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Old 12-22-2014, 10:02 PM
 
Location: Martinez, ca
297 posts, read 287,165 times
Reputation: 217

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I guess you didn't read all the posts did you? Here allow me to post them for you.

601halfdozen0theother posted
"To answer the original question: it completely depends upon where yourfarm is located, eg: Soils/Weather/Readily Available Markets"

Westcostnavy posted
Where in the continental US would soil and weather prevent you fromraising Angora, mohair, or cashmere?"


Can you see the relevance? I never stated that any of the types of fibers would make you a bundle, just that neither specific soil nor weather are required to producemany goods.

Now it seems as if you started a large scale operation which failed. Imsorry to hear that. That being said, 80+ goats and a small army of peopleworking to produce mohair is not the same thing as one person with a dozengoats creating home spun hand made sweater.
There is a couple here incalifornia (specifically concord, CA, 94521) Who produces clothing made fromvarious fibers as well as yarn and various knitted goods as well as variousflavored olive oils, bonzai trees and goat cheese.
They have been in business(roadside stand) for as long as i have lived here. The roadside stand is donein conjunction with local fruit producer. So while your endeavor did not do well,that does not mean someone else cannot make a living out of it.

Also on a side note, Idon't know how on earth you can say goats are difficult to raise. We have twopygmy's, Leroy and Jenkins and two fainters Triplet and Purdy. I will gladlyprovide pictures. They have been the easiest pets I have ever taken care of.Heck, they don't even really have an approved rabies vaccine. They need water,and some food as well as de-wormer and minerals. All four of them cost less per month thanone of our dogs, cats or reptiles per month. We got the goats to keep down theweeds and they are very, very, good at it. I don't even have to do any realyard work anymore. If you think goats are difficult, id suggest you never have a dog, cat,lizard or fish.

We have six full time weed abatement companies in our area(contra costa county) who all make a living via goats doing what goats do, stuffing their cute faces at the expense of your weeds. They even used them inSan Francisco earlier this year. Mind you, in California, we have much highercosts than you might if your area.

I understand it can be tough to get the tax reduction, but, if you produced so much mohair, what did you make from the subsidiarypayments from Uncle Sams "Wool Act"? Because many goat farmers have been relying on that since the value ofmohair, wool and other fibers have dropped so much in recent years.

2013 average prices of raw fiber via USDA

Wool: $1.45 per pound

Mohair $4.25 Per Pound

Cashmere $3.9 Per Pound

Angora(Rabbit) $4.45 Per Once

With those numbers, I find it difficult to believe that a small time D.I.Yoperation couldn't make some money.

While you may shave an angora goat, cashmere and angora fiber (rabbit)is best removed via brushing. Something my fiancé does every day with our catsand dogs. Replace said pet with a cashmere producing goat or rabbit and now you just made some $$ doing something you enjoy anyway.

But a farm is like any business. If you have a talent for Lean techniques, minimizing and maximizing you can do well where others fail.

Last edited by Westcoastnavy; 12-22-2014 at 10:11 PM.. Reason: Formatting
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Old 12-22-2014, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Martinez, ca
297 posts, read 287,165 times
Reputation: 217
Default Exactly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhult View Post
The secret is finding your niche. I'm in a very successful area for very small holdings. I'm in a area that people are still willing to pay more for organic and fresh vegetables, fruit and grass feed beef.

That's what someone dreaming of starting a small farm needs to focus on. Not necessarily what I stated for my area but a niche that isn't being fulfilled in your area. .
Exactly.!
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Old 12-22-2014, 10:29 PM
 
Location: Martinez, ca
297 posts, read 287,165 times
Reputation: 217
Default So worng and negative and has been said twenty times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldtrader View Post
If you can afford to farm on a large scale, you can make money.

However: What you are describing and can possibly afford, would require you and your wife get full time jobs so you can support your farming dream and only live on part of your work income as the rest will be needed by the farm.

Farming is done on a huge scale, using very expensive equipment to make a living. What you are talking about is considered a hobby farm, and as you know hobbies cost money supported by your day job.
Sir, this is completely and not backed by any data whatsoever.
You do not need to be a major scale farm to make a living. There are countless small farms (not hobby farms) that do very well.
Many specialty farms and niche farms are tiny, operated by a single family or individuals with not much in the way heavy equipment that survive just fine.

A few examples
http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.o...d=ca.v053n06p6

Several other examples are the new and booming small coffee farms in Napa valley California.
As well as many lavender farms that produce around $60K per acre. Some are sitting on as few as 3 acres.
Besides this, there are four small time mushroom growers (primarily ****ake and oyster) in California that use less than a single acre and no heavy equipment at all.

USDA data that backs and supports my statement.
https://attra.ncat.org/calendar/br_n...-acreage-farms
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Old 12-22-2014, 10:31 PM
 
5,876 posts, read 5,356,049 times
Reputation: 17994
Wow, Sunsprit's post was the very best, most useful, most real, post I've ever read on City-Data. I'm impressed and humbled.

As a farm owner who has been struggling to understand the best way to evolve in the years to come, I have become weary unto death of people who dream of going into farming and talk and talk and talk about it. To West Coast and others, I say, "Shut up and just do it. Then let's discuss your experience AS YOU ARE ACTUALLY, REALLY, FARMING."

Last edited by 601halfdozen0theother; 12-22-2014 at 10:42 PM..
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:53 AM
 
11,257 posts, read 44,316,643 times
Reputation: 15083
Quote:
Originally Posted by Westcoastnavy View Post
I guess you didn't read all the posts did you? Here allow me to post them for you.

Wrong, I've read them all and it's incredible how misinformed so many of those posts are. What comes off is that so many folk are under the impression that farming is easy, ranching is easy, and the costs of labor, equipment, raw goods, taxes, insurance ... not to mention the acreage ... is all a piece of cake. T'ain't so.

The difference between most of them and mine is that I post from actual experience of farming ops in a 4 state region. As I posted, my wife is: (1) an industry professional, she gets to deal with inquiries on a daily basis at a state agency about how to raise crops/produce, (2) a multiple Farmer's Market board director/manager and a (3) an organic produce and meat vendor, plus we run (4) CSA sales, and (5) market directly on several 'net sites devoted to organic foods.

Additionally, she is a guest lecturer at numerous state and county level producer groups, and has trained many Master Gardeners ... including industry professionals.

As I pointed out, we get to see the actual gross sales volumes of many small scale producers at several Farmer's Markets, and it's laughable to suggest that all but a tiny fraction of them generate a gross sales volume that will make a dent in the land cost, let alone a NET PROFIT that "pays the mortgage" on the place.

Even with beef running around $2.00 lb at the sale barn these days, mini breeds like Dexters or Belted Galways top out around 800 lbs. Even a modest 40 acre mortgage isn't going to be supported by a 20 head sale day when you pencil out the two years it takes to bring them to market weight and supporting the 20 cows and a steer (or 2) to have bred the sale cows to begin with. There's multiple reasons why beef is so expensive these days ... primarily because demand is still there but the industry has cut back the number of head due to droughts and costs of feed around many areas. Those small scale livestock producers weren't getting rich years ago and with today's costs to create and deliver a market product, they aren't getting rich if they can afford to get back into the business. NET PROFITs are still at a historic percentage low point for many beef producers.

We've shown livestock at regional and national levels. Why? because it's a value added aspect to producing breeding stock. It takes a lot of real time work to do so, plus the travel costs and the persistence to learn the business. It takes a lot of trips around the country to buy the top quality seedstock animals, and we've had more than a few trips where we were priced out of the market that day and came home empty handed. What few folk understand who haven't raised livestock for profit is that not all livestock is created equal. You have to choose your genetics carefully for the characteristics that you hope to achieve ... good birth weights, twins/triplets in sheep or lambs, easy birthing, disease resistance, scrapie or other disease resistance/negative tests, minimal worm/parasite problems, genetic tolerance to your local climate conditions, conformation to the breed standard, easy weight gain, and a host of similar factors. To all this, you get to amortize the losses that you will encounter ... the livestock that gets infested with parasites, has an physical accident that requires them to be put down, eats a toxic plant, etc. For example, a neighbor of ours with prize winning Suffolks bought two rams at a sale a year ago; one, a $2,600 gorgeous ram, the other ... a $500 OK meat breeder. Brought them home 800 miles in good health. Put them into two adjacent steel pipe pens that was all the space he had available when he brought them home. The $500 ram butted the show ram, breaking the show ram's neck. That's an instant $2,600 loss plus the burial which has to be made up somewhere. Plus there was the loss of the breeding season to his show ewes because he couldn't replace the show ram in a timely manner. Breeding the show ewes to a meat ram would be a waste of the resource for him. He's only got 24 ewes on 80 acres, so the loss of even one head is a big deal to be recaptured. Understand, buying what you think are the genetics you want in your herd/flock is always a gamble ... you can buy a ram or buck, breed him to your best females ... and some months later the youngsters are born and don't look quite like what you wanted to achieve; perhaps, in time, as they grow you realize that you didn't get what you wanted. But you've invested the time, effort, and capital to accomplish that result and you get to start over again in the next breeding season ... which is likely the next year. It's not an exact science, by any means.

Similarly, another neighbor who has been raising livestock ... cows, sheep, and goats ... for over 60 years on his 1/2 section, had a Columbia yearling ram butt him in a corral. He was standing next to the ram, so it wasn't like he could avoid the head butt. Broke the old fellow's hip. The downtime and medical costs more than wiped out any possible profits from his flock this year; he couldn't take care of the livestock so they all went to the trailer and delivered to the sale barn the next week. Don't think for one moment that your "tame" and "well trained/behaved" livestock is domesticated to the point that they are never potentially hazardous.


601halfdozen0theother posted
"To answer the original question: it completely depends upon where yourfarm is located, eg: Soils/Weather/Readily Available Markets"

Indeed, it does. But prime productive farmland in an expensive residential region is also expensive, too. 40 acres around my region is a homestead. 40 acres in the Bay Area is a multi-million property. 40 acres by DC isn't inexpensive, either. I know of some very productive inexpensive farmland in Ohio ... we went back to Wooster for the national sales for the last few years and I got to look at some local farms there for sale. But the products are still sold into a local area market which is fairly low priced. Why? because everybody who is so inclined can grow/raise their own similar products on a small scale sufficient for their own needs. Effectively, the retail price points are lower because the supply is abundant and the demand is not pressed.


Westcostnavy posted
Where in the continental US would soil and weather prevent you fromraising Angora, mohair, or cashmere?"


Can you see the relevance? I never stated that any of the types of fibers would make you a bundle, just that neither specific soil nor weather are required to producemany goods.

Beg to differ, but several specific examples were cited of folk making their mortgage payments, if not a bundle ... just from a few head of cattle, or raising some mohair fiber.

Now it seems as if you started a large scale operation which failed. Imsorry to hear that.

Quite the contrary, I put up a 4+ ton/acre yield of dairy quality alfalfa this year with organic production, which is a very good yield in our area of the country in 3 cuts. Hardly the making of a "failed" business even with the low prices of hay this season. I'm holding on to most of mine until the spring when I anticipate a higher price/ton. We've put 42 head of meat lamb in the freezer this year, USDA processed, and most sold out within weeks of the process dates through the year. We've raised and sold 7 batches of chickens, most were 250 birds per batch although we did do one batch of 350 (and learned that it strained our capacity in the barn we use for this purpose .... not enough heat lamps/area under the heat shields. Losses due to slipped tendons or heart issues were running 5-10%.

My point which you completely missed is that this all takes a significant investment in land, outbuildings, and equipment to produce in addition to the labor involved. None of this is buy it and forget it until harvest time type business; it takes a lot of time to do bring any of these products to a saleable condition and get them sold/delivered. Oh, and that's all in addition to the tunnel greenhouses we've got (our biggest is 28' x 98' x 16' high) with drip tape irrigation/timers for our vegetable production for our own consumption, the CSA, and Farmer's Market sales.

By the way ... selling at a Farmer's Market means that you actually have to go there, rent your space, set up your 10' x 10' stall, hang your signage, pay your license fees (in our case, State and City Food Vendor licenses), have your CC processing/receipts/bags/price signs/displays, and for frozen food products, enough coolers with ice (or reuseable freezer packs) to keep frozen food at a safe temperature for sale and to return unsold product back to our freezers after the market, and so forth. Let me clarify an essential aspect of the process to you which you apparently refuse to understand: THE LEPRECHAUNS DON'T DO ALL THIS WORK FOR YOU. A 4-5 hour sale day at a weekly Farmer's Market requires many hours of preparation before the market opens and after the market closes, you get to tear down your booth and take all your equipment & unsold product home. Our frozen product goes back to the freezers, but fresh produce may not keep another week to be prime goods, so it gets donated to needy families and does not generate revenue. Shrinkage is a big component of our business and we do our best to forecast a given market as to how much of various product/produce we will bring to market. Nothing more frustrating than to not bring enough chickens or lamb or tomatoes and sell out early in a market when we had so much more available to bring.

Another example: due to the latest consumer food safety requirements, all vegetables now have to be cleaned to a "table ready" condition and kept chilled after harvest until they are sold to the consumer. When your wife harvests 5 bushels of heirloom tomatoes, bushels of peas, onions, scallions, peppers, and digs up 5 bushels of potatoes ... somebody gets to stand there at the 3-sink stainless steel food grade washing area and SCRUB them all so that they can be drained/dried and then packed into appropriate bundles or bags for consumer purchase. From point of harvest, they get cleaned, packed, and then placed into a building that is essentially our walk-in cooler (an old creamery building, now chilled with an air conditioner). From there they go into portable coolers with the ice packs, transported to the market. We don't have enough margins in our operations, like so many others at the Farmer's Market, to afford to pay others to do this for us.



That being said, 80+ goats and a small army of peopleworking to produce mohair is not the same thing as one person with a dozengoats creating home spun hand made sweater.


You apparently choose to "not get it". One person with a "dozen goats" doesn't simply shear them and create a "home spun hand made sweater" with a minimal outlay of time, effort, or investment. On the contrary, even if they shear the goats themselves with a $100 clipper and a few combs/cutters consumed in the process, the fleeces have to be sent out to be commercially cleaned, carded, and turned into roving for the spinning process. That's all invested in the raw fleeces before you've got something to spin and dye.

Then there's the spinning wheel. Mrs Sun has several, mostly mid-line models ... all cost well over $1,000 each and I saw them for sale at Estes Park this year now at $1,400 and up. I'm not a spinner, so I can't tell what the differences are, but when she creates yarns each wheel has it's purposes. I'm not the judge, but she's won enough Best of Show ribbons through the years for her spun products that she must know something about what she's doing.



There is a couple here incalifornia (specifically concord, CA, 94521) Who produces clothing made fromvarious fibers as well as yarn and various knitted goods as well as variousflavored olive oils, bonzai trees and goat cheese.

Again, you belittle the processes involved. I can only infer you see the final work product without having any idea as to the amount of work or investment involved to achieve the result.

For example, "goat cheese" isn't something that is conjured up in the back corner of a garage in "concord, CA". There's a whole process of acquiring the goats, animal husbandry and well keeping, then breeding the goats so the mom's are milk producers, then milking the goats EVERY DAY, then processing the milk and storing it until you have enough to begin the cheese making batch process. It takes time, equipment, and a temperature controlled environment to create the raw cheese product in a DAIRY certified/inspected environment. The gov't doesn't hand out the dairy/food process certificate in a box of cracker jax, there are increasingly stringent food safety requirements involving physical plant structure, process controls, safety controls, knowledge of food safety/handling, and packaging/food storage requirements that must be met. Again, none of this happens with Leprechaun labor and it is a DAILY obligation without exception. You may be disposed to wanting a day or two or more "off", but a lactating goat doesn't know the meaning of "it's brew o'clock, mon".


They have been in business(roadside stand) for as long as i have lived here. The roadside stand is donein conjunction with local fruit producer. So while your endeavor did not do well,that does not mean someone else cannot make a living out of it.

Again, I'll stress the my "semi-retirement farming & ranching business" is not a failure. What it does, however, require is a substantial commitment in time, effort, and capital to be a success. I know my books and what my ROI is, and with the help of accounting software ... know where my good profits and loss leaders are on my farm. As does any good businessman.

And again, absent your having seen the books on the "roadside stand", you really don't have a f'ing clue as to what the margins are for the families involved. I've seen a lot of business in my lifetime that do nothing but churn dollars ... and I got to see the books when I was rep'ing software for their industry.

You strike me as a woefully uniformed consumer who really doesn't have a clue as to how business works, let alone the complexities of farming & ranching to a profitable level. Perhaps you're even one of those folk who think that all the food in the supermarket is created in the back room where no animals get hurt for the meat counter.



Also on a side note, Idon't know how on earth you can say goats are difficult to raise. We have twopygmy's, Leroy and Jenkins and two fainters Triplet and Purdy. I will gladlyprovide pictures. They have been the easiest pets I have ever taken care of.Heck, they don't even really have an approved rabies vaccine. They need water,and some food as well as de-wormer and minerals. All four of them cost less per month thanone of our dogs, cats or reptiles per month. We got the goats to keep down theweeds and they are very, very, good at it. I don't even have to do any realyard work anymore. If you think goats are difficult, id suggest you never have a dog, cat,lizard or fish.

Back to the height of your demonstrated ignorance, there is no comparison in having FOUR non-revenue producing pet animals to turning them into a profit center.

You don't even have to be an Einstein to pencil out the numbers. Even if you could sell your 4 pets for $1,000 each ... that's only $4,000 in Gross Revenue for that year. That's not a living income and you've now sold everything you've got. You've no breeding stock at that point, nothing left to sell. Looking at my local sale barn results, purebred meat goats are bringing $1.10 to $2.00 lb ... with the higher price points for 30-45 lb kids and the lower prices for adult breeding stock. Slaughter animals bring less per lb.



We have six full time weed abatement companies in our area(contra costa county) who all make a living via goats doing what goats do, stuffing their cute faces at the expense of your weeds. They even used them inSan Francisco earlier this year. Mind you, in California, we have much highercosts than you might if your area.

Again, your ignorance stands proud. My area costs per unit of livestock are substantially higher than you've ever dreamed of in contra costa county due to the lower productivity per acre. For example, it typically takes over 100 acres per cow/calf unit here. This has many repercussions ... it's much more expensive to fence, patrol, maintain the land, provide water sources and shelter, round them up for various purposes ... and so forth than you've ever imagined.


I understand it can be tough to get the tax reduction, but, if you produced so much mohair, what did you make from the subsidiarypayments from Uncle Sams "Wool Act"? Because many goat farmers have been relying on that since the value ofmohair, wool and other fibers have dropped so much in recent years.

Sorry, we've never gotten a penny from "Uncle Sams "Wool Act". Nor do I know any livestock producer in my area having received any such payments and we're one of the leading sheep producing regions of the USA.


2013 average prices of raw fiber via USDA

Wool: $1.45 per pound

Mohair $4.25 Per Pound

Cashmere $3.9 Per Pound

Angora(Rabbit) $4.45 Per Once

With those numbers, I find it difficult to believe that a small time D.I.Yoperation couldn't make some money.

It's real simple, pardner. Let me explain again how we aren't making any money on our sheep fiber these days. The stuff isn't selling unless the Chinese are buying at the time. We used to be able to take a trailer load of our (and a bunch of neighbor's) raw white face shearling wool in 2,000 lb totes to the receiver in Texas on our way to Kerrville for the goat auctions. In time, we'd see a check for (in a good year) 17 cents/lb. But over the last several years, the Chinese have been buying their wool ... when they buy, which is not very frequently ... in Australia and New Zealand, not the USA. So we haven't sold any of our shearling wool in 5 years now. It's sitting in a receiver warehouse in Colorado, stored and waiting for a possible sale. Last time we did get some sold, it brought 2 cents/lb. I don't know where you're getting your numbers from, but they are far off the mark from what I see published in my USDA reports on my sheep and goat websites.

While you may shave an angora goat, cashmere and angora fiber (rabbit)is best removed via brushing. Something my fiancé does every day with our catsand dogs. Replace said pet with a cashmere producing goat or rabbit and now you just made some $$ doing something you enjoy anyway.


Again, total ignorance about how a marketplace works.

YOU DON'T MAKE ANY MONEY WITH YOUR PRODUCT UNTIL IT SELLS. This is a fundamental business concept applicable to any work product. So, "replacing said pet" with a rabbit hasn't and does not yield one penny of gross sales revenue until you sell it. Again, the leprechauns and unicorns and wizards aren't running around doing the combing for you, nor are they buying your product. You can comb a rabbit and get an ounce or so of fiber over the space of a year ... who's your buyer for this small quantity? Your mother trying to help your beer fund?


But a farm is like any business. If you have a talent for Lean techniques, minimizing and maximizing you can do well where others fail.
Thanks for the lecture, you've been most enlightening into the profundities of absolute ignorance. I'd not realized that such a paramount of stupidity existed, but you've educated me in your ways.

Maybe I'll just sit back next year and let the leprechauns maintain the infrastructure, fences, equipment, and machinery it takes to create our products. Maybe one of them will fill the fuel tanks in my tractors and hook up my swather to cut the alfalfa, and rake the fields, and bale the hay, and then get it off the field with my stack wagon. Or maybe one of them will roto-till my greenhouse and outside gardens, and rake out the soil, and plant the seeds (or start the seed pots in our garden shed), and till the soil and regulate the watering schedule, fertilize as needed, and then tie up the tomatoes and peas and beans and cucumbers, and harvest them, and wash them, and keep them fresh, and transport them to the market and sell them, and best of all ... Deposit all those enormous profits into my business checking account while I go to one of my Colorado houses and sit around and smoke the same stuff you're inhaling now.

I'll bet you still wander around thinking that 100% of the GROSS REVENUES from all these ventures is PROFIT. Not according to my accountant, and he's not even the taxman.

PS: as I've posted over the years in this forum ... my "failed business" has yielded a fleet of motor vehicles, airplane, farm and ranch, farm equipment (tractors, swather, balers, rakes, stack wagon, corrals, barns, miles of pasture fencing, water delivery infrastructure, irrigation pivot and equipment), boats, motorcycles, SFH rental properties in prime Colorado ski resort areas, etc. ... and it's all paid for. I'm well past retirement age and still working this place (40-80 hrs/week in some weeks of the year, such as when we're cutting hay), managing/maintaining my rental houses, and have been working about 20-30 hours per week as a tech overhauling farm equipment for a neighbor's farm equipment repair shop. I know from years of experience that farming/ranching is hard work and not a venture to be taken lightly. If you are seeking "easy money" for a sideline business to do at your convenience/leisure, I urge you to look elsewhere. As well, if you aren't in really good health, the physical demands for much of real farming/ranching can be a significant burden. There are a lot of other ways to make money in home-based businesses which are far less risky and economically demanding ... even on a small scale.

PPS: sorry, had to run out for a few minutes to see what the fuss was that one of my LGD's was making was all about. We've had a spate of coyotes near and around our place, down by the creek bottom over the past few weeks. Only lost 1 lamb that we know of this year to a coyote, and we're on edge about losing any more this year. So a quick trip out about a mile and back on the ATV, shotgun at the ready. It's midnight here, the wind is blowing 35 gusting to 65 mph, and the still air temp is about 17F. How many of you are ready and willing to bundle up, head out into the night at midnight to do such chores to protect your livestock? For us, it's a normal occurrence and if we don't follow these alerts, we're losing livestock. Think about it ... is that what you want to do with your time? If you wanted to "get away" for a number of days, perhaps a short vacation ... do you have somebody to fill in those responsibilities for you? We didn't for over 15 years, but have finally got a neighbor family with some older teens that can responsibly fill these tasks for us ... so we're now both able to leave this place together for the first time in years. Gonna' gas up the plane and head out to a warmer fishing hole for Christmas this year and maybe stop at some of my favorite hot springs to soak for a few hours, too.

Last edited by sunsprit; 12-23-2014 at 02:00 AM..
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:18 AM
 
Location: Martinez, ca
297 posts, read 287,165 times
Reputation: 217
Quote:
Originally Posted by 601halfdozen0theother View Post
Wow, Sunsprit's post was the very best, most useful, most real, post I've ever read on City-Data. I'm impressed and humbled.

As a farm owner who has been struggling to understand the best way to evolve in the years to come, I have become weary unto death of people who dream of going into farming and talk and talk and talk about it. To West Coast and others, I say, "Shut up and just do it. Then let's discuss your experience AS YOU ARE ACTUALLY, REALLY, FARMING."
I have been apart of several small farm ventures, and I grew up on a pig farm in rail road flat in calaveras county, California. But I have listed my experiences in a previous post, feel free to go back and read them.

USDA report: "USDA Economic Research Service has released Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States. This report looks at small acreage farms having gross sales of $10,000 or more in a given year to better understand the product choices and strategies used by small acreage farms that appear to be operating profitably. The study found that almost one-sixth of all U.S. farms in 2007 had 10 or fewer acres. Small farms tended to specialize, and some had high sales, with 3,600 having sales of at least $500,000."
USDA ERS - Working the Land With 10 Acres: Small Acreage Farming in the United States

For those farming hopefuls tired on naysayers, some success stories.
"Pumpkinstiens"
Tony Dighera
Cinagro Farms
Worked at developing unique pumpkins for four years and spent $200,000 over that four years (which is an average of 50k a year in expoenses and overhead). On his fitfh year he grossed $454,000 which is a net of $404,000 per year and a profit of $204,000 over that five year span.

Hawian coffee
Joe and Deepa Alban
Estate Trellis Reserve coffee
Bought some open land in hawaii (big island in 1990) Started a small coffee farm which continued to expand as local sales grew and grew. They currently charge up to $39.95 per pound for thier coffee beans and estimate an annual revanue of $700,000.
Brewing Up a Hawaiian Success - Businessweek


Farm Fresh To You
Martin Barnes and Kathleen Barsotti (suburbanites)
Started an organic farm (a CSA) on rented land in 1979. It now has over 70 acres and supplies most of the organic produce in the SF bay area.

No one ever stated that this lifestyle or business plan is as easy street to big money. It might have been for some but for most it is not, as the 12 previous pages of posts has made very clear. But that doesn't mean that it cannot be successful, nor does it mean everyone who has ever had a hard time of it should blather on on rage about how impossible it is, instead of pointing out dangers and suggesting positive approaches.
With thousands of sources of information on how to grow, breed, harvest, irrigate, clip, sheer or build-In addition to dozens of locations or organizations that offer to teach or apprentice the average suburbanite, It is not difficult to learn.
There are also many Tax incentives as well as government, FDA or USDA type grants or subsidiaries that a small farmer can take advantage of. I.E- Grants and Loans for Farmers | Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

Is it difficult? Sure. But so is any business venture that's legal. But it doesn't mean it is impossible.
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:09 AM
 
Location: Martinez, ca
297 posts, read 287,165 times
Reputation: 217
Default Ouch, personal attacks. Arnt you a bit old for that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Thanks for the lecture, you've been most enlightening into the profundities of absolute ignorance. I'd not realized that such a paramount of stupidity existed, but you've educated me in your ways.

Maybe I'll just sit back next year and let the leprechauns maintain the infrastructure, fences, equipment, and machinery it takes to create our products. Maybe one of them will fill the fuel tanks in my tractors and hook up my swather to cut the alfalfa, and rake the fields, and bale the hay, and then get it off the field with my stack wagon. Or maybe one of them will roto-till my greenhouse and outside gardens, and rake out the soil, and plant the seeds (or start the seed pots in our garden shed), and till the soil and regulate the watering schedule, fertilize as needed, and then tie up the tomatoes and peas and beans and cucumbers, and harvest them, and wash them, and keep them fresh, and transport them to the market and sell them, and best of all ... Deposit all those enormous profits into my business checking account while I go to one of my Colorado houses and sit around and smoke the same stuff you're inhaling now.

I'll bet you still wander around thinking that 100% of the GROSS REVENUES from all these ventures is PROFIT. Not according to my accountant, and he's not even the taxman.


You could very well be the god of aggro- but you do not understand Forums, lol.
I posted in reference to a previous post, not a general post. I am still not sure you understand that?

1.You called your mohair production a failure, I just spoke up my sympathies.
2.Nothing you are talking about is small scale. So how is it relevant to this posters question?
3.If you have read every single post than refer to page 11 and my personal experiences aiding and assisting in many small farm ventures.
4. Who would buy small amounts of Angora fiber? Well, there are at least 6 people per website selling just ounces of angora fiber on: http://www.etsy.com/www.pintrist.com...www.amazon.com
5. Actually I understand business very well as I own and operate a small but profitable manufacturing company in the SF bay area.

As a business man, if I were you, I would look to see what everyone is doing differently that allows them to stay in business. Here are some examples:
1.Mangham manor wool & Mohair Farm-http://www.wool.us/
2.Glen Cauffman/ Glen Cauffman farm. 100 head angora goats. His linked in page. https://www.linkedin.com/pub/glen-cauffman/16/601/a86
3.Phoenix farm fiber owner Alison Waddell 29 head of angora goats. Phoenix Farm Fiber - PFF How-To
That was just three out of the top ten on the 8th Google page. There are tons. Its pretty crazy that so many people are doing it.

So you might be the god of farming, and you can say I am stupid or ignorant or clueless. And sure I have never personally tried to run an angora goat farm. But at the end of the day, there are literally dozens of farms across the US that are successful at it where you haven't been and nothing you can say will change that. Those three links are people who pay all the bills with their farms and produce and make enough profit with angora goats to continue to produce mohair fiber. I can speculate on why you are unable to profit from it, but your the professional farmer, so Ill leave that to you.

On a side note, many people are not trying to float huge farm mortgages or pay off lots of equipment. The internet has literally hundreds of examples of small time folks doing a few different things on less than an acre of land. And a combination of living in a fairly inexpensive area combined low overhead and stubborn hard working nature, get by just fine. I can link examples all day(see previous posts) Many of which incorporate mohair, angora (rabbit) or cashmere.

Also as this post was started by a gentleman who wanted to look into farming on a small scale and look into getting himself involved and not about your failing angora products, if you would like to continue this conversation I would suggest we move it to mail, as continues back and forth between us just convolutes this poor forum even more.
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Old 12-23-2014, 03:00 AM
 
11,257 posts, read 44,316,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westcoastnavy View Post
You could very well be the god of aggro- but you do not understand Forums, lol.
I posted in reference to a previous post, not a general post. I am still not sure you understand that?

1.You called your mohair production a failure, I just spoke up my sympathies.

I explained very carefully what happened to the mohair industry in the USA.

I'll explain it again to you in very simple terms so that even you might follow it:

President Clinton reversed a long standing USA gov't purchase policy that mandated that USA produced raw materials and finished goods only be purchased. So the Chinese have taken over the supply chain and the market for USA produced mohair collapsed. You can research the prices at the leading angora goat auction in Kerrville, TX, and see for yourself how the market collapsed.

That was not a "failure" on the part of my business model, but an unforseeable sea change in the domestic demand for the product. My reasonable reaction was to scale back that production to that of a hobby interest of my wife's artistry.


2.Nothing you are talking about is small scale. So how is it relevant to this posters question?

You and I have a totally different concept of "small scale". My farming and ranching operations are "small scale" as I have less than 100 head of any type of livestock, and only 6 angora goats now. Large scale producers are the folks running bands of sheep on many sections of land, or hundreds ... if not thousands ... of head of cattle. You do know what a "band" of sheep is, don't you?

3.If you have read every single post than refer to page 11 and my personal experiences aiding and assisting in many small farm ventures.

"aiding and assisting" isn't the same as owning, investing, and living with the day-to-day realities 24/7 of maintaining livestock. You may think it is, but until you've done it at this level, you don't know what you're talking about that the folk who do have to live with ... be it 1, 10, 100, or 1000 head of livestock. Keep this in perspective, we're not talking pets, but a producing resource. Big difference in what you've got to expect and capture for a final result.

And I observe that you advised me that I was unsuitable to even be a pet owner .... at which I could take offense. We've got working dogs on this place, they earn their kibble. Plus, we've rescued or fostered numerous animals, ranging from cats/dogs/mules through to a 75 head herd of abandoned horses which we successfully placed over the course of a couple years. Oh, and llamas and alpacas, too.



4. Who would buy small amounts of Angora fiber? Well, there are at least 6 people per website selling just ounces of angora fiber on: http://www.etsy.com/www.pintrist.com...www.amazon.com

yes, and you can find hundreds of folk on eBay selling their fiber products, too. But is it a significant source of income to them from their own production? My wife has been buying fiber from these sources for a few years now, and most of it is not from their own domestic production ... it's resale stuff.

5. Actually I understand business very well as I own and operate a small but profitable manufacturing company in the SF bay area.

unfortunately, you're not applying those business concepts very well to the realities of living with farming/ranching on any scale

As a business man, if I were you, I would look to see what everyone is doing differently that allows them to stay in business. Here are some examples:
1.Mangham manor wool & Mohair Farm-http://www.wool.us/
2.Glen Cauffman/ Glen Cauffman farm. 100 head angora goats. His linked in page. https://www.linkedin.com/pub/glen-cauffman/16/601/a86
3.Phoenix farm fiber owner Alison Waddell 29 head of angora goats. Phoenix Farm Fiber - PFF How-To
That was just three out of the top ten on the 8th Google page. There are tons. Its pretty crazy that so many people are doing it.

What you apparently still don't recognize is that most small scale farmers/ranchers don't make a living from their farming/ranching. Generally speaking, most all except the bigger outfits rely upon off-the-farm/ranch income to survive. Sure, there are isolated examples that are exceptions to that, but even in predominantly farming/ranching communities around the USA, the families depend upon other sources of income to survive. Essentially, farming/ranching for most small outfits is a lifestyle choice, not an economic survival option. Folk do it because they love the lifestyle and enjoy the fruits of their labors (as in providing some of their own food, for example). But even the big deal ranchers in our area have other businesses which support their ranches ... some via mineral/oil wealth, some via trades, some via income properties, some via hunting/fishing/tourism.

No doubt, you'll find numerous examples of folk who are living the "alpaca lifestyle", claiming to make huge profits in that game. Just like the Emu promoters did for years. Maybe you can tell me why I get calls all the time from folk begging me to "come pick up my Alpacas, I can't take care of them anymore". Maybe you've read about the glut of wild Emu's turned loose across Texas because folk wouldn't put them down and couldn't afford to keep them? But I've no doubt you'll find all the folk who are still "making money" with either of these, just to name two examples of niche marketplaces.


So you might be the god of farming, and you can say I am stupid or ignorant or clueless. And sure I have never personally tried to run an angora goat farm.

Thank you for acknowledging the obvious re your lack of practical experience. And I'm not the "god" of anything, nor have I ever professed any such qualification. What I do have is years of practical experience and a partner who brings to the table professional expertise and many decades of practical experience in these matters who has been my tutor, along with the school of hard knocks in the business.

But at the end of the day, there are literally dozens of farms across the US that are successful at it where you haven't been and nothing you can say will change that. Those three links are people who pay all the bills with their farms and produce and make enough profit with angora goats to continue to produce mohair fiber. I can speculate on why you are unable to profit from it, but your the professional farmer, so Ill leave that to you.

A few dozen farms are the exception to the general marketplace, surviving on a small niche hobbyist marketplace of fiber consumers. The big picture is that the mohair marketplace in the USA is virtually dead. We've got an upper level of a barn full of hundreds of pounds of the stuff hand selected and trimmed by my wife when we sheared the goats, and a couple hundred lb tote full of it ... and not a buyer in sight for over 5 years. That's on top of the thousands of lbs of sheep shearings we've got in the receiver's warehouse in Colorado that has remained unsold for years. I don't make the market, I'm just a producer and the market right now isn't buying our product. I'm not going to the expense of selling it in small volume sales, I can't justify the time to parcel it out that way. Even when my wife sells out at a major Wool Market at top dollar, she only recoups the expenses of being there and rarely turns a profit. The folk who appear to make real money in that marketplace today are reselling offshore product where they have nothing invested except the merchandise and shipping costs.

On a side note, many people are not trying to float huge farm mortgages or pay off lots of equipment. The internet has literally hundreds of examples of small time folks doing a few different things on less than an acre of land. And a combination of living in a fairly inexpensive area combined low overhead and stubborn hard working nature, get by just fine. I can link examples all day(see previous posts) Many of which incorporate mohair, angora (rabbit) or cashmere.

Yes, and I can look at all the articles published monthly in such publications as Backwoods Farm Journal, and many others where they endorse the low cost independent lifestyle ... and you can read about the struggles that folk have to achieve their independence and what they settle for to live down to their incomes to make it on next to nothing. For some, it's OK. For others, not. The bottom line is what each of us is willing to live with for a lifestyle. I've seen multi-million dollar ranching/farming operations where the owners were living ... happily ... in a single wide mobile home of older vintage because it was all they could afford. So be it, it's not for me ... and I have no mortgages nor are trying to pay off "lots of equipment".

Also as this post was started by a gentleman who wanted to look into farming on a small scale and look into getting himself involved and not about your failing angora products, if you would like to continue this conversation I would suggest we move it to mail, as continues back and forth between us just convolutes this poor forum even more.
The problem is that the "farming on a small scale" typically yields "small returns". (yes, I understand that there are examples to cite that are exceptions to this ... but they aren't the norm. What you still appear to miss is that farming/ranching typically requires a sizable time and physical commitment, and that's where the cost/value equation falls flat for most folk. It takes as much effort to raise 6 goats as it does many more, or as much time to farm 10 acres as it does 100) There is a point where hand labor is not sufficient to raise much product of value, and you need to utilize equipment/machinery/acreage to accomplish a realistic ROI. The problem is that the small farming equipment is a costly as equipment that will do a larger acreage with more potential productivity.

As a side note, I personally prefer to carry on the thread on the open forum. That's where we get input/discussion and exposure to others, not on the DM side of the forum. I'll stay on the open side, thank you.

Last edited by sunsprit; 12-23-2014 at 03:18 AM..
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Old 12-23-2014, 06:52 AM
 
5,070 posts, read 4,295,747 times
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Fyi--
The wool incentive funded by tariffs on imported wool was discontinued in the 1990s.
The tariff dollars now go into the general fund.
It worked like this-
Depending on the amount in tariff account & formula for each year, a fiber producer received an incentive check from the program of X times the price they sold wool/fiber. So if mohair was sold at $4 a pound; producers received additional check from program for $4 x 2.17 x how many pound they sold. The number of fine wool sheep and hair fiber goats dropped dramatically in US when this program discontinued.

In many parts of the country today the value of a wool fleece is lower than the cost of having it sheared off the sheep. (Even if shearing costs are higher than clip value, sheep need annual shear for health & hygiene.) This has made hair sheep & meat goats a viable alternative for lamb producers living in parts of country without heavy rains or snows.
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Old 12-23-2014, 07:02 AM
 
5,070 posts, read 4,295,747 times
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The best return on a very small scale AG operation I have ever seen was that of a sprout producer for restaurants.
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