Montana homesteaders?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by matt&roxy, Oct 15, 2004.

  1. matt&roxy

    matt&roxy Active Member

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    We just found your forum and are interested in homesteading. We live in KY and are wanting to homestead in Montana. Just curious if anyone is from Montana or if they know of any homesteading communities there?
     
  2. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Hi,

    I'm new to this board too. Just found it last night. I'm living in Wyoming now, but do have a place in Montana that we're fixing up for retirement.What part of Montana you looking to move to?

    wy white wolf
     

  3. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Welcome to both of you. There are several Montana folk around here. Give em a little time and they'll likely pop in and say 'hi' to you.
     
  4. SFM in KY

    SFM in KY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm living in KY now (last 5 years) but was raised in southern Montana on a ranch my grandfather actually homesteaded and spent my childhood and much of my adult life in the southern Montana/ northern Wyoming area.

    I don't know of any homestead communities personally but I can probably answer some questions and at this point I can probably be fairly specific about differences between that area and KY as far as climate/ growing seasons and so on.
     
  5. matt&roxy

    matt&roxy Active Member

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    First I must say I am in love with this forum. There is more info than I ever thought I would actually find. We actually aren't sure where in Montana we want to go, we just have always wanted to live there. My husband and I are both 26 yrs old and we want to be homesteading by the time we are 30-35. We are in no rush, but then again we are, if that makes any sense. I would love the info on the climate and the growing season. As for where we will be in Montana, we are open for suggestions, along with researching the state, and hopefully we will find the perfect place for us.
     
  6. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Southwest Montana! Welcome to the forum folks! I moved from AZ to Montana in 97 and never plan on leaving! The weather is harsh at times, and stores are often few and far between, the people are friendly and housing is affordable, there is decent medical care available and life is good. what more could a person ask for!

    I live on a mountain between Butte and Deer Lodge/Anaconda. Our place is at 7000 feet and we paid 28000.00 for our 40 acres in 1990. Current land prices, right on this mountain only, are asking 40K for 20 and 80K for 40. Realtor puts land values on this mountain at about 1.5 K per acre. If that helps a bit. Land around here is escalating in value and asking price pretty quickly these days. Another forum member just purchased land up by superior and i think paid about 60K for a nice place with a good view for the artist in the family. Shop around. The growing season is kind of short but we manage. I would be glad to answer any other questions for you if I am able! Kathleen
     
  7. matt&roxy

    matt&roxy Active Member

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    Thanks for the price ranges sisterpine! That does help. I'm sure I will have more ?'s in the future....

    God Bless...
     
  8. Travis in Louisiana

    Travis in Louisiana Clinton, Louisiana

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    There are a few questions that you may want to ask when buying land in any of the rocky mountain states. A few come to mind right now, water rights, also if you are buying vacant land, what about a water for your personal needs. Can you drill a well? How about year round access?? I also understand that property taxes are less if you own 20 acres or more, since it would be considered a farm. I have owned a cabin in the national forest in Montana for seven years and I am still learning. Maybe some of the other Montanians can help with the specific questions. I only go to my cabin several times a year. Later Jerry
     
  9. SFM in KY

    SFM in KY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One thing to remember, especially if you are planning to keep any livestock ... you will need a lot more acres than you would need in Kentucky.

    I'm not sure what the ratio is in Kentucky for the number of acres of pasture for a cow/calf pair as I've never had cattle here. IMontana, for good "dry land" (not irrigated) pasture, ranchers usually figure about 20 to 25 acres per pair. You can generally run from May 1st to October 1st on "summer pasture" and otherwise you will have to be feeding hay.

    I also did a lot of gardening there over the years and found that the one thing that was really a necessity was heavy mulch to hold the water. Otherwise, you end up running a hose/sprinkler all the time. The best thing I actually found was to put several layers of newspaper around the plants and then put the old hay that we had that we couldn't feed the horses on top of that about 4" to 6" deep. That way I got by with watering about once a week.

    I think land prices will tend to be a bit less in areas that are not in "pretty" areas ... you will find higher land prices in Western Montana ... particularly in the mountain areas where so many people have been buying vacation homes, etc. and it looks more like people expect Montana to look. Also, land closer to some of the larger towns will be higher priced ... and as Kathleen said, prices are lower for larger parcels.
     
  10. matt&roxy

    matt&roxy Active Member

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    Everyone is being so helpful, answering questions before I even think or ask them...I so appreciate all of you. We do not want to be very close to any of the big towns. Seclusion is important to us....


    God Bless....

    Roxy
     
  11. mtmama

    mtmama Well-Known Member

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    Hello from Northwestern Montana! Land prices here are high, up to $5,000 an acre for larger parcels, more for smaller. We are at about 1900' and are surrounded by mountains. We have an average of 5 month growing season (mid-may to october) and pretty mild weather, but there is always a few bad storms in the winter. Besides water, I would also see if there is septic approval or a perk test approval. covenants and easements are a consideration also.
     
  12. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Hi SMF in KY

    Looks like we my have been in some of the same stomping grounds growing. Lived in Red Lodge until I was a teenager then we moved over the border to Clark (Powell/Cody area), WY.

    Don't worry Matt and Roxy. There are some cheaper places in Montana. My place is 30 miles north of Billings. 340 acres set me back $54,000. Only about 40 acres is wooded now. Had a fire go through there in 1985 and not many trees have returned. Reforesting is at the top of our list. We'll be going up next weekend top plant a bunch of tree seed. Hopefully next spring we can get an orchard started.
     
  13. SFM in KY

    SFM in KY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, we've probably covered a lot of the same ground! The last two years I was in Montana I lived near Pryor and had friends that lived in Red Lodge so was up there ... and Bridger ... quite often.

    Lived for years over the mountain from the Powell area, in Sheridan, WY and I still have friends in the Greybull/Powell area.

    If you're north of Billings, you must be towards the Roundup area ... very good friends that now live in the St. Ignatius area and have for some time used to live just outside Roundup. Beautiful country, very much like the area east of the Wolf Mountains where I grew up ... hills, sandstone rimrocks, pine trees ... and lots of empty country.
     
  14. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Greetings from Great Falls -- northcentral Montana. We don't live in the traditional "pretty" part of the state; the closest mountains are the Highwoods, about half an hour's drive from here. But we can see not only the Highwoods, but the Little Belts and the Rocky Mountain Front from here. We live about a mile south of the Missouri River, which is in a canyon at this point so it's not visible. The rest of the landscape is rolling country and buttes, dryland pasture and dryland wheat farming. And since we're in about the 10th year of drought (even after a spring and summer of nearly normal moisture), things are pretty short and brown.

    Even here at 3300', the weather tends to be a bit erratic, and in the mountains, it's even more so. Springs are short and cold, summers can be very hot, falls are wonderful, and winters can be tolerable or incredibly cold. Not much snow even in normal years, and the wind blows it away (ever been caught in a ground blizzard?). Ah, the wind . . . I can totally understand why the incessant wind drove some early settlers nuts!

    Our soil is clay based, and across town, it's sandy. The nicest gardening ground I've ever seen is on a creekbottom near here. After almost 20 years of amending our garden, the soil is getting to be ok -- not wonderful, just ok. (Hooray for green manure!) We raise warmth-loving crops under cover (even on the plains the summer nights can drop to 50° or lower), and the garden has to be irrigated. We mulch heavily, and use both drip and impulse sprinkler watering.

    Homestead living is pretty challenging here, but I absolutely love this spare, sere country and don't want to live anywhere else.
     
  15. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    Howdy all~ :yeeha:
    Wow, don't often see people who know where Roundup is :eek:
    Nice to know we've got neighbors out there.
    We've had property here just outside of Roundup for 12 yrs and just moved out here this June. It is beautiful country-nice mix of pines and grassland with interesting rock formations and not very expensive. We did a lot of looking before we settled on buying here. It's nice to live in a place where everyone waves to each other driving down the road.
    wy_white_wolf is your property in the Bull Mtns? That was one hot fire that went through there...Looks like things are finally starting to grow there again though. Good luck on your re-foresting! :)
    Have a great day all~
    Steph
     
  16. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    I'm right on the south edge of the Bull's on the other end of Old divide Road form BMP Mine.
     
  17. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I have a recommendation for any and all who want to live somewhere else. You must spend some time in the area in different times of the year to properly appreciate it. Either move there and rent for awhile, or go out for vacations all seasons.

    Driving thru Montana during the summer, with cattle out on the range is very romantic. Living with one of the legendary winter blizzards is a whole 'nother thing.
    If I had a job, and were much younger, I'd love to live there. The challenges, however, are many. Some areas have frost every month of the year. Some areas have had an influx of Californians with huge equities in the old home, come up and pay some pretty high prices for their new property, thus driving up prices in general.

    Work hard now, save every dollar you can (even pennies), do as much homesteading as possible on your current property (even apt dwellers can). Go to demonstrations of homesteading skills--I'll bet Ken Sch. could tell you where some are. Plan very carefully, then-------GO FOR IT!!

    Best wishes,
    Sandi
     
  18. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    can someone explain the different parts of montana briefly. I'd like to know where to look. I picture us on a high bluff overllooking a valley with high mountains to look at. Reasonable distance from a hospital and hopefully not the coldest part of the state.

    I've heard that near helena doesn't get too much snow - is that correct? Also quality of soil is very important. Are there any areas where there is alot of ragweed or that is notoriously bad for allergy sufferers. I currently live in northeast MA and we had a freezing cold winter last year with only 3 feet of snow in one storm in december - it took the city 5 days before kids could go to school!

    I've heard good things about wyoming - any info there? Also, there are places which pop up on the board that seem to have a lot of drugs/meth labs are there states you wouldn't homestead with a young family because of that? I know that stuff is everywhere, but it would go into my cons of some states i was contemplating. (I don't want to offend anyone here) - there's plenty of nasty stuff in MA.

    thanks for any info on montana and wyoming.

    brural
     
  19. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    i will try to help on the montana areas questions...northwest montana is the area up by missoula, kalispell etc nearer to glacier national park. this area gets a good deal of precip esp the further north you go in this rain forest type area. many yuppies up there and land is very expensive. of course they also have a good microclimate for growing stuff! southwest montana is the area around butte, anaconda, deer lodge, phillipsburg etc. this area is dryer averagin about 15 inches precip a year most of which is snow and the rainy month of june. while california tree huggers are moving into the area out around the lake (georgetown lake) most of the rest of the area is still open for real people to live in. land prices remain reasonable but are climbing. this area along with northwestern montana is mountainous with open areas called parks (mountain areas with no trees) that are used for grazing. the valleys are pretty much open areas with decent water tables. the small town of anaconda is a pretty place, pop about 10K, would probably have to go to butte 25 miles away for work but anaconda has hospital, doctors, dentists, shops, food joints etc. the people are friendly there too. you can just pull up a map of montana online and pick some cities/towns to check into. most have information pages. the area around helena (state capital = yuppies) is very pretty also with rolling hills and mountain passes in all directions. there are some small towns out away from helena within driving distance that may still have reasonable land. the areas around billings and great falls are the areas with the bluffs, mainly around great falls, very few trees, but decent water table and nice people. outlying areas are still reasonable and distance to great falls is not bad. billings is basically a small dirty city with oil refinerys and stinky! out in the flats too, so much wind and no trees. bozeman is kind of in between area, pretty with some trees and near to yellowstone park, medium size small city with all amenities and many yuppies and tree huggers. of course since this is a very large state there are a zillion small towns and much open space between these areas. the last area is up in the north east part of the state by havre and towards wolf point and minnesota area. it is very cold up there near to canada and flat and windy and sparsly populated. hope this helps!
     
  20. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    Thanks sisterpine,

    That really helps. I definitely DON'T want to move where a lot of "yuppies" live. I want to live near real people who wave and don't look at you funny when you say hello in a grocery store line. I'm lucky to have good neighbors where we live, but they are too close - i can see them sitting in their yard.

    From the board i've learned that it's important to make sure there is a good water supply for a well and perhaps even other water on acreage - which is better small river, spring, lake? I know you wouldn't want your house on those in case of flooding.

    I've also learned that a hard wood supply on your land for heating if necessary is important.

    Thanks for all the feed back you have given me both on the forum and pm.

    brural