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Old 02-12-2011, 01:42 PM
2 posts, read 27,382 times
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Where are the best places to move to in Colorado if I want to have a small family farm/large garden? Looking for somewhere with favorable climate, sunlight, good soil, not too dry ... not too large population but within reasonable distance of a hospital (I'm a nurse) and a college (husband works in education). Any ideas?
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:38 PM
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Take a look at this thread, the same issues will apply in much of your case, especially access to water, which is a whole subset of law here in COLO. The whole state is rather dry, though a lot of farming is done (with irrigation) out on the eastern plains of COLO.

Most hospitals and colleges in COLO are along the I-25 corridor, from Pueblo to Fort Collins, plus Durango (a bit pricey) and Grand Junction (western COLO).
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:14 PM
Location: Tucson
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Sterling? My family has been farming in that area for a long time. Not for everyone, though. It does have a community college and a hospital...
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:17 PM
Location: Back in COLORADO!!!
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Pueblo county, just east of the city of Pueblo. Great area for farming IF, and only IF, you can buy a piece of land with ag water rights.
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:30 PM
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Bring lots of money.

When I was seeking to leave the Front Range and checked out farms/ranches throughout Colorado ... I checked out places in the entire state. Where there were decent soils and growing season, water was scare or unavailable for anything except domestic use. If a place did have water (and water rights), the price was far in excess of the productive value of the land.

When looking at farmland in Colorado, you need to have a complete understanding of the water rights associated with the land as well as the functional availability of water for the place. These are two entirely different issues ... water rights without functional water equals no ag water to your property. Water law and availability here are entirely different in this semi-arid environment compared to riparian states where water is not an issue. Make no assumption about any property and it's water; investigate thoroughly and understand exactly what you are buying from people other than the seller and any real estate agent.

I had a 7 figure farm budget, and it wasn't adequate to buy a Colorado property I could justify for farming/ranching & keeping my horses. I had to buy a farm/ranch out of state .... although I'm just a couple of miles over the CO border. I started looking in 1996, and prices for productive farmland were a lot less expensive than they are now ... driven up, partly, by "gentleman farmers" or folk who just want a piece of the Colorado dream and an income from their farm is not required.

Even if you're just seeking to raise food for your personal use and perhaps, livestock (horses?) ... understand that you are entering an entirely different climate/soils/growing season/water availability environment than many other places in the USA. IF you are looking at land anywhere near recreational areas, the price will reflect the resort industry and not the farming value, even on a small scale.
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:08 PM
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We had 5 acres in Elizabeth, and the garden did really well....the soil did take a bit of amending first tho, not to mention hauling rocks out of the area, and the horses next door supplied endless amounts of fertilizer.....on a well/septic set up....in order to keep the watering to a minimum I tiered the garden area (top trickled water down).....

We moved at the end of the 90s, the homes in the area were up to the low 200,000 range, haven't looked at it lately......

There's a couple of "back roads" to get into Denver, which was around a 30-45 min drive, depending on where you were headed....Colorado Springs was about the same time, same backroads possibilities (which gives you an option if I-25 is a mess).......Always sunny, the usual summer afternoon rain bursts the area is known for made the garden easier to keep up with.....

The only year the garden didn't do well was the first year the goat came along, LOL, we learned the hard way how much they get themselves into......
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:54 PM
Location: N. Colorado
345 posts, read 757,994 times
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I currently live on 6 acres, it is very costly to have livestock. Due to weather and the state being brown for about 6 months out of the year the hay budget is high. This years' severe cold has cost me double my usual hay

Soil can be sandy, it can have clay, it can be hard as a rock, but it is not great for growing unless you spend money on say top soil, fertilizer etc. If you have a full use well you can water a very small garden, a large one would tax the well and force you to change filters often if you use too much. If your well is not full use you are not allowed to use it for animals or gardens. The sun is harsh and if you do not keep it well watered you can loose it all in a day. Or the hail can do it for you once it is close to harvesting or beat up your goslings and ducklings and the next time the sky goes dark and $100 worth of birds take off never to be seen again.

Most likely any land you look at has had it's water rights and mineral rights sold long ago to someone else. If they were to sell, and it costs in the thousands to buy it. I own neither on my place. So while there is water near me from April till Oct I cannot use a drop.

Farming/gardening/livestock is not as easy here as it is in places with 4 Seasons, and lots of water.
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Old 02-15-2011, 12:15 PM
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I actually had 2 relatives, pretty much life long Coloradans, move to another state back east mainly so they could actually do some decent gardening and have more of a regular 4 seasons. The problem they had was very short growing seasons, although they had access to water. They eventually returned to Colorado when too old to garden.

If it's important to you, then I would ensure you have access to water, because the lower in elevation you go the drier it is. The higher you go, the more water, but short or non existent gardening season.

For whatever reason, most outsiders think of Colorado as a wet state, but most of the terrain is dry prairie/desert. The higher elevations that have precipitation have long winters and little population for good reason. The state pretty much survives on high elevation melted snow and the water rights issue in the state is confusing and expensive for those not already at the table.
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Old 02-28-2011, 03:29 AM
230 posts, read 449,958 times
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Very interesting information here. My farming experience comes from my childhood summers at my grandfathers farm in Tennessee. Much different than what is described here.
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Old 02-28-2011, 11:47 AM
Location: Foot of the Rockies
84,958 posts, read 98,776,620 times
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Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Very interesting information here. My farming experience comes from my childhood summers at my grandfathers farm in Tennessee. Much different than what is described here.
Without a doubt. We garden; have seen the following on a regular, if not annual, basis:

Late spring snows with freezing temps (late May)
Early fall snows with freezing temps (Sept)
Droughts with water rationing if on city supplies
Generally short growing season, much shorter than in TN, I would think

None of this deters us, but we're doing the gardening more for a hobby. If we had to depend on it for our food supply, we'd be up the creek.
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