the farm land is being bought up in large parcels and then split up and sold for very high prices. My taxes are pretty high right now. When I bought my place (14 acres) 7 years ago I was paying around 1200/year in taxes. It has now gone up to 1700/year. My SO other has a farmette just across the river in Iowa. He has 20 acres, 2 houses, barn, hay shed etc and only pays 800/year. You might want to look in Iowa. Just my 2 cents!
  6. HoosierDeb

    HoosierDeb Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    N. Indiana
    I don't have any advise but just wanted to say I LOVE that area. My brother ran a youth camp near Hillsboro (which is near Viroqua and Richland Center) for several years. I almost bought a farm there. It's beautiful country. There are a lot of Amish and the people are friendly and accepting from what I saw.
  7. Okay, I'm glad someone asked this question! My husband and I are interested in this area - we visited there and found it to be absolutely beautiful. Especially nice are the hills -- in the Midwest, of all places!
    I'm aware of how high the taxes are. We visited LaCrosse, Richland Center, Alma, etc. and noticed how nice the roads were and how clean everything was. But are the high taxes worth it??
  8. Hello,

    My wife and I recently purchased a farm in SW wisc (500 acres). It is about 3 Miles from the Miss. river, down by Cassiville wisc (Platteville, Potosi, Lancaster are nearby). The property is in a valley (in fact it IS the valley) and is secluded with a wealth of running water. My wife and I are converting the cropland to orchards and the pastures to rotational grazing.

    Anyhow, there are two houses (in fact the only two houses on the road we live on). We live in one, and one half mile away around the corner is a second house and farm buildings. We are fixing up the dairy barn and cleaning up the other buildings (cattle, sheep, poultry, etc. are easily supported).

    I think that seasonal dairying would work very well and not be two labour intensive (seasonal dairying is a combination of cow/calfing and dairying, you only milk during the "grass season"...i.e. you harvest the grass by miling annually freshened dairy cattle).

    But there are many possibilities.

    It is very beautiful. My wife and I would like to avoid renting for all the usual reasons, so we are looking for someone to "partner" with. I.e. share the valley. We would sell the house and farm buildings and whatever pasture/crop to someone...if we find the right someone. Likely something like 40 to 80 acres.

    It is more important to find the right "partner".

    If you have seen the hills country of SW wisc, you will have a good idea what this area looks like, with the exception of the wealth of spring feed streams in this valley.

    An Amish, Mennonite, or homesteader family would be most welcome. We call our farm "EaglesNest Farm" as the area is heavily populated with bald eagles...especially during the winter (they winter over here)

    If interested, send email to:

    Best Wishes,
  9. Hi again. I just posted about our farm in SW Wisc. I thought i would give a bit more information (I had already put it together) on where my wife and I are "coming from".

    This is not a "business plan", just a series of interesting links that...if you follow them...will give you some background on our thoughts. Country Times and Stockmans Grass Farmer are the only two magazines I subscribe to.

    Sorry to post unregistered. I will stop clutting up the board.


    Here goes:

    Item... Modern Agriculture is not sustainable due to dependence on Petrolium products.
    “Despite serious soil erosion, U.S. crop yields have been maintained or increased because of the availability of cheap fossil energy for inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation (Pimentel et al., 1987). Currently on U.S. farms, about 3 kcal of fossil energy are being spent to produce just 1 kcal of food. Our policy of supporting this 3:1 energy ratio has serious implications for the future. One cannot help but wonder how long such intensive agriculture can be maintained on U.S. croplands while our nonrenewable, fossil energy resources are being rapidly depleted.”

    The Bionic Cow:
    Illustration... We eat oil.
    “Assuming No. 534 continues to eat 25 pounds of corn a day and reaches a weight of 1,250 pounds, he will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil. We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.”

    Hybred Hazelnuts:
    Strategy... A viable, permanent, low energy crop providing marketable cash product (HN oil) and a feed supplement (HN Meal) replacing corn & soy.
    During HN development, most acreage available for grass silage.
    Mature orchards (20’ row spacing) provide permanent 10’ corridors of grass for silage (and possibly grazing).
    EaglesNest Farm has approximately 200 acres of cropland that will be converted to HN (20-40 acres per year)
    “Once established, no plowing or even cultivation is necessary. No water runs off the fields because infiltration rates are dramatically improved, regardless of soil type. Tiling should not be necessary in moderately wet soils. No fertilizer escapes into groundwater, because the crop has extensive permanent root systems, at work 365 days a year. No soil is lost to wind or rain; in fact this crop builds soil. Wildlife finds cover and food all year, instead of naked soil for 8 months, and one kind of plant for 4. In the near future, harvest will be entirely mechanized. And economically, hazelnuts have a large, unsatisfied, existing world market; and processing potential even greater than soybeans. Literally.”

    Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products:
    Health Issue... Not only do we “eat oil”, it is not healthy.
    “Because grazing animals "harvest" their own food, grassfarmers have little need for gas-guzzling farm equipment. Typically, they have a tractor, a pick-up truck, and haying equipment. Feedlot operations require a long list of heavy equipment, including tillers, planters, crop dusters, harvesters, grain grinders, commercial trucks, feed mixers, and conveyer belts. It takes as much as ten times more fuel oil to raise cattle on grain than on grass”

    Seasonal Dairy Farming:
    Livestock Strategy... supplement the cash crop (HN) production and the HN Meall livestock feed with a low impact livestock operation. Low impact defined as reduced capital costs, labor, and environmental impact.
    Comment... Seasonal dairying is efficient, low cost, less labor intensive, more compatable with Family Farming, and produces a calf each year. It may be thought of as a combination of dairying and cow/calfing. It will require a “dual purpose” breed of cow, one which excels on a grass diet (Dexter or Jersey or a cross).
    “Seasonal dairy grazing has many economic and environmental benefits relative to conventional production systems. Seasonal dairy graziers are often able to produce high net returns simply by keeping their costs low. Because pasture is the primary feed input, less machinery is needed and crop production costs tend to be lower. Seasonal operations do not need winterized milking facilities and dry animals can be housed with minimal facilities at almost no cost. While a modest sized (100 to 200 cows) conventional dairy operation can have several million dollars invested in buildings, machinery and equipment, the investment required for a seasonal grass-based operation of similar size can easily be kept in the $350 to $500K range. All things being equal, lower capital investment results in lower debt per cow for grass-based operations. This permits greater economic flexibility, allowing for profit maximization under a wider range of cost/price conditions. And although milk production per cow tends to be lower for seasonal dairy graziers when compared to confinement operations, profit per cow (and per cwt.) is very competitive, as indicated in the following farm financial results. ”

    Once a day milking (OAD) occurs when a herd is milked once every 24 hours. Twice a day milking (TAD) is when a herd is milked two times every 24 hours. OAD reduces stress on the cow, uses less time and labour each day for milking, and lowers milk harvesting costs. The downside of OAD is that milksolids production is lower than on TAD.

    Green Grass Silage:
    Grass silage can be produces easier and cheaper and is better for the animals. It is also highly compatible with HazelNut farming as it takes advantage of the 4 year plant maturity process to produce a companion crop (grass) and then produces a smaller companion crop (grass) permanently. SARE 1998 Grant Program II.htm
    “The objective of this project was to research a lower cost method of harvesting and storing silage in order to reduce capital investment of harvesting and feeding equipment on the family farm.* The reason behind this is that substantial capital investment is typically required for family farms with livestock operations.* Often times, a substantial percentage of the farm’s capital investment is tied up in equipment that sets idle a large percentage of the time.* For example a hay baler, forage chopper, mower/conditioner, and chopper wagons are used only a few days at a time and remain idle for the remainder of the year.* Liability is created with repairs, maintenance, depreciation, and missed opportunity costs.”

    Rotational Grazing:
    Strategy... Rotational Graze pastureland to increase production of grass.
    EaglesNest Farm is approximately 50% pasture...all with year-round running spring water.
    “Abstract: Rotational grazing requires the producer to develop skill in decision-making as well as in monitoring the results of decisions. Livestock are moved to fresh paddocks periodically, providing time for pasture re-growth. Modern electric fencing and innovative water delivery devices are important tools. Feed costs decline and animal health improves when animals harvest their own feed in a well-managed rotational grazing system.”

    Misc. Links:

    Jersey Breed Advantages:
  10. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 1, 2003
    SE Minnesota
    The current issue of Mother Earth News has a good article about a yuppie
    couple from Chicago who moved to Brownstown, Wi and have started a
    B&B. Great couple! My wife and I are heading to that area in Sept. to look
    around for some land. It may be too expensive for our budget though. Any
    info about the Winona, Mn area? That area looks good as well. Good luck!
    James in Houston