The Homestead Plan

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Thunder5Ranch, Oct 23, 2016.


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  1. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Let me first say I am NOT advertising for this. Wont turn someone away out of turn but not pushing a lease. I decided to this as the New Small Farm and homestead turn over and failure rate is epic in this region and from talking to friends around the USA it is about the same everywhere Ranging from 80%-95% failure rates within the first 3 years. A little farmstead at the head of my drive has started up, closed down and sold 5 times over the last 8 years as a example. As some who owns and operates 4 Farmers' Markets, I get to talk to pretty much every new homestead and small farm that starts up sooner or later. The sad thing is you eventually can gauge very accurately who will be around in 3 year and who will have the Bank Owned Foreclosure Sign hanging off the drive way gate. Almost painful at times to watch folks so excited in the beginning get ground down, stressed out and finally collapse.

    How can a homestead or small farm not make money and stay afloat given the massive increases in the number of people buying local and buying better food? That is a complex but also easy series of answers.
    1. DEBT! There is no such thing as good debt. Every time you borrow money you making a wager on the future. The average here that folks borrow to start a small 5-10 acre farmstead runs in the area of $125,000-$250,000 with the 5 acre lots seeming to be the most popular and the most expensive. Well you gotta have a new Kubota or JD Compact tractor that cost $25,000-$30,000 and hey look its at 0% financing for 3 years. Got to get all the other tools, tillers and gizmos and we will just max the credit cards out with another $20,000, wait I need a truck to carry everything to market , gotta look good so lets borrow $60,000 for that nice big dodge ram dually. Two years later the farm/homestead is hemoraging money and the income is a small fraction of what was anticipated, so you start working a full time job and it still is not enough to keep up, so you take on a part time job. Still only barely making ends meet and working a full time job, a full time job on the farm and a part time job. Now you are completely exhausted, broke and severely sleep deprived. You drop the part time job and hope you can get by, but the payments are getting behind. The first repo man to show up is from the tractor dealer and load your new tractor up and pulls out, the phone rings non stop with the collection agencies for the maxed out credit cards on the other end. Then the New Truck Repo Man pulls in and you see your truck burning down your driveway. The bank starts sending intent to foreclose notices and after 6 Months begins foreclosure. Then you learn you still owe the balance on the tractor and the truck after they are sold and the repo and attorney fees and you finally crack and file bankruptcy and go down in flames. I have watched this story play out no less than 100 times over the last 16 years.

    2. A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWLEDGE. But I read everything there is to know on the this! Yep you got all of the answers and are too busy knowing everything to learn anything :) Books are great for ideas and the very basic knowledge. Applying that knowledge in practice almost never works out as described in the book. I went to college and studied small farming! Yep in a controlled environment with and unlimited budget for everything. If the tiller blows its $1200 tranny it magically goes away and comes back good as new. In the real world the tranny blows out you are now a small engine mechanic. A disease is hitting your plants, you are a botanist, a animal problem at 2AM you are a vet, a hydraulic cylinder blow on the bucket tractor, yep you are a tractor mechanic. You are also the marketing manager, financial manager, farm manager, janitor, planter, weeder, milker, and everything else. You quickly learn the warranty on everything new expires right before something major breaks :) Then the sheer amount of labor that goes into just feeding yourself and your own family starts to sink in. The grand adventure and dream is now a nightmare you can't wake up from.

    3. Listening to the experts. Locally we had a not for profit start up that has pulled in around 1.5 million in tax payer funded grants over the last 5 years to start and operate a new Farmer training program. That the initiate pays $2,000 to go through to work at menial jobs on mentor farms primarily pulling weeds for a year. This outfit has 2 out of 100 graduates that actually starts a farmstead, of the 350 people to go through the program exactly 3 have survived One is a retired investment banker using the farm as a loss to offset capital gains, the other two are trust fund babies that produce very little but like the status of calling themselves homesteaders and farmers. The farms that act as mentor farms are all less than a year in existence and constantly turning over as they go under. The people that run the program are neo hippy food activist that have never farmed and all involved proclaim their vast experience and expertise in growing and marketing local food. Their expertise is really in grant writing and manipulating the money into their own pockets via the admin cost of the grants and paying nice salaries to the staff. In short the experts talk a very good game and teach failure. A very long running war between myself and that organization. But organizations like that are all over the Nation milking the tax payer teat dry. When it comes right down to it there are very few Authors and Teachers in this that know their bung from a hole in the ground. The ones that do get drowned out by the masses milking the grant teat.

    4. Treating the Farmstead like a not for profit or a charity. If your farmstead needs a pay pal donation button to stay in business, your farmstead has no business being in business. A small farm, farmstead or homestead is NOT sustainable if it is not capable of supporting itself financially. It is a Hobby something you enjoy doing but can't support the farm or yourself with. Heck I will go so far as to say if you are at least producing the bulk of your own food and can put a $ value on what that is offsetting you having to purchase then it is a homestead, farmstead or small farm. We have a lot of folks where one spouse works FT off the farmstead and the other is a stay at home parent working the homestead and home schooling the children and bringing their surplus to market as they have it. I love these folks their kids can actually read, write and do math and don't have their nose stuck in a smart phone every waking moment :)

    Those are the four big reasons I see year in and year out as to why the dream dies and rots on on the vine. I have thought about doing something to counter that for several years. So I finally decided to do just that with my farm/homestead. I am well established, have survived the test of time, and I will roll with what folks keep telling me...... I am a walking how to guide full of old school knowledge and experience that won't hesitate to blend old with modern tech to do better. Basically I am going to turn my farmstead into a Homestead Community and a new farmer/homestead boot camp. And somewhere along the the way many folks consider me to be a survival and prepper guru, don't know about that since I don't do anything out of the ordinary for me.

    Here are some Sat pics of the Farm and what is and what I am thinking about doing. Forgive my digital crayon skills :)

    This is the one I did not vandalize with my digital crayon graffiti. Thoughts, ideas, anyone see anything I could do different or better? Always like different opinions that might make me rethink something. Oh yeah I am thinking $175 per month lease in 1 or 3 year blocks that include the cabin site, field tract, communal use of the equipment (Tillers, tractors, disc etc.) 50Amp Electric per cabin and rural/city water. A block house with shower and laundry facilities and use of the Certified Kitchen for their market products and use of the Communal kitchen for personal and community meals. And a $1500 per year fee for electric, water, and equipment upkeep and cost. So basically $3600 per year for cabin site, utilities, equipment and a tract of land to work. Also thinking communal meals contributed to by all from what we produce. About the only thing I still buy from the store is cornstarch, yeast, cane sugar, flour and coffee. All of the money from the lease would go into a new equipment and project fund. I don't want or need the money as income but it would be nice to pool it for things like the lake, a solar/wind system that would eventually get us off the grid electric, more wells, just in general things that would improve the homestead community. I have no heirs and want the farm to continue when I am feeding the worms and this seems like a good model to pass the farm and what I have built on and it benefit more than some greedy asshole family member that thinks they will have a pay day when I kick the bucket.
    farm sat map. This one is pretty much how things are now. We raise and finish 150-200 hogs that we direct market as whole and half custom hogs and as packaged retail cuts for the on farm store and market. We raise 4500-5000 broilers and process them on farm under the poultry exemption, and 100-500 layer hens for market and store eggs. There are around 300 turkeys that hang out in the woods and pastures that we round up in November and process for TG turkeys. I cut the Irish Dexter Cattle herd from 24 down to 4. Very low cost to raise but took up too much space. And in the veggie area we produce around 35,000-60,000 pound of produce per year depending on what we grow.
    T5R2. Again forgive the digital crayon skills or rather lack of :) The Purple Blocks are suitable portable building cabin sites that I would lease, the big block is where my cabin and lawn is. The smaller block is the Bunk House for interns and hired hands. 1-7A are the farmstead tracts that would be included in the cabin site lease, very fertile and well drained land after having cattle on it for 8 years of rotation. 8 is what I am currently using to grow fruits and vegetables both open field and high tunnels and green houses. 9. Will turn into fruits and vegetables since I have reduced the cattle herd to only 1 bull and 3 cows. Most of the buildings are under the canopy including the big barn. The Red Roof bigger building is the machine shed and shop beside it is a hog barn. Since the last time Google Earth snapped a picture several years ago, the certified kitchen and On Farm Store are beside the Machine shed and a 14x70 mobile home I am going to refurbish sits under the trees by the yellow pin. The old mobil home is structurally sound but it needs gutted and the floors and walls replaced and a truss and steel roof to replace the flat roof, figure it will be good for a rinsing and packing house with a couple more walk in coolers and another walk in freezer. The blue is where I eventually want to put stock ponds and a recreational lake.
    farm plan2.
    We are out in the Sticks but within 40-50 miles of every in State population Center. 45 miles from Evansville IN and around 100 Miles St. Louis.
    T5R4.
     
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  2. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Just make sure that the residential area is upwind and upstream (aquifer wise) from the livestock.
     
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  3. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Hard to put it upstream of the Aquifer since we sit right in the middle of the knights prairie aquifer. Have the water tested every 3 months for the certified kitchen and the poultry processing and comes back clean and pure every time. Big difference in how pastured livestock manure works and confinement soup poop works on ground water.

    Stink also is a non issue with pastured pigs, they rotate the pastures following the cattle and then the chicken tractors follow the pigs in the rotation. No manure to build up and create a stagnate anaerobic environment that makes the classic pig stench people think is normal. Winter time in the winter pens might get a wee bit ripe when we have a warm up but not typically more than a whiff. Pigs tend to all make their deposits in one location and hard to get a bucket tractor in to scoop it up December through April due to mud.
     
  4. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Sounds good, interesting data on the homestead failure rate, and makes sense, debt is a drag on any operation.

    I'm on 3 acres, but am totally debt free, only have utilities and property taxes, but can only afford hand tools to garden with as I won't stick my neck out to buy anything on credit, a mattock being the main sod buster, and me supplying the energy to do the work, but it keeps me in shape. In the 1860's Midwest a man equipped with only a spade was supposed to be able to work 40 acres, those old timers were tough as nails.

    Soil here is very poor, and extremely rocky since I'm on what was Ice Age river bottom 10,000 years ago. If I dig a hole and remove the rocks, I have to add over 50% more dirt just to fill up the hole. Struggled for 2 years with the bad soil and all the garden pests, but am making headway.

    For me a greenhouse is the key for success, and have the first one constructed and plants growing. For cash flow I deal in bicycles, and sell items on eBay, so far it's working out and getting better with time, but I would caution anybody who is thinking of diving into this lifestyle as it can be a real grinder, at times you will have hard work for 16 hours a day, and if your not used to that it can kill you. I grew up working on farms and was in the woods whenever I wasn't working for my recreation, so I have a substantial amount of knowledge gained from my experience that is just tough to come by in the more technologically advanced areas of our society.

    Thunder5Ranch is putting out some good info, and I'm enjoying his posts.
     
  5. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    If you are 45 miles from Evansville, IN and 100 miles from St. Louis, then my guess is that you are in southern Illinois.

    I grew up in Illinois and still have a lot of ties to the area. Many of the problems you describe are due to...Illinois. It has some of the most fertile, most productive cropland in the world, but the liberal politics and over regulation and almost impossible business climate make it the last place anyone would want to try and earn a living...much less be a farmer, which is very difficult even in good conditions.

    For those who aren't familiar, some background: Although Illinois is technically a "blue state," it's not quite that straightforward. Illinois has about 12 million residents, and about half of them live in Cook County (which includes Chicago). Cook always goes deep blue, but the rest of the state is no where near as liberal. Without Cook County, Illinois would be red. In the last governor's election, the Republican (Rauner) won every single county except Cook and still barely squeaked out a win. That's how much influence one single county has on the rest of the state, and more than just a few people really, really resent it.

    The southern Illinois people want nothing to do with Chicago, with good reason. Everything north of I-80 is dead to them.

    So yes I agree with your analysis, with the additional point that where you set up shop matters a lot. Many successful farmers in other states would never make it in Illinois...and so it is with many other businesses. Maybe that's why Illinois has negative population growth.
     
  6. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    In the heart of SI :) Hamilton County. We are very much a Red state in the Southern 1/3. I am pretty much between Mount Vernon, Evansville, Marion, Harrisburg, Carbondale, Duquoin Not huge cities but 10,000-30,000 pop areas within the magic 40-50 mile range. The Election before last Quinn Won Cook and St Claire Counties and won. Pretty much everyone in the State legislature is a Mike Madigan puppet. The State is on the verge of bankruptcy, property taxes are insane, sales tax are insane, and Regulation is beyond insane. A Couple from CA. came and visited us last year and said "I Thought our left coast taxes and regulation was bad!"

    The small farm turn over is Nationwide, article after article of people that failed and blame everyone but themselves. I have a lot of friends in different areas and while IL. runs a higher failure rate than most 70% are gone on average within 3 years 90% are done before 5 years and 5% make it to 10 years. The stories of failure are obscured as they don't go along with the food activist chanting it is a booming business, let us get a grant for you and adminster it for your farm...... Translation we take the lions share of the grant in admin fees and toss you some scraps.

    There are ways to make a honest living in a corrupt state :) I have manged to keep my property taxes at $290 by putting everything on skids and using ground anchors. lol 40x60 barn on skids is not fixed to the ground via post or a foundation. Cash sales are a small farmers best friend. Credit/Debit/EBT and Checks are as well to a point. Incorporating a a S or C corp are a lot easier on taxes and from a regulatory stand point in comparison to a DBA or LLC. IE The Farm as a DBA that sells everything to the T5R Inc. to distribute to the customers. Relieves the farm of liability and It works out much better for me to be a employee of my corp. And operate the farm at minimal profit. And lease the Store and facilities to the Corp. LOL I started the Farmers' Markets as a way to offset the corporate taxes as a subsidiary of the T5R Inc and then the things turned profitable. So Now I am incorporating the markets as their own 501c3 Not for Profit so I can still sink money into it and write it off. Also best to have the Corp. at risk with minimal assets than the Farm at risk. Although the farm is going to come under greater risk as the FDA continues to evolve and enhance the FSMA. I spend about 15 hours per week going through USDA, FDA and IDOA regulatory updates 90% of which have NOTHING to do with food safety. And after all that you have a mountain of HACCP Documentation, Food Safety Plans, GAP plans, health department inspections from 6 different Counties (all of which have different regulations....... many of which conflict from County to County) and then everyone has to have their Mobile Vending Fee that ranges from $75-$450 per year, City vending fees ranging from $0-$300 per year. Keeping track of each Counties sales tax and paying them. All of the State licensing fees. Yeah Welcome to the Peoples Republic of Illinois :) And as a added bonus if you live in Southern IL. the State is closing our beneficial facilities and moving them to Northern IL. Like Oh our Animal and water testing lab, that you have to get tissue and water samples to within 24 hours (With the Fee of Course) and have to pretty much next day ship at a heft cost. LOL if you can make it as a small direct marketing farmer in IL. you can make it anywhere!
     
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  7. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Hey better to be small and debt free than big and buried in the red! I always advise people to start with 1/2 to 1 acre, if you can't make a go on that much you can't make it on 100 acres.

    I have a lot of family in SD by the bad lands. I feel for you in the rocky soil. My mom has been working the same garden for 60 years and loves to tell anyone that will listen that it didn't grow much the first 10 years and a lot of work. Being physically fit and tough is only half of it, the other half is being mentally tough. There are literally days or even weeks and months when nothing goes right, everything breaks and for every step forward you slide back 20 paces. That wears on the mind, throw in physical exhaustion and it is a recipe for disaster. Toss in debt... yeah debt would put me over the mental edge worrying about it, on top of everything else. But after all that I would not choose any other life.

    Soil Southern IL. is much different than Central and Northern IL. We primarily have Sandy Clay and Farther South you get into a lot of limestone. Each year I scrape all the cow manure up from around the hay rings. and compost it down to around 40,000 pounds of compost and spread it 4" thick as many passes as I can and then disc it in. After 8 years here I have turned the clay on 3.5 acres in the very fertile soil equal to Northern IL black dirt. another 3 acres of decent fertility but not nearly enough organic matter in it. 1-7A are very good as I graze the cattle on that section very heavy, then put the porkers on it which root it all together again, then the chickens follow in the fall adding their high N and acidic deposits to the soil. Then disk it all flat again in early october and plant a mix of turnips, white clover and fescu grass and repeat the whole process the next year. After 8 years of that process it has really built the top soils up from about a inch of marginal soil to 4 inches of not great but good soil. Targeting those sections with more concentrated compost will bring them up to very good almost immediately at this point. The thing I like about well hot composted manure is you can't put too much on and end up with nutrient lock. Chemical fertilizers and raw manure you can easily over do it and bind the nutrient up int he soil and they are worthless until you turn it over a lot and let the weeds grow to lighten it up. And I can go on and on talking about poop and dirt :)
     
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  8. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Yep, figured the failure rate is high, plan to put out a little book on Kindle next month, haven't definitely decided on title yet, thinking "The Dirty Side Of Homesteading", or "Homesteading is Hardcore" to make it clear that even in the best case scenarios, you'll be producing enough to put lots of food on your family's table, but you'll need an outside income.
     
  9. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Oh it is possible to earn a decent living from your homestead, it just hard. It also exposes you and what you are doing to a lot of people if you are. Another big problem in the equation. So you produced all of this food and are going to make a killing selling it. Does not take to long to discover, that every place you try to sell it already has a local or regional source. The Farmers' Markets won't let you in, at least not any of the busy markets. Road side stands are hit and miss sales points and typically viewed as questionable in many areas. You learn over time that half the vendors are resellers that hit the food auctions on Thursday and Friday and buy those locally grow Mexican tomatoes for .20 cents per pound and are at the market on Saturday morning hawking them as locally grown by the vendor for $2.00 per pound. And if you were lucky enough to get into the market and try to sell your tomatoes for $2.00 per pound so you are not undercutting anyone, the resellers drop their price to $1.75 then $1.50 and on down to .30-.50 cents per pound to the point it cost you more to grow your tomatoes than you can sell them for. Forcing you out of the market.

    The established small farms are very protectionist about towns and markets. Yes I am one of the bigger vendors and well established farms/homesteads in SI. I am also a renegade in part because I had to fight these guys tooth and nail to get established. Guerilla Marketing, building a customer base slowly in the shadows, and choosing my fights very carefully in the early days. And for the last 8 years at constant war with the protectionist and two opposing status quos. The Good Ole boy network and the Liberal food activist Network.

    I am quite proud of what I have been able to accomplish over the last 16 years. My little 40 acres feeds 200-225 people all of their eggs, poultry, pork, and vegetables. Another 100-150 that are fairly regular customers that buy smaller amounts but consistently every week or every other week. and around 200 more that are occasional customers that tend to be the whole hog or buy 20-40 broilers at a time or want 500 pounds of tomatoes or 100 pounds of green beans to can. Since I could not get into any farmers markets, I started the Regional Producer Farmers' Market and have now opened 3 very hopping markets in smaller towns that no one in their right mind would bother with. Markets that anyone who produces what they sell can get into with only $5 - $7.50 vendor fees (Most markets around here have a $15 to $25 daily vendor fee) Last August one of the bigger markets got into financial and regulatory trouble and I was able to take it away from them via the City Government and negotiated a surrender of their bank account and market equipment (The bank account was money the City had donated to fund the previous market that was being misused) Rather than expensive litigation with the City, their Market board felt it would be better to turn over all assets to me including their TMs and copyrights.

    4 years ago the RPFM was myself, a plant vendor and a baked goods vendor. We were under constant attack from the status quos and getting our asses kicked in the vendor and public rumor mills. A constant stream of false reports to regulatory agencies, primarily health departments and the IL. Dept. of Ag. LOL my meat compliance officer after two months of being at the farm 2-4 times every week following up on one bogus report after another said " You know Mike, It is getting to where I see you more than I see my wife!" All of these reports and inspections were a blessing in disguise even if time consuming and annoying. They gave me epic credibility with the investigators and created some very good friendships with some of the investigators, make no mistake they will bust my ass if I am doing something wrong and harder than they would someone else "Because you know better". Ultimately by the end of 2012 the inspectors began investigating the people reporting me and busted several of them with some major food safety violations. During all of those investigations and inspections I only got less than 100% scores on the inspections twice. a 97% and a 99% once because the meat trailer floor was dirty and once for the wrong ratio of sanatizer in the dish washing compartment of the sink.

    Since that time my number allies has grown as more rogues and renegades in local food have joined me. We have came a long way from 3 vendors fighting a massive coalition of protectionist in the two status quos. It has gotten to the harder they try to discredit me, the more credible we become and the more vendors come in to the RPFM. This pic is of one of our small markets 20 minutes before market open. Every one of these vendors is a small homestead/farmstead operation that either brings, vegetables, crafts, meats, soap or plants to market. At 3pm that walk way between tents was choked with market visitors. Our lowest selling vendors are the soap and hand made jewelry vendors with an average of $100-$150 per market. the produce vendors and plant vendors average between $325-$375 per market. The Meat vendors and meat and produce vendors average $500-$750 per market. All of these folks were turned away from the *Prime* Markets ran by the protectionist.

    DSC00819.JPG

    Another of the big Markets went under last Month 40 miles North of us. Due to internal bickering and arguing over who gets what cut of the grant funding for the market among the board members. My RPFM team is already negotiating the take over of that Market, for a reopen in possibly 2017 but more likely 2018 as it developed a bad reputation among the public, City Council and it would probably be best to let it lay dormant for a season and give people time to forget. We are opening 2 more small town 4-6 vendor markets in 2017. We have found scaling the market size to meet the demands of a town with less vendors competing with each other is the best way to go. The bigger markets are a free for all as far as competition among the vendors on fair and friendly field. That is a disaster in a small town market. So we get vendors into the smaller markets and they do a $150-$300 in sales over 3-4 hours. My farm does much better in the bigger high traffic markets, but I won't turn my nose up at a small town market that is almost a guaranteed $200 in sales every week.
    If the very small and lower sales producer vendors are doing $300-$500 in sales per week at our markets and the bigger producer vendors are pulling $2,000-$2500 at our markets per week and everyone is happy and working together, I think I created something right and good. LOL we call our selves a Family of Producer Vendors. We are also the ONLY farmers markets owned and operated by the Producer Vendors. I might be the Supreme DiKtAtEr at least until December 31st wehn I turn the RPFM over to full board control..... Every regular vendor at our markets had a voice in what and how we did things. New Producer Vendors coming in that lack experience we help in every way we can with advice on everything from growing to the market table display and how best to interact with the customers. It is damn intimidating going to your first Farmers Market and wondering how you are going to stack up against the established vendors and whether anyone will buy what you have to offer. It is worse when the other vendors are cut throat protectionist that make you feel 2" tall and give you the you will conform to what we say or you won't be here long lectures. At our Markets it is different a new vendor comes in they are greeted made to feel welcome and sometime between set up and tear down almost every one of our vendors introduces themselves and ask if there is anything they can do to help the new Vendor. We want to see people succeed, we want the new small homestead to carve out their Niche in the market place and be around 5-10-20-30 years.

    It is expensive to get up to the level of production I and the other bigger producer vendors are at. It takes time to build a loyal customer base and it takes the right environment working with you and not against you to achieve what you want to. It is hard in every sense but it can be done and I can't think of a more rewarding job than producing food for folks and loving what I am doing. I have grown as big as I am going to. I am pushing 50 years old and am not going to get any stronger or younger. So there comes a time when you change things around looking to the future and what you can really take care of, not what you think you can really take care of :) I still have a lot of years left in me at least another 20 I would hope. In that time left I am going to continue doing what I do and love and helping other achieve the same level of success. There is nothing more rewarding to me that being financially independent and being independent honestly and by my own hard work and choices.

    Folks just have to understand what they are getting into, the sacrifices, the hard back breaking labor, the sleepless nights worrying if you made the right choices, the times when you most need income and everyone else is broke to and you can't sell anything. In my world as long is there is food on the table, fire in the stove and dry roof over the head and a pot of hot coffeeon the stove all is good. If I make a lot of money great if I don't I will get by. The single most important thing in my world is looking in the mirror at the end of the day and seeing someone who can look themself in the eye and go to bed with a clean conscience, knowing you might not have did as good as you could have but you did it right and without screwing someone else over in the doing. Bare bones I have to earn $5000 per year to live comfortably, anything above that is gravy on the biscuit. And as I am sitting here writing a check for $27,300 to lock in my feed for the pigs and chickens for the next 12 months. Which is better than 2012 and 2013 when the same amount of feed, I was writing the check for $72,000 and some change. Straight pasture pork SUCKs if you don't supplement it with grain, micro nutrients and protein :) I can live with the pigs and chickens living on 60% pasture and woods forage and 40% grain. That is one example of how bigger is not exactly better and certainly more expensive. There is no guarantee you will sell all 300 finished pigs, and you can just as easily lose that $27,300. There is no guarantee you will have a a bumper crop of tomatoes from those 20,000 tomatoe plants. Mosiac virus can infest you tomatoe patch and wipe out every plant. Or like my potatoes and onions this harvest last year I pulled 47,000 of potatoes and 22,000 pounds of big onions, this year after endless rain 80% of the potatoes rotted in the field and 90% of the onions. I am going to lose money on the potatoes as what I harvested won't even cover the cost of the seed potatoes. On onions I start my own slips and use my own seed but invest a lot of time starting that seed and you have not had fun until you have planted 35,000 onion slips. So I lost a lot of time and labor. But I have something and the seed onions did well enough to do it again next year and hope things play out different. What separates me from many others is I can't fail. I don't owe anyone anything. I have no credit and I have no debt. I save and I pay cash and buy everything outright. No mortgage, not equipment payments, no truck payments, no trailer payments. I started out very small and grew and 16 years later after a lot of struggle am among the well established and highly productive big guys in our regional food system. Even if I am at odds with 95% of them in philosophy and practices. I did what the experts said could not be done and kicked some ass along the way and got my ass kicked along the way.

    So I have to disagree with your best case, but do agree that until you are established and have built a strong customer base for your products, a off the farm income is required. Or a saved nest egg that can carry you through 3-5 years of very low income. I was very fortunate in that regard. I had a nice savings and the woman I married in 2010 has a very good job. No idea why someone so much higher class would want to marry me but after dating for 12 years she decided I might be a little grubby but alright. Been married for 6 years now and have some very interesting debates as two very strong personalities tend to do, but we work good together and compliment each other very well. Often amuses me that she sold a $700,000 house to come live in a 1974 mobile home in the middle of the sticks with me. I sure don't fit in with her social circles, but amazingly she fits in very well with mine. She does her thing, I do my thing and then we do our things and it works out great. We do keep our things separate, call us paranoid but we both took big losses in the divorces in our first marriages. And neither of us want a repeat of that should things go sour. It is nice though that if the Farm has a really bad year she picks up the slack, but by the same token she has not had to buy groceries, or pay a heating bill since we got married and moving in, or even cook......... Well she has cooked but we decided it would be best if the cooking were left to me, after she put two biscuits in the microwave for 30 minutes and caught the biscuits and the microwave on fire LOL. 30 seconds........ 30 minutes whats the difference :)
     
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  5. Asia-Off-Grid
  6. Asia-Off-Grid
  7. Asia-Off-Grid
  8. TnAndy
  9. Motomom34
  10. Tully Mars
  11. Motomom34
  12. Ganado
  13. kateTV
  14. Gopherman
    [MEDIA]
    Thread by: Gopherman, Jun 17, 2016, 9 replies, in forum: Off Grid Living
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