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Old 05-09-2017, 10:28 AM
11,257 posts, read 44,321,149 times
Reputation: 15083


Originally Posted by sombrueil View Post
Gee, people are so crabby here. Nor do they read all that carefully.

I never thought winter would be a piece of cake. I don't know where people get this crazy idea about me. It is possible to keep a horse in winter in New England, because people do it all the time, and I talk to them about it. It isn't all that fun, but it is doable. Recommendations from real people include putting a frost-free hydrant in your barn, as one of the biggest challenges is keeping liquid water in front of your horses. Just as an example.

Snowbirding is another option, and taking my horse with me is not at all out of the question. We have a lot of family and friends in North Carolina and Virginia.

I may be inexperienced with New England winters but no one, ever, in my entire life, has thought me stupid, the way this board seems to. Idiosyncratic, yes. Adventurous, yes. Nor am I impractical, or head-in-the-clouds. I do dream big, but I rescale very easily.

Fact is, we have in the past few years explored many different options about relocation (and staying where we are, as well). We are deep researchers. The winters are going to be difficult, but compared with all the other options we can imagine for ourselves, we decided they are worth braving.

But enough. There is so much active dislike here that it makes no sense to me to continue this thread. Go find someone else to pour ice water on.
Gotta' love it ... OP asks for informed opinions in the guise of information but resents that they aren't cheerleading the proposed move.

Nobody here has posted anything that calls you stupid or a dislike. Note that you framed the premise for the thread by asking if it was a "dumb" move. Folk keeping livestock in a winter climate area as a retirement move responded with actual experience which apparently doesn't fit in with your paradigm of what life should be like. So be it.

Your assault upon folk responding here to be of assistance is totally uncalled for.

Last edited by sunsprit; 05-09-2017 at 10:39 AM..
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:33 PM
405 posts, read 138,731 times
Reputation: 995
Vermont is beautiful, no doubt, but those winters will kill you if you're not used to them. If you don't need the money that you expect to get from your venture, why would you want to subject yourself to that much work at 60? When I was young I could load a semi trailer full of hay, but at 62, even looking at a bale makes my back ache. There's a reason they call it 'retirement' - because you're done with beating your body up to break even.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:18 PM
643 posts, read 196,210 times
Reputation: 1320
I was a dairy farmer in Minnesota who had a small herd of Jerseys ( 35) and did rotaional grazing.
Since I had a half mile frontage along a state hwy, it wasn't unusual to see a car parked on the shoulder taking a picture of my content Jersey cows grazing.

I also, from time to time, get an enthusiastic person stop in and inquire about my grazing.

It seemed the middle aged ( and older) women who stopped were really enthused about grazing.
However, I " burst their bubble" when I mentioned they needed to either purchase or harvest 7 months supply of hay. They looked totally shocked.

I explained that the beautiful sight of cattle grazing pastures is only possible for 5 months ( mid May- mid October at best )

Grazing dairy cattle ( or any cattle) up north has a short season.

Oregon would be much better for a grazing operation.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:58 PM
256 posts, read 175,024 times
Reputation: 933
I don't read City-Data very often anymore but it was interesting to find that people are still responding to this old thread which I started in 2009!!

Just to update at bit -- it's 2018, my husband has retired, we sold our California place and bought a small old (circa 1790) farm in western Massachusetts, about an hour from Vermont. We've been here since last February. We adore it here. Best thing we ever did. It was a hell of a lot of work moving out here -- moving at all, after 40 years in the same house -- but we did it.

We don't have much in the way of farming aspirations any more though. I got into horseback riding, and have one riding horse and a pony to keep her company. Looking into getting a small flock of Shetland sheep to help with the pasture grass as it is more than one horse and pony can keep up with. But not in any hurry. We will need some kind of small money-making ag project to get and keep an ag exemption on our property tax. For the next few years it will probably be selling firewood as we've so much clearing to do. There's sugar bush and a sugar house with all the equipment but not sure that is for us. So maybe a few sheep is where we'll go next.

We have a neighbor who sells hay, very convenient. We only have 5 acres of pasture at the moment as the place has not been really farmed since before WWII and most of the original pastures are now forest. Might be that's all we need anyway.

Anyway, we are having a blast, enjoying country life in a totally new climate. We ended up with a solid wad of extra money from selling our California place at an outrageous price, which we used to buy a nice new tractor among other things. My husband loves the tractor. A thousand uses.

Don't give up on your dreams, folks. They will change over the years but that's okay too.
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Old 08-12-2018, 07:20 PM
10,845 posts, read 12,789,120 times
Reputation: 15509
Originally Posted by sombrueil View Post
My husband and I are looking at early retirement in a couple years (he's 4 years older than me and will be retiring at 60) and moving from California to my "dream farm". We're considering several states, and right now Vermont seems to be highest on the list. So that's what this query is about.

First, the dream farm idea: we will probably have enough money from selling our house here to buy a good-sized farm, around 50-100 acres. We won't need to make a living from farming, thank God, but whatever we raise will have to at minimum pay for itself and hopefully produce a modest profit. Most likely it will be some combination of pastured handspinning wool sheep and meat goats. I am a livestock gal, but cattle are too big and expensive, and dairying is too laborious. Emphasis will be on low labor and capital input, so, fewer machines, buildings and grain, more rotational grazing, grass-finished (if possible), and living/lambing out. This is, after all, retirement.

We are not exactly city slickers, having cleared our land, built a house (just the two of us plus a couple friends), and gardened and raised meat and dairy goats at a hobby level. We are used to doing things like fixing the well pump, getting up our own firewood, and mending fences. But we aren't really farmers. We neither intend to "live off the land" in romantical fashion nor enter into commodity farming. Both are, frankly, beyond our energy level.

Being a northern California native (for all you non-west coasters, that makes a big difference -- I've been to LA twice in my whole life), I have big questions about, well, snow. But we are both drawn to New England, for the particular cultural style, the sense of history, the tradition of small scale mixed farming (absent in CA and in most of the West), and of course, its beauty.

Our daughter who is in college in PA, seems very inclined to stay back East permanently, which figures large in our decisionmaking process too.

Our other top contender in location (at the moment anyway) is the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Arable land prices are rather comparable to Vermont there. The growing season is far longer, and it has the advantage of far more familiarity in climate and culture, my extended family are a day's drive away, I have friends there -- but we are kind of thinking we are more adventurous than that. All the other baby boomers in California seem to be planning to retire to a hobby farm in the Willamette Valley, for one thing-- a scary thought. On the other hand, property taxes in Vermont appear to be something like quadruple Oregon's. Not an insignificant fact.

So, the question would be, for those with experience, what are the chances of us being happy in Vermont, with the fantasies we are currently running? Think it's stupid for people with gray hair to move to such a cold climate? What kind of problems do you think we'll encounter if we go for it? What considerations are the most important (besides soil quality, which is of course paramount)?

Inquiring minds want to know . . .
Weed farmers......sure you will be fine.

The other stuff = hard work and broke at the end of the day.
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