"I want to homestead" questions

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jayre, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. jayre

    jayre New Member

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    Hello all you homesteaders out there,

    I am looking for some practical advise regarding country living because I want to raise my family the right way and I believe that a homestead is the way to do it. I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah and have been up to Idaho a number of times looking for property. Idaho is the only place I can go that isn't too extremely far from my and my wifes families and still afford land. So I want to know if we are crazy??? My wife and I feel like fish out of water in the city--we don't love going to the movies, we don't watch TV..at all, we don't hang with friends (we have 5 kids under 8 yrs old so we are too busy). We currently live on one acre and have chickens. My wife cooks everything from scratch. We drive an hour every week to buy raw millk. We don't eat refined foods at all.. no white flour or sugar, only good fats and oils. We love fresh healty animal products. I say all this to let you know we aren't city slickers who are just on a whim. We have done everything we can do living in the city. But now we want cows and that's the real deal.

    So a few questions.

    Not being raised in the country we will certainly feel like fish out of water there too, but can urbanites typically transition to country living somewhat smoothly? What typical obstacles do they run into??

    My goal is to be able to stay home with my kids and work the homestead (and teach them how to work) Can you make enough money raising cattle/poultry etc to pay the mortgage and bills? We are looking at a property with 25 acres--how many head of cattle can live off that much acreage?

    How much can you expect to net off the sale of cattle?

    What kind of obstacles are there to making money selling cattle? Do you have to pay exorbatant taxes, fees or expenses that eat up all profit?

    Can someone do it low-scale or do you have to go commercial and conform to all kinds of regulations and laws??? Is buying and selling at auction a good way to go?

    Is there a better way to make money than selling cows in the country?

    Any help would be very appreciated, because I am quite ignorant. :shrug:

    thanks
    Josh Ayre
     
  2. dlangland

    dlangland dlangland

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    Josh, I think the best place to start would be for you to spend some time reading here. You'll find some wonderful information on most anything you might want to know.
     

  3. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    25 Idaho acres will not support many cattle.

    But, wait a bit and someone else will come up with a suggestion. Some folks here make a living off of smallish parcels of land.

    Also, there is LOADS of information in the archives!
     
  4. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    The book I'm writing is for people just like you! :) The answer is Yes! It is possible, and it's not hard for folks like yourselves to transition to the country. If you love the lifestyle in your hearts and you have a good idea of what's in store for you in the country (and you seem to have a good grasp on it), then it shouldn't be too hard. It will be hard, but it will be a labor of love.

    So far as the financial planning goes, you will definitely want a firm plan in mind. Something you write down on paper and refer to often. You wouldn't go into any other kind of business without a firm business plan, don't do it with homesteading either. We keep a goal book and we update it often. We have short term goals and longer term goals. It's great for us to go through that book every Monday night and review our goals for the week, the month and even the year and see which ones we've accomplished, which ones we need to work harder on, and add new goals all the time.

    So far as your question regarding making your mortgage payments, etc. with your homestead income alone, that depends on many variables. How big will your mortgage be? What will your utility costs be? How will you heat your home? (DH is from Utah, and it's a lot harder to heat with wood out there then it is here in Ohio.) Coal? Oil? Gas? Corn? Cherry pits, or pellets? What are you talking about for taxes? Will you be paying for water rights? Will you have to invest in irrigation equipment to maintain pasture and hayfields? Will you raise your own hay or buy it? Will you raise the majority of your own food? Will you be off grid or on? These things all have to be taken into consideration before you can decide on whether or not you can survive on a homestead income alone.
    25 arid acres won't feed nearly as many cattle as will 25 well watered acres elsewhere. Nor will you be able to irrigate 25 acres nearly as inexpensively. (This is one of the reasons we moved to Ohio. We are a day and a half drive from both of our families, but we can live the lifestyle we want for less money then we could in Utah.)
    You need to figure out how many head of cattle you'd have to sell to support your family annually, then talk to the Ag. dept or the extension office to see how many head each acre will support, either irrigated or unirrigated, depending on your plan. Then you can do the math and see if it will work for you. Don't figure too closely though, you have to allow for animal losses and crop failures on occassion.
    Watch the cattle market for a while, keeping a notebook of prices per head, per pound, per pair. Visit sale barns and auctions in your area. Watch RFD tv's cattle auctions, and check out online what weekly cattle prices are. Remember, this is a business as well as a lifestyle so you really need to do your research. Do you know what type of cattle you want to invest in? Some cattle have a much higher start up investment then do others. Angus here have been going for roughly $1.00 per pound, give or take a few pennies.
    Best of luck, and if there's anything I can help with, please let me know.
     
  5. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would not plan on going into it without an outside job. You're going to need more income than you will be able to make on the farm raising stock. I don't believe you would be able to support more than a half dozen or so head of cattle on the 25 acres. Maybe someone else will correct me, but we have 90 acres in Central Texas, where there is grass most of the year. I wouldn't think we could handle more than 20 or so here.

    You might ask cattle questions on the cattle specific forum here, though, and get some good ideas.

    I'd start with a list of all the things you pay for in a month, because you'll still be paying for most of them: housing, electricity, heating, water, fuel, medical bills/insurance, phones, auto insurance, home/farm insurance, groceries(you can cut down, but you won't be growing and storing everything, and it'll take awhile to do a substantial amount), etc.

    Fencing and outbuildings also are expensive, if they are not already constructed, and if you buy an older home you can count on making repairs.

    I gave up going to the movies about 20 years ago, and haven't missed it. I also have a large family, also would not want to be too far from extended family. I understand where you are coming from, and agree with you, and don't want to discourage you. Just saying be realistic in your expectations. Unless you have a substantial savings, or can go into it without a mortgage, I'd say you need an outside income of some sort, at least starting out.
    I don't yet see a time when we could make our living off the farm, although I am hopeful of eventually getting some income off it.

    My dad always had small acreage, and always raised stock and a large garden. His idea was simply to spend all his "leisure" time taking care and enjoying the place and his family. He didn't bring work home, and didn't spend the evenings watching television. He didn't need as big an income as others because we lived simply and enjoyed it.
    mary
     
  6. longrider

    longrider Southern Gent

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    hi folks, in alabama you could raise a cow on half and acre in some bottom land, in other places it will take two acres to support one cow. remember though that if you have an acre for the cow you have to have another acre "resting/recovering" from normal herd rotation. its just like crop rotation. and too you need water and plenty of it. in general once you go west of Dallas Tx the acreage becomes arid. meaning you might not find enough grass growing thick enough to feed a tick much less a whole cow.

    the best way to find out is to call the county ag agent in the area your looking at and find out the names of two or three cattle owners in the area your looking at. or go by a feedlot and ask about the area. a local Vetranarian will know everyone and the requirements too.

    i worked on a cattle farm in central alabama and the knothead i worked for leased all his land so he didnt mind "pushin" the grass-meaning he overgrazed the fields. he would just lease from someone else next year.

    start small- two or so and ease into it. cows eat, need shots, regular checkups and fencing, EASE into it...and you will do OK.

    to the best of my knowlege, cattle is a lousy way to make money. but steaks on the table cant be beat for the price long term. just my opinion.
     
  7. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    I think you're being a bit too general. Yes, there have been years where the price of beef, and therefore cattle, bottomed out. But there have been other years where the cattle market was hot and was the place to be. Like any other business venture, or investment, you are taking a risk in the cattle business. This is one reason why so many "homesteaders" as opposed to "ranchers" diversify their business. They don't "put all their eggs in one basket" as they say. Cattle may be good, if the market is good, but the goat market is building steam, and the rabbit industry is a growing one too. There will be trends, and if you can get in on a trend, all the better. You have to be able to read the market, as in any other business. If you have the land and can raise 25 cows a year, selling them at 500 lbs, that is 12,500.00 per year, minus expenses. If you don't have to purchase calves every year, but can raise your own, your expenses are that much less. Raising alfalfa for hay and selling the excess will net you a tidy little sum as well. Raising pumpkins for sale commercially will help the bottom line with minimum investment. A pick your own type of orchard or berry patch is a trend growing in popularity.
    If you are willing to diversify a little, it will be easier to make ends meet when the cattle market is slumping. Here at The Queen's Blessing, we sell via internet, farmer's markets, flea markets, livestock markets, and through our own pick your own business. Bouncenhumble works outside the home currently, but not because he has to. He is a tree surgeon and he loves his work. However, we are getting so strapped for time here at the farm that he is going to have to quit working full time and start farming more starting in the spring.
    Again, best of luck.
     
  8. longrider

    longrider Southern Gent

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    yes, in general i was speaking. trying to make money with cattle is iffy though. lots and lots of variables in the business. the price of beef can be determined by one bad headline in england or canada or the Vegitarian lobby in washington. a very dear friend of mine is the advertising gal for the Alabama Cattlemans Asso and it is her whole purpose to keep those prices up. With the 2500 cows on "our" farm i would venture to guess we broke even.

    but we never lacked for meat. i am just trying to imply that making a homested go on just cattle is not enough. deversify, deversify...

    my grandmother still kept two cows in the back behind her 1/2 acre garden while keepin a chicken house with way too many chickens in it up until she died at 92 years of age. she had 7 acres.
     
  9. tenacres

    tenacres Well-Known Member

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    I moved to southern Idaho from Bountiful, UT in April 2004. I got married Sept 2005 and we bought our farm December that same year. I dont know what part of Idaho your considering but some parts have a VERY short growing season so planning on planting a big garden might not work out...without a greenhouse. Where I'm at, we have harsh winters. That's another thing to take into consideration.

    We do not come from farming backgrounds and have really enjoyed what we have built thus far (a flock of chickens, ducks, rabbits, hogs, a pony and a calf). I didnt plant a garden this year, but am gonna give it a try next spring. We are trying to live off the land as much as we can. We're raising our own meat (beef and pork -will raise chickens to eat next spring). We have our own eggs and enough to sell. What we sell will help pay for the chicken feed. You could raise a family milk cow and save money that way as well. Hay for feeding the animals is cheap to buy here. We bought alfalfa for $50 a ton, grass hay $55 a ton. We raised 2 hogs this year and are planning on raising 4 next year, will sell 2 of them. We also have plans on purchasing a couple bred cows next year. We will raise the calves and sell them when weaned. Summers here are very dry. I'd advise getting irrigated land and use pasture rotation.

    Here's a website you may wish to look at:http://amazinggrazefarm.com/ This family has 31 acres and are living a very simple life and doing GREAT! They raise their own meat, have a dairy goat and cow for their milk....sell extra animals for money. They have a large garden and she makes all their dinners from scratch...not buying items from the grocery store. They have no TV. She has many money saving tips, I would have never thought of! The website is very inspirational.

    I do think you can do it. I love our life! I think our children benefit from being raisied on a farm. They help with all chores and love it! My husband said he would NEVER want to live as he did before. He loves this new farming life.

    RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH! I have bought books and read as much as possible on every topic related to homesteading. There's a wealth of knowledge out there. That's all I can recommend......Good luck!
     
  10. pondszoo

    pondszoo Member

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    We are from Vernal and there are some great small towns out here and some of them have some good prices on land, if you look. We are moving to Fruitland in the next two weeks, but we won't be doing much animal raising on our 5 acres ( Well, okay,I have 5 boys still at home and some days it seems like we're raising some kind of animals). I personally like many of Utahs laws, so we decided to stay here rather than move to either Idaho or Colorado.

    Fruitland is nice and very close to Strawberry and Starvation Res. Only about 100 miles from SLC. I went to Talmage this past weekend, very nice little valley with nice farms. Only problem is with the oil field booming out here most land is skyrocketing. We have 9 children and also want a place we can raise our children without so many worldly values. Vernal is also the smallest town we have ever lived in, so I'm also very green at this (only thing I've ever built is bookshelves, but I'll learn ;-)

    Elisabeth
     
  11. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you are LDS, Vernal also has the advantage of its own temple, if I am not mistaken.
    mary
     
  12. dlangland

    dlangland dlangland

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    My big thing, but I know I say it too often...Think cash, and you can't go wrong, especially not with real estate. I agree with the things others have said...You need to put it on paper, because even with a cash-premise, it will be the real estate taxes, the auto insurance/tax/licenses, the unforseen breakdowns, etc. that make life difficult. And always estimate those costs high. Start small, branch in, grow with your plan, and you won't go wrong. . Deb
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Nice place,been there travelling.

    BooBoo
     
  14. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Due to complicated reasons, I have not done much of this, so do NOT take my word for it. These are just things that may be worth looking into. I have looked into it but not done it. The ideas are good, but life happens. Besides, prices will be different in your area so you must crunch the numbers anyways.

    There are cattle, and there are cattle. How much does a holstein heifer go for in Idaho? More than a beef cow? With a couple of milking holsteins you could bottle feed newborn holstein heifers.

    Are there rabbit processing places near you? IS there a market for goat meat?

    A pick your own place, perhaps? You will need to irrigate for this.

    Blackberries? Asparagus? They only yield for 6 weeks or so, but if you have something ELSE being harvested at other times, that might fill in a slow time.

    Eggs? You CANNOT compete with the big boys there, but if farm-fresh eggs go for a premium you might find it profitable.
     
  15. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do research. Then research some more. Are you willing to raise pastured beed with no hormones and little or no grain and market them yourself? We buy half a cow every year, already cut up neatly and frozen. Which breeds do well on pasture? Some do better on pasture, others do better on grain. You can run sheep with cattle. Again, can you market them yourself? Is there an ethnic market for lambs close enough for you to sell to this market? My personal preferance would be to run weaned meat lambs all summer and butcher them in the fall. Getting run over by a young ram is not comfortable, but a better experience that being run over by a young steer.

    You will get very little work from kids under the age of ten. You will get the most work out of them when you work side by side ( and for quite a while you will slowed down by working with them). If you've spent any time raising kids, then you know that you need to work them into a chore little by little with a great deal of appreciation. If you are patient, you will have yourself five very good workers.

    Do not buy animals until you know how to take care of them. You will need electric fencing, shelter from the sun in the summer and from the wind in the winter. Buy stock that does not need a barn in the winter, and is known for being hardy. Poultry will need housing, if nothing more than to keep them safe from predators at night and give them a place to lay their eggs.

    You already have a good start on your adventure :rock:
     
  16. thedonkeyman

    thedonkeyman Well-Known Member

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    GEO THERMO Heat and GREEN Houses, plus Meat Goats...do I say more ?
     
  17. Arborethic

    Arborethic Well-Known Member

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    Josh, with five kids there is only one type of 25 acre cattle operation that will pay for everything they need. You would have to engage in high end breeding stock, primarily bulls. But the initial investment there is going to cost an arm and a leg. The lowest cost approach for that is to implant low cost stocker cows to get a start. Even so, it will be extremely tough. You'll have to show your product and do some traveling and marketing. But for replacement heifers or slaughter beef, you'll barely break even.

    If you haven't worked cattle in the past, you'll have to build stout steel pipe corrals and install visual barriers so that bulls pastured together can't see any cows, or they will destroy one another in short order. And even experienced cattlemen or cowboys get stomped by a bull sooner or later. Around here such fencing is about $10-11 per running foot.

    I would not recommend such a highly specialized cow operation to a novice. Many experienced cattlemen go broke. You can, however, feed out a few calves for your own consumption, and market halves or quarters to friends, relatives, and neighbors. And the kids, if they join 4H or FFA can show their calves and sell them at prices much higher than slaughter brings. For younger kids, you need to start them out showing chickens, then a pig or sheep, so they can learn the basic responsiblities on a lower cost animal. As a kid, I at least doubled my money on each animal I bought, raised, and showed. That includes the feed, too.

    These days it is rare to see anyone produce an adequate income for a growing family on as little as 25 acres. I know experienced farmers and ranchers with over 200 acres that still have to work a full time job to make ends meet. And these folks are much further south than you, with a longer growing season (East Texas), where they have to buy far less winter feed. Some provide services or products, such as building the fences I described above, in order to keep the bills paid.

    There is one crop you MAY be able to raise, depending upon your soil type and the soil type of your market area. Trees can be purchased as 'liners', tiny little sprouts. It will take years, and a lot of physical labor to get them up to a decent size (2-4 inch caliper). The most valuable trees will need annual pruning to meet industry architectural standards, which you can learn. And you will have to root prune them to keep a tight, compact, root ball. You can't depend on rain, you have to have a supplemental drip irrigation system, which can also supply water soluble nutrients. But, again, there won't be enough income to support a family on just 25 acres. That profit margin could be increased if you provided a planting service also, that way you could get full retail price for the trees, plus your labor. However, it is almost impossible to run hoofed live stock with growing liners! Fowl can work, but not hoofed animals.

    But don't be discouraged! I raised my son in the country. He's a fine man now. Families that work, and pray, together bond very deeply.
     
  18. JamesCM

    JamesCM Member

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    Hi Josh,

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    Does this sound like you – or anyone you know?

    For further information, please contact James at Ricochet Films on 011 44 207 251 6966 (UK) or e-mail: james.christiemiller@ricochet.co.uk

    Many thanks!

    James
    www.ricochet.co.uk
     
  19. jayre

    jayre New Member

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  20. jayre

    jayre New Member

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