Starting a Farm?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by beginnerfarmer, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. beginnerfarmer

    beginnerfarmer Well-Known Member

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    I would like to buy to 5 to 10 acres. I am planning on raiseing some mini cattle or sheep, a few horses and some chickens. I also would like to have a vegetable garden and the sell the vegetables for profit. I am wondering how do I get started.
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You will want to find out what land is selling for in your area. A five or ten acre lot will cost more, per acre, than a 40 or 80 acre parcel. You could buy a large parcel and divide to sell to make it pay for itself. If you decide to do this, check with regulations first.

    When you find a suitable spot, call a few well drillers and ask how hard it is to get water in the area. Your lot may need to be witched, and there may not be water, in which case you will need to truck it in.

    If you don't like animals, don't buy any. I'm assuming that since you would like some livestock, that you like them well enough. You will need to buy hay all winter for them and you will need to keep the hay dry. You could also buy a calf in the spring and butcher it in the fall, thus keeping it on pasture. Investigate fencing, costs and labor. Contact the DNR or similar agency and get the low down on predators. We have never lost livestock to coyotes, but we have lost poultry to raccoons and foxes.

    Oh, what an adventure you will have
     

  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I think you'll need a little more land if you will want to keep several horses.
    You probably could keep a few mini cattle and sheep on 10 acres. Best to divide it up into several acre sized paddocks.
    A one acre garden is about all one can reasonably service on their own without help or specialized machinery. Even one acre intensively gardened withthe right vegetables for the market might make a marginal profit.
    Get started by buying the land. Look at what is available with what your resources can afford. You will want to make sure you have a water source, and find out the best you can about soil fertility by checking within the area you plan to 'farm'. See what is growing on it as you look at land to buy. What weeds are there? Pasture area and what is growing? Low lying areas. Check land after a heavy rain best for this, and how it drains. Dwelling and outbuildings? Is the house going to be livable and what utilities are available? Road access? What are you willing to put into it after you buy it? What zoning will allow you to do 'what' there? and what taxes are affected by adding any additional building you might want to put up.

    These are just a few considerations.
     
  4. beginnerfarmer

    beginnerfarmer Well-Known Member

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    I seen some spots in North Alabama for 29,000 to 30,000.
     
  5. Misty

    Misty Misty Gonzales

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    "You could also buy a calf in the spring and butcher it in the fall, thus keeping it on pasture."

    that is not a little baby calf, but a 600-700# weaned calf born the previous spring. Usually a calf born in April, will finish at about 16 months old. Ours do anyway on show feed. I don't know if that is comparable to commercial or not.
    www.geocities.com/buckshotboers2003
    www.geocities.com/gonzalesshowpigs
     
  6. Matt-AL

    Matt-AL Wannabe Farmer

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    I have a five acre parcel for sale 25 minutes south of Montgomery and 4 miles off of 231. Has paved road frontage.

    Also a 21 acre parcel in the same area that is about a 1/4 mile off the road. It is a mess right now having been logged 1 year ago. But it would be cheap.

    PM if you want details Begginerfarmer.
     
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    OH, yeah!

    Let's see now.... are you wanting to make a living off of your 5-10 acres, or just make some money? 'Cause, it is easy to make a little money but much harder to make a living.

    Let's start the conversation with settling for just making SOME money! It is what I know.

    Farmers Markets are pretty easy to get into, and they can teach you how to sell. Selling is a skill, and if you want to sell your calves and such it is a very usefull skill.

    What I did was, I asked the Market Master what she thought might do well. As it turned out, they had a popular baker but not a jelly maker.

    I had blackberries to burn, far more than the family could eat, so I made jelly and sold it. After expenses, my jelly gave me a profit of $1.50 a pot, and I could make perhaps 7 pots an hour. (Unless I burned something!) I also sold berries to the Farmers Market pie maker.

    Now, the Market Master was GOOD at salesmanship, so she set me down right next to the lady who sold bread. The customers who wanted bread often bought jelly. I learned a lot at the Farmers Market.

    Also, I see that you live down South. *IF* you live in a house, you can start gardening in your back yard right now, and if you can raise more than your fammily can eat, you might be able to sell the excess veggies also.

    And, because you DO live down South, you will need hay at different times of year than we will. But, you probably WILL need hay. Try to find out what months of the year the farmers have to feed.

    Getting to work may be difficult. We are about a mile off of a major road, which means that the snow is cleared off early. Also, it cuts down the commute time when DH goes to work (My DH is NOT a country boy, and he LIKES working in town!).

    Being able to drive quickly on a major road is a good thing, as the farther away from a city you go the cheaper the land is. And, with wide roads and no traffic lights DH can get to his work in less that 30 minutes.

    I mostly know veggies and farmers markets: others will be along shortly. Good luck!
     
  8. beginnerfarmer

    beginnerfarmer Well-Known Member

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    Do u build sheep and cow pens?
     
  9. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well first off I think you need to find more land. Unless you planning on buying a lot of hay for your animals 5-10ac is not much land. Do you plan on this farm to be a hobby or money maker? what do you plan on using the animals for, food, hobby, show.Same for vegtable garden, your own food, food to market. People often forget how small an acre is, its only 200ft x 200ft.
    figure you home will occupy 1acre, possible more dpending on well/septic requirements, that leaves 4 or less ofr animals, you will need a building 1/4 acre, access roads will take space. A good market garden can take an acre easy, horses, cattle and sheep need space.

    I would also suggest you read up on whatever animals you plan on keeping. Understand what they need and how much work they are. Also look at the area your looking for land, What animals are common in the area. While not required, having similar animals in your area can be good for several reasons, knowledgeable vets, people to ask for help, clubs/orgs/groups, processing facilities. WOuldnt be good to raise sheep when you have to ship them hundreds of miles to be processed.
     
  10. ChiliPalmer

    ChiliPalmer Well-Known Member

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    Mini cattle are prohibitively expensive. If you wanted to turn a profit with them via the traditional means of milk and meat, it won't pay unless you find a niche market from urban green yuppies wanting to buy "organic free range grass fed low carb mini cattle product" (or whatever they're into buying this week). Otherwise your profit will be from the sale of breeding stock, which means herd books in meticulous order, a painstaking knowledge of the breed and how to improve your herd through genetics, perhaps competitively showing your herd and, most of all, available buyers.
     
  11. beginnerfarmer

    beginnerfarmer Well-Known Member

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    I think its more of a hobby. I would like to make a little extra change.
     
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    You might check out the poultry board.

    Quite a few folks there are selling eggs, and because they are fresh and large they are selling them for more than supermarket prices.

    And, there are folks near us who are selling mineature horses. I THINK that they are able to do this because folks on the freeway go right past their pasture. Everybody sees the tiny spotted Moms and their babies every day. That way they do not have to hunt for customers because everybody knows they are there.

    Also, I know that some places down south the meat goat market has picked up considerably.

    Also, it is possible to build a greenhouse with PVC pipe and plastic for not too much, and sell seedlings at the farmers market in the spring.

    So many potential sales, and so little time to spend on them! :eek:
     
  13. Misty

    Misty Misty Gonzales

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    Remember to consider the time it will take for each of these things. If you work full time, it can be a struggle. We did meat goats and show pigs.
    It got to much. We had to cut out alot of the goats. My house was falling down around me and was dirty. I was always with the livestock. I decided since we had such a small property, I needed to specialize in show stock to make any money. We still don't make much when you really look at the numbers.
    www.geocities.com/buckshotboers2003
    www.geocities.com/gonzalsesshowpigs
     
  14. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    You are getting started off on the right foot for what you intend to do---you are beginning your research. That is at the heart of a beginning operation. Do it thoroughly for what applies to YOUR area.

    As an example in western Kansas we plan on 8 acres of pasture for a full sized cow/calf pair. In south central Kansas we plan on 5 acres. In states east of here I learn they figure 2 acres, still other areas figure multiple animals per acre. Plan for what works in your area. Seek out your local extension agency and the informational sheets they have.

    Here is some pretty good reading on the vegetable/gardening portion of the equation. http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/hort2/MF1115.pdf You will need to see how the information fits into your market and area of the county, this report is out of northern Kansas.

    At this web site there are some really good links and archived articles.
    http://www.vegetablegrowersnews.com/pages/current.php

    Will you be selling at a roadside stand or at farmer's markets? If roadside stand the location of your property is critical for drive by traffic numbers.

    While soil can be amended to grow crops, it sometimes takes time to get the to the point of good production. Does the potention farmstead have a good water supply available? Clean and safe water for washing vegetables if that is needed? Most would suggest that you not clean vegetables, but rather take them to market in fresh from the farm condition.

    Perhaps you will wish to raise certain livestock that will eat your unsaleable produce, leaf trimmings from root vegetables, etc.

    Do you plan on growing the feed and grain for your livestock and horses? Will you have the machinery to harvest and thresh such? Can you store hay outside with simply a cover, or will you have to build indoor storage? Remember rodent control.

    Do you have the knowledge to grow good vegetable transplants or can you get good ones locally? If you do indeed have the knowledge or can aquire it then you will need a facility such as a small or moderatly sized greenhouse.

    Most market gardening information I read always suggests having a market outlet for your produce before you ever plant it.

    Continue asking questions such as you have already done. Plan on a winter of research of reading and planning. See if your local library will order in books through the Inter-Library Loan program. An excellent one is "Knotts Vegetable Grower's Handbook". It sells for about $100 so I'm sure you will want to see a copy before you even consider ordering one.

    "The New Seed Starter's Handbook" by Nancy Bubel is also an excellent one to peruse.

    "Growing for Market" is a web site that looks interesting. Be sure to check out the "Recommended Books" list.

    Read "Backyard Market Gardening: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Selling What You Grow".

    Be sure to check out the profiles of folks here. They often have a web site that tells what they are doing, what works for them, etc.

    You might wish to check out the local 4-H club whether you have kids or not. The local leaders might be quite willing to help guide you in the areas where your knowledge is lacking.

    You are on the right track--Keep on, keepin' on.
     
  15. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I guess your name tells it all. For a rank beginner like yourself, get ONE species that interests you, and only get a small number, and I'd stay away from large, expensive animals to start with. Get something like 2 goats or 6 chickens. Get used to working with them and caring for them, then add on. There is so much to learn keeping any animal alive and healthy you won't believe it. And it's not all in the books (and even choosing the right books is an art), especially if you like to tweak things and don't want to be completely dependent on feed stores. Starting small gives you a little room to experiment and get a feel for keeping livestock. Once you have that, you can make more informed decisions about what you'd like more of, or what animal you'd like to take on next.
     
  16. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    i beleive 1 acre is 165x264
     
  17. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    you should have 2 acre per horse and 1 per cow
     
  18. Bladesmith

    Bladesmith Well-Known Member

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    Heck you can buy our place here in cent fla. We're selling and moving, you're welcome to it. 5 acres, well, fertile land, no flooding problems. All yours.
     
  19. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    An acre is 207x207ft or 42849sqft 165x264 is almost the same size 43560sqft
     
  20. papaw

    papaw Well-Known Member

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    Point me in the direction of these spots .... where were they located and how did you find them?
    I'm looking too .....