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Old 12-11-2008, 02:56 PM
 
22 posts, read 143,252 times
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Out of Vermont, Wisconin, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon, what state would you vote for as best for starting a farm?

Important aspects that come to mind would be cost of land, quality of land, growing season, economy..

Also quality of life things like recreation and such. I would imagine there would be a lot more recreational activities in Vermont or Oregon than in Iowa.

All the states I listed are seasonal, but which are more seasonal than others? Is Wisconsin relative to Vermont or Idaho as far as # of growing days?
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,157 posts, read 50,356,457 times
Reputation: 19891
Quote:
Originally Posted by upatthecape View Post
Out of Vermont, Wisconin, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon, what state would you vote for as best for starting a farm?

Important aspects that come to mind would be cost of land, quality of land, growing season, economy..

Also quality of life things like recreation and such. I would imagine there would be a lot more recreational activities in Vermont or Oregon than in Iowa.

All the states I listed are seasonal, but which are more seasonal than others? Is Wisconsin relative to Vermont or Idaho as far as # of growing days?
Good topic.

We searched around over a period of 15 years, looking for a good place for us, during my military career. So we had a chance to live in many different places.

I do not wish to say any bad thing about any state like those [Vermont, Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Iowa] Because folks do go to each of them, and they do make a go of it.

We had a lot of choose from, and the decision was a difficult one.

We chose Maine.

I was really concerned about access to water. Water rights, how high up you need to pump water, and drought. To me nothing can be done without water. So I wanted land that has a lot of water. A high water table so it does not require a lot of pumping, and riverfrontage or lake frontage.

I know that this situation makes me susceptible to flooding. But to me, a flood once every 20 years is better than pumping water up 1,500 feet every day.

In Maine we found virgin forest land that sells for as low as $300 / acre. I found a parcel with river frontage for $900 / acre.

In this area we generally have a 100 day growing season. I am a vendor in an Organic Farmer's Market. Most of the vendors here use greenhouses, so their growing season is much longer. I am just getting started though.

We selected this area for it's depressed economy.

IMHO; An area with a 'thriving' economy, has a lot of jobs, good salaries and higher priced goods. Everyone wants to live in these areas, and it costs more to live there. In a thriving area, if you do have a minimum wage job, you are losing ground. You simply can not support a family on minimum wage. Often farming is not a high income job.

IMHO; An area with a 'depressed' economy, few or no jobs, translates to only minimum wage jobs, lower prices, and folks can support their families on very little. Low cost-of-living lifestyles are possible in these areas.

So we selected an area with a depressed economy.

We do not show a high enough income to pay income taxes. So while folks can make an argument about income taxes, for farmers the issue is moot. When you re-invest your profits back into your business, then you show no taxable profit; so you pay no taxes.

In this area, our property taxes are very low. Where we are in Maine, our property tax mil rate is 0.00852, so we have been paying $1.05 per acre each year.

We see moose about weekly; deer and wild turkey almost everyday. Hunting is very common in the local community, as is fishing.

It is fairly common among our rural neighbors for folks to provide most of their household meat via hunting. Our chest freezer is full, and we had to buy a second freezer to hold our greens.

Folks in the nearby city are eager to buy farm raised meats [beef, pork, goat, chicken, rabbit].

I keep 2 kayaks tied up in the water right behind our house. Boating is a common activity in the summer. Sledding and ice fishing are common in the winter.

We have numerous ski resorts within a 2 hour drive, though none of them are as famous as other states have. These are each small family ran ski slopes, usually filled with local school children.

We are within 20 minutes of a state university town, with it's plays, music and college sports.

Geo-caching is an up and coming activity here, for hikers and kayakers.
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,093 posts, read 73,682,071 times
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Listen to Forest..he really does have it all figured out.
Just read between the lines and draw up your own plans.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:32 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,157 posts, read 50,356,457 times
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I did have a couple of factors in my favour.

1. I grew up on a farm.

2. I perceived a future economic collapse when I was in my teens.

3. I attempted living off-the-land and I failed economically.

4. I realized the true need of a pension income. So I decided to work a career that offered a 20-year pension. Which also allowed me to travel and meet folks who were living off-the-land [and to see what problems they were having].

5. I very nearly decided to homestead on a live aboard sailboat, as many people already do.
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Maine
6,072 posts, read 11,566,753 times
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Quote:
I was really concerned about access to water. Water rights, how high up you need to pump water, and drought. To me nothing can be done without water. So I wanted land that has a lot of water. A high water table so it does not require a lot of pumping, and riverfrontage or lake frontage.
Especially when the river landed in your living room last spring! That sort of thing helps with land prices. Pumping water out of the house just doesn't compare to pumping it to the garden.

Swimming chickens.... (Inside joke. We know each other.)
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,157 posts, read 50,356,457 times
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True when they say "20-year flood plain" I was not thinking that it would likely exceed that flood level within the first couple of years.

Looking back we did learn a few things.

When it looks like a flood might be coming, I need to move livestock from one area over to a different area. I did not know that chickens could not swim, so we lost half of our chickens.

I did not know that an electric water heater floats, I thought it would remain stationary. But now I know better. A floating water heater, will rip itself loose from plumbing, and as it bobs around it will knock other things loose.

Even though I was kayaking in through our front doors, our flood damage totaled kind of low. It was about $200 of actual damages. [Some PVC plumbing, and one electric circuit.]

If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought a different piece of land. Still in Maine, and still for the same price. But I would have bought land with more slope to it. Not so much to avoid flooding really, but to increase the possibility of micro-hydro-electric production.

On this land I have four surface water run-off streams that flow year around most years, but they can run dry. Each of their flow is kind of low, so producing all of our electric needs will require developing at least three of these streams.

Had I bought one of the other properties [that had more slope to it] we would have been developing a year around stream with significant downhill 'head', so one stream by itself could produce all of our electric needs.

In the long term [40 years or more] paying an electric bill will add up to a lot of money thrown out there. The benefit of sustainable electricity production is a huge benefit to anyone's lifestyle.

Feeding livestock is easy. Given the right area 90% of their feed they can forage for themselves. So you only need to focus on the other 10% of their feed.

Ideally if they keep your larder full, and you market the excess, then paying for a small bit of feed is not so bad.

I have looked at farming grain [at the local farmer where I buy my oats and barley from], but buying a harvester / combine is a huge massive investment. One which is far beyond my financial capability. So I am stuck buying grains from other farmers, for now. Buying by the tonne, is a huge benefit, I have learned.

Oops I ramble too much, I apologize.

Land where you can live a lifestyle and be 'happy'; where you can limit how much you need to buy from off the farm; and where you can produce an excess. ...
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:52 AM
 
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Forest Breath--------as a farmer all my life, please tell me where in the US cattle can get 90% of their feed by foraging and only 10% of their feed has to be harvested.

Maine must have an 11 month growing season.

In MN we are not as fortunate as Maine.
In my 14 years of practicing rotational grazing on my dairy herd, grazing only covers from early May til mid October, thus I had roughly 45% of the year their forage needs could be met by grazing and 55% of the year I had to supply hay.

I guess I should have moved to Maine where my cattle could graze 90% of the year.

(sarc
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:01 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,695,749 times
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The big question to the OP is how much do you need to live on and how much do you need in income from the farm.

If you read Forest Breath's post, he stated he went broke the first time.
AFTER he had a pension to live on, it worked out.

If your pension or your cash reserves are big enough that you don't need the income from a farm to live, you can start a "hobby farm" darn near anywhere.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,157 posts, read 50,356,457 times
Reputation: 19891
Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Forest Breath--------as a farmer all my life, please tell me where in the US cattle can get 90% of their feed by foraging and only 10% of their feed has to be harvested.
My father has raised beef all of his life.

California and Missouri; you need a good job to support cattle.

I assume that 100 years ago, areas did exist where a farm could raise beef without external input.

Such is rare today.

I have no beef. I did not say that I did have beef.

Beef are not self sustainable in this area.

Maine is mostly forest. What lives in forest? Deer, moose, bear, and beaver do.

So logically a farmer must adapt what livestock he chooses, to animals that can support themselves from the local flora. We have goats, sheep, and chickens.

Goats, sheep and chickens feed themselves most of the year, here, by free ranging.

I wrap hardware cloth around the maple trees that I wish to save, and the goats and sheep continue to eat the trees, as they have all summer. [Just not the maples]

In the winter, I must feed our chickens.



Quote:
... Maine must have an 11 month growing season.
You make assumptions not based on fact.

I do apologize, if I have said anything which gave you a wrong impression.

We have local goat dairies which are profitible.

More so the goat dairies who produce organic cheese.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,157 posts, read 50,356,457 times
Reputation: 19891
Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
The big question to the OP is how much do you need to live on and how much do you need in income from the farm.
True.



Quote:
... If you read Forest Breath's post, he stated he went broke the first time.
AFTER he had a pension to live on, it worked out.
True.

I grew up farming, many of my relatives farm.

They all produce farm products. However most of them also work jobs off the farm to support their farm.

I have one relative who has a farm that is self-supporting. 400 acres of wine grapes within 10 miles of Gallo, and a life term contract where Gallo buys all of his grapes. So no other competing grape farmer can push him out.

Otherwise it does tend to take out source money to support farming in America.



Quote:
... If your pension or your cash reserves are big enough that you don't need the income from a farm to live, you can start a "hobby farm" darn near anywhere.
That is a big 'if'.

Many farmers go under because their job income is not enough to support their farm.

My father tried to hand his 200 acre farm over to our youngest son. But that son could not locate employment in that area of Missouri, enough to allow him to support that farm.

Running cattle can be very expensive.



According to the IRS: a 'hobby' activity is one where you bring in no income, and have no intent of bringing in an income.

My father's beef operation brings in an income, it is not enough to cover his expenses, but it is still an income.

My operation here brings in an income, but we are just getting started.

I have seen other Farmer's Market vendors here, who are managing to fully support their farms and families via their farming activities.

Obviously some will require out side incomes as they get the farm tweaked.

Some will never become self supportive.

Some are supporting themselves.

Why the anger?
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