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Old 12-11-2009, 08:47 AM
3 posts, read 11,594 times
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My family is ready to buy a small ranch in Wyoming, 40-80 acres we think, with a home on the site. I've been researching the state and looking at real estate ads also. I would prefer to live closer to the mountains in a valley where I can have a little bit more growing season in the summer for my vegetable gardening. I'm also hoping to lessen some of the windy gusts. We have a young son, but I'm thinking we'll home school him, so a remote site is fine by us.

What advice do you have for us on locations and ideas?
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:57 AM
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I think you've got an impossible paradigm to satisfy about Wyoming climate ...

The mountain valleys (or close to the mountains) are at higher elevations, which are colder and snowier than the lower elevation plains in the Eastern portion of Wyoming. So, if you're looking for a longer vege gardening season, the mountain areas aren't the place to be ... even with a high tunnel or a greenhouse, which I would advise you to have, along with some cold frames and indoor locations to start your seeds earlier in the season so you can take advantage of planting conditioned seedlings in your gardens.

Now the conflict with that is your desire to be out of the windy areas. The Eastern Plains area are in the winds much of the year, where gusts are common and relentless for days on end. It's not uncommon for winds to be in the 20-30-40 mph range with gusts of signifcantly stronger velocities, and they come from many different directions. What you'll find is that the instantaneous change in wind velocity will "hammer" at structures (and you, if you're outside) ... these are gusts that can blow vehicles off slick roads. We see them all the time off of I-80 down here in SE Wyoming, and all across the route, especially around Rawlins through to Rock Springs, or on the pass between Cheyenne and Laramie.

40-80 rural remote acres isn't even a "small ranch" around here. It's a building parcel size piece of property, with room for your house and outbuildings, and room for some livestock (horses? goats? sheep?) for which you will have to buy hay and feed. It's not enough land to graze anything on for any amount of time, especially horses ... you'll have nothing but a barren dirt patch and some weeds in no time. The seasonal native grasses will not survive constant grazing ... and we see so many newcomers to the Eastern Plains areas come out and "mow" their 40 acre piece of prairie with a riding lawnmower to make it look "manicured" like a lawn ... it takes years for the grasses to recover, if at all, from such an assault. You'll only need to do it once ....

As always, water availability, quality, and supply will be a concern. Be sure whatever property you're looking at has an adequate proven and tested well for your domestic needs. Your 25 gpm maximum delivery (that's the permit, that doesn't mean the well can deliver it) domestic well is limited to a maximum of 1 acre of landscaping/garden use at the property, and you will be best served to optimize your garden use of water by drip systems or other means of closely regulating and timing water application.

You don't mention the need for jobs, so I'll assume that you don't need that for your new ranch.

Places in Wyoming that I'd be looking at where the land prices, winds, soil quality, growing season, water, and mountain access might suit your want list ... given that any of these locations will, at best, be a compromise ... Lander, Buffalo, Sheridan, Torrington, Cheyenne (on the West side or the 85 corridor, not too far out of town), or some of the small ag/ranching towns along the Eastern border of Wyoming (which puts you away from the mountains, but at lower elevations). There's also some locations along the Western edge of Wyoming that might work, but it's typically a lot more expensive there for land.

Keep in mind that "remote" Wyoming rural properties are not necessarily inexpensive places to live when you factor in all the costs of your "remote" independence for services, water/utilities, consumables, goods, and access to shopping/medical/entertainment/recreation. There are significantly less expensive places across the USA to live in isolation due to better water, soils, climate, lower cost of land, etc ....

If your "research" has been into the heavily advertised and promoted on the internet Wyoming 40 acre parcels for what appear to be very little money ... I suggest you take a look at the WyTex Ranch thread on this Wyoming forum. It may give you a better insight into the realities of these "ranch" properties ... and what a lot of Wyoming is really like.

Last edited by sunsprit; 12-11-2009 at 10:10 AM..
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:13 AM
Location: Webberville, MI
15 posts, read 41,311 times
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I agree with sunsprit. If you're looking for a small ranch, you'd have to look at least into 200+ acres, and even that won't be much. That and if you get land and call it that, you may get some funny looks or rude comments. Land prices are extremely high in Wyoming right now, at least they were when we left a few months ago and I won't expect them to drop significantly since then. The growing season is very short, and wind is not escapeable. We were by Casper, it was insane! I'd say look east, try Wheatland, although that won't solve your wind problem, it's a nice smaller town with decent agricultural qualities. Stay east, farther west will be too cold for what it sounds like you're looking for.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:40 PM
Location: Lead/Deadwood, SD
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Ready to buy a small ranch in WY
What advice do you have for us on locations and ideas?
You may be ready to look into it, but with your question at the end of the thread I suspect you need to spend a few weeks traveling Wy. and meeting people looking at the land. As an agent in neighboring SD and with in-laws that ranch in Wy, I suspect you need to spend more time there to get a more solid grasp what being ready to buy a ranch in Wy means.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:17 PM
Location: Wyoming
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You'll get laughed at if you call 40-80 acres a "small ranch" in Wyoming. Call it a "ranchette" or a country lot. At least in my part of Wyoming (NE), a 10,000 acre ranch is considered small.

I'd agree with Sunsprit, especially about locating near Sheridan or Buffalo. They're both at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains, which are very nice. The valley land next to them is nice, but it's quite expensive.

I've helped a Realtor friend of mine get some of his listings online, so I know he has a few "Ranchettes" listed not too far from Gillette in eastern Wyoming. I wouldn't count on growing much on them. I know one guy who tried wheat farming in the area. It cost him his fortune.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:58 AM
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Thank you so much Sunsprit and everyone for your wealth of advice! We are taking it all to heart and really studying before making any choices. We hope to make a road trip to various areas in Wyoming in the spring to get a better understanding of the choices available, and have increased our expected land purchase to 200 acres. Please continue to send along any additional advice that comes to mind, and as we learn more, I will post other questions. Thanks again for taking the time to help us.
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Old 12-16-2009, 01:14 PM
3 posts, read 11,594 times
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I've been studying and rereading this thread and other related ones. You are all very kind to share your wisdom and experience! My husband and I are hoping to enter semi-retirement within the next 2-3 years, and raise our son in Wyoming. He will actually be fully retired, and I may do some work remotely from home.

I lived 20 years on a farm (as an adult) and am very comfortable with a lifestyle of providing what you need, and seeking entertainment outside on rare occasion. I am happy to shop periodically, and we are in good health. I would be thrilled with a reasonably-sized property on which I could raise my own produce. I'm not concerned with raising our own animals for meat. Hoop-houses, reinforced for the wind, sound great to me! My husband has fanciful thoughts of having a few animals on the property. I am the one with experience in caring for animals, and am diligently working to convince him otherwise. hahaha But seriously, we are earnestly seeking to move to WY. Our choice is deliberate, not based on economic need but on lifestyle choice. We know about seclusion and additional resources and planning required when you chose to live away from even small towns. I would like if we could drive 30 miles or less to a small town or market, but don't mind at all driving 100 miles or more for the rare "big shopping" Saturdays to farm supply and other shopping. Coming from Pennsylvania, I'm more comfortable with some mountains and hills in my horizon and some trees in the area, but I am adaptable.

I will pose a more structured and specific question this time. If you had a sibling [me! ] who hoped to spend $600-750K to purchase an existing home with land to support a garden and perhaps a few critters (no herding operations or anything grand), with 30 mile access to a small town and 100 mile access to a larger town (do we consider anything in WY or NW SD city?)...what would you recommend to me...I mean, her.
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Old 12-16-2009, 02:45 PM
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How about my place? We got 50 acres with an existing two story house with natural rock fireplace, 4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a stone's throw away from the North Platte river for $50,000. The closest tiny town (500) is 4 miles away, medium town (7,000), and largest town (30,000) about 45 miles away. Denver is 2 1/2 hrs away. Lots of hills, Laramie peak in the far distance and mild winters. We got all that 20+ years ago after the place had been on the market for 2 yrs. and price dropped from $150,000. We had looked at it for about a year and then low-balled a price and it was accepted! Big surpise!

My point is that there are places like that here but it helps to live here first and have the opportunity to drive around and see what's avilable, visit places you might like to live and ask questions. Most people didn't even know where this place was because it was so secluded. My husband first heard about it from a student of his. In fact, I met someone last month who told me that "nobody lives down there" when I tried to describe where our place was. It's still a secret! Come on out and be your own realtor
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:33 PM
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I would suggest to you to look into western NE 'panhandle' (i really like crawford) It is a beautiful area atypical of the rest of NE. There aren't really mtns but hills, buttes and forests. The area is much more acclimated to gardening than wyo and you are within reasonable distance of 'bigger' towns.
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:50 AM
634 posts, read 1,292,985 times
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Originally Posted by rya700 View Post
I would suggest to you to look into western NE 'panhandle' (i really like crawford) It is a beautiful area atypical of the rest of NE. There aren't really mtns but hills, buttes and forests. The area is much more acclimated to gardening than wyo and you are within reasonable distance of 'bigger' towns.
Or try Goshen County for cheaper taxes than NE - a county based on agriculture. 60 miles to Laramie Peak, tons of lakes in the area, Platte River valley, 35 miles to town of 35,000, 80 miles to Cheyenne, 2 hrs to Black Hills, affordable real estate, great schools for your son, etc. IM me and I can share more.
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