U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Rural and Small Town Living
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 05-07-2009, 07:28 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Yes, SC Granny----------I am always amazed when people plan to move to a very rural area and presume they're going to make good money from selling their produce from their gardens, meat, and maybe milk to people close by.

Did they ever stop and ask themselves-------" where are those people near by been getting their things for the last 20 years or so"

Were those people just sitting on their butts day after day, year after year, waiting for some new guy from the city to move out by them and "rescue "them?

I doubt it !
Don't bring this up on the Maine Forum...Holy Smokes I mentioned this very thing about a month ago and man did I make people mad. My point was two fold beyond what you and SCGRanny has said. And that is...

1. People who move in tend to have mortgages and severe overhead. For the natives we already have barns, land that has been "paid off" a century ago and a ton of contacts that come from, "back in 67 your grandfather took some gravel from me, and I was wondering if I could grab some hay off you to make it through to green up." That is what these people have for local competition...low overhead, a lot of bartering systems already in place, and safety nets that is not easily understood because it can't be spelled out on paper.

2. People's discretionary spending money with the new economy is drastically reduced. I have said for the past 3 months that the organic and higher priced foods will suffer first and that prediction is starting to manifest itself now. AgDay has reported this a lot lately, and yet many people think the farmers markets will be teeming with patrons. Myself I see that market as already been saturated and people reverting to lower costs foods out of need. The problem is, all the data on this stuff was well after the growing season ended last fall. The statistics are cheery, but they are based on pre-October-economy-collapse. Perhaps I am wrong on this, but I think a prudent farmer will curtail their overhead in anticipation of reduced profits in the next 1-2 years.

In my opinion, I think it is silly to think people can just waltz into a new area, buy a few acres, raise a few veggies and sell it at the local farmer's market for incredible profit while paying for land, buildings, equipment and relying entirely on themselves to do so. I see this as being no different then the 1910-1920 when farming in the mid-west meant wheat farmers could make 300% more from one year to the next. For a few, they made money, but ultimately the bubble burst and we all know about the dust bowl that followed. They say history repeats itself and I see that with truck farms in 2009. It's pretty hard to maintain your farm when you are babysitting a parkinglot all week so how can you roll with the punches when you never see the sucker punch coming and it lays you out flat. That punch will probably be global warming. Many people think of global warming in linear terms...as in draught, but actually global warming produces eradic weather. 4 Months ago Maine had the lowest temp on record...-45.3º below without windchill. Last week we had the highest temp for April 20th...88º which was 10º higher then the previous record. As I said, the wild, crazy temps swings will kill us and we will see more of it I am afraid.

Oh profits and farming can be done, but by golly it will be with people with VERY sharp pencils. Certainly doing what the next guy did is not going to cut it. If you read about a technique or style in a book, rest assured the market is already saturated and the person is actually making a living from writing the technique then actual farming. At the same time, trying to force a farm to fit a new method is an expensive alternative then matching the product to the existing farm. For instance I could grain farm here, but Maine and Vermont have ideal conditions for pastures. The input of producing pasture is far less then trying to change my highly acidic soil to raise grains. Why fight it? Figure out what worked well in the past and evaluate the market and go from there.

Last edited by BrokenTap; 05-07-2009 at 07:43 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 05-08-2009, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Maine
6,071 posts, read 11,561,027 times
Reputation: 5672
Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Yes, SC Granny----------I am always amazed when people plan to move to a very rural area and presume they're going to make good money from selling their produce from their gardens, meat, and maybe milk to people close by.

Did they ever stop and ask themselves-------" where are those people near by been getting their things for the last 20 years or so"
Of course. It's part of a good business plan. Moving to a rural area doesn't decrease IQ levels. We can still think and plan out here. We're part of a new food alliance in our very rural, very poor county. There are approximately 30 very rural farms in the alliance. We're all making a comfortable living. Fortunately, people do have to eat and we are capable of marketing.

Quote:
Were those people just sitting on their butts day after day, year after year, waiting for some new guy from the city to move out by them and "rescue "them?

I doubt it !
Where did you get the idea that rural people need to be rescued?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-08-2009, 11:32 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
Gee, BT, wished we lived closer; I could take some cords off of your hands! If you can't get the paper mills to buy your wood, could you cut the cords smaller and sell them at the local feed store for firewood? The less 'green' the better! If you live near a small town or city where fireplaces are an approved option, you could unload those cords easily.

I used to see small carry-able bundles of firewood going for $7 apiece in front of grocery stores, and they were always sold out within two days. Just a thought. I realize that the time and $$ you've already spent could already preclude that sort of investment.
Wrong kind of wood I am afraid. I don't have a whole lot of hardwood on my farm actually. A beech ridge here and some pockets of Ash there, but it is mostly Spruce, Fir, Hemlock and Pine. When the housing market is good, I do well, but when the housing market is down like it is now, and the softwood sawlogs are not selling, and the softwood pulp (used to make paper) is not moving either...well I don't do so well.

My Grandfather has logging trucks and said they got a contract to move 2 loads of softwood a week, so as soon as some other customers get their wood moved, mine will be shipping out. I can wait until then so I'll be fine.

As for the wood itself, you have to keep in mind that here the average homeowner has 80 acres and 90% of this county is forested. Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation, so EVERYONE here has wood. Typically when hard times come, people here jump in the woods and starting cutting wood to pay for things, but with the papermills either shut down, not buying wood or closed up altogether, the forest products industry here is dead. Being the most job producing part of the economy...it is not a good thing for Maine.

If for some reason I end up sitting on my wood for a few more months, I am looking at turning it into biomass. The pay is a lot lower, but there always seems to be a market for that (biomass=burned wood chips that makes steam to make power for the grid). Here they buy more tons of it in the winter because the water temp is so much lower that it takes a lot more wood to get the temp up. Electrical demand is a bit higher in the winter too, so it might take 6 months but eventually I will sell it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-08-2009, 12:05 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
I don't understand the folks who move to the country without a real, concrete plan. I knew my property would not even be self-sufficient for at LEAST five years and planned accordingly. I'm not looking to make money as much as I am looking to grow things that satisfy my table (although the money from production sales is an option, it is not factored in to the plan.) I thiink that a lot of folks move to the country and think that they can make a "killing" off of their vegetable and egg sales, and don't realize that everyone in that area is already growing their own, already know planting times, fertilizer, soil requirements, and what grows best far more intimately than any 'newbie'. I found a summer Farmer's Market 50 miles away on the Internet last week; only open from June 1 til October 31. That's the only place I have seen for a local market for organic produce. While that could mean more $$ for me when I start to sell my overproduction - it could also more likely mean that there is no local interest in such a thing.
I talked with a CSA near me last year that ran into this same issue. He told me flat out that it was nice farming in better soil now, but because people around here simply grow their own victory gardens he had to go to Portland over 100 miles away to sell his produce at a profitable level. To me that is not "local" food.

Still it brings up something that kind of cranks my cows tail and that is inflated prices. There is a vast difference between capitalism and profiteering and the last issue I do not like. I think what sets rural attitudes apart from those from urban areas who move in and take over farms is the buyer beware, and profiteering attitudes. I personally think if you cannot sell to your local residents at affordable rates then a farmer should really look at their overhead and profit margins and adjust accordingly.

If you think I plan things well, you should see my record keeping. I track a lot of variables simple because if you track them, you see trends, and once you see trends you can adjust your inputs and overhead costs to reduce what you do not like. Ultimately that will reflect in my prices and so my customers will have excellent, higher quality meat at local grocery store prices. That is a win-win situation to me...they have access to higher quality lamb without having to forgo paying the electrical bill this month to get it. Ultimately that will get me more customers and thus more cash flow and that is the all important thing when it comes to farming in my opinion. I think too that farms have far more benefit to the community then just making heaps of profits, and often times the ones that make the least profit are the best ones for the community!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
Folks see the big Angus auctions here and think, "Wow, those ranchers are making a killing!" not realizing that that may be the only income they have for three or even six months. Most ranchers' wives are employed in paying jobs such as teachers or heath-care workers so that their families have money to eat off of year round. Because of the economy downturn, many family ranchers have laid off their hired hands and are employing their children full-time. Your description of having a 5 year old plow is funny and all too true; because most of the very young children here rope and ride, brand and castrate, and scramble up on top of the tractors to bale hay as quickly as any teenager or adult.
One thing I learned early in life is to never count other peoples money...it only will upset you and hurt you as what seems like a lot of money may be very different in reality. Either way my Uncle told me something one day while chopping haylage. He said you know BT...

"When it's all said and done, and the coffin goes in the ground, its really the farmer who is the richest man of all."

He never elaborated, but in some ways I think he was telling me that a farmer has it made in both fiscal terms and emotional terms. Either way I have come to the realization that when I die, whether it be tomorrow or 60 years from now, I'm be all set and so won't my wife and daughter. That money won't come from shafting people or getting a big profit margin on my commodities, but rather from just having the land, the equipment and livestock. The value of those three things is incredibly valuable, but knowing better then to put any of it up for collateral is priceless.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-08-2009, 03:35 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,683,788 times
Reputation: 8170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Writer View Post
Of course. It's part of a good business plan. Moving to a rural area doesn't decrease IQ levels. We can still think and plan out here. We're part of a new food alliance in our very rural, very poor county. There are approximately 30 very rural farms in the alliance. We're all making a comfortable living. Fortunately, people do have to eat and we are capable of marketing.

Where did you get the idea that rural people need to be rescued?
Maine Writer------who was their supply source before the city person moved in and thought the locals needed their products?

Chances are they either were raising it themselves or believed they could do with out.

" rescue them" was a combination of a metaphor and sarcasm,
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-08-2009, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Maine
6,071 posts, read 11,561,027 times
Reputation: 5672
Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Maine Writer------who was their supply source before the city person moved in and thought the locals needed their products?

Chances are they either were raising it themselves or believed they could do with out.

" rescue them" was a combination of a metaphor and sarcasm,
The grocery store.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-08-2009, 06:45 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Writer View Post
The grocery store.
I kind of doubt that.

Where I live, a few scant miles from where you live, the majority of the people raised their own food. 25 years ago everyone had gardens and I remember in school teachers asking how many of us had our gardens plowed by this time and whatnot. Then people started getting lazy and the gardening stopped. Long gone were the days of gardening and the "what manure do you use on your garden" ceased and the "I just don't have time for a garden anymore" began.

It started around the 1990's when people stopped doing things at home and started do more things away. It was far more cool to take the kids to baseball, track and soccer then it was to stay home and have them help tend a garden. That started about the time when kids stopped picking berries in the summer, blueberries in late summer and potatoes in the fall and thus companies turned to migrant labor instead (which is just fine since we don't seem to want our kids to...oh my word...dare I say it...work for something.)

Now the tide is switching back. I am not sure if CSA's are the latest farming fad or are actually here to stay. I see them filling a nice void between the elderly that once had gardens and are no longer able to do it. For that they seem ideal, and certainly our town is progressive in using CSA's to provide public funding to help feed the towns people, but I think for the majority of CSA's, it is merely a way for them to buy their way out of actually working a garden. They use money to buy CSA shares, convince themselves they deserve that warm fuzzy feeling for buying local, but ultimately it is a cop-out. We can figure out all kinds of systems as a society, but until we actually get back to busting sod and providing for ourselves from our own toil, it's going to be a rather hollow victory. We can convince ourselves, but deep down we really know the deal.

But this brings up a very important question I do not have an answer for, and that is...As a society, are we so far removed from our food source that we will never get back to where we need to be as far as providing for ourselves?

What about the other thread on here that pitted veggies against meat? Some pretty wild ideas were being traded there for awhile, and it seems some of that logic (on both sides) may influence our society. At the same time, my own wife refused to take a dairy cow slaughtered on farm because it did not "look like the food that comes from the grocery store". If she cannot take butcher paper wrapped food and is married to a farmer, there must be others that are not ready for that either, or worse yet, ready for the killing of livestock.

"If I meet it, I cannot eat it," is a popular tag line I often hear these days. My parents generation grew up on self-raised animals and understood slaughter, but my generation has been pretty isolated from that reality. I would say once per week I get asked if I can make money on the wool of a sheep. When I say no and that the money comes from meat, some are shocked that there is even a market for sheep meat (lamb and mutton as I also have to explain).

There was a post on another forum (not City Data) who actuall posted this question in regards to livestock. "If I have a few dairy goats, how much milk would they give me if I leave them at my mountain cabin and let them roam free while I live in the city just visiting them every 3-4 weeks?"

I was nice, but I wanted to be sarcastic and say, "Probably not a whole lot since you will never see them again!" Instead I explained in detail the importance of checking livestock at least 1 time per day, but the post made me realize that maybe we are indeed so far removed from livestock that people are just not able to properly care for livestock.

On the farm we do farm tours in the summer, and at first it was 30 kids to 2 chapperones, but now it is like 15 chaparones to 30 kids, and even then it is the parents that are asking the questions, really learning what we do and why, jumping up in the tractors and in short really have no idea where their food comes from. Its a great start, but I am starting to realize we have spiraled downward in this country really fast and it is amzing to see how much information on the national food chain is lost to the general public. I am a bit concerned about so many people taking on livestock without realizing what the scope of the project really entails.

Does any one else on here see this trend and share my concern?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2009, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,536,988 times
Reputation: 9580
In a word - yes.

So many people on so many forums have decided to plant "Victory Gardens" this year - and are grasping for ever and any way to do it. They have little plots that are strictly regulated by HOAs and ordinances, and want to 'sneak in' a couple of tomato plants or chickens and "raise their own". They will never raise enough even to can or dry for a single season. Some think that they can buy fruit trees or bushes mature enough to produce the first year, and are outraged that asparagus takes three years to produce. It is all part of the Instant Gratification that the stores all promise everyone; the neatly wrapped meats, all in their separate bins and plainly marked, the canned and frozen vegies, and the piles and piles of fruit and vegetables shipped in that have no recognizable traits and no one around to tell buyers what they are for!


One of my neighbors is married to a rancher, and we are great friends. Yet when she heard that I was getting in 20 chickens - 10 pullets and 10 cockerels - she asked what I was going to do with all of the 'boys'. When I told her "Save two and slaughter the rest at 16 weeks to fill the freezer" she was appalled. She can't eat anything she has raised; and she was raised on a farm! Me, I name all my Chickens "Dinner" because that is what eventually they will become. DH even decided that the easiest way to kill a free-range chicken was to shoot out its eye with a .22, rather than chase it around. BANG grab behead hang is very efficient! But so many folks are 'grossed out' by this; by the blood and guts and feathers and eeeuuuwww. This group won't be free range; we have chicken tractors (too many predators and it's easier to have them police the garden row by row, plus the manure goes right between the rows for next year). So I'll just reach inside, grab em, hang em by their feet in a row, then go down the row and off with ther heads. Sloppy and messy and noisy but I do love chicken!

I just don't think people realize how much work is involved in 'self-sustainability' - especially with the use of 'organic' processes. It is HARD to get out there in a cold spring breeze, fork the manure, mix it in the dirt, and keep everything sprayed and watered and dusted and hoed and tidy. I'm glad I only work 10 months off-property ( a block away from the 'farm'); at least I'll have two months of nothing but animal and plant work! This get-off-work-go-home-and-plant-and-dig for three hours is difficult. And there's no time to socialize or go hang out with friends in real-life farm work. Weekend? A weekend is when I get to spend ALL DAY outside!

But I knew the job was dayngerus when I took it; I wanted it, I'd done it before, and I'll keep doing it because I love it. Most people with stars in their eyes and no blisters, calluses, or dirt on their hands don't have a clue... THIS is what I live for, the joy of doing it myself, even when the arthritis kicks in or the backbrace pills my sweatshirt!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-10-2009, 07:11 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,158,208 times
Reputation: 1506
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
I just don't think people realize how much work is involved in 'self-sustainability' - especially with the use of 'organic' processes. It is HARD to get out there in a cold spring breeze, fork the manure, mix it in the dirt, and keep everything sprayed and watered and dusted and hoed and tidy. I'm glad I only work 10 months off-property ( a block away from the 'farm'); at least I'll have two months of nothing but animal and plant work! This get-off-work-go-home-and-plant-and-dig for three hours is difficult. And there's no time to socialize or go hang out with friends in real-life farm work. Weekend? A weekend is when I get to spend ALL DAY outside!

But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it; I wanted it, I'd done it before, and I'll keep doing it because I love it. Most people with stars in their eyes and no blisters, calluses, or dirt on their hands don't have a clue... THIS is what I live for, the joy of doing it myself, even when the arthritis kicks in or the backbrace pills my sweatshirt!
Yeah it is not easy. Tomorrow is Shearing Day so I am trying to get ready for it, and am actually doing fairly well, still there was a lot to do today. I started at 6 AM and by 3 PM I was so hungry I was getting hunger pains. At 5 PM I was getting tired because I just had no more calories to burn and thus had no energy, and at 7 PM, 14 hours after starting I finally ate lunch/supper and was done for the day.

Mended fence
Set up new confinement paddock
Penned in sheep/cows
Cleaned out shearing shed
Built one gate/fixed another (you get the idea)

None of it was glamorous work, and it certainly was smelly and relentless, but tomorrow when its all said and done, I'll make about $8 per sheep and pay the sheep shearer $10 dollars to do it. In any other business you would think those numbers were reversed, but nope, that is just the way it is.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-11-2009, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,536,988 times
Reputation: 9580
I guess what really bugs me is the people who don't have a clue, are put into positions where they are telling others what they 'should' do. One woman on a 'self-sufficiency' forum is a moderator/advisor - she posted last week that she is losing her duplex because it is being sold out from under her, the renter. How much self-sufficiency is involved in renting a piece of property that you cannot do anything permanent with, living in the city, and holding down a 'good-paying' job? Many others who post there are simply pining to be self-sufficient - and are emotional basket cases; always complaining about and asking for help for their children, spouses, and self-inflicted emotional wounds. People caught up in lifelong emotional Sturm und Drang cannot get off of their wazoos, take a bull (or even a goat) by the horns, and do what needs to be done! They are emotional vampires, looking for constant support, help, and approval. These types will never be self-sufficient, never learn what needs to be done, and will be drags on everyone else forever, always asking "But what about..." instead of trying it for themselves. As more and more people get on the 'self-sufficient' bandwagon, we will see more and more of what you (and I) dislike, BT - people buying their little pieces of property in the country, 'struggling' to eke out a living, then abandoning it when it gets to be "too hard" - leaving something for someone else to clean up or deal with. Of course, we did get a sweet deal on this place because the people who lived here before were that way... (PS I meant to misspell 'dangerous' in my previous post... hee hee)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Rural and Small Town Living
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:26 AM.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top