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First year farming

 
Patrickf Smith
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So my best friend and I will be starting a farm this year. We both have apprenticed on an organic vegetable farm and have some livestock experience. We are in the northern lower peninsula in Michigan. Our plan this year is to raise about 10 pigs, 100 broilers, and 50 layers as well as some herbs and vegetables. Mostly we want to be work on the land a little our first year and make observations. Long term we want to do more perennials. I will document our journey here. Any advice would be great.
 
William Horvath
Posts: 31
Location: Melbourne
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Hey patrickf, sounds exciting!

So if I understood right your first year will be part-time engagement and observations. Later on you'll be transitioning from your full-time job to full-time farming with the plan outlined?

What is the biggest obstacle you see for yourself and your friend making a living from farming?

 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I've been at this a few years but still getting started. Lots of planning and such. I'd say do the food crops before the animals if I were you. Feeding those animals is going to cut hugely into your profit. If you can get the land ready to feed the animals so you have to do minimal feeding, that is ideal.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Unless the animals are doing the work to prep the ground, then buying feed beats buying fuel.

What is the legal status of pastured pigs? I lost track of that fight.

Good luck.
 
Patrickf Smith
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William I think our biggest obstacle is just getting through the first couple years. Once we have established our gardens we are really getting into a great market at a great time. There are at least half a dozen farmers markets within 45 minutes. On top of that this is a very foodie place with lost of restaurants interested in finding new interesting local produce and within the next couple years our co op is opening a second location and a lucky's natural food store.

Danielle I tend to agree with R Scott, about using pigs and chickens to prepare the land. Plus we just obtained the land so last fall we did not have the chance to amend the land. We will only have about half of a growing season, another reason to do animals this year.

Thank you for the responses
 
William Horvath
Posts: 31
Location: Melbourne
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Good luck Patrick I admire your courage for starting out something like that and living the good life.

Most certainly just starting out will be the hardest but I would quote Joel Salatin "Do whatever it takes to make it."

Looking forward to hearing about your journey.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Patrick, your plan has a familiar sound to it. My wife and I ( and hopefully another couple we are friends with) have in mind an operation a bit further south in the mitten. My perspective on starting with animals before serious planting is that with animals nothing needs to be a permanent fixture, so whatever we do in that first year can be easily adjusted with observation, whereas once you start planting, even just annuals, you are putting quite a bit of labor into a specific location and it is labor that was pretty much wasted if next year your observations lead you to choosing a different site for planting.

Depending upon the piece of land you have, there can be plenty already there for animals to forage on. Michigan is quite different fromt the western plains, having plentiful water and productive soil. Many of the parcels we have been looking at we would probably want to run goats and pigs through for at least one season, just to help clear out the understory brush
 
Patrickf Smith
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Thank you Peter. It is good to know there are more people in the mitten on the same path. Where in Michigan are you? We are in Traverse City. I'll keep you updated on our project, what's working and what isn't. I hope to hear more about your journey.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Patrickf Smith wrote:Thank you Peter. It is good to know there are more people in the mitten on the same path. Where in Michigan are you? We are in Traverse City. I'll keep you updated on our project, what's working and what isn't. I hope to hear more about your journey.


Right now, we are in New Jersey! My wife was born and raised in Saline, right outside Ann Arbor. Our search for property at this point is centered around Grand Rapids, but it is a pretty big circle that we are considering. All comes down to where we find a piece of land that we can work with and is within some reasonable-ish distance of her family.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Patrickf Smith wrote:William I think our biggest obstacle is just getting through the first couple years. Once we have established our gardens we are really getting into a great market at a great time. There are at least half a dozen farmers markets within 45 minutes. On top of that this is a very foodie place with lost of restaurants interested in finding new interesting local produce and within the next couple years our co op is opening a second location and a lucky's natural food store.

Danielle I tend to agree with R Scott, about using pigs and chickens to prepare the land. Plus we just obtained the land so last fall we did not have the chance to amend the land. We will only have about half of a growing season, another reason to do animals this year.

Thank you for the responses


I should keep in mind the different climates and such. Where I live not even a chicken could sustain itself. My land is completely barren. I've had horses and I had to 100% bring in their feed. I've been doing the same with the poultry for years, though this last year I was able to grow some fodder for them. Just gets expensive when they have nothing to eat but what you buy.
 
jacob ford
Posts: 13
Location: polk county Oregon
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myself, my husband, and a friend have just purchased and moved onto 22 acres in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Our plan is similar only we aren't going to have as many chickens, and probably just goats and rabbits besides that.

the gardening layout for the farm acres is still evolving but i've set aside a section for some hugelkultur raised beds, and mapped out the contour to dig a swale. if we can get the proper permit a small pond will also be dug in an area that's been invaded by invasive scotch broom plants. i will also try a 50' x 50' fenced set of rows of veggies, and in fall when that plot is done producing we are going to plant as much garlic as possible and probably move the fenced area next year. also planning 2 40'x12' hoophouses to extend the season.

our problem here is that if we did try to till the soil we would have to wait till late may or later because of our clayey soil. the land has 40 yrs organic practices done to it but the field hasn't been used for a few years. one of my dillemas is how to clear the long grass that's established itself, ill dig it out by hand if i have to.

any ideas??
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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