Can you make it on the farm

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Shadow, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Shadow

    Shadow Well-Known Member

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    We have been homesteading me for 42 years me and the wife married 14 years ago. I worked a full time job untill I retired at 56. Me and the wife threw everything we had at the farm and it was and still is a good life. Raised most all our food. Canned several hundred quarts of fruit and vegetables, raised fish in the pond harvested deer and the whole bit. 40 raised beds in the vegetable garden 20x4 feet, 105 raised beds in the wifes experimental herb, flower garden. Now have 120 acres. small morgage.
    Now the wife has gone back to work, This year five tomatoe plants , a bed of squash , six rows of sweet corn, canned nothing. We are tired, we can
    buy all our food much cheaper and easier than we can grow it. The raised beds in the veg garden are flat and planted in grass. The Herb garden has 28 beds none of my kids want the work needed to keep the farm, neither does any of the wifes folks. We have about $300,000 actual money invested in the land the houser, studio, shops, barns fencing. No one in his right mind would spend that much for the farm so we will start subdividing it up this fall.
    Breaks our heart but we just do not want to expend the energy and diesel fuel it takes to keep it cleared and trimmed up. I have cut back to 10 hour days 7 days a week. The wife works on the farm on the weekends. The good news is subdivided it will probaqbly bring lots more than we paid. We will keep 50 acres but the rest goes to build farmets on 3 to five acres. Realestate friend says he can sell it all with in 90 days at 5k per acre. So why even think about farming.
    The day of living on your own little farm is still doable but its going to be the hardest work , and the longest hours you have ever done. Thats my experence. And all my neighbors, they all work full time jobs and that supports the farm. With out the job they would all be selling. My next door neighbor has 800 plus raises cattle his family has been here for five generations. they have four kids raised on the farm but have all moved to the city and do not intend to work the way their mother and father have.
     
  2. famer_manda

    famer_manda I Love CHICKENS!

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    I wish you were my grandpa :) I would love a family farm to work at! My grandparents have never even raised a chicken or raised their own garden or anything. I am the first one in my more recent genetic line to have any interest in farming at all!! Oh how I wish i had family to help me out :p Where is your farm located?
     

  3. WAB

    WAB Well-Known Member

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    I wish he was my granpa too! I begged mine to let me farm with him. He always said that it couldnt support two familes. That was just an excuse. Now my aunt has it all and have planted it in pine trees. What a waste.
     
  4. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    You don't know how sad your post made me. :Bawling:
    My husband and I neither one came from farming families. My dad was a chemist and his dad worked at a power plant, but each one of us has this driving desire to farm! But, this day and age, unless you're born into it, you have to be very wealthy to buy into it. Everything it SO expensive and to buy a working farm, plus equipment and so forth, well, it's just nearly impossible.
    The sad thing is, we need the farmers. I know people don't realize it, but we do. And it angers me when yuppies go out and buy these farms for their little "weekend get aways" and drive the prices up for those that might actually use the farm for what it was intended.
    You should really find a young couple in your area starting out and mentor them and work something out to allow them to be able to start farming. It will pay off for future generations more than the 5,000 an acre will. But I understand needing the money also. It's just very sad I think.
     
  5. TheBlueOne

    TheBlueOne Well-Known Member

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    That depends on the technology/techniques that you employ. If you do it "the old way" it is a lot of work.
    As far as your kids not wanting any part of it, that's common. They've enjoyed the fruits with none of the stress. However, there are others that would have liked to have had a chance. "Sucessful Farming" magazine has had a series of articles about farms in a transition from one generation to the next and it is possible for everyone to win. Usually the prospective "new" farmer has an agriscience degree of some sort and hits the ground running. One possability is to check with Greenstone and see if they've had any inquiries in your area.
    Greed is the path to destruction. :shrug:
     
  6. susieM

    susieM Well-Known Member

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    That's happening over here, too. That and lots of farmer suicides.

    Our town is mostly filled with old people, cause all the kids have left.
     
  7. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

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    We've been thinking a lot about this very subject lately, and it is extremely depressing. We just purchased our "dream farm"- 240 acres which had been in one family for about 50-60 years. It changed hands twice in the last 5-6 years before we purchased it this spring. Neither of the last two occupants were farmers, so there are a lot of things that have been let go which need repair and updating. The last owner started to put an addition on the house but ran out of $$$ before the job was finished. Amazingly, the house and most of the outbuildings have the potential to work very well in meeting our needs, although with some modifications. On the one hand we are having a great time remodeling the house and farm to suit our needs, but on the other, we have no kids to leave it to, and so far none of our ten neices/nephews have shown any interest in farming, so this is all going to be for our benefit only. Fortunately, we are in our mid-40's, and mostly retired, except for the little bit of farming we do. So, we'll spend our time and $$$ refurbishing this place, and as we frequently say to each other "it sure is going to be nice for the NEXT people who live here", lol. At least we still have a lot of years left to enjoy it, although it may take us 20 years to get all the work done!
     
  8. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    I would never try to advise someone with 40 more years of experience on a subject what to do. My heart goes out to you and your wife...
    For myself, sometimes the value in a thing has very little to do with money. I know our garden costs us more than gmo foods from a grocery store would, but at least from here, I know that it is good food, and I feel good about giving it to my kids.
    I worry about this country BECAUSE we are not taking care of our farmers. I don't think any of us understand what the REAL costs will be when our food supply is all coming from over seas and we have no control of what is done to it. Also, when there is no more land to farm, and our food is all coming from "out there", it is easily cut off in times of crisis.
    If it makes you feel any better, there is a group of us coming up that sees the problem. We CHOOSE to buy most of our food from farms rather than from stores, where it came from who-knows-where?
    I can't tell you what to do, only you know if the work load is more than you can bear, and if you are just DONE. I don't know where you are or if this is even plausible there, but perhaps you would want to check into starting a CSA? That way, at least you would know that your farm costs are covered (or at least lowered) in advance of a growing season. That is, if you still want to farm at all. In any case, you should feel proud of making it as long as you have. Many, many folks don't...
    My best to you and your family.
    Cindyc.
     
  9. kidsngarden

    kidsngarden Well-Known Member

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    AAAW say it isn't so! Another farmer sells his land.

    I know, it's happening here too.

    I am still optimistic for myself. I'm not sure we can ever eliminate my husbands job altogether, but I sure hope to supplement our income a bit. And it's true, a lot of people in my generation are buying from the farm.

    I will feel good if I can just grow all my meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and veggies!

    kids
     
  10. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    That's sad. I've read that farming usually skips a generation or two. You may have grandkids or great grandkids that would give their right arm to inherit the farm. But I can see your position. It makes no since to keep something that does no good for you or yours at this point in time. The taxes alone can eat you up. You might check and see if you can limit the sales to homesteaders who want to use the land, not yuppies who want to pretty it up for a weekend party palace. At the very least you can choose who you want as new neighbors. I hope it all works out well for you.

    So far everyone here is holding on. Most people here raise animals, not crops. Less work than farming, but still lots of hours working the calves, winter feeding, etc. I have noticed that more and more of the big ranchers around here are slowly switching from beef to goats. I look for the price of beef to go up in the future if this trend expands to more areas. The big ranchers are keeping some cattle, but adding the goats and enlarging goat herds instead of beef. Goat meat will soon be flooding the markets, and beef prices will be thru the roof.

    Some of the big pork producers have dumped the hogs and are now raising goats also. Goat ranching looks to be the future for this area, unless they all loose everything for making a wrong choice. :eek:

    Just my opinion...
     
  11. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    My DDs are 13 and 11 and are already jockeying for position over how to divide the land when I go, as neither of them can imagine living anywhere else. The 11 year old says she will keep her part of the land, even when she has to live on a boat when she gets her PHD in Marine Biology. We'll see. Still I would like to finish out my days here, if one of the girls will let me keep the studio apt. In all fairness, though, we don't farm or even really homestead to any great degree. We putter a lot....and love it. Just living in the country is a bonus...the critters add gravy to the meal.
     
  12. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    Really sad to hear this shadow. I'm at the other end of the spectrum (trying to get on the farm).(See the post "how do yall do it?" As many here have said there are more and more of us buying local farmer than from the store. It gives you food you know is good for you as well as helps your neighboors. To me thats what life is about.
     
  13. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    The lovely thing about owning your own land is that you can simplify your operation if you wish.

    An Uncle-in-law rented out his hay ground on shares, turned his crop land into pastures, and just ran a couple dozen cows. That way he didn't have to work so hard. The cattle kept the property up. It was a low return per acre, perhaps, but he didn't want to sell and it brought him an income.

    Conversly, with my 6 acres, which was all I could afford, I was going into blackberries and honey bees to get a high return per acre. When my health failed, I got a little asparagus in instead and I am considering putting in more. We will see.

    When you own the land, you can do a high-labor system or a low-labor system, as it suits you!
     
  14. famer_manda

    famer_manda I Love CHICKENS!

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  15. brownthumb

    brownthumb Well-Known Member

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    Oh Shadow.... you are the man!
    There is no shame in growing old. You had a lot of good years homesteading and it's just your time to change. Keep your small garden (only if you truly enjoy it) and go ahead and maximize your profit potential on your land. Enjoy your golden years and don't think for a minute that you failed. Use your wisdom to help the buyers of your subdivision to get started in their endeavors. They will need someone like you to give them advice.
     
  16. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    100 years ago people had 10 or 15 children to help around the farm. The boys worked like men at 11 or 12 years old and the girls could cook, bake, can and take care of a house at about the same age. As they got older, they took over more and more responsibility, until when their parents reached their "golden years", when they took over completely and cared for the parents as they got older, relieving them of a lot of the work load.

    Things have changed. Not for the better IMHO. Children now trade their lives for big screen tvs and expensive "toys" and desperately believe that having more and more stuff will fill that big empty hole in their hearts. Meanwhile, decent folks like you are forced to give up everything they hold dear because there is no one to carry on.

    It makes me sad that the values of this country have sunk so low. I hope I live to see the tide turn in the other direction, but I doubt that I will. The modern consumer-driven mass marketing world we live in has become so integrated in the lifestyles of so many. The future doesn't look good.

    donsgal
     
  17. bostonlesley

    bostonlesley Guest

    I'm 58 and disabled..cannot wait to have my own place again..there are many ways to "farm"..and garden..dwarf fruit trees, "super dwarf" fruit trees for an orchard..having a "garden on wheels"..where you build a table and put wheels on it, then use planter boxes..roll that table anywhere that you want it to be! No more weeding, tilling, bending, stooping, ..you can have one table or 25..who cares? LOL..There's more than one way to do anything that you love to do..if you cannot farm all of that acreage anymore and don't really NEED to sell it off, why not simply let it "be"?
    Think about tinkering with dwarf trees and a rolling garden while you just watch the land reclaim itself..who knows how many wild critters will come along and find new homes there?

    Just a thought..
     
  18. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    If I were in your shoes, I would search high and low to find a couple of nice young men who are willing to work hard and want to be farmers. There are so many out there who do not have the money for a place of their own but want to work the land. If you look for them hard enough, you will find them.

    Nobody says you have to leave your property to RELATIVES. That's what wills are for. Let your neices and nephews fend for themselves and give your property to people who will cherish it as much as you do.

    donsgal
     
  19. Shadow

    Shadow Well-Known Member

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  20. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I agree (gasp?!) completely with Donsgal. Good post DG!

    I hope to leave my place (if this is where I end...) to my kids, but if they aren't interested, I think I might find someone who would cherish it.