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How many acres do you think is the minimum needed?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Dawg-fan-in-TN, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    TnAndy-----Do you think the purchase of a small woodmizer sawmill would be a good purchase for Dawg or that matter anyone whom is buying a wooded area to build there homestead upon......I mean I wish I could find some kind of woodland to build my homestead on myself but finding that type of land in Iowa is very hard as most woodland is DNR land.
  2. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Well, it's been a DANDY purchase for me...because I'm a carpenter ( among 6 other things....ahahaha ) but I've rarely found that tools cost anything in the long run.

    The place we bought (originally, added 27ac adjoining it later ) was 75ac, and 100% in timber. Paid 75k for it in 1982, I've cut probably 100-150k bdft of lumber off it, and BARELY put a dent in the whole thing. Most intensive clearly done recently was 1/2acre hill right above the mill for a new apple orchard ( couple years ago ), and I got 15k bdft from that alone......plus several cords of firewood.

    Really, I figure the property we bought didn't cost anything in the long run, based on the resources growing on it, or flowing out of it.

    Has a year round spring that gravity feeds to the house.....think about that by itself a minute....no pump, no electric cost FOR a pump, and no water bill. We used to pay 25-30bucks/mo for water at the place we lived before we moved here in 1984 ( took 2 years of part time work to get road, water, power, clearing done BEFORE we moved on the property )...that's 27 YEARS of free water.....( less piping and storage tanks )....assuming 25-30 bucks/month ( and I KNOW the price of utility water has gone up since then ), that's 10,000 bucks ALONE of the original 75 I paid for the place.

    I paid about 14k for my mill in 1991 ( and wish I'd bought it the same day I closed on our property in 1982 ), and I figure, conservatively, it's paid me back 100k in lumber I didn't buy. By the way, that mill would sell for 7-8k today IF a person wanted to buy a used one...which is peanuts compared to the payback.

    Occasionally, I do a little custom cutting for someone, but 98-99% of my use is for me. You'd be AMAZED at the barns and shed and rental houses and so on that you can, and will build, IF you have a cheap source of lumber.

    I built 3 rental houses and made 250k off them between rent and the price I sold them for. Of course, the lumber alone was a small part, BUT, it helped me build on the "pay as you go" plan....never borrowed a dime to build them, so I was never "under the interest gun" to a bank.....and I put oak trim, flooring, cabinets in them, as most of it came off my mill ANYWAY ( bought a small molding machine for 1,500bucks) and I could put top quality trim in for less than the price of finger-jointed pine, so why not ?

    SO, the question of a mill sorta depends on the person, the resources they have available ( like you point out, timber in Iowa isn't that available ), what they want to do, and so on. It's worked GREAT for me.....I'll have that mill until I die, without a doubt, but maybe another person would be better off to just hire the sawing done. Still pretty cheap IF you have your own timber....25-30cents/bdft compared to twice ( or more ) that for store bought lumber.
  3. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    IF anyone is thinking about buying a place to live on, like Dawg Fan, let me stress AGAIN the above statement.

    You GOT to look at this long term, IMHO.....and MAYBE stretch yourself, financially, at first, to really gain in the long run.

    We bought our place in March, 1982. Old guy that had it owned it 30 years, he bought it for 3,000 bucks ( I looked it up at the courthouse ). He was a former farmer and route salesman for a fertilizer company, (and one REALLY smart cookie), and bought up cheap land whenever he could over the years.....although in 1952 when he bought it, 3,000 bucks WAS real money.
    But he did OK.....I worked the numbers, and that was an 8% return on his original money, and considering banks were probably paying 1% during that period, he didn't do bad at all......plus the interest we paid him over the next years....nope....not bad at all.

    Anyway, it sat here untouched for 30 years, except for being an "end of the road camp out/drinking/smoke dope" spot ( took me a couple years to break the former users of that habit, by the way....with some 12ga literacy lessons on how to read a No Trespassing sign )....so the timber growth was in the 30-40yr range when I bought it ( it had been logged some time in the past.....I suspect about WW2 when the chestnuts were dying ), so the timber was decent sized. Takes about 80-90 yrs for "full growth" timber here, starting from an acorn.

    So, Lynn ( the now retired, QUITE well off, fertilizer salesman ) decided to run it in the paper in February, 1982, and I saw it. Since it was just 8 miles from where we lived then, I met him and we walked the property, him showing me the corner markers. It lays back in a "pocket", up the east/southeast slope of a mountain in a small valley, surrounded by National Forest property about 80-90% of the property lines. Also at the end of a small ( was a "Jeep Rut" for the first few years ) county dirt road....now a decent paved road to my gate.

    We paid 75k for it....thousand an acre. I knew enough about timber to recognize there was that much ALONE in standing timber even if I had it commercially logged ( which I'd NEVER do.....WAY too valuable a resource to give away for a short term payday), plus the location, the spring, and so on, convinced me THAT DAY it was "the place".

    Now, at the time, I was a public school teacher making 12k/yr. My wife was teaching 1/2 time, for a whopping 6k/yr.....18k/yr ( plus whatever I could earn in the summer doing odd carpentry jobs ), and going 75K in debt....nuts, huh ?

    AND remember, this was 1982....the previous "recession/depression" when mortgage rates were 14-16%, IF you could get a mortgage....and you SURE weren't getting one on 75a of raw, rough land with NO utilities ( not even a power line ). So, Lynn, being the sharp cookie he was, offered to finance it for us at 10%, 20yrs,with semi-annual payments. The ONLY thing we had going for us is we had built our previous house in 1976, and had borrowed very little to do so ( small house, subdivision lot ) and had it nearly paid off by 1982.....so we held our breath, took the leap, and bought the land.

    The payments, at first, probably took WELL over 50% of our income....it was a stretch....no bank would have done it, but we live simple, and we managed it. We have such an aversion to debt, that we actually had the place paid off in 9 years.

    After 2 years of every weekend and after school time I could spare, we had couple acres cleared, house site prepped, first barn built, water line in ( I bought an old P-O-S backhoe that helped a lot, then sold it and bought a small 4x4 tractor ), and timber logged out to build the house ( local sawmill guy would pick up log truck loads when I got it down, skidded out and piled up )

    We sold our house in town, bought a mobile home that we lived in a year here, used the cash out of that sale to pay cash for the materials to build our current house, and got enough of it finished to move in on New Year's Day...it was 70 degrees....freaky warm. 3 weeks later, it was -22....freaky cold.....ahahaaaa....like to froze our backsides off, all we had was a fireplace for heat, and hadn't even had time to cut much wood that year while building the house....rough winter.

    But every year got better and better.

    I quit teaching in 1988 ( wife stayed, got her masters and Doc degrees, makes pretty decent money at the top of the pay scale now ), and went back to construction work. Bought the sawmill in 1991, tore down the original "barn/shop" I built with a chainsaw when we first moved up here ( no power line, remember, and I was too cheap to buy/rent a generator ), added onto the concrete slab it was on, and finished out a 35x75 wood/mechanic/storage shop, built numerous other barns/shed/etc. Got into building rental houses in 2000, on lots I'd picked up cheap/paid cash thru the years....hey, it worked well for ole Lynn....why not ?

    We added 27ac adjoining to us when it came available in the late 90's...price had gone to 2,000ac by then....whew......ahahaaaa.....now it sells for 6-7,000ac.....

    I figure, conservatively, ( the way I've always figured stuff ), our place is worth 500k now...(+ the other, separate 27ac)......which, even in inflation adjusted FRN's, ain't a bad return on the original price.....and the point IS, a LOT of that value came FROM the land itself.

    The key to building true wealth is retained value....wealth you didn't pay taxes on, or piss away in the form of interest.....but RETAINED in your own hands. Most folks will go work a job, pay taxes, take the after tax income and pay a bunch of that in interest to a bank to buy a place over 30 years.....and then wonder how come they are broke when they hit retirement age.

    Simple: they didn't learn the rules of the game early on.

    SO, my point is: learn to recognize the TRUE value of a piece of land...not just the price tag on the front end....because if you pick the RIGHT piece, you may find it was the cheapest thing you ever bought :D

    YMMV (your mileage may vary )
    STANGF150 likes this.
  4. Dawg-fan-in-TN

    Dawg-fan-in-TN Monkey+

    WOW! Thanks for that last post TNANDY I haven't really thought about land in those terms. Definitely food for thought. Heck maybe I better start thinking of a bigger tract of land. I'm pretty good with my hands and might be able to do something similar to what you've done but on a smaller scale.
  5. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member


    I'd LIKE to say I had that all thunk out ahead of time, before I bought mine, but truthfully, I did not. I did have a gut feeling along those lines, and the rest of it fell into place as the years went on. I have been blessed, from time to time, with the ability to recognize an opportunity, and seize it. Take my wife of 40 years as an example.... :D

    Now, in looking backwards, I can say how it worked.....which, IMHO, gives you a huge advantage of where I started from....you get the best, and the mistakes, of what I did.

    I've always been a believer in the "pile theory".....if your pile is bigger than my pile, I'll listen to how you got it.....but if my pile is bigger than yours, maybe you should listen to me.....ahahahaaaa

    Do with it what you will...you have time on your side......I'm a certified old fart now, and it doesn't matter much anymore.
  6. Dawg-fan-in-TN

    Dawg-fan-in-TN Monkey+

    I have no problem what so ever in learning from other folks who have been there and done that. Kinda learned to accept that way of thinking the hard way growing up and spending a few years in the Army. Afterall it was pretty hard reinventing a better wheel. haha

    I appreciate all the insights and information I can get. That's why I asked the question while I am still in my early planning stages.

    Thanks again to all who have shared info.
  7. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    TnAndy; I know I wont find anywhere near the deal you got on land but we are thinking on moving to say kentucky (where my family is from) or Tennesee. I'd love to get the land my dad grew up on in Harlan county Kentucky, it's right at 300 acres of mountain and full of timber unless they had it cut, and I believe the Moonshine stills are still there............LOL. that whole area was so rich in Coal I don't know if my family still has it.
  8. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

  9. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    I really would love to have some of that Hopefully it will still be there when I get making some money again, I just wished I had put money back when I was younger, so I could actually have something now.
  10. Catullus

    Catullus Monkey+++

    The answer to your question of how much land is "needed" would be how much you can/or are able to defend. In a SHTF scenario a 100 acres is not going to do you any good if you can't defend it.

    In my case, my compound will be 3 acres that I will defend heavily. I am picking up another 10 acres or so for timber and hay. It is amazing the amount you can do on a little land with new farming methods and if you are careful what animals you are keeping.
  11. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    I dont know how things work in Texas but I can garuntee you would not do this in the ozark mountains. Internal parisites would be out of control you would have no plant life in that 2acres inside of a couple of weeks. The fences would have to be solid walls about 6 foot tall to keep them in. :rolleyes:

  12. Catullus

    Catullus Monkey+++

    I almost said something about the 50 goats on 2 acres as well. That gives me shivers thinking about. I would think a 10 foot high concrete wall might hold them in.

    The problem, as with any animal, is you have to feed it...
  13. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Central and West Texas areas are a might drier than most places, so the parasite problem is not as bad. Browse for 50 goats on 2 acres is limited, yes. You do not feed 100% browse to ANY animal, as there is no guarantee they are getting 100% adequate nutrition. The browse denudation of goats on small acreage can be kept to a minimum if you A: rotate properly and B: feed hay in adequate quantities. And as far as fencing - nothing shy of a PRISON WALL might be adequate to keep a determined goat from wandering.

    Effectively you may have 100 acres of land. You can keep the goats on 2 acres - at a TIME. If you only have 2 acres, Then adjust accordingly.

    Some useful additional information:
    And also:
    I apologize for not being more specific in my statement. I hope this helps clear things up a bit. As with anything YMMV
  14. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    If you have goats (or cows) on your land and want to feed them, just get some kudzu growing. Kudzu can grow up to 1 foot per day.
    I read an article last year where a county (forget which state) was using goats to keep kudzu under control. It was cheaper and faster then trying mow, burn or use chemicals.
  15. franks71vw

    franks71vw Monkey+++

    Isnt that in GA, my uncle lives there and thats what they do... unfortunately thats a federal noxious weed and well dont get caught planting it.... wont be purrrty
  16. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    It's in a lot of southern states. Kudzu is used the Japanese in some of their tofu.
    The Kudzu plant FAQ [Kudzu World]
  17. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    Well they eat garbage like Tofu so their sanity aint all their either.
    3cyl likes this.
  18. Lit 1911

    Lit 1911 Monkey+

    I have 10 and a couple cows,and a bull.A fair sized fence,about 5 feet tall.My house is right at the back of it,and the driveway i share with neighbors winds around the edge of my property.Im at the end of my road.We can make a garden.
  19. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    That's Pueraria montana var. lobata.... it's an indigenous species throughout Asia. In its native range.... there are checks and balances that control it. Here on the continent of North America.... maybe not so good of an idea planting that even if it were within the parameters of the law, Invasive Exotic Plant Tutorial - Kudzu. I have photographs from Japan and China where you can see how well behaved the plant is when it's in its own native community that includes flora, fauna, and pathogens it co-evolved with that keep it in "balance".... here in the US... we made the big boo boo of importing it with the hopes of making a big buck off it.... we didn't import its natural enemies so it's sorta got diplomatic immunity to choke out everything in its path on this continent. I've seen goats do a number on it down south in North Carolina and Georgia and they've started using goats to control it even in southern IL but kudzu really isn't the greatest diet for goats anyway. It does make a really great jelly though.
  20. Jeffersonian

    Jeffersonian Monkey

    Can anyone suggest a good small mill I can purchase to harvest my timber, I have 98 acres of old growth timber....not sure it has ever been logged it belonged to the same family for over 130 years.
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