Just want to introduce myself and ask a couple of questions

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by VinnyP, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. VinnyP

    VinnyP Active Member

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    First of all, it's kind of scary to break into a new community like this. However, I've read as much as I possibly could on these forums in the past few days and am convinced that the vast majority of ya'll know what your talking about (even if you have different ways of doing things). Anyways, I've gone out into the world, worked, went to college for a while... and came back with a somewhat "skewed" view on what the "American Dream" means to me. I have 186 acres in the catskill mountains of NY that was first cleared in 1890 and that being my family history means a lot to me. I would love to go down there and homestead for the rest of my life (making enough to support myself and possibly a family in the future), right now it's just me... so I see that as a challenge and not a wholly-unobtainable goal. I've done a lot of book reading, but I think that the best information is always from those that do, not those that teach. Unfortunately, the old farmers in my area are long gone for the most part. So, having coffee on sunday afternoon and picking their brains is impossible. Thankfully, I've found this place... and that's the kind of relationship I'd love to have with ya'll that are already here, established in your skills and confident in your methods.

    The land has been sitting for the past 50 years. What use to be cleared pastures have now become straight-up woods. What I'm doing now is basically clearing the land that was once pasture. So far I've just been cutting those trees that have been there for less than 50 years (dragging them out with the tractor and piling them for firewood needs at a later date). This, however, brings up my first real issue: what do I do with the pastures after this step is done? Do I HAVE to remove the stumps? A lot of the old pastures had apple trees in them (antique varieties that have basically gone wild and grown high enough in the canopy to fight with the hardwoods that are springing up all around them) do I annihilate these or are they worth saving? If I take them out... can I put new ones in... can apple trees lend themselves to a healthy, natural and organic pasture?

    I guess these are just a few of my questions... at this point in time the entire thing is a little bit more than overwhelming.
     
  2. RedHairedBonnie

    RedHairedBonnie Well-Known Member

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    Hi, and welcome. Sorry I can't help you, I don't know anything about trees, but I'm sure someone here can.
     

  3. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    Hello and welcome!

    I think I would contact the extension service with your state's university system. Ask for a forester. If there is anyway to save those apple trees I would! I think I would find out how to grow organic apples. There is a family out of IL that markets old & antique varieties of apples, selling them in a box of 12 for $22 for 'apple tasting parties'. We just had one with our 4H group. The Apple Source Store

    Another spice of income for your property (& the forester would be able to help you determine this) may be to sell some of your lumber.

    I can't answer on removing stumps. I would think you would want to, but perhaps someone else will know! Are some of those younger trees the right size for putting up fences, at least lot line fences?

    You are very lucky to have this land. Getting advice on how to best utilize it is a great start!
     
  4. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!!! I think it would be easier for people to give you advice if you told us what you planned to use those old pastures for. Like are you planning to graze them and if so, what type of livestock? We homesteaded an old place, some of which had "gone back" to trees etc. and also had the old apple trees grown huge. For us to huge trees provided us with too large a challenge (we are older) to prune, spray and harvest so we planted a entirely new orchard of dwarfs and semi-dwarfs that are far easier to care for and harvest. Many antique apples varieties have been dwarfed and we enjoy those. We had a large dairy goat herd so the old apple trees were great for them and we left them and most of the brush in the pasture areas for the goats to browse.

    Anyway.........enjoy and develop a plan and work it would me my advise for someone just starting out. Don't get animals before the shelter and fences are in excellent shape. Think about how your plan will work as you get older because you will and you will do things while you are young that you will look at when you are older and ask yourself "What was I thinking??" :)
     
  5. VinnyP

    VinnyP Active Member

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    Most of the trees that I'm taking out are relatively small... and could be used for fences. However, I'm seriously considering using our existing stone walls very few sections actually need to be rebuilt (and they're too much a part of history for me to abandon lightly) and running a strand of barbed wire or electric fence over all of these for an added bit of security.

    As far as the usage of the land goes:

    Buildings: There's a rather large farm house, that has been the family home for generations. My late grandmother's trailer. A large 2 story barn, built on a hillside so you can get to both the top and bottom from a ground level. An old pigpen, that's now a storage shed. And the original spring-fed milkhouse from back in the days when it was a dairy farm.

    The true old-growth kind of forests were logged probably 8 or 10 years ago, so I'm not sure that'll be a money producer anytime in the near future. I have about 20 acres of fields that have been continuously used for hay/field corn so I have some are that I can use as pasture/for haying.

    I would like to do either grass-fed beef or organic dairy of some sort (Cow or Goat). Rotational grazing, mostly in the newly re-cleared pastures, but some in the hay fields. I, however, don't really know the financial and logistical pros and cons of going one way or the other. In addition to this, I would want to grow enough to feed myself.

    Maple Syrup, Honey, Apples (if I keep or put in new trees)... and I was also thinking of planting raspberrys and blackberrys along some of the stone walls (which I hope to use as both a more secure fence-line, an extra producer and cover/forage for wild game... which is very important to me).

    Seems like that's a lot of information, but it's probably still not enough to really understand what's going on unless you're standing on local. I dunno, thanks!
     
  6. WolfWalksSoftly

    WolfWalksSoftly Level II -Inappropriate

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    Hi, what one person can do ..another can do as well.
    I would love to be in your shoes other than you are about a thousand miles too close to New York for me.. :shrug:

    If at all possible don't cut down the apple tree's or at worse case..leave a few for old time sake.
    It would be a good idea to take out the stumps, it makes for easier working of the land and you also risk the tree sprouting again depending on the size of the stumps.
    Good luck.
     
  7. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    First....... Stop and make a plan. It's getting colder and those long winter nights can help you with this.

    Second..... Before you cut those apple trees. Taste the apples. Some will be good. Some you won't know why god created such a tree.

    Thrid take your time. It's not a race to get it done. It's a race to get it done right.
     
  8. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome! and let me say I'm jealous :rolleyes:

    First of all you'll want to identify the species of wood you cut.....good logs(usually the Butt log) cut at about 8.5ft will fetch good money if its straight and knot free (black cherry, ash,oak, some maple)

    Hardwood stumps will branch out so if you dont pull stumps you'll have some serious side shoots that goats particularly enjoy (browse)

    Your firewood needs to dry a good 9 months before burning unless its ash.

    Do you have a tractor and attachments for haying planting type stuff? Or are you having it done by a neighbor?

    Hay is a good cash crop. A good garden is also low investment and good profits to start.

    Animals are good but require a significant amount of $$$ and time to make $$$.

    Diversity is probably key to farm success....Spring Maple Syrup, summer veggies, Fall apples and pumpkins....on top of the livestock.

    Joel Salatin's book "You can Farm" is a good read....Goodluck.
     
  9. sewsilly

    sewsilly Well-Known Member

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    Don't cut apple trees until two years have passed and you've figure out if you need to keep them. Heirloom apples are impossibly hard to come by. I , too, inherited an old place. We lost the two existing appletrees in the first 10 years or so (not from the lack of trying) and have not been able to find an heirloom 'farm' apple since. sigh...

    I agree with this statement, more than words can say. " take your time. It's not a race to get it done. It's a race to get it done right."

    We started with the house and the garden and worked out from there. We've managed for livestock and wildlife and have put in several 'tree plantations' of quick growing $$$ making pines. Make friends with your local forrester and heed their advice. We both work off the place, and love to come home each day. It works for us!
     
  10. bluetick

    bluetick Well-Known Member

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    First of all, I am green with envy!

    Do get in touch with Cooperative Extension. They can be a big help. I subscribe to "The Part Time Farmer" through them, and it has good articles, and lists meetings/seminars geared toward small scale farmers. They are trying to open more markets to help keep farming viable in NYS - like introducing NYC chefs to NY grown produce and meats.

    I know I have read about revitalizing old orchards, and it might have been in The Mother Earth News. Check out http://motherearthnews.com and look into the archives for information. Deer like apples!

    My parents owned a 500 acre farm at the end of a road on top of a "mountain" in the Catskills. After my father died, my mother put it on the market. A sale fell through when the potential buyer found he couldn't dam a large stream to make a small lake. NYC basically owns the water, so you might want to find out what those regulations are before you do much more planning.

    Good luck! It sounds like you have a wonderful place!
     
  11. Cindy in NY

    Cindy in NY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome Vinny! We are a bit farther north of you at the base of the Adirondacks.

    I agree with those who have mentioned contacting the Extension Service. Before we moved up here, I contacted them with several questions and they sent a letter back to me with all my questions answered.

    Good luck!
     
  12. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    Being located in New York, you have one of the most amazing resources at your disposal ... The Cornell Cooperative Extension. I have had a few opportunities to deal with them over the years, and they are an amazing bunch of professionals.

    Now, listen to the other advice you have been given. Take some time and make a plan, then be prepared to continually revise that plan as needed. About the Heirloom apple trees, I'd wait until you actually tasted them before you chopped them down. You are going to have an awfully hard time trying to find an heirloom apple tree nowadays.

    Now, I'm going to go back to my corner and stare at you with an envious glare.

    Nikki
     
  13. Marilyn

    Marilyn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome to the forum, Vinny. I am happy for you, you have such an adventure ahead of you! I would second the comment about reading Joel Salatin. If you have the wherewithal, even go one step farther and see if he could use an apprentice starting immediately. I cannot imagine a better education.
     
  14. newatthis

    newatthis Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to our "family". Your place sounds beautiful. I don't have any ideas just wanted to say welcome to the family.
     
  15. Pouncer

    Pouncer Well-Known Member

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    Hi Vinny, you have a very nice opportunity! Like the others said, I am jealous, lol

    I would wonder about taking down the 50 year old trees, if the really mature stuff has already been harvested? Saplings and sucker trees, of course, but that stand of trees may have more value than fence posts, depending on the type. Hardwoods are very precious, for example, and I would think about finding someone will a mill to help gain more value when you can. Many guys will trade the time and work for some of the materials. Other than that, dealing with stumpage is always an issue, no matter where you live. There is a machine you can rent that chews them up-if you have enough you may be able to compost this into mulch for resale.

    I agree, tap the knowledgeable resources that have been suggested, and remember that these farms did not become productive overnight-they are works in progress over generations.
     
  16. mountainman_bc

    mountainman_bc Well-Known Member

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    If you can take pics of the apples and post them here, I or someone can show you how to rejuvenate them. They respond well to 'correct' severe pruning, even if you won't get apples for 1-2 years. Those apples are hardy to your climate. Many times you wind up fighting pests/disease due to your conditions, instead, you have trees that actually survive without intervention.
     
  17. wyld thang

    wyld thang God Smacked Jesus Freak Supporter

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    Just throwing my vote in with keeping the apples. Yes you can prune and rejuvenate the trees, and there are probably a lot of volunteers. Taste and flag the good ones. Unless you're getting a bunch of animals soon, I'd manage it as a woodlot(if not an apple orchard). Thin the trash out(leave some snags tho) to reduce fire danger and let the strong healthy trees keep growing. Your stone fences sound wonderful!!!!

    Combining orchard and pasture use isn't good, animals can get sick from gorging on unripe, ripe, or fermented fruit. They'll nibble on the trees, rub on them.

    I guess I'd figure out how much money you actually need to make and go from there, and not get too diversified ;). Good luck!

    And cut firewood when it's green, it's way easier!!!!
     
  18. rio002

    rio002 Well-Known Member

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    Howdy Vinny glad to have you aboard, don't hesitate to ask questions, we're always brain picking around about something. lol :)
     
  19. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. I'm certainly no apple expert, but at the age of the trees it would seem to me that they would have to be nearing the end of their life. After you try them, and see which ones you like, you might consider getting some rootstock to try to propagate some of those varieties to have some younger trees coming along for when the older ones start to go down. As others have said, if they're old heirloom varities they'll bring a premium price.
     
  20. mainer

    mainer Well-Known Member

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    welcome Vinny I have no advice on your land uses but want to say,if you find a homestead outing listed in this forum,you should try to attend, It's so nice to meet people you talk to here ,in person. We had one here in So Indiana this summer & it wasa really great time,eating,laughing & just getting to know what all the other homesteaders are doing.
    Again,welcome