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Old 04-12-2022, 08:48 PM
 
9 posts, read 6,056 times
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Hi there, it's my dream to move to the Black Hills region of South Dakota and set up a farm establishment (tourist and for living). I am making this a reality within the next few years as I property search. (40+ acres here I come). This has been something I've wanted to do since I turned 17 before a kid and a spouse and a whole family wanting to tag along.

My questions lie within the climate as my spouse and family are not real excited about the snow and cold. I AM! Spouse is willing to settle wherever I may go and I really really appreciate him. I try to tell him that the summer months, peace, and scenery are worth it.

How do you combat the colder long months?
What equipment is an absolute necessity, whether outdoor or for the home?
Do most South Dakotans in that area just hold-out at home for winter?
What was adapting like for you if you were a transplant?



_Greetings from the naive WA_
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Old 04-12-2022, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Everywhere.
1,364 posts, read 1,210,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AppyGoLucky View Post
How do you combat the colder long months?
What equipment is an absolute necessity, whether outdoor or for the home?
Do most South Dakotans in that area just hold-out at home for winter?
What was adapting like for you if you were a transplant?
Combat the colder months by finding something to do to stay active. Many people have a room set up in their house for a home gym. Others may go snowmachining or cross-country skiing.

If you get a place with 40+ acres, you will likely have a long driveway that may need plowing after a big snow. Many people have plows on the front of their trucks for this, and it would be a recommended piece of equipment. You may also want a snowblower for walkways, or at a minimum a good snow shovel.

Most South Dakotans are well accustomed to cold weather, and don’t mind going out in it at all.

I actually moved to the upper Midwest from Florida, and had no problems adapting.
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Old 04-13-2022, 06:32 AM
 
Location: The Southern Hills
249 posts, read 179,901 times
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What do you mean by a "Farm Establishment"? Most of the Black Hills is made up of rock. The rest is heavy clay. All of it is dry as compared to most farming areas. If you want to have a farm, I would highly recommend something east of the Missouri River.
As mentioned above a snow plow is a necessity if you live outside of town.
How difficult or easy it is to adapt depends on you and what you are used to. I had no problem adapting when I moved 11 or 12 yrs ago.
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Old 04-13-2022, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Idaho
817 posts, read 550,432 times
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Coming from Washington you will notice how dry the climate is. Humidity is very low by comparison, unless you are moving from Tri-Cities area. Still, water will be your biggest need if you plan on farming. Ground water is your likely only source, as there are very few rivers of any size to tap into, and you better hope the property you buy has very senior water rights, or your dreams of an irrigated farm will blow away in the summer (and winter) winds. I have to admit, I don't see a lot of pivot or line irrigation on properties. Mostly I see dry-field grass/alfalfa growing. Once the spring-time water dries up, so does the crop. I'd guess most years they get two cuts, and that's about it. The growing season is pretty short, so many fruit and vegetable crops would be pretty risky to grow. I'd guess root crops would be best, so potato, beets, turnips, etc. might be the best crops, maybe corn. You might be able to do grass seed or sod. All dependent on large amounts of irrigation water, but doable if you have the rights.

Snow is much different than Washington snow (western and Cascades). It is very dry. It comes mostly in distinct storms that blow in, so the snow is mostly sideways, and the wind is what helps form drifts in sheltered areas. Once a storm blows out it often warms back up, even into the 50's or low 60's in January even, and much of the snow will melt off in a few days (except drifts and where the plows pile it up). Then a few days to weeks later it snows again, and repeats, likely from October to May. That cold/warm cycle is what makes downhill skiing iffy in the Black Hills. It's hard for the resorts to keep a good base through the winter.

So, what to do in the winter. Lots of chores to be done on 40 acres, and to maintain outbuildings and greenhouses. But, there are events in Rapid City and other towns through the winter. The main roads in the area, and through Rapid, are pretty well cleared of snow, so access once you hit the freeway, or main highways are good, so movies, shopping, and dining are available in the winter. I can't think of ever being stuck in Piedmont, Rapid, or Hot Springs past the middle of a storm. If you settle near Hot Springs you can always soak/swim at Evan's Plunge (indoor hot spring pool). Lots of school activities too if your kids will be that age.

Anyway, the area is very nice. I'd just wonder what you can grow during the short season. Not sure what a tourist farm is either? Do you have a dream crop you want to grow? If you settle near Sturgis or Mt Rushmore you can probably grow RVs on your 40 acres pretty easily, lol.
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Old 04-14-2022, 12:27 AM
 
9 posts, read 6,056 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejisme View Post
I'd just wonder what you can grow during the short season. Not sure what a tourist farm is either? Do you have a dream crop you want to grow? If you settle near Sturgis or Mt Rushmore you can probably grow RVs on your 40 acres pretty easily, lol.
I plan on being near attractions or likeable towns within reason. The farm isn't a growing operation, more of a "pretend to play cowboy" operation as well as livestock. I'd be running a guest ranch with trail horses and a slight petting zoo scene. So in a way we will be growing RVs lol!
Livestock and whatever we decide to grow will mostly be for our family with excess being put into market (mostly livestock).
I will say I have yet to experience the dry snow but have experienced the summers and thunder storms of Spearfish SD. My family has always been against traveling in the winter months out of worries.

We will definitely be looking into the water situation before landing on anything
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Old 04-14-2022, 06:34 AM
 
Location: The Southern Hills
249 posts, read 179,901 times
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Is there a reason why you cannot "pretend to play cowboy" in your present location? You might gain some valuable experiance before you tip your world upside down.

Fwiw, the well I had drilled on my property south of Hot Springs cost $41,000.00. It is adequate for household use and a vegetable garden.
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Old 04-14-2022, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Idaho
817 posts, read 550,432 times
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Appy... What you are proposing in your second post is probably doable in the Black Hills. Horses do very well and there are trails to ride. I'd suggest buying a developed property with a verified well or available surface water. The cost will certainly be higher, but much less guessing on water availability. Maybe grow pumpkins and corn, so you can have the pumpkin patch/corn maze every October to add to your summer trail riding, petting zoo and RV business.

As I said before, the roads in the area are well plowed and treated in the winter. With a couple years practice you will be driving wherever you want in the middle of winter. It's not that bad, except for a few days a year in the middle of a storm. Dry snow is snow that you can't make a snowman or even a snowball from it. It's too dry to compact and stick together. For a few inches on your deck or walkway it is easier to sweep it away vs. shoveling. Now for drifts and driveways you'll need a truck or tractor with a plow or blower. Your farm operation will likely need a 1-ton truck to tow hay and horse/livestock trailers, so you'll have the right truck to attach a plow to.

Last edited by ejisme; 04-14-2022 at 08:10 AM..
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Old 04-14-2022, 01:39 PM
 
9 posts, read 6,056 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick13 View Post
Is there a reason why you cannot "pretend to play cowboy" in your present location? You might gain some valuable experiance before you tip your world upside down.
Well, Washington isn't home to me anymore. I feel like I'm being run out by policies and prices and traffic. Our horse scene just doesn't compliment what I'd like to do as I've worked in the local trail business before. Land is dwindling, flooded/wet 80% of the year, and crazy expensive unless you want to drive 3 hours to nowhere where the outside communities don't care that you exist. I'll miss Washington dearly, don't get me wrong but it is just not family farm friendly anymore.
I do not have friends set up here or a strict job. I'm in the trades and am flexible about my skills though pregnancy has put that on hold and I've been looking into Data Analysis for the time I'm cooped up.

My budget for this whole South Dakota experience is actually pretty high but wouldn't get me half of what I'd like in Washington. I plan on looking into all land resources and actually going to that side of the state to look around and experience more.

Yes to having rigs! That just comes with the livestock territory.
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Old 04-14-2022, 05:43 PM
 
1,897 posts, read 965,399 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AppyGoLucky View Post
Well, Washington isn't home to me anymore. I feel like I'm being run out by policies and prices and traffic. Our horse scene just doesn't compliment what I'd like to do as I've worked in the local trail business before. Land is dwindling, flooded/wet 80% of the year, and crazy expensive unless you want to drive 3 hours to nowhere where the outside communities don't care that you exist. I'll miss Washington dearly, don't get me wrong but it is just not family farm friendly anymore.
I do not have friends set up here or a strict job. I'm in the trades and am flexible about my skills though pregnancy has put that on hold and I've been looking into Data Analysis for the time I'm cooped up.

My budget for this whole South Dakota experience is actually pretty high but wouldn't get me half of what I'd like in Washington. I plan on looking into all land resources and actually going to that side of the state to look around and experience more.

Yes to having rigs! That just comes with the livestock territory.
Just my 2 cents. I get what you are wanting to do and it would be awesome. Here are some of the problems. WAY too short of growing season unless you are putting up a serious greenhouse with heat and maybe even some lights. Very short tourist season. You have the same 4 months as most places June through September. Maybe a little something in May and October. The rest of the year there are almost zero tourists and a LOT of work to be done with no income coming in.

As far as costs and sustainability there are a LOT of government grant/programs available for anything farming related. You can not succeed without them unless you can be happy breaking even at best.
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Old 04-15-2022, 12:33 PM
 
6,747 posts, read 7,132,930 times
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Unless you have already done so, I'd suggest spending weeks or months looking at every detail of running a guest / dude ranch by pouring over existing competitor websites and thru on the ground visits as a guest and as a potential buyer. Some operations may do well, others not as well. If you can't all the answers from current owners / future competitors, talk to former owners, neighbors, bankers, tourism officials, contractors, cowboys, etc.

Dude ranch competition
https://www.google.com/search?q=blac...QCgAQHIAQjAAQE

Guest ranch competition
https://www.google.com/search?q=blac...9i57.11833j0j7

How busy do they stay? How many want horse activity? How expensive are the horses, help, liability insurance, etc.?

Exact location, exact amenities, exact business plan.

Are you going to be a guest ranch where you buy activities or all-inclusive? Cooking 1 meal, zero meals or cooking all day & night? What do the guests want? Are they close enough to dining if you don't cover?

Much of the tourist traffic will be monuments oriented, or motorcycle oriented or walk around town eating / drinking / shopping and maybe gambling. Some will want to hike, ATV, fish or hunt. Are you going to serve any of these activities, especially the bikers? Turn them away or fight to keep them from being rowdy, disruptive, annoying? I don't think a lot of folks want horseback riding these days or more than 1 day. Where I live several horse operations have long ago closed. There are still some elsewhere but I don't know how many have trail riding as number 1 activity. More likely just as one of half dozen or dozen options. Buy some ATVs? Snowmobiles? Check the quality of nearby hunting & fishing. Becomes hire guides?

Host RVs? Get planning approval, invest in infrastructure (power, water, cable, internet, trash, blackwater dumping, roads etc.)

Are you going to hire outside help for the horse work and / or the constant cleaning? How much? Provide housing? Better have it or build it. Pay enough to get good workers in face of hundreds of competing employers? Have the know how to maintain and fix everything or pay contractors to come out when they have time at their prices?

Think you'll do this 5-10 years, 20-30 years or multi-generations? Does managing a multiple ring circus (guests in/ out / during, horses, staff, property, accounting, marketing, etc.) 18 hours a day sound like your dream scenario? Aiming to make do / be average or be one of the best in a field where others have a 20 or 50 or 100 year head start? Want / need much of a life outside the business? Got people you can leave it to while you go to town (for any reason) or on vacation? Do you know how much work you can count on from every family member? Early mornings, nights, weekends, holidays? Do y'all have the skills and aptitude for all the tasks you don't hire out? Can you handle when the help doesn't show up or walks away? Are you excellent with managing various kinds of people?

60-70 inches of snow per winter in the lowlands, could be more in higher hills. A little snow expected there today with a high of 28. Better next week

Last edited by NW Crow; 04-15-2022 at 01:56 PM..
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