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Old 01-31-2010, 01:06 AM
 
713 posts, read 3,172,318 times
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Don't know if this goes in here or not but here goes.

My grandfather was a small farmer and I always wanted to be like him. Sadly my parents moved into the city and I have no farming smarts at all on being one. Don't care about money but know I will need a bit to buy land and pay for utilities. Just wan't to get away from the city life and live in a rural area. Plan on living in northern Arkansas so what would be a good variety of produce to grow? Also how many acres of land would one need to make enough to eat off of? Thanks in advance!!
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:07 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,157,970 times
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I tried to find some stuff written by Bud Williams on starting small. Bud Williams has worked with livestock for 75 years plus and has a great conservative outlook on life and I encourage you to google up his name and read everything in his Bud Williams musings...you will learn more then a masters degree in agriculture I assure you! But his thoughts on starting small are now gone. :-(


But a farm is obtainable at any age, the problem is we have this preconceived notion on what a farm is. We think it has to have cows, sprawling acreage, etc. That is not true. You could rent an apartment, lease land and still farm. Heck where I live, people are overjoyed just to let you graze sheep on their land...they love seeing the animals, they just do not want to do the work! Find the right people and you can make it by doing the work and letting them pay the property taxes!

In farming your greatest problem is also your greatest assett. In your case it is being young and having little to start with. It probably feels daunting, but the truth is, you do not need ideal land and fields, and you are free to go anywhere. You have the advantage of young ambition. You can purchase (or lease) less then stellar land, clear it of useless wood and in 10 years have excellent fields...this is what our forefathers did! But for a 60 year old couple...they cannot wait this long to have forests converted to fields and have the farm of their dreams...not enough time!

So that is my suggestion to you...think outside the box and don't look for an ideal farm setting, you are young enough to make a nice farm from scratch. Find some land to farm on, for free or for a low priced lease, and go from there. As you make money, you can buy land then and trust me, if people see your hard work and land improvements, they will go to you with land to use for free, lease or sell at discounted rates. People love agriculture...they just don't want to do the work!

I admit I had a couple of acres to start with, but a lot of people on here do not know that I started my sheep operation in September 2008 with only FOUR sheep and $600 bucks from the government stimulus we all got. I have considerably more sheep then that now, but the numbers have grown because opportunities came along and I jumped on them, and I have never used any personal money, instead insisting that $600 initial investment grow the farm. You have to play your cards right but it can be done!

One large cattle ranch in the midwest started out by a guy who bought ONE cow by cleaning up the cattle stalls of the cows owner...then traded for another cow, and then started buying some land and more cows as the opportunities rolled in. More farms have failed because they tried to buy their way into a sizeable operation rather then grow into it. Don't make that same mistake and you will do fine.

As Bud Williams used to say...do not plan, PREPARE...and start small.
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:15 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,682,398 times
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Do like many do--------find a woman who has a very good job ( or lots of money) and is willing to bust her back working so you can fulfill your dream.

Come to think about it, many people who brag about how they " made it on their own" followed this strategy , but have a short memory.

Sometimes it falls apart when the woman realizes all her money and hard work is just going to a freeloader who is too impatient/lazy to want to work hard and save money to finance his own dream.
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:20 PM
 
713 posts, read 3,172,318 times
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I plan on staying single so that won't work. I wan't to see what I can do by my own hands and the thrill of seeing the outlook on what you can accomplish. The joy that comes with knowing this came from your own 2 hands step by step and the knowledge that comes with it as well. For land I been on a site that shows land for sell and most land that seems alright goes for $2,000/acre. Site was Land for Sale, Farm Land for Sale, Acreage, Lots for Sale.

Good news i just got a job now and am going to save ever penny I make so that I am prepared. Maybe go to a few farmer markets in the area to ask some of the farmers about there fields and what product is good in the area. From what I learned is that some farmers are a little shy of newcomers since they are new too the field and also they might try to steal some of there customers away. True if a new comer decides to grow the same stuff you do and is willing to sell at a cheaper price because they have no family to support.
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Old 01-31-2010, 06:30 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
11,044 posts, read 10,790,981 times
Reputation: 9702
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
I tried to find some stuff written by Bud Williams on starting small. Bud Williams has worked with livestock for 75 years plus and has a great conservative outlook on life and I encourage you to google up his name and read everything in his Bud Williams musings...you will learn more then a masters degree in agriculture I assure you! But his thoughts on starting small are now gone. :-(


But a farm is obtainable at any age, the problem is we have this preconceived notion on what a farm is. We think it has to have cows, sprawling acreage, etc. That is not true. You could rent an apartment, lease land and still farm. Heck where I live, people are overjoyed just to let you graze sheep on their land...they love seeing the animals, they just do not want to do the work! Find the right people and you can make it by doing the work and letting them pay the property taxes!

In farming your greatest problem is also your greatest assett. In your case it is being young and having little to start with. It probably feels daunting, but the truth is, you do not need ideal land and fields, and you are free to go anywhere. You have the advantage of young ambition. You can purchase (or lease) less then stellar land, clear it of useless wood and in 10 years have excellent fields...this is what our forefathers did! But for a 60 year old couple...they cannot wait this long to have forests converted to fields and have the farm of their dreams...not enough time!

So that is my suggestion to you...think outside the box and don't look for an ideal farm setting, you are young enough to make a nice farm from scratch. Find some land to farm on, for free or for a low priced lease, and go from there. As you make money, you can buy land then and trust me, if people see your hard work and land improvements, they will go to you with land to use for free, lease or sell at discounted rates. People love agriculture...they just don't want to do the work!

I admit I had a couple of acres to start with, but a lot of people on here do not know that I started my sheep operation in September 2008 with only FOUR sheep and $600 bucks from the government stimulus we all got. I have considerably more sheep then that now, but the numbers have grown because opportunities came along and I jumped on them, and I have never used any personal money, instead insisting that $600 initial investment grow the farm. You have to play your cards right but it can be done!

One large cattle ranch in the midwest started out by a guy who bought ONE cow by cleaning up the cattle stalls of the cows owner...then traded for another cow, and then started buying some land and more cows as the opportunities rolled in. More farms have failed because they tried to buy their way into a sizeable operation rather then grow into it. Don't make that same mistake and you will do fine.

As Bud Williams used to say...do not plan, PREPARE...and start small.
Thank you for this post. It's quite inspirational for those looking into rural living. Very positive and great advice.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:52 PM
 
1,255 posts, read 2,807,008 times
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Northern Arkansas is hilly and rocky but it is around here.Couple acres you can have a Garden,couple Goats,Chickens and Rabbits.Provide plenty of food and some to sell.

Place I have now is only 20 acres but I have raised Goats,Calves,Chickens,Rabbits,Hogs and a big garden.But it provides firewood to heat my place too.

But I've lived all my life this way.

hillman
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:21 PM
 
135 posts, read 346,349 times
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Some land in Rural PA is pretty affordable and you can actually do alright if you know your local market,I would suggest taking a management class and finance classes, these will be a big help since you have to watch every cent and manage your time as efficiently as possible and get the most out of the land, now with new techniques and equipment that can either be bought or made you can actually have some good produce year round and spend little money and living with only the necessities will be a plus, and if you can find a big enough piece you can also do some lumbering and do it right you will make money every year since wood is something that is needed all the time by numerous people especially wood workers who need top quality timber, that can bring a few thousand a year in to you and trees is a great way to define borders and divide fields, they are natural windbreakers, help cool fields, and control water run off,and provides a natural fence to restricting people from running illegally on your property with ATVs and 4 wheelers and you can harvest them every so many years and replace them as you take them, bamboo is another easy crop to grow they mature in a few years and is easily renewable.
Now for more tips try looking on here Organic Gardening, Modern Homesteading, Renewable Energy, Green Homes, Do it Yourself – MOTHER EARTH NEWS
it has some great info for homesteaders and farmers and the archive has some great ideas and tips for growing the most with the least and do it naturally and green.
You may want to have a couple bovine around just to raise as meat for yourself and provide you with the best fertilizer around, manure or you can see about a few miniature cattle, here is a site that explains it better
Miniature Cattle and you don't need much land to raise several of these animals and you can get some good meet, and just need a small building for them, so I hope this helps you out and good luck.
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:43 AM
 
11,257 posts, read 44,321,149 times
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Get a dose of reality by checking out Backwoods Home magazine. There's a lot of continuing articles by folks who are trying to do what you're talking about ... have a small sustainable acreage that is inexpensive to live on and produces some of their food and cash crops or livestock, too.

I can't speak for other regions of the country out of the Rocky Mountain West ... but around here, soil and water are valuable commodities and aren't available for "cheap or for free". Nobody has a farm or ranch for sale that could possibly be financially viable for that kind of money, nor are they going to let you graze the lands because you're a nice kid for free.

You might also want to investigate the Fed loan programs for "first time farmers". They've got a lot of assistance with matching funds to help you get into farming, and several states have matching funds for these programs, too. What you must bring to the table is a willingness to work the farm, buy equipment, and have money for the seedstock or livestock that you're planning on raising. It will still take a lot of work and financial resources to make a go of it.

Good luck. Unless you can find a niche marketplace that has a steady demand and good prices for your product, it's not an easy proposition given the prices paid to the producers for commodities these days. Cattle are going for less than the cost of production, sub $5/bu wheat is a marginal profit opportunity, and a lot of other commodities right now aren't especially profitable. The corn market has come way down from the initial hysteria over ethanol, and other crops aren't very viable, either.

I won't say that you can't make money heading into your own farm ... but keep this all in perspective. If you raise sheep for lamb production, and are able to NET $100 per lamb ... you'll need a lot of lambs to make a living per year. Similarly, when you're looking at the incremental profit per unit of other livestock or commodities ... you must pencil out what you're going to make from it. Starting with a few ewes is a nice beginning, but it's not a livable income ... nor is a bunch of cows if you have to sell the market ready fats for less or equal to your cost of bringing them to market. You've got to look at your NET income from the venture, not the GROSS sales revenue. Farming and ranching is not an inexpensive business ... and there's a lot of reasons why most folks have to diversify their operations and seek out every possible source of income production from their lands.
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:13 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,682,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
Get a dose of reality by checking out Backwoods Home magazine. There's a lot of continuing articles by folks who are trying to do what you're talking about ... have a small sustainable acreage that is inexpensive to live on and produces some of their food and cash crops or livestock, too.

I can't speak for other regions of the country out of the Rocky Mountain West ... but around here, soil and water are valuable commodities and aren't available for "cheap or for free". Nobody has a farm or ranch for sale that could possibly be financially viable for that kind of money, nor are they going to let you graze the lands because you're a nice kid for free.

You might also want to investigate the Fed loan programs for "first time farmers". They've got a lot of assistance with matching funds to help you get into farming, and several states have matching funds for these programs, too. What you must bring to the table is a willingness to work the farm, buy equipment, and have money for the seedstock or livestock that you're planning on raising. It will still take a lot of work and financial resources to make a go of it.

Good luck. Unless you can find a niche marketplace that has a steady demand and good prices for your product, it's not an easy proposition given the prices paid to the producers for commodities these days. Cattle are going for less than the cost of production, sub $5/bu wheat is a marginal profit opportunity, and a lot of other commodities right now aren't especially profitable. The corn market has come way down from the initial hysteria over ethanol, and other crops aren't very viable, either.

I won't say that you can't make money heading into your own farm ... but keep this all in perspective. If you raise sheep for lamb production, and are able to NET $100 per lamb ... you'll need a lot of lambs to make a living per year. Similarly, when you're looking at the incremental profit per unit of other livestock or commodities ... you must pencil out what you're going to make from it. Starting with a few ewes is a nice beginning, but it's not a livable income ... nor is a bunch of cows if you have to sell the market ready fats for less or equal to your cost of bringing them to market. You've got to look at your NET income from the venture, not the GROSS sales revenue. Farming and ranching is not an inexpensive business ... and there's a lot of reasons why most folks have to diversify their operations and seek out every possible source of income production from their lands.

good post !

However, to obtain a Federal loan for beginning farmers, one must have 2 years of verifyible farming experience of farming on your own.

They will scrutinize those records closely ( as well they should)

The Federal Govt lost tons of money in the early 80's and late 70's by financing every " Tom,Dick, and Harry" who had a dream of wanting to become a farmer.
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:22 AM
 
Location: Interior AK
4,729 posts, read 8,735,734 times
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Here's what I did to prepare before we made the "Big Leap".

1) Read everything I could get my hands on about the operations I was interested in and the things that lead from there:
a) bio-intensive, sustainable agriculture
b) management-intensive livestocking & pasture rotation
c) critters -- starting small (chickens & rabbits) and working up (cattle)
d) the "Trades" -- mechanics, construction, etc... farmers gotta know how to do a little bit of everything

2) Started a small garden where I was at while I was waiting, and made it bigger every year. Documenting everything, including (especially) all the mistakes I made and nifty tricks... didn't forget about my adventures in preserving either.

3) Talked with local farmers at the Farmer's Markets and Livestock Auctions. Joined a CSA and bought direct from small, local farmers. Once they get to know me, I VOLUNTEERED to help them with their grunt work in exchange for learning experience (not cash, experience... if you're good enough, they might throw in cash later. You're just paying for your "degree" with sweat equity instead of a student loan).

4) Once repoire was established, offered to Farm-Sit so they could take some time off; and offer to be their on-call "emergency go-to person" if they need help ASAP.

5) At the same Farmer's Markets, found local artisans willing to let me learn how to a) work wool from lamb to sweater, b) make cheese and butter, c) make herbal remedies, d) make bread from tilling to baking, e) turn plants into fabric, and f) to process meat from birth to slaughter to preservation.

6) Took as many courses and hands-on seminars as I could find and afford for the "Trades"... especially alternative energy, water procurement/filtration, metal fabrication and building construction.

7) Wrote it down, planned it out, drew my diagrams, did more research, did more redesigns until I felt comfortable looking for the right land, equipment and opportunities to fit what I wanted to do (not a formula or plan someone else cooked up for me)... then I started gathering supplies and equipment as I could afford them.

Now that we've made the leap, we're starting small just like Broken Tap mentions. We're living in a small tent, building a small cabin and a few garden beds to start while we get the big house built and the pastures and fields started. Once the pastures are established and the barn is built, we'll get critters cuz we can feed and shelter them.

In my research I found the following estimates for sustainable, self-sufficient land use:
1 acre per person to feed (fruits/grains/veggie), water, shelter and process waste
2 acres per person if you want to raise your own meat (*small* livestock, maybe a couple of goats or a feeder hog)
5 acres per person if you want to heat entirely by your own wood lot and want to have some market gardening
10 acres on top of that if you want to market some livestock larger than rabbits and chickens.


Best thing is, you can start at the bottom (1 acre) and work your way up! Sure it might be nice to start off with a big chunk all at once... but that can get very overwhelming and you might get ahead of yourself if you're not careful!
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