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Old 05-27-2009, 11:24 AM
 
Location: California
35 posts, read 144,870 times
Reputation: 21

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My family and I are looking to leave CA once our youngest child graduates from high school in 2011. Although it's always been home for us, CA has it troubles and we're not seeing any good resolutions to them.

We'd like to live on at least 5 acres. We just want to live simply, raise some chickens and goats, plant a small orchard and a big garden. My husband is an avid fisherman and hunter. He's teaching our daughters to hunt and fish, too. I want to raise rare breeds of livestock and am interested in sustainable agriculture.

We're quiet, middle class people who don't require big-city entertainment or attractions. Where we live now is a city of approx. 500,000. It's grown too big for our tastes. We do want a community college or university nearby and of course, jobs would be more than helpful. I was trained as a rehabilitation counselor, but I'm open to other fields. My husband is a general contractor and has worked in residential remodeling for over 30 years. He's been in business for himself for the last 17. He's open to new jobs, as well. Our adult daughter might move with us. She's studying to be a nurse and has her EMT 1 certification. She's also open to a variety of work. Wherever we go, we want to add to the community, not just receive from it.

We're not used to severe winters, but we understand summer heat all too well. I'm interested in opinions about what part of NE would seem to work for a family like us.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Anna
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:00 PM
 
Location: Southwest Nebraska
1,297 posts, read 4,137,222 times
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There is a plot of land 5 acres in size for 14k near Swanson lake near
Trenton, NE. It is in southwest NE and there are a lot of small towns around and McCook is 22 miles east with pop. 8000. This is not my land and is listed with a local realtor. Plenty of fishing, and all activities that go with a lake and also construction seems to be holding its own well in McCook area.

I will be moving back to area in next few months after being gone for 25 yrs. Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:06 PM
 
Location: California
35 posts, read 144,870 times
Reputation: 21
Thanks for the info. $14,000 is an amazing price for five acres near a lake. Looks like we may be looking more into western NE.

Best of luck to you, too, in your move back home.

Anna
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Papillion
2,585 posts, read 9,532,652 times
Reputation: 890
Quote:
Originally Posted by melora1812 View Post
Thanks for the info. $14,000 is an amazing price for five acres near a lake. Looks like we may be looking more into western NE.

Best of luck to you, too, in your move back home.

Anna
Be sure to understand the water situation (good well and quality water in place or available).
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Old 05-27-2009, 11:08 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,234 posts, read 7,249,514 times
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Anna,
Trenton is right in the middle of some of the best fishing and hunting anywhere in the Midwest. It is farm and ranch country. McCook is the nearest city of any size, maybe 5,000 people? I grew up about 90 miles to the SouthWest of McCook in Eastern Colorado. I did a lot of fishing, hunting and water skiing in the area. I plan on moving back in the future if health permits.

GL2
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:38 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,396,963 times
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If you look in the western part, you need to be aware of the delicate balance of the Sandhills region. While it has great pasture, it is easily overgrazed; a loss of grasses can cause "blowouts" where the sand, once roots of plants are removed, blows out of a hole due to the strong and almost constant winds, and becomes a huge gaping hole. When I looked at areas, I thought about how much property I would need vs how many animals I wanted, and what types. While some flatter and greener areas, where the soil was less sandy, would have done fine with 10 acres, here I needed 60 to ensure I did not damage what I had. Overgrazing also causes the proliferation of leafy spurge which is a detriment to pastures once it gets established, and most critters will not eat it.

Also the winters here are harsh; more protection is needed for smaller animals than I am used to, coming from SC. We are very careful about planning what goes where, based on winds and cold. We plowed our garden plots leaving strips of grass to provide forage for the chicken tractors in between the rows; this also keeps the sand from blowing so much by keeping roots in the ground. Winter forage is scarce and you will need to buy or grow either hay or grain for your animals. The growing season is short, so plan to start your seeds - especially your summer and early fall vegies - indoors. We are in a zone 4/5, but again - young fruit trees, etc. need protection from the wind. Some folks do keep a horse or several on one or two acres but their plots quickly become de-foliated and not a happy place for critters - and folks who do this are not well thought of. Animals are not PETA pets here for the most part, but working parts of a family, and expected - like the people - to be tough.

I'm not saying this to drive you off; after all, we have the same plans as you, the same intentions, and are working towards becoming both as organic as possible and as self-sufficient as possible! What is wonderful here is the freedom to do what you want with your own property; the amazingly honest and kind and INTELLIGENT and educated folk, and the beautiful country. The skies alone are worth living here; ever-changing, huge, and multicolored. Our water comes from the aquifer, and is the purest and the cleanest and the freshest-tasting I have ever put lips to. I was never a water-drinker until I came here; it is like wine, heady and sweet and clear. (You will have to, as has been posted, be sure of your water access - and if you need/use a well with an electric pump, when the power goes off for a few days in the winter, you'll need to plan how you will pump your water.) There have been restrictions passed in some areas on well-digging into the aquifer, so make sure you know what is available before you buy.

I love the way the winds whistle around the house and barns, winter and summer, spring and fall. I love the blizzards with their wild winds and huge, almost instant, drifts of dry tumbling snow. I love the summer "heat" - even at 103 deg, the breezes are light and cool, the humidity low, and A/C unnecessary for us. We are in a "tornado prone" area; last year we saw some amazing thunderheads, lots of rain and lightning, but the tornadoes passed us by to the east and south. Beats hurricanes all hollow. Still, there's always a chance - but not a big one. There's a lot of open land. I seem to recall that we had 12 tornadoes in our county last year - but it is a BIIIG county!

If you think that the property prices are low, wait til you see the cost of living! It is amazingly cheap to live here. When you see the salaries you might think "How can people live on THAT?" but the fact is that they can and do. The locals grouse about the high taxes, but really, by comparison, the property taxes are far lower than we were used to. We pay about the same on 60 acres, two barns, a shop, a garage, and a 100-year-old farmhouse as we did on a 3 BR brick ranch home on 1/3 of an acre back east. When my dog got a cactus thorn imbedded in her foot that became infected, she was taken in by the vet, put to sleep, had the wound lanced and drained, was kept for 4 hours, bandaged, and received not only a shot but two weeks' worth of antibiotics - for $45. That would have cost at least $500 back east.

Folks are very willing to share information and help, are funny and friendly and BLUNT. Yes means yes and no means no and that's the end of it. Not a whole lot of people wandering around with their hands out begging or demanding. Schools are incredible; the kids (even visiting teams) are polite, well-spoken, and friendly. They behave with decorum and self-respect - and they should; many get up at 4 to take care of their animals and do chores on their ranches before they go to school. Even the "bad kids" are not that bad; no dealing drugs on campus, no day care centers on campus for the students' children. The political climate in my area is aggressively conservative, and it shows in not just the respect for other peoples' property and individual rights, but their acceptance of guns, hunting, fishing, their cheerful and friendly competition, and their stubborn (and welcome!) refusal to tolerate injustice or dependence. They won't bother you if you don't want to be bothered, but if you come wanting to be a member and participate, they are happy to include you. I've been here exactly one year and just this past Saturday was privileged to announce the town festival parade.

This is a whole 'nother world, a world of common sense and practicality, of amazing natural beauty and simplicity, and if you are ready for that kind of life, it will take your breath away and make you glad that you get up every morning.
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Northeast NE
696 posts, read 1,496,731 times
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There may be little to no drug dealing at schools in small towns.
But the drugs are still there.
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,396,963 times
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Drugs are everywhere; I'm not saying that. But when you come from a place where the teachers are TOLD not to interrupt the drug dealers on campus selling to the students, because Admin doesn't want to call the cops and "make people think there is a problem at this school" - it is a whole different mindset.
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:38 PM
 
Location: California
35 posts, read 144,870 times
Reputation: 21
Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to reply to my post. The thought of actually moving to another state seems unreal to me at this point. I haven't lived any place other Fresno, CA since I was a very young child (a considerable time ago). However, I'm up for an adventure and if my family and I don't look into new opportunities, we'll just stay where we are. We might very easily miss out on something special somewhere else. Thanks to those of you who have been realistic and upfront about the negatives and positives of Nebraska. No place is perfect, that's true. We'd be naive to expect perfection. I do appreciate your candor.

One of our biggest concerns is employment. I've been out of a job for over a year and just accepted a position at a lower rate of pay. Since I work in rehabilitation counseling in a city with a university that produces out many more rehab graduates than the area can support, finding positions in rehab here has been problematic. So, I went back to the education field and took a job as a paraprofessional, aka, instructional aide. It won't pay as much as I was paid as a counselor, but it will be honest work where I can do some good. I'll be able to work with students with special needs, something I've always enjoyed doing.

What's the employment picture in western NE? Are there any books or periodicals that would give us some kind of feel for life in the Midwest, specifically NE? We're more than a little clueless about living in other states.

Once again, I do thank you all. You've been very kind and helpful. I hope not to try your patience with too many questions.

Anna
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:05 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,396,963 times
Reputation: 9552
Folks are always looking for a remodeler and builder; your hubby won't find a lot of tract housing employment, of course, but if he can build sturdy and nice-looking construction (snow loads and wind resistance are imperative) and do remodeling, he'll find work, I should think. The guy down the street from us is a remodeler/builder, and he is gone 12 hours a day, six days a week. He does beautiful work, too.

A rehab counselor - hmmm, I don't know about that kind of employment in the rural area in which I live. Folks I know that get injured just keep on plugging along; those with strokes, etc still keep going with people to help them over the rough patches. Maybe around Chadron or one of the 'larger' towns - our village has only 177 people, with a lot of outlying ranches. The largest town (Valentine) in our county only has about 2500 people. But the employment rates here are pretty good; if you want a job (or several) you can find 'em, especially in the hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc. We are somewhat of a summer tourist attraction (people tube and kayak the Niobrara River here) and a fall hunting attraction, so motel and restaurant employment are fair. If you get near Chadron (they have a college) there is a lot more; everything from Wal Mart to a fairly large (altho not by CA standards) hospital.

I REALLY like the health care here (actually, in Valentine, 40 miles away), BTW; my dau got her first migraine here and we didn't know a soul. I called the clinic, she was seen, had a CatScan done (to rule out nasty things like aneurysms and tumors) and had the meds in her hand from the pharmacy - in two hours. DH was crippled 5 years ago at work and is on lifetime medication and care; the folks here treat him more efficiently and with much better care than the big hospitals and expensive (and overrated) physicians and specialists back east. I took him in for bronchitis last fall and they had him X-rayed, on breathing treatments, Albuterol, and then prescription meds, all in one afternoon. Then they apologized for the bill being "so high" - it was $80.

Just get your foot in the door and things will happen; as long as you have a strong work ethic and don't do unfavorable comparisons, or say, "Well THIS is how its done" - you should do fine. There's a reason they do things differently here - because it WORKS.

I'd recommend that you come and look around before you move; get the lay of the land, and look at the newspapers, job openings, property listings, etc - even subscribe to one for a year so you can see how things unfold. Each area has its own little quirks and curiosities and attitudes.
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