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Hardest Thing You've Had To Do

Posts: 35
Location: The Ozarks
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In setting up your place, whether homestead or farm, what were some of the most difficult hurdles you encountered, and how did that work out (or not work out)?

I think mine will soon be this monster of a "roadway" that runs through our wild property...my guess is it will be a make or break deal. It is unbelievably steep, has multiple waterway conflicts, etc. Normal equipment that fixes road issues can't work with it or can't access it TO work with it. If we can't get that sucker to sing for us, we may be forced to sell.
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Have you considered restricted motor vehicle access, to the areas where that could work easily? I know some people who bring their truck only a short distance into their property and then they have a golf cart which is able to access some very narrow and steep areas. A four-wheel-drive version would be even better.

I doubt that I've encountered the most serious hurdle. My property is 1.2 kilometers long but only averages 120 ft wide. There is a section 300 some feet wide at the very end, which is the best building site. There's probably three acres of this wide portion. I think in the long run, my biggest challenge will be to find ways of utilizing this narrow portion which is currently in trees. Of course this steep land is a perfect place for trees to grow, so I'm fine with that in the foreseeable future.

My kilometer long road, was incredibly easy to produce. It used to belong to a railway.  We used the excavator to scrape away some growth along the sides and instantly had a good road with a deep base.
Posts: 1808
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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By far the hardest thing for us wasn't about developing our 20 acres into a homestead farm. Yes, there was some brutal body punishing jobs of clearing land, erecting fences, building our house, removing rocks to create growing areas, etc.....but they were just physical labor and time. The most difficult was changing our lifestyle. We went from a comfortable New Jersey middle class life where we went to the nearest mall (had a choice of three) and buy whatever we wanted......to .....
...real rural
...the only stores within an hour's drive were Ace Hardware and a small supermarket. Two hour drive one way to "real stores"
...catchment water and hauling in extra water
...extremely small solar system, that we hadn't the foggiest idea how to maintain
...uncleared 20 acres
...living in a rough shack
...thankfully, a functioning cesspool although we had no idea what that was
...a road to our "house" site that needed a high vehicle (as in, truck) to navigate
...no mail delivery
...no trash pick up
...dirt road
...and a different culture where people looked at things differently, did things differently, had far different ideas than us, and were leery of new people

The first year was the most difficult, simply trying to adjust. 50% of the people who move here don't stay. They can't make the transition. Happily we succeeded.
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Posts: 4041
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Kaye Harris wrote:In setting up your place, whether homestead or farm, what were some of the most difficult hurdles you encountered, and how did that work out (or not work out)?

I think mine will soon be this monster of a "roadway" that runs through our wild property...my guess is it will be a make or break deal..

Our biggest hurdle where we live now was finding professional folks to do the work or even give an estimate.  I first tried to find a backhoe operator with a backhoe.   I called about six or seven from the phone book.  Most had answering machines and did not return my call.  One lady answered the phone and I said "I am looking for a backhoe operator"  she hung up on me.  Later I asked in town for recommendations, that person said he would charge $750 for half a day and would only come out when he had other work in the area.

When it came time to build the house we had to do all the work as no one would come out.

We have another property in a remote area where we park our truck and use a mule to get to the rest of the property.

Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
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Discovering that where I had a huge arc of space to build my walipini had a surface water backsoak at 3 feet (one meter) and regularly takes an acre foot of water because the nimrod at the end of the passage by the silted up bridge had landscape timbers that were free stacked and would float at the slightest inclination and clog up the underbridge and back the water up. Complaining to the city did nothing and after the third time in three years I took the 1/2 hp hammer drill with a huge long auger bit and the small gas generator, went over there, fired, and drilled and pinned with rebar all his 'scenic decorative fencing'. I even plugged the ends so you can't see I did that thankless job.

Second was our neighborhood was the ground zero for the reason there is a chicken ordinance and been a trouble spot for some years about people disobeying it. This year I'm pushing it, I documented 9 cases of flagrantly disobeying the ordinance, then bought guinea hens (three hens, one rooster) and built them a coop where it's legal to. They wear cat harnesses and 'diapers' to visit other areas with me. My pets can be with me in the yard. City doesn't like fighting with me, and I already geared up for this one.

Third, is all the little dogs in the neighborhood that nobody seems to think should be leashed, chained or penned. (terror/terriers and Chihuahua and Chihuahua mix. Aka NIPPY biter noisemakers)

I also applied to the feds (state level) to get a waiver to have my own well dug. I promised I will not inject anything down it and I will not be setting up in the water business, so as not to conflict with the city or contaminate the aquifer. Water is 150-180 feet down and a well digging rig owner owes me a major favor. I witched the property and think we're at 150 and found a very good spot. If I was that sure of lottery numbers I'd own a ticket with at least four matching. (talk about the coronary watching the pull and you have the first four they call-I did that ONCE)

Buying in town. I ended up acquiring four properties and two acres (I'm about a full bed mattress size short of that). I wish we would have bought a farmstead OUT of town with 3-5 acres, possibly 10. I just have to be more efficient with my two. My dream is to be able to rent those other two houses and hold workshops and get state grants.

Not taking four days staying down state at the capitol and taking the workshop on how to write grants and talk nice to the state agriculture department to get money to do stuff up here. We are the end of nowhere and it looks good for the state (especially to the feds)  to be supporting stuff in this corner of nowhere because of our climate, topography, soils, and growing conditions. This year I'm going to save that money and do it in August. Do permie and other thinking forward stuff to support downstate and their quest in getting farmers and ranchers around the population/tornado corridor to grow a few acres of truck farm crops to haul into the local farmer's markets and get the $8 a dozen artisanial egg prices we all wish for.

Building that wind turbine. I almost have enough saved up for the semi transaxle, next big cost will be the electric car/golf cart batteries. Sigh. Another thing to write grants for.

Corrollary: win the lotto so I have the nest egg to play. Even though I have reduced my NEED for income a third, inflation has eaten it. It'd be nice to have that cushion while I try. Meantime keep buying friends with tomatoes.... been working well here since 2006! (edits since I can't spell)
Posts: 4958
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They say what your biggest challenge is, is also your biggest asset. In reflection, I would say that is generally true. For instance, lets say a farm is located in the desert and producing food. Yes transportation may be an issue, but they probably don't have a lot of competition either...so that is the kind of thing I am referring too.

For my farm, it probably is community. I am a 10th generational farmer here so we know EVERYONE, the problem is we know EVERYONE. Because of that feelings often get hurt.

Here is a case in point. I try to do everything I can for myself, but I often lack equipment to do it. I need to build a 475 road for logging trucks and got a government grant to do that. And while I have the gravel pit, I don't have a truck to get gravel from point A to B...about 1/2 a mile. So I ask around to see how it can be done. One guy just thinks he is entitled to the job because he is family...nope, he likes to run his mouth and at a school function one time in front of my wife and kids was making fun of me for being married before. Yes I am divorced, but trust me when I say, that was not the time or place to be making Travis the brunt of the jokes that he was saying that was rather crass and disrespectful to my current wife. I vowed then to never employ him for anything. But I got a friend who is a landscaper and has the equipment, but is new and lacks experience to bid on jobs. He wants $7000 to get gravel from my own pit and haul it 1/2 a mile when I can buy it from a gravel pit 15 miles away for $5100. I will probably make him upset, but $1900 is a lot of money I can use on other places on my farm, so I will not use him.

So that is my biggest challenge. Physical challenges are not so hard, in part because this has been a working farm for 10 generations, and while we are logging, clearing stumps to make more fields, etc; that stuff is just mind over matter. Work, hit a hurdle, work through it by ingenuity or technology, and just keep pushing forward. Doing a single, big project every year helps so that we do not get overwhelmed...that is easy. People...not so much, they can be frustrating and counterproductive.
Travis Johnson
Posts: 4958
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Have you posted about your access troubles on here?

I would love to help you in this regard. A few searches on Youtube will show you access roads have been put in the most unlikely of places through ingenuity, and this place is teeming with people that excel at thinking outside the box. Like me for example; I log and have put roads in unbelievable places because I have had to, and this meant doing so on a budget and with big trucks hauling heavy loads! But as much as I would love to take some of the frustration that you are feeling, I am but a single person who might look upon your situation. No one here is smarter than all of us put together. I am sure we could collectively help you out on this endeavor.

I know first hand things can really look daunting...impossible almost, but that might not be the case.

Last year I started a land clearing job on the side of a mountainside that people said would take 5 years to clean up. It took 5 weeks. The rocky craggs that I thought would be impossible to traverse with bulldozer and excavator had natural switchbacks that allowed me to work. Yes nervously, and more than once I had to haul myself up over the cliff face by hooking my bucket into a chunk of rock, but it got done.

I will gladly offer to look at your situation if you want. I encourage you to do so for everyone to see, but should you not want too for some reason, Mooseage me and we can exchange emails and do so that way too. I don't want ANYONE to feel overwhelmed by a situation. There is an answer out there through fresh eyes and participation.
Posts: 2719
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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The hardest thing I've had to do has been to not over-extend myself.  I'm forever optimistic and I always want to learn more.  I always want to try new things and I have super ambitious goals for the long term.  As a result I also have a lot of unfinished or slightly neglected projects.  For instance, I'm trying to grow out a long term, large scale, perennial food forest system on a budget.  This puts me in the space of doing small improvements over long periods of time.  I get frustrated with slow progress and so I always have a lot of other projects to distract me when I'm reached my limit with the current one.  Don't get me wrong, I'm making progress daily.  

So I think to sum it up, the hardest thing I've had to do is come to terms with the fact that the best things in life, take time and patience.  Food forests take time to grow and plan.  As a person with zero agricultural experience as of 8 years ago, I'd say I've done well and that the future looks bright.  I just have to sort through all of the chaos.  That's my comfort zone though...  Just on the edge of chaos.

Don't play dumb with me! But you can try this tiny ad:
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