Building our farm in the forest. Follow along here and YouTube

Discussion in 'Homestead Construction' started by ForestToFarm, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Hey,
    This is my very first post so I hope I get this right. My family(son,wife, daughter in law) and I have recently purchased 20 acres of forest land and are clearing a portion of it to build a farm and two houses for ourselves. We are doing most of the work ourselves in hopes of being debt free when finished. We have worked hard and saved for many years to get to this point. Thank God we are finally doing this.
    My son and I have a small video and photography business and decided we would share our experiences with the world or at least anyone interested in following along as we make this long time dream a reality!! We have a blog, facebook page and are doing a YouTube channel where you can watch as we document each step of the way. Figuring out what to do when is a tough process and if you hope to do this some day yourself you may want to follow along. We are going to share as much as possible about what each step of the way takes us to get it done.
    We will be asking for advice along the way from time to time. We have a broad range of skills. For one I am an electrical engineer who decided to go the residential contractor rout at a young age because I just have the desire to be as close to the outdoors as possible. Going to a factory every day just did not set well with me despite the benefits. Working for myself and now partners with my son on both small businesses is tough but at least I feel at home here. We have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn as much about home building as possible and decided to take the plunge and build our farm, mostly with our own two hands.
    Here are links to our
    blog: http://www.foresttofarm.com/
    Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/foresttofarm/?ref=notif&notif_t=page_fan
    And YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJmG74jiHGt4Q0-cKafQuaw

    We hope to get some followers and subscribers. It takes a lot of effort to film and do the work. People following makes it all worth while.
    Thanks for your time!!
    I hope this works, lol it is my first time posting a video. This is our first of two videos so far. We literally just got started so go easy on us. We are just a couple of greenhorns trying to save a few bucks and make a better life for ourselves. [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLfeVilt8DE[/ame]
     
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  2. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Here is the second video.

    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwUp0-81nJs[/ame]
     

  3. ozarkansas

    ozarkansas Member

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    Anxious to follow the progress. We have 20 acres of forest land in the ozarks and will hopefully learn a few things from the progress you guys make. Good luck!
     
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  4. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! And good luck to you.

    It is actually a dream come true. My dad and I would set and talked about starting our own farm some day back when I was very young. We both loved the outdoors and everything about it. Unfortunately he died when I was young. However the dream lived on and as my son grew up we talked about the same things. What better way to do this than with my son and our families.

    There always seemed to be some obstacle holding me back from getting to building this dream. The main thing being money. We have worked hard and saved every possible penny. Dropped cable about 16 years ago. Drive the same cars we bought in the 90's. You name it we did all we could to save. I am not rich. Never expected to be. So we decided to work on making this happen and knowing that when we finally get there, debt free and on a farm growing and raising much of what we eat it will have been worth it. I only wish we had done this sooner.

    I grew up in Michigan in farm country and worked on farms as a kid up through high school. I liked those days working sun rise to sun set. I do not care much for the fancy things in life.

    When we get everything done on the houses you might enjoy how we hope to build our barn. If things go as planned we will be buying a saw mill and cutting some of the huge trees into lumber to build a barn, chicken coop and other stuff. If there is one thing my son and I are is busy busy busy. We have always got some project or another going.

    Some of our friends have a hard time understanding why we insist on doing all this work ourselves. The fact is we just want to. We actually enjoy working, especially when its on our own land. We have cleared a 600' driveway into where the houses are going with a chainsaw. We are stacking all the wood along side the drive. When we get the stumps out and driveway in a friends of ours is going to chip all the trees and we will be composting them to be used in our gardens and around any fruit trees we have. We plan to be all organic. The stuff to big to be chipped (he has a monster chipper) will be used as firewood or milled into lumber.

    Ha, hope I have not bored you to much. Anyway I worked from just after lunch till almost dark today and we have a big day tomorrow so I am going to hit the hey.
     
  5. kdj1998

    kdj1998 Member

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    I'm looking forward to watching your progress. I had to jump over to YouTube and subscribe.
     
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  6. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! We look forward to progressing, ha ha. We have been hit with a lot of electrical at the moment so things are on hold temporarily. We hope to get another video up in a week. Once we get past all this tree clearing we should be able to have a lot more interesting video opportunities.
     
  7. JBjunior

    JBjunior Member

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    Good stuff. I have 40 acres (currently wooded) in SE NC, so we might not be too far apart. I will keep an eye on what you are accomplishing.
     
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  8. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!

    I saw your thread. Good luck with everything.

    We are working on being debt free as well. People always called me a tight wad over the years. They said you can't take it (money) with you. Now those same people seem to be somewhat envious of our situation. We have been very frugal in our lives and spend our time together as a family doing things like having a dinner at home then play games or watch a movie. Now we are building that dream.

    I always figured I was never going to be rich so if i was ever going to have anything it would mean lots of long hard days working. Saving every dime possible in hopes of reaching that day when we could finally do it. That day has finally gotten here. In my opinion it has been well worth all these years of effort and waiting.
     
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  9. kdj1998

    kdj1998 Member

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    Oh you will have a lot of video opportunities!!!

    For the last 6 months I have been waging war against packrats... I'm tired of troubleshooting why the tractor won't start just to find out that a rat chewed a wire in two... LOL!

    Good luck on becoming debt free, its a must in todays world. I've been there once in my adult life and we are about a year out of just owing on the house, so getting close again!
     
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  10. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Hope we do not have the rat problems. lol

    We do have quite a few deer that hang around. We have beaver building ponds in a spring fed creek. We have coyotes roaming the area. All are going to present challenges for sure. My biggest concern in the coyotes. They do not mix well with chickens or any other animals we may decide to raise.

    We actually are debt free at the moment. We should be able to stay that way. Then when we sell our current home we should be in decent shape. My wife was making good money from home until a few weeks ago when new policies brought about by Obama care wiped out her job and about 30 other girls that worked with her. That was a big hit but we will make it through I believe. Just gotta buckle down more than ever. nothing is going to stop us now. We waited till we had the money to do this. It is basically our life savings. I worked for myself so no retirement. Its all going to work out.
     
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  11. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    A friend of ours who is an Arborist came by and gave us a great tip yesterday while we were working. Basically it is a vice carved out of (or into) a stump that allows us to clamp down on the bar of the chainsaw while sharpening the blade. I usually do it on the tailgate of the truck but the saw tends to move around a lot and slow the progress. This worked out great!! See pics below.

    Basically you cut out the stump as seen in the picture. Then you stick the bar between the two sides of the stump. A helper makes this portion easier. Then you drive a wedge (blue object) into the slot as seen in the pictures. It holds the chainsaw in place so you can focus your sharpening efforts on the chain and not trying to keep it from moving around. It allows you to be more precise with the file angles. You have to make sure that the chain is free to move so it can be turned as each blade has been sharpened. If you want to see our video on how to do this check back later and i will post it when we get it completed.

    Well back to the forest, a place where for us dreams do come true! ha ha.
     

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  12. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    We have been extremely busy in the last week or so. Clearing the land has been on the back burner. We did run a time lapse camera during some of the clearing for our home sites so I thought I would share for anyone interested in watching.

    My son gives a voice over for the first few minutes. It give you an idea of what it takes to clear out forest area for home sites. Things will get a lot more interesting when we get to the building process and then on to the gardens, orchards, chicken facilities, barn, bees and a bunch of other stuff coming in the next few years. I hope some of you are interested in seeing this and the administrators are OK with me continuing this thread.

    Enjoy!
    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKKUJ2j0RzM[/ame]
     
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  13. CountryDriven

    CountryDriven Member

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    Sounds like a awesome plan! Cant wait to watch the videos and see yalls dream materialize.
     
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  14. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!!
    We are having a blast. However we are working sun rise to sun set most days. It will take its toll on you but well worth the effort. Things should really pick up once we get past the clearing phase. Some of the trees are 100 to 120 foot tall. We have decided to go ahead and grade ourselves and get the stumps up with a friends caterpillar skid steer. Basically its cats version of a bobcat. Slow going but it is saving us a pile of money. We have a 600' drive just to get back to the area where the houses will be then currently we are clearing about 2 to 3 acres for the houses. Then we start on pastures, fields, gardens and a few other projects. Doing all this ourselves is going to take a few years.
     
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  15. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    We are still clearing for the home sites. Most days we are seeing the sun come up as we head out to work and go down on our way home. Cutting trees, moving all the debris, driving a caterpillar skid steer and moving the stumps around all take a heavy toll on your body. We go to bed sore and wake up more tired than when we went to bed. If any of you are planning a similar project be prepared to be very tired all the time. Start working out or at least getting exercise regularly to prep your body for the pains you are going to endure.

    On the plus side I think the work we are doing now will be for the most part the most strenuous. Although about the time we start framing the days will be longer and we will be pushing to get it in the dry so my guess is we will not see a break for quite some time.

    Friends ask why we put ourselves through all this hard work? Why do we not just hire this or that out because it only cost a few hundred bucks here or a thousand there. The fact is we are saving a few hundred bucks here and a thousand there and all those savings add up to become one large sum of money. The saving money is great and helps keep us out of debt. However what drives us is the desire to build this place with our own two hands. Out of all the tasks we have done or will be doing we have already done many of them in the past and only contemplated others. I guess we just desire the sense of accomplishment we get from conquering each step along the way.

    I have to say every now and then it is a bit overwhelming. But then we think about the end result and how awesome it is going to be and that gives us the incentive to carry on.
     
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  16. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    No more lugging all of our gear 600' through the woods to get started clearing the home sites!! We finally got a rough driveway cut in!! This will save a lot of time. Now getting the grade done and putting in gravel.

    We hope to show a video in the next few days showing some of the work done with the cat skid steer.

    It will not be long before we get the house site going. Building my own house has been a plan all my life. Finally getting there.
     

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  17. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    My son and I have not had a day off in weeks, maybe a few months. It has been so long I can not remember. We run a small electrical contracting business and a small video and photography business. Between the two there is not a lot of free time. It is what has allowed us to save for our current project of building this farm. If we have a break from either business we are out on the farm working till dark.

    Today is my sons birthday so we took today off and will not work tomorrow either. Well I lied ha ha we did a video documentary shoot this morning but were home about noon so it was a half day anyways. I guess everyone needs a break once in a while. All I can think about is getting back out there and working on getting the hundreds of stumps out of the ground so we can grade the lots and get started building!!

    We have been so very blessed in so much of this project. We acquired the land at a very low price. It had been listed for twice what I offered. I approached the owners, of which there were four family members, and told them please do not be offended or insulted about my offer. I told them we could not afford near what they were asking but we knew it was worth every penny of the asking price. I told them what we had to offer and that if they ever decided to sell for a lower price that as long as we had not yet found a piece of land we could pay them cash immediately. I also told them that there were other pieces of land in the past that sold for less than I would have given but I never offered because i did not want to insult the owners. In light of that I did not want to miss out again on this land. I also told them we wanted to make it a small farm while preserving most of the forest. It had been in their family for around 200 years. Maybe it was knowing the last small piece of their families once 300 acre farm would live on, maybe they just wanted to sell? All I can say is we were shocked when they accepted our offer the next day!!!

    We have also been blessed by someone I have worked around for the last 25 years or so. He has had electrical and other problems over the years and has asked my advice or help. I always went to help as soon as possible and never once charged him anything. He has called many times with problems on remodel jobs he was working and asked for my help. I talked him through the problems over the phone. One job in particular took several days a couple hours each day. I never expected anything in return. The old phrase "What goes around comes around" is true. He found out we were clearing our land. He brought his caterpillar skid steer over and left it with us indefinitely. He said keep it as long as we need and come back and get it any time we ever need it forever. There are still good people in this world.

    I have a question for anyone who is familiar with these machines. The cat is a 252b. The tires are shot. The bucket is very warn. It costs near $1000 for a 40 hour week to rent a cat like his. With all the work we are doing we are going to save somewhere over $5000 now because of his generosity and work in the future will put it well beyond that.

    He said we can even take it and make money with it any time we can find work with it. We are going to put a new set of tires and rims on it and because it has the foam filled tires on it now we decided to replace the rims. He can put the foam filled tires and rims back on if he wants to use the steel tracks he has for it. Then if he wants to run tires only he can put the good set we buy back on it. Might as well preserve the good tires and the tracks will work on the worn out foam filled tires just fine. Anyone have suggestions on a reasonable set of tires and rims? Or do you have brands we should avoid?

    Then the issue of the bucket. It is warn badly and it is warped pretty bad. It does fine with pushing up the stumps and rough grading the humps and bumps down now but when we get to finish work we are also going to buy him a bucket. I want one with teeth, preferably bolt on, and of a decent quality. We are in the north western area of South Carolina so it would be good to be within driving distance to save shipping if possible. Any suggestions on a decent bucket? The one on it is 6'.

    The cat runs great and has no other issues. It is well worth putting the money into especially since we are saving so much money by not having to rent a cat and get it back and forth as needed. This is the very least we can do for him. One thing I did not mention is he had a serious accident and lost an eye a couple years ago. He lost his business and now does what he can. He can not afford to fix it up himself. I think helping each other where we can is what life is all about. I truly believe that most of my good fortune over the years is due to helping others first.

    If you have stuck around this long thanks for your time, lol!! I can be a bit long winded. I actually held back so consider yourself lucky. : )
    And thanks for any responses!!
     
  18. farmwoman59

    farmwoman59 Well-Known Member

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    My parents always said what goes around comes around and you are reaping the rewards of being so helpful over the years - well done, ForestToFarm!

    You don't have to be too specific if you don't want but whereabouts in upstate SC are you? Near Anderson, Greenville, Clemson, etc? My family and I live in NE GA.
     
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  19. ForestToFarm

    ForestToFarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
  20. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .............Investing money in other people's equipment , isn't a smart thing to do ! You're much better off , buying a tractor or bobcat type loader to use on your own property ! That machine sounds like it has had the crap run out of IT , will you feel inclined to rebuild the engine $$$$$ ? The more you use HIS machine the more he will expect you to FIX IT when it breaks ! And , you still won't own it . , fordy:huh:
     
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