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HT Wannabe
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OK, here is the ONE question I haven't asked straight out nor gotten any answer to in my convoluted hypotheticals.

Can a small farm (25 acres or so) truly pay for itself and any "input" required (grain, hay, meds, breeding stock, etc)? It doesn't have to show a profit nor fund my retirement. It just has to provide me pleasure and not cost me more than it earns.

Oh, and it has to be run on ecologically sound principles.
 

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Probably, if the farm had a minimum soil fertility, you owned it outright, and you could put in 80+ hours a week to run it. And you were very clever about marketing.
 

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winding down
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There are folks out there making a very good living on half an acre, growing hydroponic baby salad greens, so I'd say the answer is yes. But, it depends on the path you take and what you want to put it to it, too.
Meg
 

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I have a friend that has a 20 acre truck farm, and 650 acres of soybeans in the field.

He said he's going to make more money off of the truck farm...
 

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Kaitlin said:
Please, what IS a truck farm? :shrug:

Kaitlin
Around here it means a farm that sells produce and such (like eggs) – they “truck” it to the market.
 

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It depends on whether the land was inherited or purchased, and at what cost...I think anything over 2,000 an acre won't pay itself off anytime soon. Also, you can't make it work with commodity crops. It will have to be specialty or high demand crops for your area.

The keys seem to me to be:

1. Have a low purchase price of the land. It's hard to make a profit when you paid 2,000 or more per acre.
2. Buy land that is in fairly good shape (we have learned the hard way that it takes a LONG time to build up worn out land). Unless you have other income to live off of until you can get the land productive again.
3. Use labor intensive but low equipment needs crops (like veg. for farmers market, or intensive grazing of animals) to start with unless you have money for equipment.
4. Find a niche market or a specialty product that will increase your per acre gains.
5. Find a local source of good soil amendments (we haul all the manure from a local 80-horse boarding facility, about 4-5 tons a week, to spread on our farm).

By doing these things we have found that input costs are decreased and per acre gains increased so that it is fully selfsustaining. I have spent the last 5 years building up our "wore out" farm (purchased in 2001 for 1,200/acre) with new fencing, outbuildings, and purchasing equipment, all of which have been costly, taking almost all of my construction/restoration work paycheck for these 5 years. This year has been the turning point, financially speaking, because now I have all the equipment that I need, and I am thinking that in another 2-3 years I will be able to support myself 100% off of this farm. Now that the equipment has been bought and paid for, things will start to get more profitable.

We grow all-natural beef, butchered here (due to usda only friends and family are able to get from us) and goats, and also sell alot of hay to horse people locally. The quicker money is in the hay, but the better thing from a soil management view is the cows, because of nutrient management. If you care for your land, it will provide for whatever you grow on it. I have had the philosophy that everytime I cut a field for hay, I put on enough manure after cutting to equal twice the nutrients that were removed. And after 5 years I can say that instead of broomstraw and weeds we now have good grass and redclover, and mostly without reseeding! Nutrients are the key to productive farmland. Take care of your soil and it'll take care of you. And to answer your question, yes, it is possible to make a living off of 25 acres with proper management and wise planning. With only 30 acres cleared on our farm and another 20 on a neighbors' farm that I tend, I can make a good living after the land and equipment have been purchased. We also have about 100 acres of timberland that I intensively manage (myself with a tractor and chainsaw, not by a timber co.) and also rotate graze after thinning to control underbrush, but that won't be profitable for another 20 years or so due to bad timber management in the past by other owners.

So YES if you have the will to do it, and the land available, GO FOR IT!!
 

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Failure is not an option.
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Hey.

It isn't hard to break even farming. The challenge is to make a profit you can live off of.

RF
 

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Your costs are the land, machinery (and repairs), taxes, and so forth. It would be very difficult to ever pay for those things on 25 acres with normal grain & livestock farming these days.

You can do well with the truck farming as mentioned - less macninery needed, more labor. Feast or famine payoff - bad years you work your tail off & poor crop. Good years you hit the jackpot & cash in. Either way, you work your tail off.

If you figure you own the land & like to putter with old machinery you already have & do not try to pay those items off......

Then you could break even with conventional grain & livestock.

--->Paul
 

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LOL of course it can!
But you really need to define the equation a bit.
yep its simple math
Just pay for land? Minus direct imputs should be easy.But you are working with a lot a variables.
lets say you get your land CHEEP $100 should be easy to repay right? Maybe maybe not most land in that range is out west with little productivity your payment would be$6 or $8 and acre/year well thats a lota sheep meat on a western acre.
Lets say you buy the best black dirt farm ground in the midwest $5000 an acre so a payment of $300 - $400 an acre pretty steep but this year it will likely make 250 bushels of $3.50 corn so $825 minus $300 in inputs yep theres a profit
But buy that ground along a good highway sell veggies from spring to fall add in pumpkins and christmass trees ,free range eggs, cider , maple syurp and what have you and you could gross $5000 and acre and net$4000 it just really depends.

The short answer is yes with a little work reasonabley priced ground will pay for itsself.
 

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Actually, that DEA comment made me think of something--there is some legitimate governmental use of opium poppies and pot and such for research purposes. If you dig around for the information it is possible to become a licensed supplier of such things for government research purposes--a very high margin crop, but with a lot of start-up barriers in the form of having to meet security concerns and such.

I believe there used to be an opium field on the roof of one of the buildings at UC Berkeley, for example. Heavily secured, of course.
 

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People at the farmers market tell me that they make a good part-time profit off of their little places. I suppose 25 acres of veggies are a LOT of veggies to sell!

But, I make only a few dollars off of my 6.5 acres, and that is gross not net.

MARKETING, MARKETING, MARKETING!
 

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My guess is nursery crops and/or fruit and vegetable crops are about the only way you can make a farm that small pay. If you are inclined in the plant direction, it might do very well. The only real downside to it as far as I'm concerned is you have to deal with the public to market the crop.

Jennifer
 

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Happy Scrounger
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Up here, we have some group farms...I'm not sure what they're actually called..the small farms who have city folk that pay $XX for a portion of the produce....that make a profit. At least enough to pay the bills and extras.

One of them not only has veggies, but pigs (which they turn loose in the garden in fall) for meat, chickens (for eggs) and bees. They sell the honey in a "tourist store" which is nearby. (it's a river area, and a lot of camping, big state park, and acouple of tourist destinations)

We also have a really large organic farm that does mainly mushrooms. I was astonished when I talked to the owner about how well the mushrooms sell. He has barns/sheds full of them during the winter (hanging plastic "logs") and uses his woods as a natural setting during the spring/summer. He has a store for mushroom sales, and sells regularly to the local restaurants. He does a lot of the more exotic mushrooms, as well as the ----ake and portabello.

All these options are a LOT of work tho. Have to be willing to put your life into it.

:rotfl: I love those automatic swear-word editors!
 

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around here a "truck farm" is the guy who has a gazillion abandoned vehicles in his field that he rips apart and sells parts and scrap!! lol
 
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