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Veterans - Homesteading - Maine  RSS feed

 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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If all goes well I will be closing on a property real soon. { 12.7 Acres }

I don't need all of this property.

I am looking for 4 vets with or without families.

You help me and I'll help you.

Just my Opinion: Maine is a great location.

Let me tell you why.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Because I can !!!

March of 2005 - New Orleans - I got hurt - I am a Vet - Everyone said - { you are ready know }

OK - I am in a bad way !!!

Hurricane Katrina - What else could happen !!!

Most of the next 5 years, I was homeless without any monies.

Two people I didn't know gave me the money to come to Maine.

I got lucky again !!!

Now it is my turn.

Are you interested ?

 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3979
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Mark, I hope you didn't take my post the wrong way.

You said that Maine is a great location and then said "let me tell you why" So I asked why.

I was hoping that you would tell us more about Maine, I have only seen pictures and it looks like a wonderful place.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Hello Miles;

Maine has so many things that make it a good place to set up a Homestead.

Where does one begin?

Maine has a small, mature, older & diverse population.

Maine only has three large population centers.

Maine, in the Northern part, has land available at reasonable expense. ( I know many groups that offer owner finance. ) Most all of this land was in tree growth, recently harvested.

Example: 12.7 acres - $ 13,000 -- $ 3000.00 down / 101.86 per month -- early payoff without penalty. This helps in getting your land ready for garden & pasture in a realistic period of time and cost.

I am a 100% Disabled Veteran.

Maine has the highest percent of Veterans to population ratio of any other state in the Nation.

Maine is a rich state, not so much in monies but in resources and people.

The majority of Mainers are real people. Especially those who reside in Rural Areas.

What would you like to know about ?





 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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hey mark. how north in n. maine are you? i can see canada from my living room. I'm in frenchville in the valley. I'm also a disabled army vet. maybe we could meet sometime and talk permaculture. id be interested in seeing your property. we could share ideas. i could lend a hand. i can still do some stuff. let me know.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Printiss, Maine 04487 - If you put the Zip into Google it will come up as Springfield - That is because Printiss is an un-incorporated Township. Mail, etc. flows through Springfield. No rules, no building codes, no hassles unless you cause issues with a neighbor.
 
Travis Johnson
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Maine is a great place to farm and I have had a wonderful opportunity to do so all my life, but at the same time I believe some may be led astray but your post too. We all get excited over new things, and I don't fault anyone for that, but it must be tempered with reality.

Maine has a very short growing season
Winters are harsh
Much of the soil is not so conducive to productive farming
The soil is highly acidic
Soil is very thin to bedrock
The soil is very rocky
The farmers market is saturated (as in buy local)
We pay THE HIGHEST taxes in the country

There are many reasons to come to Maine, and a living can be scratched out, my family has done so for 10 generations, but there are many reasons why Mainer's left in the 1800's and headed west too. I just don't want people to be disillusioned into thinking this is an easy place to farm, it's extremely tough. I can be done, but far from easily.

 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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you're right travis. my soil is so bad(more rocks than soil) that i make my own soil and grow in beds. certain berries and trees grow well but most crops don't do well. my great grandfather came from canada and started a potato farm but that land still has more rock than dirt! definitly not ready made farmland!
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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The preceding two posts are accurate. Maine can be a difficult place to farm. Saying that, it can be done. If you expect great results the first year you are going to be sorely disappointed. 2nd year you will do much better. 3rd year, well that is when you will see just what you have created. Rocks, we are on a glacial plane. Rocks will make an excellent fence. We enjoy a gift that many other areas within this nation don't enjoy. An abundance of wood chips. Wood chips decompose quickly. If you add mushroom spores that decomp happens even quicker. In the Northern part of Maine land can be had for a good price. The closer you are to one of the three population centers the more your taxes will be. They are all Democratically controlled. The more rural you are the less taxes are required. Not to mention the almost total lack of zoning requirements and convenients. I have 12.7 acres, my taxes are less than $100.00 per year. -There are many benefits to Homesteading in Maine, the one that I find most encouraging is the quality of the people. Not all by any means, but the great majority.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Steve, let me get the initial dirt work and well That should be completed at the end of May. Then I will have something I can show. Right now, you will see and area just over a football field in depth & length. The logging company has left it in a state I'll not willing to show. Allow me to get it cleaned up a bit and the initial gravel pads in place. This project won't mature overnight. It will take time. Saying that, I will be much further ahead than most who visit this site. At least I have a piece of land, with all it's imperfections.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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no problem mark. don't forget i live in the land of clearcuts. I've seen the mess left by logging. I'm a patient person. i take things in stride. i see you have the will to do something good with this property. I'm there when you're ready. like you said. do it in sections. its impossible to improve the whole property overnight. i don't mind seeing it as is. i may be able to give you some insight. if you can get a 1/4 of a acre cleared we'll start there till' were happy where its going and tackle something else. if we only develop that 1/4 acre , thats fine. you would be surprised what I've raised on a 1/4 acre of my fiances once green lawn. our soil is more rock than soil and i still have one heck of a diversity on it. if the soils too poor we can make raised beds out of cedar logs if you have any on the property. then we can compost a bunch of sawdust mixed with manure and fish. by the following summer it would be ready to plant something. we'll just take it in stride man!
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Mid May I will have almost 2 acres cleared. - I made an arrangement to acquire the material to create 1000' of raised bed gardens via Home Depot. True, nothing happens overnight, I may just be on my way. With help from many such as you, maybe we can help others. Helping ourselves by helping others.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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if you want raised beds see if there are any mills that sell 2 by 8' or 2 by10' cedar lumber. cedar is much more rot resistant than other woods up here. if you use cedar you would only need to replace every 10yrs or so. where as others you would only get 2-3yrs. max before they rot out. cinder blocks might be a option too. and they never rot. check out them also.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Steve: There are several mills close to me. I intend to explore that option while the land in properly cleared. That will insure I am not too much of a headache for the guy's doing that part of this project.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Hello Steve: Do you have a good source for the fish & or seaweed ? What are your thoughts concerning perennial fruits and vegetables ?
 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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we have a big problem all over maine with yellow perch. they are a invasive and i can catch hundreds in a morning of fishing. the state and anglers want them gone. once the beds are made ill go and fill a barrel with them. then we will just layer them in the sawdust. should make good compost in 4-6 mo. then we just need to add some soil to dilute it some. i have a lot of types of berries i planted on my property. i can dig up sprouts and take cuttings to propagate on your property. won't cost anything but my time for the plants. my raspberries for instance. i till under hundreds of shoots every spring as there is too many to allow all of them to grow. i could make a huge patch with them in just 1 spring! we don't have a warm enough or long enough season for perennial vegetables but garlic, scallions and onions can be planted in the fall and harvested the next summer and they are very easy to grow. stringbeans, swisschard, lettuce beets, cucumbers,carrots, turnips, peppers kale, radishes, and herbs are all easy to grow annuals that don't take up much space and are easy to harvest and process. i grow king stropharia mushrooms in beds of hardwood sawdust. i could bring some of my mycelium to start some beds under some trees at your place. once you get one patch established you can make more beds with mycelium from that patch. mushrooms have as much protein as meat and can be used as a meat substitute in most recipies. this is just the tip of the iceberg! I'm also starting to grow worms to do vermicomposting to recycle my garden waste and make worm casting to fertilize my gardens. we could set this up on your property too and use the castings for the berries and raised beds. if theres extra we can put it around the best trees on your property to rebuild the soil and bring back the fertility of your property over time! yes it will take time and work but in the end your land will grow better than it did when it was a untended forest. if you choose to raise chickens, their manure can be composted and used also in the same way. this all can be done. just got to line things up and do it!
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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Hello Steve: Wow, what a cornucopia of gifts. With your assistance our little group could be two years ahead of schedule in the first year.

Question: We were toying with the idea of { Trench Composting }. To the West side of the landing is about an additional 3 acres that with a little work could be cleared. Our thought was that we would take our backhoe and Trench three sides. { 5' wide X 3' deep }{ For a total of about 1500' running length }{ Huglekultur } We have access to a Rock Bucket & Separator. Another individual working with us has informed us that he has about 300 Cedar fence posts. { 8 feet in length } Our conversation was to use the posts and fence this area with electric fencing and allow some goats to clear it off for us. { Maybe even a few meat pigs ? } We enjoy so much downed material filling these beds with quality hardwood would be an easy solution to cleanup. Adding a liberal layer of fish and green mulch would to help balance everything. It is our intention to burn all the soft woods. { For the Ash. } Obviously we will remove and stack anything of firewood quality.

As you can tell, we are Blessed with access to equipment that most new projects don't enjoy. Not to mention, additional manpower.

Later we could remove the Electric Fence and replace it with fencing more conducive to acting as Trellises.

Just my Opinion: I don't think, nor do I want to expend the energy to plant vegetables the first year. I think our time would be best utilized in getting things ready for the following season. Shrubs & Fruit trees are the exception.

Our conversations are leading towards Chickens, { Meat & Egg Layers }Turkeys, Geese, Quail, Pheasant, Rabbits, Goats & Pigs. I also want 4 Donkeys that we a train to haul small carts. Everyone is laughing at me for this. I've been mocked before. LOL

We have been informed that we qualify for up to three greenhouses paid for by the state. { Veterans to Farmers Program }

As you can tell, we have been offered many resources in plants and equipment usage. I foresee this as becoming a scheduling nightmare, for myself.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 302
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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wow! sounds great! instead of burning the softwood, throw it in the hugels. its better for the enviroment and puts carbon back into the ground. my father had pigs and they are great foragers but they up root trees and are a pain in the ass to keep in their pen! we had one eat his way through sheetmetal! they are a lot of work. goats also are hard on trees. they will clear land but kill all your good trees also. poultry are much more friendly to the land and trees and are easier to keep in winter. if you can clear some land and plant hay, maybe a few cows could be kept but then again you have to worry about them in the winter. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. you can do what you want but from my experience, keeping it simple makes it easier to manage. the hugels are a great idea to use the stumps and slash. could plant the berries on them and later if you wanted to do the beds for veggies we could. donkeys would be good to graze under tress without damaging them as long as you keep them away from the tasty berry bushes. lol! the green houses are great! if we connect them together and find a used trailer heater you can start growing by march if you wanted to. my father did this and had cukes and tomatos by the beginning of may! just a idea.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
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I have always believed in keeping things simple. The issue here is the need to feed 10 grown men starting in the Spring of 2017. Maybe even before that time. I have two at this time in need of housing for the next Winter season. If I was completely alone working on this project, I wouldn't be capable of getting even part of this completed.
 
steve bossie
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really! wow! didn't realize you were going this big this fast. thought you were going to build it slowly over time. its going to take a lot more than 2 years to produce enough food for 2 people to live off of. unless they have some income to feed themselves until the land is ready to produce more. could go for a bigger chicken coop and more cattle. then would need a decent sized building for them in the winter. do these folks have some funds to help with supplies? going to need some strong backs! could start vegetables on the hugels this year if you have to. going to need a good supply of topsoil to start off though. it takes years to build good topsoil. could do some fast growing crops. may be bitting off more than you can chew.
 
Mark Warren
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We have a resource in Sanford. There is a hugh food bank that caters to Veterans Organizations. They have expressed their support and will assist as needed. They will also assist with winter gear & boots etc.. Believe me, I never wanted this to mature this fast. But, as I started to spread the word that I now have land, well individuals are coming out of the woodwork. Consider what you have offered. There are many others who are willing to assist. If just a small fraction do come through this will work. In the beginning they will have to have some resources or they will have to have a sponsor. I for sure couldn't carry the load of additional individuals and get this basic infrastructure matured.
 
steve bossie
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well ill help as much as i can. if everyone contributes some it'll come together.
 
Mark Warren
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Only time will tell what matures. I have to admit, the waiting for Mid-May to arrive so that this can begin is taxing my patience. Although, getting the property was truly the start. Two more months ! LOL
 
steve bossie
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why do you have to wait for mid may? the ground never really froze this year. by mid april id think it would be able to be bulldozed/ landscaped.
 
Mark Warren
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I had the same thoughts. The company that will be doing the work will not proceed until Mid-May. Consider, they know I work with many Veterans Groups. They know many will come to see what is developing, they may want to just do the best possible work. Or, it could be as simple as they are booked up till then. Whatever their reason, I win either way.

DO you know about FMC-ME, if not do a google search so we can have a discussion concerning that organization.
 
steve bossie
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I've heard of them. you gonna get some of their seaweed byproduct? would be great layered in some hardwood sawdust for some nice compost.by midmay i should be able to get a bunch of perch. could start some compost piles earlier if you want.
 
Travis Johnson
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Maine is a funny state; in southern Maine they are converting farmland to house lots, in northern Maine they are abandoning farmland altogether, while in mid-coast Maine we are clearing forest back into field.

I have had a lot of success with clearing forest back into field, its just I really have to overcompensate with nitrogen to get anything to grow those first 6-7 years, but after that it is not too bad. Its all about nitrogen fixation and the availability of nitrogen unfortunately as it breaks down the woody debris of the former forest. It can be done however with a little foresight. So far I am averaging $201 per acre when all is said and done.

FMC's project called AlgeaFiber can really help. I have gotten a lot of it, but that was back when it was free, I think it is $1.50 a ton now. Not bad considering it is billed as a "lime". It has other beneficial minerals in it too however, and while not a certified organic product because it is used as a filter in their processing of carrigean (spelling?) it is harmless stuff. The vast majority of it is pyrite so it really lightens the soil if you have high manganese (like I do) or clay soils. There is one drawback to it...well something that must be accounted for anyway; and while it is cheap...no doubt about it...but it also takes a lot of it. It takes 10 tons of AlgeaFiber to equate to 1 ton of Lime. That means the costs of spreading that much product makes something cheap, not so cheap. Only an individual can do the math on whether it will work or not. That issue has another problem; since you can only dispense 1-2 tons at most to the acre on GRASS GROUND per year, it will take many years to get acidic soil into proper PH levels. That is why it really only shines on tilled fields because so much can be incorporated (tilled) directly into the soil.

If you were only looking at needing acidic soil sweetened, I honestly would think you would be better off getting straight lime. When we spread it here we must get it out of New Brunswick (through the Houlton Border Crossing) so I would think you would get it cheaper than us. BUT as I said, AlgeaFiber has some other nutrients in it that make stuff grow.

BTW: It really stinks. For obvious reasons it smells like lobster bait when you break into a pile of it that has been sitting for awhile.

Here is a former part of the woodlot cleared back into field just after being sown. It turned out to be a really good field, just a lot of work.

 
Mark Warren
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Can we meet face to face : Mt. Travis ?
 
Travis Johnson
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I don't see why not. Do you want to come here and see what I have done, for me to go there, or meet somewhere in between just to chat?
 
Travis Johnson
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I was exhausted last night when I alluded to this topic, but due to fatigue was afraid I would not post anything meaningful on a rather complex subject. That topic of course is conversion of forests into fields and the effects of nitrogen fixation within the soil and it is rather fascinating as nitrogen ebbs and flows within the soil. A forester or agronomist could explain this better than me, but having done a lot of forests-into-field conversions I have noticed this phenomenon first hand. That is, after a forest is cleared into field, without A LOT of fertilizer, it is almost impossible to get good yield (tonnage to the acre). That is because of all the woody debris still in the soil. What is happening is, the breaking down of that woody debris robs the soil of nitrogen that cannot be given to the plant. In order to beat that, I must apply a lot of fertilizer high in nitrogen to overcome that lack of nitrogen to get any measurable crop. For me, that means using a lot of liquid cow manure.

At least for the first 7 years.

After about 7 years, the woody debris has mostly been consumed and that nitrogen is now fixed in the soil and ready to be absorbed. So after seven years or so, it takes very little fertilizer to get the same yield per acre, and that too lasts about seven years before the soil becomes depleted and higher amounts of fertilizer must be added to get the same crop yields.

It is a unique cycle that you can really work with as a farmer. Knowing that in the first few years of a forest cleared into field, I will need lots of fertilizer, I can sow it into grass and just pasture the marginalized crop with little fertilizer inputs saving me considerable money, then in the 7th year; knowing the nitrogen levels will be staggering, I could grow crops requiring high nitrogen like potatoes or corn. Now I have several years of high value crops without having to put lots of fertilizer into the crop to get it which looks really good in the profit column. It is all about timing the right crop at the right time knowing what is occurring within the soil. For the unaware farmer however, expecting great crops after forest conversion, many are dismayed at the dismal yield and really do not even know why.

The ultimate thing for a farmer to do would be to do would be to grow alfalfa as it gleans nitrogen out of the air and embeds it in the soil. However I live in Maine on farmland that overlooks the Northwest and is quite elevated. I can see Mt Washington 150 miles distant, so the winter-kill rate of alfalfa is so bad that we can only plant 10% of that into our grass-ground see mixtures. Where the fields are protected by trees and thus the wind does not blow the protective winter blanket that is called snow off the land leaving much of the ground bare, we can have a mixture of 90% alfalfa, but there are few fields like that for me (darn it). That really sucks, but that is my farm, and this is the problem with these things; what plagues my farm and must be addressed, may work exceedingly well for others.

Now all this talk is just about fertilizer (nitrogen). Naturally it takes a lot of lime to get a former forest turned field from acidic soil to neutral soil for optimum growth. That takes lime.
 
Travis Johnson
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BTW: If you look at the photo two posts above you can see the treeline in the foreground proceeding to the background on the right, then the lone pine tree in the center. Between them is a treeline that essentially makes this field L shaped. My next project, starting next week I hope, is to clear that section out and convert that woods into field so that the field will be rectangular in shape rather than L-shaped. Naturally it will give me more tillable land.

Like all forest converted into field, I consult with my Forester and Agronomist to ensure we are doing something prudent and both were in agreement this was a great location to expand. As evidenced by rock walls, and some paperwork for my forefathers, this was cleared originally in 1830, used to grow potatoes until 1920, and then allowed to grow back into forest since then. The reason is rather simple, it is rather wet ground and while horses could slog through mud, the old steel wheel tractors of the day without four wheel drive, posi-traction, or articulation simply struggled so the land was allowed to grow back into forest. Fortunately for me, I do not grow poatoes, but corn and hay so wet ground means more abundant crops and with modern equipment, nothing that cannot be easily farmed.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Travis: Lots of good information. Thank You. As a disabled vet and gimpy, I plan on utilizing Raised beds mostly. Today at a meeting with the FVC " Farmer Veteran Coalition I was gifted with a 30' X 96' Hoop House as well as about $5200 to include needed bells & whistles. This was a total surprise. There is a catch, there always is. I must plant a crop in the ground under it 4 years running then I can use it however I need or desire. On the plus side, if I raise sweet potatoes they will take my whole production at wholesale price. Sweet !!! No marketing, no nothing, just a ready cash crop. If it arrives before first frost this year, I can plant the sweet potatoes this year.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Travis: I would greatly enjoy an invitation to visit your property. Tell me when is most convenient for you, and I will be there.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Steve: I wasn't aware about the seaweed byproduct, now that I am I will inquire. Thanks for the heads up.
 
Travis Johnson
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Tuesday is my best day so far next week. After that I will have a more compressed schedule as I SHOULD be headed back to my off-farm job. That is still up in the air, I must get permission to go back from my physical therapist and surgeon first. You can private message me on all the details if you prefer.

As for your hoop house, yes the government grants work well. I have gotten several grants over the last few years and am waiting for approval of one now. I won't find out for another month. There is one detail though that you may not be aware of; in the state of Maine it is not just Vets that are eligible for hoop houses, but any farmer. It is administered by the USDA-NRCS and by in large the money available far exceeds the requests which I found surprising. I used to be on the Soil and Water Conservation District board, but just don't have the time between building ships and farming. My wife took my spot on the board though so I still know what is going on.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Travis: Yes, I was aware that the Hoop Houses were available to every farmer. In my case, I didn't expect to be able to get one this soon into my project. Getting a team to set it up for me was an added bonus. I could see my gimpy self setting that up. What a comedy show that would be. I am available this coming Tuesday. Please drop me an email at markjwarren8278@hotmail.com or call me (207) 504-0037. Maybe if Steve is available we could all get together ?
 
Travis Johnson
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Yeah that sounds good. Just curious though what you are interested in seeing specifically though?

Our main aspects are sheep farming and forest products. The latter seems counter-productive, but as you know in farming, you must make the right decisions today in order to reap the proper harvest 7 years from now. So we are assessing every acre and trying to make the most of each one. That in itself is a daunting task. We are always looking to increase our flock size so that plays into things as well, and tillable land is at a premium here.

As for forestry, we just applied for our Tree Farm Certification. We always managed our forests here well, and had our Forest Management Plan done 2 years ago, however with just a little Kubota Tractor I was unable to access probably 80% of the woodlot because it was wet, and because we had such a small tractor, but just last week I bought a bulldozer to aid in that, so now we can work with the forester over a greater portion of our woodland. Some of it has never seen a chainsaw because it has not been harvested in the last 100 years.

We are always kicking around other ideas and have stuff brewing in the background, but they are not within the next five year time frame so it is nothing to get excited over.

Once I get cleared for work, I can start being more active on the farm, but that won't be until next week so feel free to come on out if you are still interested. If nothing else I got a new bulldozer to play with!
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Travis: I have learned that by visiting others that have been doing this far longer than I, I learn many things I didn't know. Possibilities just present themselves. Tuesday is good for me. As far as the bulldozer goes, I once was pretty good with them.
 
Travis Johnson
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I did the same thing when I got into sheep in 2008. We are a 10th generation farm here, and 14 generations if you go back to the Mayflower, but lineage does not mean a whole lot as things change from decade to decade. I learned a lot from others and really just had a great overall plan. I think that is the plan, as my grandfather always said, "You gotta have a plan." I put a lot of thought and worry into what I do, but overall, things tend to go smoothly when I go by my farm plan derived in 2008 and horribly wrong when I somehow thought I should deviate from it.

I am a straight-up kind of guy; I've had some successes, but boy can people learn from all the things I did wrong too. I'll share them freely because letting others fall into a trap is mean spirited and morally wrong.

I'd chat more now, but must head to church.

Hope to see you and Steve soon.
 
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