14 acres

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by OzarkSaints, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. OzarkSaints

    OzarkSaints Monkey++

    signing a rental lease on 14 acres in the morning, bout 10 of that is open pasture and about 4 is trees and homesite, all fenced in and no livestock restrictions other than no horses....gonna start learning livestock with a small amount of everything in order to learn as much as we can in the good times so the mistakes won't hurt as bad as making them in the bad times

    so if y'all had a spare 10 acres, what would ya do (livestock/bees) to turn a profit with it...and likewise, for future reference, what animals would be the biggest profit?

    we don't want to go "organic", but we also don't wanna go "industrial" with the animals miserable and packed in like sardines if ya know what I mean!

    as always, thanks for the help!![beer]
  2. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    We're entertaining a similar course of action.

    Tell you what I'm thinking...
    You've got plenty to play with, but I'd still start with the basics.
    Carbs, proteins and fats.
    It amazes me the people that are "survival gardening" who grow lettuce and peppers.
    That's nice to have, but I feel like you need the basics first.

    What if TSHTF next month or in 6 months. You want to have the most important things worked out first.

    In your case, I'd do corn, potatoes (maybe in barrels or tires), beans, millet. Millet is a grain that grows like a weed. Supposed to be very drought tolerant.
    For animals I'd do chickens. Add a rooster later (well away from the house ;)

    I'm raising rabbits now, and it's cool, but for the life of me, I don't know what I'd feed them if TSHTF. They have such delicate digestive systems. It's either commercial feed or hay. Even greens are a risk.
    Chickens eat almost anything.

    I'd think about hogs. I don't know much about them, but have been told that they're low maintenance and eat anything too.
    That brings goats to mind. Milk and meat in one package.

    Once I had that going, I'd think about adding extras like lettuce, herbs, peppers, etc.

    Think about photovoltaics and wind turbines. Nice to have power if the grid is down.
    Get a used tractor and get a couple of bulk tanks for fuel. You have the land, so storing thousands of gallons shouldn't be an issue with the authorities.

    Heat? wood, propane? dunno, but I'd think about long term sustainability. IOW, if you had trouble getting propane, could you just harvest wood from your land?

    Anyway, a bit rambling, but that's what we're thinking even though we're quite a few years away.

    Good luck

    P.S. - I reread and see that you're interested in turning a profit.
    That brings something else to mind. As we were planting this year we kept our eyes open for starter plants. Man, some were pretty pricey. We started our own for the cost of seeds and soil. I'd start a nursery. Get some kind of cheap greenhouse going and start some seeds. Sell your starter plants on craigslist. The "whole foods" crowd will pay top dollar for things like arugula and endive - especially if it is "organic".
  3. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    How much time are you investing in your project?

    Are you looking for self-sustaining ideas (weekender), or are you going to live it (daily)?
  4. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    Congrats on the land!

    First questions: Since you work full time, just how much time can you put into this project? Who else is involved and what kind of time can they give to it?

    Pending those answers, I have some general ideas for you. I agree with fortunateson about chickens. I have 16 of them - Buff Orpingtons, which are larger birds that lay big brown eggs. (I you're going to sell eggs, people love the brown ones!) Chickens are pretty self sufficient and will eat almost anything.

    I also agree with his suggestion to plant millet. That's the little round grain in bird food and chicken scratch. It's also highly nutritious for humans - much better for you than wheat or corn. I would add amaranth to that list for the same reasons - it's hardy, grows in poor soil without fertilizer and is incredibly nutritious. The leaves are edible too. (Corn I'm not so sure about - it's quite water and fertilizer intensive. Things like corn and wheat are cheap and easy to store anyway - just be sure you store some non-hybrid seed. I haven't even grown any for practice yet, though I may plant a small patch of each his spring. We just had several inches of snow in my part of Colorado last night, so I have a while to decide!)

    Chickens will strip the ground bare if you leave them in one area, but with as much land as you have, it would be easy to devote enough to chickens that you could rotate them through several areas. I "planted" millet (scattered the seeds with a hand-held fertilizer spreader) in a couple of areas this spring, and I won't let the chickens into either area until later. One area I intend to leave till after the first frost next fall and then let them scratch around for the seeds into the winter.

    Chickens will draw predators, and you'll need to deal with that. I bought a large lot of 6' chain link fence panels cheap several years before I moved out to the country, so I was able to build a large enclosure right away. This worked well because I can easily move the enclosure to adjacent ground before the chickens eat everything, and it kept out all the predators until one night when a mountain lion jumped in and ate 7 birds. (Didn't hurt my luck that I shot the foxes and coyotes who showed themselves, I'm sure.) Chickens have a long list of predators, so plan to do more than one layer of defense to prevent the loss of birds - as in a good dog on top of a good enclosure.

    Another chicken idea I have is to build a chicken run that surrounds my garden. Chickens love eating grasshoppers and bugs, and I suspect that would be about the best natural pest control for a garden. (Don't have enough portable fence panels for that, so I won't be testing that idea until I buy my own land somewhere.)

    Since chickens love fresh green plant matter, I experimented with sprouting chicken feed grains like millet and corn this last winter. Also tried sprouted wheat, amaranth and buckwheat just for grins. They loved them all, and it sure gives you a big bang for your feed dollar!

    Goats are great for the beginner, too. Mine have done well with what grows naturally around here, and they aren't particularly picky eaters. I made some tethers out of plastic coated braided steel wire and I tether them where I want weeds eaten. Goats love weeds and will eat them all day long. My first little baby goat was born prematurely during a storm in early March this year, and I hand nursed him with colostrum formula for a couple of days until he was strong enough to stand up on his own. Fortunately his mom accepted him back and he's doing fine now. For a city boy like me, this was a really good learning experience pre-SHTF, and you won't find good animals for sale post-SHTF anyway. Better do it now.

    There's a lot to know about goat breeds. Mine are a cross of Nubian and Toggenburg, and I like them. I'm no expert, though. You have breeds that are good for meat, others that are good for milk and still others that are a pretty good milk and meat breed all in one. Diet has a big impact on the taste of milk, too. I'm told some can be bred year round, others just once a year. As I said, a lot to know!

    If you get a small herd of milk goats going, that could quickly become a second full time job. They must be milked twice a day, 7 days a week. (And - who will do that if you're away?) Also, bear in mind that refrigeration (and pasteurization, if you're into that) are quite energy intensive. It would take a pretty big investment in alt energy to keep that going post-SHTF.

    There are plants that are deadly to goats which they'll happily eat. I got mine from someone who knows a whole bunch about goats and I talked them into delivering them and checking my place out for potential problems including poisonous plants. No problems here, but you have very different foliage, so beware.

    Goats have predators too. Their pen shares fence with the chicken pen, and they were scared ****less when the mountain lion attacked the chickens. A pack of coyotes would happily eat goat too. Coyotes kill calves around here every spring, and those calves are bigger than my goats.

    BTW, you'll have to really protect your garden area from both goats and chickens if you plan to let either roam free.

    I have no direct experience with hogs, but hear from everyone around here who has them that they're very difficult to contain. They'll destroy enclosures that can hold a cow! Biologically, they are quite similar to humans, which complicates disease issues at your retreat.

    Congrats on the land, though. If you're only half as happy as I was to get out to the country it will be well worth it!
  5. OzarkSaints

    OzarkSaints Monkey++

    well, the old guy backed out on us AGAIN.....from the get go, he kept saying 'weeeell...I just don't know ya at all...I'd really rather rent to someone I know....but I don't know anyone who wants to lease it...."

    did I mention his ad was on the internet? which might explain why people like us who he doesnt know are calling him!

    so after 2 times of us talking and him deciding he doesn't need to call references and such and him getting comfortable signing the lease, and then on the day of signing him going back to "well, maybe I should call and check references....I just don't know you kids at all" and us saying "we've been trying to give ya the phone numbers since the first time we talked to ya" and him saying "well , I know...I just wanna get to know you kids more first and wanna keep it on a friendly handshake level....well, let me go talk to my wife" bull****....he pulled it again yesterday morning and I finally told him that I was thru hearing him talk about wanting to make sure we are people of our word when he was the only one not living up to his word............frustrating!!!

    we've had family in town......I will read more thouroughly the posts above when they leave and it is not such a sore subject.....thank y'all for your help

    and Tracy and Fred, just so y'all know, I work completely for myself now and my wife is taking her nursing board exam on the 18th and will soon be working....so I would be able to dedicate as much time as I choose to....which would basically depend on if I was able to turn a profit or not....which the main reason I would want to turn a profit as much as possible, is so that I could stay on the land 24/7 as much as possible and only go into the city to tattoo one or two really long days a week

    at this point we are definitly upping our committment to getting in the country asap.....so please keep the brain food coming, cause we WILL be putting y'alls suggestions to use in the near future!
  6. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    That's funny. I had the same experience negotiating for a piece of land 1 year ago. The strangest thing. This guy had a timber business and thousands of acres. I was negotiating for a 40 acre piece with 2 ponds. Guy stopped returning my calls. Sounded angry every time we talked. Never could figure it out. I think he just priced it too low and didn't have the guts to ask for more money. Still can't figure that one out.

    One thing that stands out in your story - Tattoo artist? Are you covered?
    Some older folks still react to appearance.

    Have the wife bake him a cake and thank him for his time. I know it sounds like BS, but here's the rationale:

    "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Ro 12:20

    Yeah, those coals sting. It'll make you giggle a bit, but it's more than just friendly revenge - mending bridges like that ALWAYS comes back to help you out down the road - sometimes in strange ways!
  7. OzarkSaints

    OzarkSaints Monkey++

    FS.....yup, I'm covered.....and, unfortunately, all too well aware of how many people walk around preaching what their prejudiced asses don't practice.....but, the first 2 times he got screwy was before he ever saw me, so that wasn't the case......lol, oh well...

    oh, and thank you for all the good advice in your post up there....much appreciated bud!
  8. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    On the bright side; I think it's a good thing that you realized that the landowner isn't very dependable. That it happened before the signatures and time investment. It has been my experience that everything happens for a reason. Maybe all of your newly gathered information will help you find the property that is best suited to the ideas that you'd like to put into action.

    Most farms do not turn a profit initially. They are a lot of work - hard work - that require quite a bit of time, material and potential equipment investments (depending on the size and use intent). If you're looking to make a profit, research your local market. Size up the competition. Find a need, fill a need. That filled need will bring you the best profit potential in the shortest amount of time.

    What is it that you like to do? It's much easier to get up every morning to work your guts out if it's along the lines of that which you prefer doing. Do you even like farm animals? For instance, I don't like chickens or geese, their smell or mannerisms. However, they're a vital part of our food-supply chain, so poultry is not something that I've given up on, just something that I dread doing.

    If a ranch; will you raise animals to produce or slaughter? Do you see yourself as a gatherer or milker? Does the property you're looking at have animal shelters? Hanging rooms? Feed storage? Are you familiar with the local rules and regulations for selling? Are you prepared for inspection?

    If a farm; What is your local growing season? Farmer's Market availabilities? Do you love to weed? Do you have a tractor? Will it be chemical free? Are you familiar with organic means? What are your garden-killing challenges (insect/rodent)?

    I'm sure that other Monkeys will tell you of the wonders of a self-sustained lifestyle (as it is wonderful). Their favorite breed or vegetable and the best way to harvest each. I challenge you to make sure that whatever you do; you do it first for you, so that it will do it well for others, which in turn will bring positive results for you.
  9. OzarkSaints

    OzarkSaints Monkey++

    thanks for the advice!

    not worried about what I like...what I don't like are cities and many people, and even most of the ones that I do like are a distant second to my preference to be around animals....I do what's right for my child, I come a far, far, far distant runner up to her and her needs...and I have no doubt that being homeschooled on a farm is the best thing for her...therefore, it is the best thing for me

    as far as what animals I prefer.......dogs (which is definitely an avenue we have been looking into for some time) and (doubt this would be applicable), but my favorite animal that I have ever been around was a camel and a mountain lion (don't ask...I've had an interesting life and would develop carpel tunnel trying to write about it all)

    my goal is pretty simple and straightforward (of course, I am sure obtaining it will not be...lol)...to live in seclusion and homeschool my daughter and have a self sustaining farm and lifestyle as much as possible and to be able to not need to leave the farm unless I want to (which if the farm is not making any money, than of course I would need to leave to work, which would be in the city...which is the whole reason for wanting to make a profit off of it)

    thanks again!
  10. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    Sorry to hear about the land deal. What crap. There's more out there - keep looking and you'll find one that works!
  11. Resqdan

    Resqdan Archangle

    I would plant some fruit bearing trees and bushes. Get some wild berries growing. Have a nice garden spot ready to go. Dig a pond if thats allowed. Bees would be cool if they dont bother you.
  12. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    I don't know a charolais(?) steer from an angus but rent the movie "FOOD INC" as an antithesis to the industrial operations filmed ; There's a small farmer near the end who discusse his "hands-on" operation. Chickens , grass fed beef, and his little farm store that draws folks in from all over.
    don'tforget to dig a root celler, bunkers on the approach road.:)) ),and a good well
  13. OzarkSaints

    OzarkSaints Monkey++

    thanks fellas....ended up leasing the same set up but with only 5 acres from a nice old un-pretentious hillbilly!
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