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We need more farmers, and how to be one  RSS feed

 
Clayton Taylor
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We all know that our country isn't doing very well these days. The outsourcing of jobs to overseas countries and our national debt has us in a situation where there are few jobs. However, these problems would not be a big deal if We The People would take it upon ourselves to fix these problems and stop relying on the mega corporations and the government to fix them for us. Yes, much of these problems were created by them but are we just going to sit around and allow them to dig us in even deeper. I would hope not.

One of the best ways for us to take action is for many of us to start our own businesses whether its an online store selling homemade goods, a store owner down town, or, if you really want a secure lifestyle you could become a farmer. Sure, these days there are a lot of horror stories about the farming occupation. However, these stories primarily come from the large scale producers who are simply taking on too much. A better system of farming is that which is done on a small scale. This style of farming can often be taken on with no more than a few hand tools, and once you purchase and plant your first seeds and trees there is very little overhead. There is also very little work to do, usually a single man or a small family can easily manage a small farm, but with all this said, I know that many of you want me to cut to the chase and tell you how much money can be made. Well, as with all business, the amount of money that can be made depends on the product which you are producing and the overall need for that product. Often times the best way to make money is to find a scarce product that would be desired by your customers. However, more importantly it must be a product you enjoy producing. This is especially true with farming. It is simply natural for the food you’r producing to be of a higher quality if you like what your doing. You know what, heck with this I’m getting too side tracked. I’ll tell you more about farming later on in this article.

Now, if your more interested in farming or already had an interest in farming it is time for you to learn how to go about starting a farm or as I think it is better put, a farming homestead. If you already have an acre or better of land you are ready to get going and could easily make a living off of that amount of land. It doesn't matter if it’s in the city or the country either, in fact, farms in the city often have an advantage over those in the country because they are closer to their customers, however, if you are like me and like to be away from it all your better off in the country and the gas money spent to get your produce to town is in my mind a fair tradeoff for the relaxation and great times that come from life in the country. Okay, before I veer too far off course I had better start talking about how to go about buying land if you don’t already have some, because in the farming world you ain’t no kind of man if you ain’t got land(unless you are Paul Wheaton). Anyway, continuing on. Though it is important to get a piece of land that will fulfill your needs. It is not necessary that you buy the traditionally farmed flat land with a slight southern slope that has been sought after by farmers of the past. There are new methods of farming(permaculture) that allow for hillsides to be just as productive as flatter land, especially if you have a south facing hillside. It is possible to farm on a north facing hillside but your plants will receive a lot more sun, especially in the fall and winter months when they are farmed on a south facing slope. However if you are farming mostly livestock the slope isn’t quite as important but is still beneficial, and of course a varying landscape is great as well. The main point I am trying to make though is that a hillside can be just as good as flatter land and is often times much cheaper. Which brings me to the subject of how to find land to buy. I myself bought my land over the internet without ever actually going to look at it. I just checked it out on google earth, saw that it had a primarily south facing slope and went for it, and besides, at $19,000 for 19 acres, and with a much higher resale value I figured there wasn’t much to lose. You can also find land in newspapers, on ebay, and other such resources. I personally found my land at landsofamerica.com, and would suggest this site. I noticed that there were many private sellers, and with private sellers you can often find a better price. Oh yeah, and tax sales are also a good way to go, well at least if theres not an enraged hillbilly and his clan occupying the said land which is often the case in my home state of West Virginia.

Alright, so far we have talked about how viable owning a small farm can be, what kind of land you should look for, and how to find that land. Now it is time to find out how to get the money to buy land. The best way is to save up the money and buy the land outright. You can often save a lot of money this way and at the same time avoid another bill coming in every month. But if your like me and find a piece of land that is just too good to pass up, you may want to get a loan. There are many banks and farm credit services that cater to farmers so I would suggest looking one of them up before going to your regular bank because you can usually get a much lower interest rate. The bank I went through was called Farm Credit Services of Mid America which provides loans to farmers in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They have an awesome website that shows their wide selection of loans at low interest rates for farmers as well as provides farmers with much other valuable information, but with that said, the best way to go about things is NOT to get over your head with loan payments. This is the exact opposite of what a farming homestead is about. If you must get a loan, MAKE SURE YOU WILL HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY IT OFF! If not, everything you worked so hard for could fall to ruin. Your best bet is to pay your land off before you start farming and have some savings going into the operation. This is however not to say that a wee bit of risk is a bad thing. If you have the right idea from the start, and know a good bit about the farming business. A loan taken out to better the quality of your farm could pay off big in the long run but then again it could come back to bite you in the ass as well.

Its time to talk about the house, because a farming homestead without a home wouldn’t be much of a farming homestead, it would just be a farm. If you don’t have a house on your land you will need to build one, and if I were you I would save a lot of money by NOT contracting it out and NOT buying the majority of your building materials. I personally will be, once I get out of the military building a small log cabin to use as shelter while I build my bigger and better home which will be constructed with cob, stone and logs which are all resources that are found on my land and on most other pieces of land as well. The only unnatural building materials I will be using will be the windows and the polyethylene sheeting I will be using for the roofing, and as a vapor barrier on the floor. I will not have a septic tank but will have a composting toilet instead(check out Joseph Jenkins humanure handbook). Something that is way cheap and now allowed in most areas. However, unless you want to take your chances of getting in trouble with the man I would have to recommend that you should comply with your areas building code if there is one. That is not to say that if you disguise your house well or perhaps say its just a hunting cabin or shed or something that that you couldn’t get away with cheating a little. Also, as far as construction with natural materials goes I would just google and youtube the heck out of the subject until I felt confident enough to build my own home.


Now, what is left... Oh yeah, how to have a farm that supplies you with the majority of your wants and needs, and provides you with a very adequate income.(This is where I’ll start talking about making money some more.) The best way to have money is not to spend it. So, the goal you should have for your homestead should be to live a comfortable life but not spend much money or resources to do so. How do you do this? Well I’ll tell you how you do this. You do this by keeping it simple. Do your heating and cooking with wood(May I suggest a rocket mass heater), grow your own food, have a root cellar, learn to can, and have solar, wind, or water power if electricity is a must for you.(Check out the solar cabin guy on youtube for a fairly decent example of what is possible with a few cheap solar panels.)His system powers a fair amount of things and costs around $3000 However, if all you want is perhaps a laptop and a few electric lights as I will have you could easily provide all of your electricity needs for around $500 plus the cost to buy new batteries about every twelve years. Also, Buy clothing that is functional and will last a long while without replacement, where your nice clothes for out in town and use your clothes that are wearing out around the farm and most importantly, buy good tools that will last.

Selling your product, since I have a good farmers market in my area and want to keep it simple I will be selling there primarily, but you can also advertise to local restaurants, and grocers, or possibly set up a website or something for selling trees, bulbs, seed’s, seed potatoes, and other things of the sort as well as homemade goods. From personal experience, if you have a good variety of produce, especially rarer things that people don’t normally grow, you can look to make an average $60 to $80 a day easily which is more than you think when you are living the simple life. Not to say that this is all you will be able to make, this is just how much you want to do it with very little work and give yourself a lot of time to relax. I could certainly see people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year farming this way.

This coming August if they Navy allows me to leave early as I am planning on I will be posting weekly videos to youtube so that you can learn from my experience. I hope this post helped out some people, I know it kind of sucked, but I’m more of a doer than I am a writer so the upcoming videos should be much better.

Thanks for reading my post.
 
Clayton Taylor
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LOL, at first I thought that emoticon next to rocket mass heater was supposed to be Ernie and then I realizes it was a question mark thingy.
 
Jason Matthew
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I submit that what we need are not more conventional farmers, but more farmers like Joel Salatin. Conventional farming with all its annual crops, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and whatnot is dependent upon cheap oil to survive, and oil is not getting any cheaper.

I am implementing a Food Forest on our 6 acre property and am using Martin Crawford's book, http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Forest-Garden-Working-Nature/dp/1900322625/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330273968&sr=1-2 "Creating a Food Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Create Edible Crops".

Also, here is someone doing large scale farming with a Food Forest Garden. If I live long enough, maybe I can create something like this on my parent's property.

http://www.forestag.com/media.html"Forest Agriculture"

http://groaction.com/discover/2581/mark-shepard-interview-profitable-permaculture/"Interview with Mark Shepard"

http://energybulletin.net/stories/2010-11-12/mark-shepherds-106-acre-permaculture-farm-viola-wisconsin"Mark Shepard"
 
Clayton Taylor
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Jason Matthew wrote:I submit that what we need are not more conventional farmers, but more farmers like Joel Salatin. Conventional farming with all its annual crops, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and whatnot is dependent upon cheap oil to survive, and oil is not getting any cheaper.

I am implementing a Food Forest on our 6 acre property and am using Martin Crawford's book, http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Forest-Garden-Working-Nature/dp/1900322625/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330273968&sr=1-2 "Creating a Food Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Create Edible Crops".

Also, here is someone doing large scale farming with a Food Forest Garden. If I live long enough, maybe I can create something like this on my parent's property.

http://www.forestag.com/media.html"Forest Agriculture"

http://groaction.com/discover/2581/mark-shepard-interview-profitable-permaculture/"Interview with Mark Shepard"

http://energybulletin.net/stories/2010-11-12/mark-shepherds-106-acre-permaculture-farm-viola-wisconsin"Mark Shepard"


Yes, for sure.

I am also putting in a food forrest, I cant wait.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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thanks for the links ..I just bookmarked them to read later.

always nice to see people that think alike..
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
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Hey Clayton, good luck on your aspirations. After the long read I am hopeful things would work out well but I have to admit your mapped plan seems a bit simple. Please take this as constructive criticism when I say do not approach this transition from the military to the homestead as cakewalk because many things can reek havoc on your budget i.e. gas prices, vehicle breakdown, personal illness and corresponding doctor expenses etc. I recently got out of the Army and I am finishing my engineering degree in a year so I will have a tremendous bump in my income compared to what I normally am accustomed to. This was my envisioned roadmap towards a sustainable future and hopefully it will work. You should really consider first using your military education benefits if you have not done so before you fixate yourself miles away from a university and no longer have the option of avoiding costly gas expenses to expand your deserved credentials. That extra money from a career and more time to thoroughly research farming techniques for your area would supplement your transition from homestead lifestyle to profitable farmer. There is a big difference between a homestead and for profit farming.
 
Clayton Taylor
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I appreciate the constructive criticism. You have made some good points. I was a bit vague in this post so I can see where you may think that I am underestimating the challenges that one will face when transitioning from a more mainstream lifestyle to the lifestyle of farming and homesteading. However, I am well prepared. I grew up in the country and to say the least, we weren’t very well off. I know how to live simply and ever since the age of twelve I’ve been experimenting with ways of living that require very little money yet give a person a very happy and comfortable life. Sadly after being sucked into the system at the age of eighteen I lost my vision began to think that my dreams were impossible and that I just had to give in. So, I got a job that payed minimum wage for work that was painfully repetitive and gave me no time to think, but I thought, you know, if I just keep pushing through and saving my money, maybe I can go to college or something and get myself in a better position. Well, that never happened, what did happened, instead I got so fed up that in looking for a way out I joined the Navy on a SEAL contract and then after dropping out of Pre BUDS I became a Sea Bee. I’ve been doing this job for over three and a half years I don’t like it and so when I heard that the Navy was offering up to a two year early out deal with all benefits including the gi bill because they are wanting to downsize I figured I would submit a chit for it, and thats where I’m at now. Waiting on my chit to get approved. Anyway, I’m telling you this because after about a year in the Navy I began thinking about my old dream again and have been studying and thinking everyday on how I can bring it to life. Since then and through all of that thinking and studying I have built in my head a new model for society. The way of life described in the post you just read is just a step toward that society. Eventually I wish to see a world where everyone shares resources and lives in a way that doesn’t revolve around their job or business, a world where people can become more in touch with the world spiritually. I know this may sound a bit out there but I can assure you that I am perfectly stable. I understand very well the world we live in now and realize the challenges that I face. What I said just now may not have been necessary but I wanted to give you an idea of where I’m coming from. Now, back to the so called real world, the way of life we are living today. I know that a career could help but personally I will not be going to college. Thats not to say that that wouldn’t be the right choice for someone else, but given the fact that most people haven’t served in the military and would have to get student loans I would discourage it. With land being somewhat cheap I think it would be best for most people to simplify their lifestyle so that they have very few expenses and can pinch and save to make their dream a reality. Since they make it nearly impossible to use draft animals to take your produce to sell it somewhere, you are going to need a truck, so you will need to find the cheapest insurance you can(liability) as well as sell that fancy car and get something that you wouldn’t mind having dented up if you did get in a little fender bender. Then you will have to get the cheapest phone you can get, and just cut back on everything you can cut back on, driving, eating out, and etcetera. Which sucks, but will lead you toward a better future without all the headaches caused by having debts to pay off. I would suggest that a person should have their land completely paid off and have at least eight-thousand dollars going into this, four of which should be put away for savings and emergency. Also, they should learn to maintain their vehicle as well as work on it because that will save you a lot of money when the truck does break down. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the type of farming and homesteading I am presenting isn’t of the norm. Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried to write about it at all, because it wont be understood until I am able to show someone how this way of life will work rather than write about it.
 
David Miller
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NO need to be discouraged about sharing, everyone reading is rooting for you! The words of caution are sage if they fit your situation. While we're on the words of caution may I suggest more than 8k in the bank if possible, also health insurance or at least catastrophic coverage unless there are GI benefits that I'm not knowledgeable on.

That being said, I say go for it. If you've got no debt, some land, some cash and a dream you're set as long as your back holds out. Personally I'm planning on paying off land prior to quitting my day job, which is a huge hill in my area. Land where I am is about 300k for 10 acres and a house.

I'm a firm believer in Business Plans, I strongly suggest that if you're going to need income to pay for things like sugar, coffee, gas, booze, whatever you can't or won't be producing yourself then it is vital to scope out your market and make a plan. There are small business associations across the country that can assist you in figuring out a quality business plan on the cheap or free. Also consider land conservation easements as a possible source of land renewal funding. Just ideas, good luck with your plan
 
David Miller
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btw in my area we have horse and buggies everywhere because of the Amish, we even have horse and buggy road signage. Go draft if you can! Check out Essex Farms and the book The Dirty Life

http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Life-Farming-Food-Love/dp/1416551603
 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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I have sold at farmers markets, and it would be mighty tough to make a living off of one acre: I would want two at least! Then again, it was a wonderfull experience and I was all set to expand when I got sick: life happens.

Baked goods did well for me at the farmers market. Sweet rolls, bread, cookies, and jelly were good sellers.

Sick or not sick, I am not willing to give up the sunshine and the birdsong, and that is why I am now getting into permaculture. I cannot physically work at anything for long, but if I do not have to plant every year....yes. Permaculture now sounds like a wonderfull idea. When I was healthy it was a nice idea, now that I need it I am getting a lot more serious about it.

I have asparagus and a mineature fruit tree (soon to be two), American plums, blackberries, rasberries, and also a few things that are not permaculture. If I can just pick and eat the outside work might work out very well indeed! It is a shame that I no longer have the energy to sell the food, but I do not.

New projects this summer will be low-labor potatos (not permaculture), an apricot and a disease-resistant dwarf apple (permaculture), bee traps to attract swarms (permaculture), open pollinated corn (permaculture), Serviceberries (permaculture), and my usual garden (not permaculture).

I should be able to carch swarms in the summer to sell in the spring: people WANT to buy hives in the spring to replace any hives that did not survive the winter. I am thinking that $80 a nuc might be fair. (A nuc is the queen, enough bees, and perhaps 3-5 frames of brood)
 
Clayton Taylor
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David Miller wrote:btw in my area we have horse and buggies everywhere because of the Amish, we even have horse and buggy road signage. Go draft if you can! Check out Essex Farms and the book The Dirty Life

http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Life-Farming-Food-Love/dp/1416551603


There are a lot of Amish where I am as well.
 
Clayton Taylor
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It was foolish to have posted this because even though I know much about farming and homesteading in a natural way. I know very little about running a business, that topic should be best left alone by me until I gain more experience in that area.
 
Monte Hines
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FSA Announces Major Changes in Farm Loan Handbook - National Young Farmers' Coalition
http://hines.blogspot.com/2012/03/fsa-announces-major-changes-in-farm.html
 
Terri Matthews
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Clayton Taylor wrote:It was foolish to have posted this because even though I know much about farming and homesteading in a natural way. I know very little about running a business, that topic should be best left alone by me until I gain more experience in that area.
During a lecture, Bud Kerr (at the time he was the head of the federal department of small agriculture ) said that if you could sell tires or anything else, you could sell produce. The technique is the same.

They give college classes in business, take one if you wish. And, after you are out, a job behind any cash register would be helpfull!

Selling was my WEAK point, so I watched someone who did it well. Then I went to the ladies room and I practiced her expressions in the mirror. Everybody smiles, but she had a WELCOMING smile that encouraged the customers to walk up and ask their questions. I leaned it.

We all learn from others!
 
John Polk
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I think a big key to salesmanship is believing in your product.

If you don't believe you have a good product, and are offering fair value. it would be a hard job selling.

 
Melissa Bush
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Clayton Taylor wrote:It was foolish to have posted this because even though I know much about farming and homesteading in a natural way. I know very little about running a business, that topic should be best left alone by me until I gain more experience in that area.

I disagree... by putting it out there, you can get information/feedback from others and save yourself time. Plus, I was under the impression that you wrote the original post not just for yourself, but to encourage others to get out there and get farming. I can't find the quote at the moment, but some federal Ag official stated that we need millions of new farmers beyond those already starting because of the high average and median ages of farmers, the implication being that many are going to want to retire soon.

The best Book I've read on making it a business through a business plan is overwhelmingly Making Your Small Farm Profitable: Apply 25 Guiding Principles/Develop New Crops & New Markets/Maximize Net Profits Per Acre It might be at your library, I found a copy at mine.

This is a GREAT site for planning, both farm business planning and emergency planning (like fire). Farm Business Planning I think it's neat to see something written by a specialty farm that can apply across the board.

Those two should get you going on creating a plan.
 
Melissa Bush
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David Miller wrote:Also consider land conservation easements as a possible source of land renewal funding.

This reminded me of this article: Earth Stewardship 101 It's actually one woman recording her experiences with local, mostly free experts that came out to her small acreage to help her decide how the manage the land appropriately. This is in Texas, and it might be a bit different in each state, but the likelihood is that you can find resources available to you if you dig around. Her experts were the District Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. biologist (featured in Earth Sterwardship 102). The ‘Wildlife Habitat Management’ tax credit is mentioned, and seems fairly simple. Great article all around, in my opinion.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Melissa Bush wrote: The ‘Wildlife Habitat Management’ tax credit is mentioned, and seems fairly simple.


We have Wildlife Management tax status on our place (we manage for songbirds and amphibians) and it saves over half the amount of taxes, because most of the value on our property is in the land, not the house. If we had an even cheaper house, we would save even more.
 
Gary Dakota
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I am a new member and because I am laid up with an injury I have some time so I thought I would add my insight to this discussion. Of course any insight worth paying attention has to come from someone who has been there and done that so I’ll give you a brief history of my experiences.

I have been a man since I was 13 and making a man’s wages at 15 working as a labor. At 16 I spent 30 days in the Canadian wilderness half way between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay on a 100 mile canoe trip and never saw another human being except for the man with me who was younger then I. At 19 I was married and owned my own home and was working as an apprentice plumber. At 21 I had my first of five sons and at 22 I went to Alaska looking to homestead. I had a $1,000 in my pocket, a new pickup and pulled a 45 foot mobile home over the Alcan highway. I had no job lined up, knew no one in Alaska, had a year old baby and my wife was pregnant. The year was 1965 and you could still homestead federal land. For a $25 filing fee I could homestead 160 acres. You had to live on the land for two years straight or 7 months a year for three years, you had to build a cabin and clear 20 acres and when you had done all this you got title to the land. I found 160 acres on a lake and only 5 miles off the already staked out highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The only problem was that the highway was not to be completed for 5 years and at the time the 160 acres was 50 miles from the nearest road. I told mama that I could deliver our next child but she would have none of it. These unreasonable women. 

There were no plumbing jobs available and when the money started running out I sold encyclopedias door to door, painted houses, hung sheet rock and signed up to take my masters plumbers exam. Once passed, I started my own business and have never worked for anyone else since. I got so busy that I had my cousin come up and made him a partner. He is still there today. With no experience in buying or selling land, I bought 20 acres and within 90 days sold 10 acres for what I paid for the entire 20. My second son was born and mama become pregnant with number 3. She was not happy in Alaska so as a compromise between the farm land of southern Minnesota and Alaska she agreed to buy a working ranch as soon as we could afford it.

On the way to getting here I have, since 1967, always lived on 40 acres or more. I got a real-estate brokers license (I got a waiver and never had to work as a sales person under another broker), I farmed, raised beef cattle, was a guide and outfitter on my own ranch in Colorado, owned an Athletic club, bought and sold lots of land and designed and built four homes. (one log and one underground) I am now running a 5000 acre cattle ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota, own commercial property in Texas and Minnesota and am writing children’s books for children’s charities. (see grandfathersstories.com)

In the last ten years I have tried to get a family to be able to make a living off the land on this ranch. I have furnished a home, all the garden seeds and irrigation drip lines, a root cellar, all the firewood that they could cut and use or sell, I bought 50 butcher chickens in return for getting 25 butchered chickens back, I furnished a milk cow and laying hens for milk, eggs and butter and they could not make it. (I am still looking for someone to move on the ranch but it a slightly different capacity but I will no longer take anyone without an outside income).

The most expensive item in the American outback is you outfit (truck). Original cost, repairs, insurance, fuel and maintenance, and everything requires lots of miles. It is 28 miles round trip to a small town and over 100 miles to a town of 60,000 people. The economy is not very good in most of rural America and the people can’t afford to pay organic prices for the garden produce. And producing organically costs lots more per salable item than using conventional means. Then you can be wiped out by grass hoppers, hail, cold, insects or too much rain. There are also hawks, eagles, fox, coons, skunks and even coyotes or lions to cut into your livestock. And don’t forget the doctor and dental bills.

I don’t want to burst your bubble and I admire anyone willing to go after their dreams. I have perused mine all my life, and in your case if the military provides you with medical back up in case of a serious health problem and if you have a military retirement check then you have it made. Without these things, I suggest that you only go into this with everything paid for, no debt and some money in the bank. Then you have a good shot at making it.

I would not trade the American outback for a million dollar place next to a city or suburb but as someone posted here, if you are close to one of these, people will pay big bucks for organic produce or a novelty. I have even heard of a rancher who sells grass fed beef via the internet and includes sage brush in his boxes and gets three times the price for the novelty of it.

So go for it, just know what you are up against.
 
Brenda Groth
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when the amish families moved into our area about 20 or 30 years ago they began cropping up all kinds of small businesses, sawmills, building sheds, pallets, slaughterhouses, etc.. about 3 or 4 years ago a small building went up beside an amish farm that had greenhouses and gardens and they began selling produce from their building..and then they added bulk goods, eggs, milk cheese baked goods and eventually meat (from time to time or you can order it)..they even have some hand built things like birdhouses..and you can order larger things.

anyone could do the same thing off their own land and join with their neighbors that do other things...don't have to be amish to be inventive..so yeah..you can do it..you can start small with a roadside stand or shop, and expand..ask the neighbors if they want to sell something they grow or make and make it big..this store has constant foot traffic and is doing very well
 
Casey Homecroft
Posts: 20
Location: Ohio, Zone 6a
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Clayton Taylor wrote: usually a single man or a small family can easily manage a small farm


Or, in my case, a single woman.

You can do it too, ladies!
 
Clayton Taylor
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Casey Homecroft wrote:
Clayton Taylor wrote: usually a single man or a small family can easily manage a small farm


Or, in my case, a single woman.

You can do it too, ladies!


Single person.
 
Melissa Ohmy
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Gary,

You say: (I am still looking for someone to move on the ranch but it a slightly different capacity but I will no longer take anyone without an outside income).

Have you considered someone who has retired early? Check out: Earlyretirementextreme.

Its more of a way of life, but sounds like it would be farily compatable with the type of people you may be looking for. When I read what you had provided and people were still unable to make it, I had a hard time believing it. A big part of me wanted to jump up & down and scream "PICK ME!!!" but sounds like your quite a ways away from home and all my family The hardest thing about florida is finding a good (not sand) patch of land that won't break the bank.

 
Gary Dakota
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Thank you, I did check the site out but it didn't really offer me any way to try and contact retired people who may want to live on a ranch for their retirement.

A retired person or couple would be ideal for me or best of all worlds would be to find three people, all card players and perhaps even divers or table tennis players and get them to want to live on this ranch.

Anyway thanks again for the site and if you have any curiosity you might like to check out a post I just made on this site under Permies forums under homestead and under "We want to move but where, please".
 
Melissa Ohmy
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Gary,
Very cool
The ERE website has a big message board, all the interesting stuff on the site has been there lately. Lots of great people.
-Melissa
 
Erin Zosu
Posts: 16
Location: Texas
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Hello Clayton,
I really liked your post. Reminded me much of myself and of my plans. A few years ago I decided to make an investment and dove right into purchasing some land. I should have taken out a loan to purchase it but my banking sources did not want to give me a loan for anything over 5 acres in size, especially if it was vacant land. The area I was interested in was much larger than that. So I took it upon myself to obtain. At the time I was still in the military, getting closer to retirement. All along I had my eyes at the end of the tunnel knowing that my retirement check would keep me afloat and I would not struggle with the land payments. Suffice it to say it has done that. I still have not started sprucing up the area and setting it up as I would like to, but I do have plans to start within the next year or two. I am 3/4's on the way of completing my current goal...paying off my land.

I was fortunate to come across this land which has a river along the back side and the front half is a former pecan orchard. The pecan trees are suffering due to the lack of adequate rainfall. Additionally they were being ravaged by disease due to a lack of maintenance by the previous owner. The land has quite a bit of room for potential. I fell in love with it when I saw the riparian corridor along the back with deer, wild turkeys, porcupine, fish in the river and the pecan trees. I have also located two wild honeybee colonies (not sure if they are Africanized or not), but it doesn't matter to me as long as they mind their own business and I mind my own. Did find some wild stands of chile pequin pepper plants (bird peppers) and said to my self this is home.

Don't get discouraged or think it is foolish to dream. It is best to have some form of hope than to have none at all. My hope is that I can get my land to start producing. I know it was abused during its days as a pecan orchard. For now, I have been letting it rest. The potential is there for it to become fruitful, but it needs nurturing. I have been using my time away from my land productively by preparing myself mentally, gaining knowledge and wisdom tidbits from here and there trying to determine how to best apply such things to my own piece of this world. Keep your chin up and keep pressing forward...there is no point in looking back.
Nueces-River-001.JPG
[Thumbnail for Nueces-River-001.JPG]
The back side of my property...Nueces River
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 174
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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Have you contacted the veteran farmers coalition? They have been an awesome asset to me.
I believe we have the best military members in world, if we band of brothers work together I believe we change the world.
There is veteran farmers coalition media event at Boon Center, Frankfort Ky Tuesday.

Good luck!!
 
Fred Morgan
steward
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Business plans are good, but they are nearly fiction to be honest when most people do them. They are more like a dream put on paper than reality. Dreams are good, but they are hard to eat.

What is amazing to me is how few people have a budget, and those who have a regular income. If you start farming, you need to be able to forecast cash flow for the year. Make your expenses 25% more than you expect, and your income 25% less, and I am probably being generous.

Many small farmers disappeared because they didn't know business, they just knew farming. Farming IS small business, on the scale we are talking.

I totally agree though, one of the best way to ensure you have something for retirement, is own your own business, and if you like farming, it is a good way to go. Though my business is forestry (and doors, furniture, etc) I find myself on the weekends working on my small farm, which provides more of what we eat, everyday. I love the activity so I don't have to exercise, and I love the higher quality food. I swear, having now been on goat milk for a while, there is no going back to what you buy in the store...

Personally, I like owning my own company. Sure there are challenges, lots of them. But I know what is coming as much as anyone can, whereas, when you work for someone else, you can have a rude surprise, though you have done a very good job.

And the asset you are building, is your own.
 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Nice post Clayton. We are going through a similar transition at the moment. Trying to find that the right mix so to speak. Have you read the book 5 acres and independence? It's pretty old these days but still has lots of useful information IMHO. One thought I had for you was that if you are going to buy raw land without buildings do you really want the expense in terms of time building a cob or other structure to begin with. IMHO unless you can afford (through trust funds, independently wealthy, mom and dads money) to spend the time away from your business building a house it is better to either look for something with an existing house on it or move on a mobile home as a temporary home while you are taking your time building. Time spent building your house is time away from the fields essentially time away from your business.

Hope that helps

Jeff
 
Joseph Fields
Posts: 174
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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This is the ky label for home grown by heroes, as I understand it. Each state will have it's own lable.
 
John Rogers
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I've been evolving a plan for an intentional community for a number of years and am finally beginning to get to work on it. As I'm a 90% disabled veteran I was thinking about going with a strictly disabled vet (and their families) community, but after reading this thread and thinking about it, I'm more inclined to go all vets with maybe 50% of the population being disabled.

Clayton, if you're still around, or just for the benefit of any other veteran wannabe farmers who happen to find this in the future, have you considered using your GI Bill for your farming education? The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (for example) has an excellent sustainable agriculture program and an on campus organic farm. They run a CSA and a vegetable stand. I imagine there are any number of similar programs at colleges around the country.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition looks like a great resource. Exactly the kind of programs I'm looking to integrate into what I'm putting together.

Any vets who want to network with me, shoot me a PM.

John

 
Dan Cruickshank
Posts: 59
Location: Virginia
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I am in a similar situation, although somewhat on the fence still -- I will "retire" from the military later this summer. My dream is to buy some acreage and get started. That retirement paycheck could go a long way, it just won't go all the way and that's probably a good thing (it'll keep me working).

I'm always looking for the most difficult challenges in life, so I figured I'd tackle the "no-spray" fruit idea. That is, how can one raise apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, elderberries, and currants without any sprays? No, I don't mean just without the nasty sprays, but literally without any sprays.

My original market was going to be a pick your own, but as I've gotten in to the details I might need to move to something more subscriber based and/or side of the road-stand based.

I've also discovered that I would have a second product to market as well, assuming I'm successful: the know-how of how to do it. I think there's more than one or two people on this web site who would be glad to purchase a book, or pay to hear a speaker discuss his experiences raising no-spray fruits. Even if the seminar consisted of nothing but the experiences of one farmer with a well-defined experiment, there'd be some cash in hearing the result. (Perhaps the cash would be from other farmers/permies wishing to fund further experiments ...) My biggest risk here is whether or not it truly can be done. My great strength is a good understanding of experimental theory which will help to lay out any tests that need to be done to determine what would work. My hope is that, even before I have a valuable product from a no-spray farm, I will have enough to eat from this same no-spray farm. That is, if 90% of the crop is destroyed, then I'm hoping my family and I will be comfortable on the other 10%--just without much of a profit made in the meantime.

Like what you've got, it's a vision.

Please keep us all posted--have you taken the first step of your vision yet? How has it worked out? Your initial experiences would be of value to me as I ponder what I might expect.

Thanks,

Dan
 
I think I'll just lie down here for a second. And ponder this tiny ad:
The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23442/digital-market/digital-market/Underground-House-Book-Mike-Oehler
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