Farm Labor/Partnership Deals

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jena, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with these types of deals, on either end of things.

    I have thought of "renting" the farm house in exchange for farm labor. I've also thought of creating some type of partnership with a gardener...I raise lots of meat, but I think adding produce would greatly increase my business. I don't have the time, knowledge or skills to grow veggies, but I do have the land, equipment and lots of fertilizer!

    I have lots of work to do, lots more work on things I would like to do, but no money to actually hire someone.

    I am not asking for anyone interested in this. I'm more wanting to know if these type of things ever really work out to everyone's satisfaction. What are the pitfalls and if someone knows a successful arrangement, what aspects helped to make it successful?

    It sounds good on paper, but I think in real life most people on both sides would end up disappointed with the deal.

  2. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2002
    South West MI
    We 've looked into trading a home for labor and I think from what I hear eventually both parties think their getting taken for a ride. We may try a hourly wage that will be taken off the rent but not labor for all the rent. If the renter gets hurt , sick or the spouse leaves things can get complicated. If you don't have to depend on the rent it would make it easier but you would still need some kind of contract. Thats just the way life is nowdays. Just advertise free home for labor and see how many replies you get. My .02


  3. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    We provide housing for the labor at the chicken house as part compensation. It is imperative to provide some monetary payment since this type of employee seldom has any means of support other than their manual labor contribution. The value of the living quarters and the income provide a lifestyle that many people seek however.
  4. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    A friend of ours provides room and board in exchange for their farm labor and other mechanical work. They also provide food via their garden, slaughtered animals, goat's milk, eggs, chicken, etc. I bet if folks are treated well you could find lots of people needing a good place to live with provisions.
  5. Goat4Broke

    Goat4Broke Member

    Sep 10, 2002
    I am currently a tenant in this arrangement for about 10 months and counting. We have a set rent - my farm labor is deducted at an hourly rate off the rent. My husband is gainfully employed outside the farm, so this arrangement is not our sole source of income (thank goodness).

    One thing I dislike about the hourly compensation is that I'm pretty efficient, lol, but it's actually in my best financial interest not to multitask. For some of my regular duties, like cleaning stalls or watering, I think I'd be happier with a flat rate per job.

    My husband is mechanically inclined and has done a few odds & ends around here, but his labor is compensated at the same low rate that mine is. Considering an auto mechanic charges, what, 60 per hour? it doesn't seem worth his time to do something when it's just going to amount to 5 or 10 bucks being knocked off the rent.

    It wasn't too bad over the summer - rent was pretty low, but now that it's winter, our rent skyrocketed (as well as our heating bill, lol), so it'd be nice to have something more to do year-round. Without my husband being employed elsewhere, our current arrangement definitely wouldn't be doable.

    From owner's point of view, the previous tenant was in the process of being evicted when we came in - she flaked and left them with no one to feed the horses during show season or do any of the other chores... she just flat out quit doing anything around here and quit paying, too.

    Also, it would be nice to get a "thank you" every once in a while; it's something I never hear. Overall, we're not ready to pack up and move out - I'm learning while I'm here, which is a plus, and a rent discount is better than nothing... I love the animals, but I'm sure it could be better for everyone involved. Let me think about this for a bit and see if I can put together a post that's a bit more useful. :)
  6. Marilyn in CO

    Marilyn in CO Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2002
    Hi Jena, We have done both of the arrangements you mentioned. First one didn't work out very well. We let a fella live in a house and farmyard in turn for labor on the farm. He had another job but would put in extra hours on the farm to pay the rent. It worked ok for a while, but he burned himself out trying to do it all. He also moved relatives in with him............not good. I think he was charging them rent and they parked a trailer in the yard too. They were taking advantage of us. So they had to go. They ended up not working or paying rent. We have another situation right now that is working well so far. Our former hired man is living in a house on the farm and is just working about 50 hours a month doing piddly jobs to pay for his rent. He is retired so it works well for him as he bored sitting around the house. I think the best advice I could give you is be sure about the person you will be letting do this. Can they be trusted. Do a background check and be extremely careful who you let live on your property. We have strong feelings that the first guy stole cattle from us. Marilyn, the farmer's wife............
  7. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2002
    Interesting question Jena,

    I've been wrassling with this issue myself. At some point in a couple years DW and I will add on to the cabin and make it a rental. The spot we have picked out for our house is further into our property overlooking the lake.

    Anyhoo, I would rather give a favorable rent to begin with for the right person(s). The absolute key factor would be attitude. Another key factor would be availability to do odd-jobs or certain work for a certain number of hours but not absolutely depend on it to get by. I'd rather just pay for any work and not get it mixed up with the rent.

    The other option is to consider the land (use) and equipment an investment into the veggie operation. Specify the terms of the arrangement as well as milestones where certain targets have to be met. If it is successful you might want to specify what happens if additional land or equipment is invested in, etc.

    I think the 2 keys to success are that both parties get along with each other well and that the details of the arrangement (including termination) are spelled out clearly so that there is no ambiguity.

    As usual, just my 2 cents worth.

  8. RAC

    RAC Guest

    The biggest problem I see is how do you keep it from becoming an employer/employee relationship--remember "nannygate"--with all of its other costs, such as taxes (SS, income, workman's comp, etc.). If they're working for you beyond a certain number of hours, your insurance may not cover you should they have an accident.

    I don't know much about farming per se, but I would agree, keep the rent and the employment separate. If you want to give a person a break, keep the rent lower than comparable market rents, maybe even keep it the same the entire time of their tenancy, since most renters tend not to stay in one place for years unless there is rent control.

    I know there are "au pairs" for childcare, but is there a similar program for farm work?
  9. bulldinkie

    bulldinkie Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2003
    Im bitter right now will never have partnership[ again.My husband was partner in a business while my husband was working his butt off this guy was embezzling money big time ,his wife was going shopping and dinners on company money.He just confronted him .Told him he wants him out showed him all the evidence.TYhe guy & wife are now out.We could have put both in prison at least 10 years .would have if he fought but he left.Theyll use you think long and hard.This guys wife had breast cancer he was having affair with her best friend what a dog.
  10. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I already have the rental house out there. I get $400 a month for it, though I could get more. I keep the rent low to avoid short term tenants. I like the guy who's there now. Very quiet, has zero interest in farming, keeps to himself.

    The last guy I had in there decided that the entire farm was his playground. He drove me nuts. The lease says that the rental is only the house and yard, yet he was constantly nosing around all over the place. I got rid of him.

    I really think a truck garden would add to my meat business. It would be nice if someone were willing to grow the garden, help with sales, etc for free rent and a percentage of profits. I would be generous on the profit part. I'd probably only keep a small percentage, since I wouldn't be doing the work.

    The problems I foresee are....getting someone who is lazy. Maybe they start out good, but then let things slide until it's all a waste. Also, it takes a long time to get things rolling. If they don't have the persistence to stick it out, it is all a waste. I can also see from their perspective that they could put all this effort into building it, while I could just give them a boot once it gets going (I wouldn't, but I can see the risk from their point of view). Then they could get it all going, do well and of course, they would want to buy their own place and then I'm sunk as they would probably take the produce customers with them.

    I guess I'd better just give up sleeping and do it myself :)

  11. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Aug 10, 2003
    Alberta, Canada
    Jena, if you do decide to give it a try, make sure it's all in a contract. That ensures that both parties are protected.