What to look for in Land

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Canucklehead, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Canucklehead

    Canucklehead Active Member

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    Hello Folks!

    I've been reading here for a long time. I love the site and have learned a whole lot. I've lived on a small 5 acre hobby farm (yes hobby farm, not homestead) when I was younger. I also worked on a small 40 acre farm for room and board, no plumbing two summers.

    Our family plans on buying bare land to build a homestead this year. We plan on buying, sitting for a few years and then moving out there.

    We understand everyone has different ideas, but what do you wish you had the most on your land? What do you love/despise? What do you miss? What would you have waited for?

    Thanks for you input! You people are great!! :cool:
     
  2. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

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    Water! Water and maybe water -- in my very humble being! Without a good supply you are SOL for everything else! After that -- I wish I had more sun light! And I prefer trees --can always cut em down if needed, but takes forever to grow em! Good Luck!
     

  3. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    We wish our land was fenced; too expensive to do it all. Also I miss the oak trees; they won't grow very well in our alkaline soil. We love the fact that we are near our neighbors but far enough away to not look into their windows. We love the sunsets most of all. Also the room to let our Aussies roam and take them for long runs every day. We love the fact that we can look up and see the stars. We hate the fact that we have flies in summer.
     
  4. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Water is certainly important. We have 7 springs, a small lake and a deep well on our property. Water was a critical issue in our minds as we plan on having this place a long time.

    Lay of the land. Our land is rolling hill and we have a small hollow where the lake sits and we have our privacy.

    What do you plan on doing with the property? What sort of mix between open and wooded? What is the orientation of the land? (Most of our land slopes down to the south. That means snow melts earlier than on north facing land.

    When we bought our first parcel it didn't have a barn. I think having one (Even a small one) to start would have made many things easier.

    How close is the land to where you currently live? I think this is an important factor if you plan on working the property before you move down fulltime. I find the hour and a half drive to our farm not that bad. If I need to drive down for the day it is easily doable. We were looking at property (sure, cheaper land and larger parcels, but....) in West Virgina (gilmore county for example) but it was 5 and a half hours drive. I have to wonder how often we would get down there. Given where our farm is we have good access to metro markets. So as we develop and grow we can actually sell what we produce (and not as commodities).

    Electric in the barn is useful. We don't have it in the cabin. I'd recommend keeping your eye out for small (Wood) garden sheds/cabins. Our cabin is 12x16 and has worked well for us. I'm thinking about doing an addition on the back that is 24 feet wide and (haven't decided how deep). Eventually this cabin will be a rental when we build the house back by the lake. That's still a few years out.

    I do wish we had more land (we have 47.5 acres) It's not that I lust after/want to work a larger property. I can see that slowly but surely larger parcels are getting subdivided into smaller parcels in the area. It will make it impossible (costwise) for us to expand the farm if we wanted to. On the other hand, we don't want to stretch too far financially. This is the dilemma of being closer to markets.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  5. KindredCanuck

    KindredCanuck In Remembrance

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    Greatest country in the world... CANADA
    Hey Canut..

    Welcome and where you at in Canada..

    FellowCanut..
    KC~
     
  6. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Neighbors!

    Read some of the horror stories about bad neighbors to get an idea of how important this is.

    I LIKE my neighbors. The majority of my neighbors have livestock, poultry, or raise dogs, so nobody can complain about anyone else's critters. i.e., the lady with 50 bulldogs and a token coonhound (she shows the bulldogs) can't complain about my guineas, now can she? Guy next to me raises nubians and hatch roosters ... he sure can't grumble about MY alpines baaing and my marans crowing, his animals are noisier! EVERYBODY has dogs so when my dogs bark at their dogs, it's no big deal.

    Meet your potential neighbors before buying property. Won't protect you from an idiot moving in after you buy your place, but at least you'll know about any current problems. Look for an area where everyone's raising stock already, so nobody will react with horror if you want to put up a chicken coop or keep a couple cows.

    Leva
     
  7. CarlaWVgal

    CarlaWVgal Well-Known Member

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    After water, I would say sun too! Our house is situated at the bottom of the southwest side of a hill, and in the winter the sun "sets" on our house by lunch time. Luckily the field gets sun all day for the garden. Not something I thought about when we bought the place, we have snow in our yard for several weeks after it melted elsewhere.

    Also any restrictions on the property.

    Carla
     
  8. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    a covered wagon crossing america
    make sure that you have a deeded easement...I had to go to the Montana supreme court to get easement over a road that had been in use since1896..fortunately I had neighbors who as children used the road ,and could remember doing so ,as far back as 1905...w/o that we may have lost the lawsuit
     
  9. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    A POND SITE would be awsome!

    As it is, we must make do with a really tiny creek, that MIGHT not be good enough to water my seedlings. We shall see when it gets hot and dry at the end of summer.

    I can't really complain, the only reason I could afford such a convenient, attractive parcel was because no good water was available. There SHOULD be city water in a few years, but the hook up charges are astronomical.

    I have been noticing that the availability of water is a recurring subject on this thread. I must say that I agree! Water is vital!

    The neighbors are using a cistern, but of course had to pay to have it put in.

    What I could seriously do WITHOUT is the osage orange trees that are 5' to 10' tall and cover just about all of my land. Too small to use, but big enough to be horrible to get out!
     
  10. ibcnya

    ibcnya Well-Known Member

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    I guess my biggest oversight after buying this 70 acres was the lack of good gardening soil. I grew up in northern Iowa where the soil is black as coal and now I live in southern Iowa where the hill country begins and the soil is more clay than anything else. I have great pond sites though. And plenty of timber. For a garden I plan on putting in a raised bed but need this summer for building the perimeter.
     
  11. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Where in Canada might make a difference. I wouldn't have a stream, lake or wild duck puddle on the place here in Ontario. The enviro-mental backed govt. will have so many restrictions and public access laws for you to contend with you'll yearn for a concrete pigeon hole in an apartment building to call home. There's a dandy thing called "wetlands" that you must pay taxes on but not touch in any signifigant way. I've seen the same hundreds of acres for sale south of me for over a decade, at giveaway prices. Who'd want to pay the govt. for nothing?
     
  12. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    I don't know how much variation there is in Canada from location to location, but it would pay to do some checking on local zoning and land use restrictions. In Minnesota, there are some counties where you can't build on bare agricultural land if you have less than 160 acres. (If there is existing well or farmstead, or it is rough land like woods, that's different.) If you have wetlands here in the U.S., at least in some states, you can't mess around with them.

    Regardless of what you plan to do with it, I'd want to know about the water table, the drainage of the soil, soil type and I'd want to look at the property at different times of the year.

    If it isn't on an existing road, then I'd be worried about problems with the easement and also the cost of building a driveway, running in power over any distance. Check for where you can locate building site on property. You have to balance privacy against the cost of constructing and maintaining a longer drive. If it's snow country, looking at in summer might give you one idea, winter you might find the road impassable, especially if noone else lives on that road.

    I'm a farmer and not a homesteader, and first farm I bought was from my Dad. I wished he'd have bought a farm that laid a bit more level, but it's real good soil. Farms I've bought since then have laid more level, although I spent some tiling on a couple of them.
     
  13. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    If the mineral, oil and gas rights have been separated from the land you need to consider the future impact. Make sure you have a list of all easements or right of ways. Some of those could be old railroad right of ways that were never used but are still on record. Some could be gas pipelines or routes of future power transmissions lines. Some could be access the property owner sold long ago that gives someone the right to use an existing road or build one if none exists.

    Beyond that make sure you're not buying an environmental cleanup disaster, While you may think those aren't common, an old buried gasoline tank that's been long forgotten can result in the current owner being forced to abandon the property rather than spend megabucks to remove the tank and dispose of contaminated soil. In the US the Farm Service Agency has aerial photos going back, in some areas, to 1939. It's a good idea to look at those to find potential problems that may not be readily apparent because areas have been reforested.

    While maybe not a problem in Canada, in areas of the US Northeast you should be concerned about old underground mines. The Office of Surface Mining in Pittsburgh or your state geological survey repository should be able to help you access the old mine maps. Keep in mind if you're buying in an area that had economically recoverable minerals, no maps may exist for the mines in the early 1900's.

    Water has been mentioned a number of times. In rural areas with a well, you'll want to have your own test done using your own sample.
     
  14. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Water, and soil that passes a perk test so you can have a septic system!

    Some other things to consider. Sometimes it is possible to buy a piece of land fairly cheap because it has some issues. For instance, I once built on a lot that was a bit low. We built the foundation mostly above ground, then filled in around it. It was fine, but by the time we were done paying an excavator, we might have been able to afford a better piece of land instead.

    Just something to keep in mind ...

    Also, trees! If the property doesn't already have them, they're going to take a long time to grow. :(

    Around here, a lot of houses are built on carved-up farmland. Nothing looks more lonesome than a big, fancy McMansion plunked down in the middle of 10 bare acres. :no:
     
  15. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To not have to see the neighbors' lights ruining your view of the night sky; water from somewhere, distance you'll have to commute for shpping work or selling produce, zoning (I sold eggs to a lady with same size lot as us, had horses and dogs, but no right to have chickens!!!) restrictions, possible future govt plans (our friends bought a lovely 15 acres next to a 90 degr bend in a country road. They moved a few years later when the county straightened the road through their farm.)
     
  16. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    fruit and nut trees already started if possible