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Old 01-18-2013, 11:10 AM
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
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There is no comparison between farming in the Appalachians vs farming in Colorado, as many in this thread have already commented. Water is a major problem, never mind the shorter growing season, lack of humidity, cooler night time temps, etc., etc.

Places such as Orchard City, Olathe, and Palisade provide produce for Farmer's markets on the Western Slope. Rocky Ford (east of Pueblo) is famous for its melons. I'm sure they're probably hydroponics outfits near the major cities, but they are not a major factor as far as I know.

My grandparents ran a tobacco farm back in Kentucky. They also had a huge garden and kept pigs, chickens, milk cows, etc, and managed to do all right. They never could have done the same things here.

I advise you to check out other states where water is more plentiful and where the growing season is longer.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:38 AM
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A lot of water from Colorado goes to Arizona, Nevada, and California. South Dakota, etc. with old water rights. You can live right by a river in Colorado, and cannot draw even one drop of water from the river to water your property unless you own old water rights (none available now).

If you want to put in a residential subdivision, you have to buy multiple acre feet of water, for every acre of land at thousands of dollars an acre that is signed over to the city or water district. Water rights are very expensive, I know as I was a commercial real estate broker in Colorado for many years and did some development back then. Thirty years ago, I bought and sold water rights for $2,200 per acre foot and it took 2 acre foot of water for every acre to be developed. I just looked it up, and current cost is $9,000 per unit (acre foot) in the same county.

With water brokers out there looking to buy water for developments (one cannot happen without sufficient water rights to sign over) a private party does not have a chance to get water for a property, unless it already exists on it. Water rights stay with the property that owns it, with the exception it can be sold for housing developments.

I hope this helps you understand the water problems for small farms.

You plant on Memorial Day if you want to get a garden crop to be past the last freezing date. You had better plan on harvesting by Labor Day or it can freeze your garden out. Always use the shortest to harvest versions of seeds. You are going to have to enrich your soil. Some years even with water, the weather can destroy some of your crops not allowing them to mature. Such as corn does not put on ears, tomatoes do not really develop. Etc.

Example of what it takes to get a crop, some dry land farms that grow wheat, only plant every third year. The other 2 years the land sits fallow, to absorb what little moisture there is. You will see farms with only one third planted each year, rotating the other 2 areas so one is planted each year. And that may not be enough if there is a especially dry year one of the three years, and you either do not plant or lose your crop as not enough moisture.

You cannot rely on dry land pasture, for your animals. You either have to have water, or buy very expensive feed. And you have to have water rights that allow you to water them.

Colorado is different, and small farms like what you want with water rights, are few and far between near where you need to live for the work you do. And when you find one, expect to spend a lot of money.
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