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Discussion Starter #1
I don't post here much cuz I don't have much to offer....yet! I just like reading/learning from everyone else. I am curious though, for those of you that have large farms/homesteads on big tracts of land....how did you get your land?

We live on almost 5 acres now, and I have some rabbits, chickens, goats, and going to put in the garden and fruit trees for next year. But we would like to have a large tract of land to farm in the next 5-7 years. Land is just so expensive (not to mention hard to find) around here, I am afraid we would have to move away to do it. I know that most people on here aren't what you'd call...uh..rich!!(at least not in the $$$ sense)....just wondering how different people have done it/what you have sacrificed/how you made it work.

Thanks in advance for sharing.

Rachael
 

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I have to give my hubby all the credit. When he started working for the FAA he made some stock investments and he bought a house. Soon after we met he paid the note on the house off. We used his savings from stock investments, sold our house and used that money to buy 96 acres in MS and build a house. We still have a substantial note on the property, but were able to completely pay for the new house construction.

Now that we have a larger property note than we did before, we do not spend as much. We eat most of our meals at home, grow a lot of our own food, do not buy a new car every four years, do not go out to movies, etc. very often. This was a bigger change for him than for me, but I am happy to say he is very content here on his farm. The changes we've made have all been better for us in the long run. We could never go back.

Oh yes, we also started out looking for land in TN near Memphis, but soon realized that land in MS was less expensive (that happened the day we were shown property for $25,000 per acre). Hubby has a longer commute to work, but it is worth it. Good thing is he retires in Feburary!
 

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agmantoo
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matt633,
I started with nearly nothing. I was in the same rut most people find themselves but I was determined to change things. I was talking to an old man that had no formal education and I asked him how I was ever going to "get ahead". His response was that I needed something working for me when I wasn't working. I pondered over that for quiet awhile. I decided that I would get into rental property and I started buying depressed properties and refurbishing them myself and renting them out, letting the rent pay for the properties. I never spent any of the rental income except for maintenance and to buy more rental properties or land. I continued to work my job and started farming thus creating a double income. Having discretionary income also creates opportunities. The properties I bought would sometimes get in the path of progress and I would sell those and use the monies to buy (mostly doing 1031 exchanges) more acreage. Each transaction was considered as to whether I was making a gain in overall holdings and whether the newly purchased properties had a feature that would enhance their value. The acres were planted to trees in most instances, if they were already in trees I worked to improved them. Sometimes I would buy properties where the tree value exceeded the purchase price and I would harvest and replant and buy more land with the profits. I just kept at this. For some reason I feel a bit embarrassed to answer the question as to how many acres I own. Therefore, I will just state that I can or my heirs, in a sustaining manner, harvest 50 plus acres per year henceforth.
 

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A bit different here. Like agmantoo, I hesitate to say how many acres, but this has been a working farm for over 100 years. My wifes grandfather bought the home place from the original homesteader in 1902, he lived here and farmed all his life. My wifes Father and mother then lived here and farmed for years. Then I came into the picture,I rented the farm on crop share for about 30 years, the in'laws are all deceased now and the wife and I are still here on the original farmstead. Over the years each occupant managed to add a little to the farm. We still have a note at the bank on the last acerage we added but it is almost paid. It's not a get rich quick occupation, but it is a way of life.
I might add that each family that lived here had a off farm job. Wifes father and mother were teachers. My wife is a nurse. The extra income has always helped keep the farm in the family.
 

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Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate
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I started with nothing. Located an area where land was cheap, not Iowa corn ground or near a growing city. 30 years ago bought somewhat overgrown fields and forest at around $100 an acre. When a piece near me came up for sale we bought it. Kept living expences down by wood heat and cooking, Grow and raise most of my food. do odd jobs that pay, like sell firewood, etc. Eventually it gets paid for and grows in value. Land is around $1000 an acre in 80 acre chunks now. Clearing fields and building fences helps keep you out of the taverns. Eventually the land was paid for and I was able to do the much neded restoration on the home. Main thing is keeping your living costs low and bust your hump to make the money to get it paid off.
 

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I'm not there yet... but my plan is basically this:

I've got the land picked out. Actually, my parents own my parcel, which is nice because I'll be able to buy it at cost from them, but even if they didn't, this is still what I'd do.

I chose the area I wanted to live in. I looked at the town and the economy... the biggest obstacle, IMO, when you want to homestead, is INCOME. So, my biggest obstacle was jobs. In my field, I couldn't work in a small town realistically. HOWEVER, there are two hospitals within driving distance... and the medical field is the best field to be in, right? So next month I'm returning to school to finish my pre-requisites for nursing school. I plan on studying my butt off and hopefully will get into nursing school next fall. In 3 years I hope to be finished. At that point I will make significantly more than I'm making now but I plan on just working and not increasing my standard of living until such time as I will qualify for a mortgage. Then, buy the land, move up there, either get a little trailer or something temporary while my home is being built, and work at the local hospitals.

The longterm plan is to work and build up my kitchen garden. Maybe sell excess produce on craigslist, but work fulltime for a couple years while I figure out what grows well on my land, etc. After I've got some experience under my belt, I plan on switching my lifestyle to that of a travel nurse for half the year and then farming for half the year. Working as a travel nurse, I can make up to $40/hour and doing half a year of that should earn me enough money to live off for the rest of the year while I do farming. My ultimate goal is to have a CSA, and being able to support myself and my daughter with small-scale agriculture.

I hope to open a small store centered around the 100-mile diet - where I would source locally produced products as a sort of "general store" for people who want to buy most of their food (non-produce) from within 100 miles but don't know where to start. But in my case it'll take about 15 years, gradually working as a nurse less and less and farming more & more. I also would like to do my own farming completely sustainable - this means using horses instead of machinery, and supporting those horses with feed that I grow on my own land. Not sure if I'll be able to do that, though.

Now, this plan assumes I continue to be a single parent although there is still a good change my husband and I will reconcile. If we do, then that will speed up the plan. If he's in the picture, the general plan is for me to work as a nurse while he does internships at local farms and hopefully can apprentice himself under someone who will teach him horses and how to drive/farm using horsepower. I will continue to work while he gets the CSA established... I'll still do travel nursing in the winter and he would come with and be a SAHD instead of my daughter being in daycare.

So... it's a longterm plan. I basically looked at

1. what do I want
2. what are my obstacles
3. how do I deal with the obstacles
4. how to most efficiently attain my goal.

I think the biggest thing right now for me is that my plan is VERY long-term. my daughter is 9 months old and I fully realize it might not be until she is 18 before I can realize my dream of supporting myself with agriculture. But that's OK! Because when she's 18 I'll still have LOTS of time left to enjoy the life I want.

I was just up at my land this last weekend... it's still completely raw but we've set up a campsite at my future homesite. As I was sitting there on a stump one evening watching the colors change on the mountains, enjoying what will someday be the view from my home, I realized that however long it takes for me to build a proper foundation for this life is worth it. If the foundation that I need is the education and ability to work as a nurse, then I'll take my time and do that... because it's so worth it to have that life that I desire. To be able to look up and see millions of stars instead of someone else's apartment. To be able to hear the owl calling instead of neighbors fighting. To be able to watch the sun rise over the mountains from my bed, instead of watching cars drive by. That's what I want. And I want it the right way, so I'm going to take the time I need in order to set myself up so I can do it. And then some morning I'll be sitting on my back deck sipping coffee and watching the sun come up and I'll be THERE.

PS - my parcel is 20 acres, though the family owns 120 and if adjoining pieces ever come up for sale we might purchase those as well. I'd be following the same plan if I wanted a larger piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
agmantoo...now I gotta know how much!!LOL....sounds like you really know what you are doing. Doesn't it take a good startup, though?


Betho and ksfarmer...I was curious how many wound up with land from family, even buying it from family is usually much cheaper. Dh grew up on what used to be 100 acres of family land. His grandfather's father had 10 boys and split it into 10 acre tracts when he died. By the time grandaddy gave Dh's mom a couple, there's not much left and most the family has sold out at costs over 50,000 per acre. No way we could have done that.

Longshadow and haypoint...we are probably more in ya'lls boat! I have learned more about saving and living simply just these past few months (plus we used to really live cheap when DH only made $300/wk!). I guess I just don't want to be too old to do it when I get there!!! Which brings me to another thing I am curious about . If anyone doesn't mind telling how old you are or were when you got there. We are both 29 and people keep telling us we have plenty of time, but I want it NOW, ya know? My family (who are city folk) keeps telling us we should have stayed in our subdivision home until we could afford the land we wanted. But, we thought it best to get what we could while the kids are young and raise them w/ as much exposure as possible. I guess that is really my rush....even though DH grew up on only a couple acres, all that land was still in the family when he was growing up and much of it was farmed in some form or another so he had that exposure from day 1. I want to give that to my kids too, especially now that I know what all I was missing as a kid!!

Anyways, DH makes a fairly good income, but I don't work and it IS NOT worth me missing out on the kids to pay for the homestead, so that isn't an option. I like the idea of making money when you aren't working....right now DH works and goes to school, so that would be the only way to bring in more. I am also hoping to have some eggs and produce to sell next year, as well as jams and jellies, and I have been selling my cakes for some time.

Just to give you some background: We did make some unwise financial decisions this past year (got some credit card debt and bought a new car). It really is unlike DH, but I think we got caught up in a few months of weakness/laziness after 10 years of scraping by and went a bit wild after moving into the new house. We also have a pretty hefty mortgage (199,000 for house and land), but it's worth at least 250, so we do have a good bit of equity for less than 2 years. My plan is to pay off all debt but car and house this year, and start putting away for the land, try to buy land in 5 yrs or so (after DH graduates college, his income will increase by 10-20,000 a year), and start putting up fences, barn, and start building while we are still here. And use the money from this house plus maybe some of DH's 401 to put down on a new house.

Am I crazy?? I guess I just worry that we blew it. Up until a year or two ago, this was NOT the life I wanted. If I had known then what I know now, I would have built a small house on more land and done w/o a new car instead of having a big house, new car, and not much land. Believe it or not, 5 acres used to sound like ALOT of land to me.

Oh, and Ravenlost....we would probably be looking in eastern AL, as land here is just getting ridiculous, but we want to stay close enough for DH to have a reasonable commute.

Thanks again for the input, keep it coming and please excuse my rambling!!

Rachael
 

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It's easier to buy a large tract than a small one. You can still get a 40 acre farm for around $3k per acre or roughly the cost of a fancy car or truck. Would you rather buy a 5 acre tract at $20k per acre? If you answered yes, There's no hope for you.
Why don't homesteaders just club together and pool their money to buy a larger tract ?
 

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brosil said:
...Why don't homesteaders just club together and pool their money to buy a larger tract ?
That's called a commune and to some folks, it smells too much of bolsheviks and David Corresh.
 

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Like some others I started with nothing also. I was working on a ranch with a decent wage that allowed me to run a few cows of my own, I rode outside horses all of the time, I learned to make saddles, I started leasing a few acres to expand on. I found that you need to keep your money tied up and working for you in some fashion. If it jingles in your pocket, it will be gone soon enough!

When I had a small herd of cows paid for (security balnket) I ventured into the world to start my own business. Which through a lot of hard work has exceeded my espectations. I bought this small homeplace (540) four years ago, and since then have added another 160 to it.

It was a large risk and I was scared to death, but seemed doable. I really think almost anything can be done, if you want it bad enough.

Securing the origional financing was challenging, and it took some searching. But I found a friend that was in the banking industry who helped me procure it.

Do your homework, try and look at all the angles you can. See if it truly is what you are looking for, and even if it doesn't look like it will quite work, it often will.

Good luck in your endeavors!
 

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matt633 said:
only made $300/wk!
Rachael
Wow!! Only $300/wk.. Where do I sign up? We don't make that much between us.
 

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my family gave $8.00/Ac for 160 Ac. in 1855. since them we have added land that ajoines when it was cheap. we how have a little over 700 ac
 

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Discussion Starter #16
brosil said:
It's easier to buy a large tract than a small one. You can still get a 40 acre farm for around $3k per acre or roughly the cost of a fancy car or truck. Would you rather buy a 5 acre tract at $20k per acre? If you answered yes, There's no hope for you.
Why don't homesteaders just club together and pool their money to buy a larger tract ?

Yeah, it is cheaper the more you buy. We paid $50K for almost five acres. That's about as cheap as anything under at least 20 acres for this area. I have found 40+ tracts for around $8K an acre in a neighboring county...you can hardly buy that kind of raw land in this county.....hence looking to AL. And yes...NOW I would take the land. Obviously, I didn't quite "get" that 2 years ago! This desire to "farmstead" is new to me, but eating me alive already!!

Ravenlost...thanks. It probably will be northeastern AL. I think that would good for DH's commute (he works in west central GA and he is going to be in Waco for school for the next 4-5 yrs several days a week so if we got it in that time, he could check up often!). Besides, I definitely don't want to get so far south, where it gets coastal and tourist-ish!

Thanks for all the input;keep it coming. I need a better plan than I have now!

Rachael
 

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One suggestion might be to find a couple parcels with large trees on them. Find out what you could get for the timber and offer a little more than that. You could be surprised how much you could get. By the time you retire, it would be fully forrested again. Just a thought.


Sometimes people don't know the worth of what they have. Make offers, the worst thing they can say is no.

For instance, if you could get $3000 an acre for timber and you bought 50 acres for $4000 an acre, it would only cost you $1000 per acre....
 

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There's a book called "The Contrary Farmer" by Gene Logsden. The man is my hero. In this book he talks a great deal about the thinking involved in acquiring a homestead, and his suggestions on how to do it.

I think it's a book you'll want to read anyway, if you're considering homesteading.

I've got five acres, and it's more than I can handle. I've got an orchard, bees, dairy goats, chickens, and both a household garden and a market garden. Next year I'm adding a few sheep for wool and a couple of cows for household meat and to sell. If I can continue to grow the business and China continues to poison people with their food exports, then I stand to pull down about $30k a year just from the farm income.

In my part of the country, a farm means "500+ acres". Some of the best customers at the farmer's market are those guys who own the 500+ acres but have it all in corn and soybeans. They have all that space and can't even put food on their own table.. Ridiculous, no? Plus, the only money they're making is in government subsidies. After they deduct their labor and tractor costs then they're making about the same as I do and not living as well either. In the 1950's, then secretary of agriculture Ezra Benson told farmers, "get big or get out". That mentality holds today even though microfarmers have consistently shown that they can make as much or more money than large mono-crop farmers. The secret is product diversity and controlling your inputs. My customers know that my food is chemical-free and that I'm absolutely draconian about making sure of the quality. They know that when I sell them tomatoes, I'm feeding those same tomatoes to my own family. Because of my smaller scale I don't need a large pool of (illegal) labor to come in and help. I don't need tractors and other expensive machinery. Almost everything is pure profit for me because the major input is me burning my own calories, most of which I get from the farm anyway.

Don't let an inability to purchase a large tract of land keep you out of homesteading. I hope this has given you something to think about.
 

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We started with a tiny house and no land, sold that and moved to another house with 1acre, then sold. Then we purchased a house with 12 acres of land. 2yrs later it was worth 5times what we paid for it. Bought the tiny rental next door. and began saving. Then we found out the farm was for sale... Borrowed money against the rental to pay for the entire farm free and clear. We now have two rentals, a house and 12 acres and the farm 100 acres--free and clear. As soon as the kids were out of school and on their own, we buckled down, started doing without vacations, extras, new cars etc. and paid on everything until 6yrs. later it was finished. then I worked 5 more yrs. to put in savings/retirement. Retired now and as happy as a lark...QB
 
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