Part-time farming?

jat1737January 17, 2010

I was raised on a large farm and dairy operation and watched my parents work from sun up to sun down, plus the hours put in by numerous hired hands. It was a hard life that left little time for outside interests or vacations. That discouraged me from even thinking I would want that kind of life. I have been a city girl for 30 years, but am now wanting to move back to what is left of the family farm. We have about 300 acres of good bermuda and I am wondering what my husband and I could raise without having a lot of experience (except in sound business practices)? We own a business that my husband would still be actively involved in about 40 minutes from the farm. I have one son still at home that I homeschool, but we would only be staying at the farm on a part-time basis. Basically, I am hoping I could work at it a few days a week and perhaps seasonally. Any ideas? Encouragement? BTW, we are about 10 years from retirement, so not too interested in starting a big operation, unless the kids get interested. :-)

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doninalaska

Don't know where you live, but it would be difficult to work 300 acres as a part-time venture. You could run some meat animals--cattle, goats, sheep--but you would probably want to check on them almost daily. Perhaps Bison or Elk would work if you are in an area where you can get the stock to start with. Even with good pasture, you will need a year-round water source and really good fences. Maybe your farm has neighbors that might help out for a "cut" of the stock.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 6:43AM
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prmsdlndfrm

With that amount of land, and proper fencing and watering facilities.

Get in touch with your local NRCS agent and ask about eqip. They have a good program to help in installing a rotational grazing system. They pay a large percentage for installing HI Tesile fence, installing water, and they help in designing the lay out, and have an engineer to give instruction. Then they pay an annual incentive payment for rotational grazing , based on the acreage, somewhere around $10 per acre per year.

With this installed you have an excellant set up for a stocker calf program. Depending on your rotational plan, you can have the set up to were you only have to check and move cattle 3 to 5 times per week, and less than a couple hours each time.

You have enough acreage to run around 300 head of stocker cattle, and depending on the market and the weight gain one can earn a profit from a low of $60 per head, to a high of $150 per head.

josh

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 9:09AM
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rockguy(7a)

If you'll be part-time most livestock is out. Animals need you to be available even when you're not working them. What about growing something like flowers for the floral shop trade? In particular I think dried flowers might be workable for you. Plant in spring, tend on the occasional basis, pick and dry the results thru late summer and fall but at your own pace. The products then last for years or until they're sold with no cost for storage other than space.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 9:46AM
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jat1737

Thanks for the responses. I like the idea of a cattle operation. I think we may be able to certify organic. I want to look into that. There are 4 ponds on the property and I believe there are some pastures currently fenced for rotational grazing. Are there any good books for getting a quick education on raising beef?
I also like the idea of the dried flowers. I have looked into botanicals used for essential oils and herbal remedies, but not sure how good the market is.
What about software programs for farms? Anyone use one that is easy to use and useful?
Thanks again for your input.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 1:04PM
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prmsdlndfrm

There are many good,books, one is Grass Fed Beef, and the other by Joel Salatin is Salad Bar Beef. Beef cattle are one live stock species that as long as you have good fences, good rotated pastures , and good water you do not have to be there everyday, but you should everyother day.
Do not let cattle in ponds, I know people do, but if you want to be at your best do not, especialy if you are not present every day. Cattle can get caught in the mud and die, cattle can drown, cattle defecate in water and spread worms and disease, ponds are expensive, cattle are like bulldozers and evertime in and out they fill the pond with sediment and wear down the dam, the 2 books I mentioned discuss this in detail. Also the NRCS will help design and pay for water facilities and even ones that do not freeze in winter. You need to subscribe to the Stockman Grassfarmer, run a search to find the website, 3 year subscriptions are 56 dollars and well worth it, they have a great book resource, another good one is any one by Allan Nation, and Greg Judy.
josh

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 8:18PM
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mikes100acdreamfarm

Livestock of any kind are time consuming. Beef are not as intensive as dairy but youÂll be spending time and money enough. Besides the market is down considerably now with the sell out of so many dairies and people not buying as much beef as they were when the economy was better.

Bermuda makes a wonderful quality hay. Perhaps venture into something thatÂs already there and improve that first. Then if you want to do livestock later you have a good start.

IÂm not sure where youÂre located but hay is a seasonal crop. You would be investing in just one type of equipment for now. And again if you wanted to do livestock later it wouldnÂt be wasted equipment. You also wouldnÂt have to fence or repair old fence (takes even longer to repair LOL) right away.

It would give you a chance to try it and see what you think. If you decided that farming wasnÂt for you all you would have to do is sell the hay equipment and still stay on the farm if you wanted.

Or lease it to someone who does want to farm and make an income that way.

Mike

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 7:46AM
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prmsdlndfrm

Mike , why would one want to buy hay equipment, when you do the math , hay is always cheaper to buy, and when you buy hay you dont have to be a mechanic. Furthermore when you sell hay you are selling fertility, when you remove that grass from your farm, you remove massive amounts of nutrients that you have to replace. The fenceing will have more than 50 percent paid for from the NRCS, and a quality HI Tensile fence has the lowest maintenance than anyother, and the lowest cost per foot initialy, and its 100 percent tax deductable, and increases property value, and it helps rotate livestock, building fertility, (versus reducing with hay) reduces labor, even roundbales are lots of work. Proper rotational grazing permits, even into Canada, near year round grazing, and reduces hay consumption more than 80 percent. I am personaly testifying to something I have been doing for 10 years.
Mike Id advise you to read the aforementioned books and periodicals, you could realy benifit.
josh

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 11:05AM
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jason_reno(z5 NV)

Josh: How does grazing build fertility? Granted, some percent of the nutrients are passing through the cow and back to the land, but some percent are also being used to build the cow. When you remove the cow you have a net loss.

Do you have any good references on building soil fertility? Also, which NRCS program helps fund capital improvements? Can you provide a link? The NRCS website is rather dense.

Sorry for the hijack.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 5:54PM
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