What can you do/raise to help farm pay for itself?

puttingaround(z3/4WA)January 7, 2006

We're doing it! Moving to new (unfinished) house on 8 beautiful, usable acres early this summer. We want the land to help financially carry itself- any suggestions???? I have loads of ideas- what really works? We are planting 13 apple trees right off, there are no fruit stands in our county, so maybe in the future that will be something- have considered meat goats, pastured chickens, eggs, U-pick blueberries. Has anyone moved to unimproved land and made a go of it? What works for you?


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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Congrats! I am positively green with envy! :)

What section of the country are you moving to? That might help with suggestions...I think you are smart to think ahead and try to fill a niche for people in the area.

Chickens for meat and eggs are quick producers in the short run if needed in your area. Are you aiming at providing for the local folks or the more high-end city people who are all into things like goat cheese, organic foods or a day in the country? If you are thinking of a U-pick place, I'd also provide a little stand with home canned jams, fresh breads, cheeses, picnic items, stuff like that to provide for tourists--convince them to stay a while and open their wallets. *L* Think of how the Napa Valley wineries operate and follow their lead--sell an experience, not just a product. Of course, if you are providing for your fellow farmers you won't need all the bells and whistles, they want good produce they can depend on. You can also check the local farmer's markets and see what's there--take note of what there's a glut of and what there is need of.

Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 3:10AM
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Thank you for that Velvet- selling an experience- now that's something to chew on!
Actually, we are moving just a mile out of the town we now live in! We came from Mariposa, CA to our absolutely beautiful town of Republic, WA 10 years ago. (Hubby's family is from Pacific Grove CA) It is a shorter growing season here, and it does get cold, but it is picture perfect, and the land prices are not like those of CA.- It is very small, and the town has a lot of tourists from the Seattle side of WA- camping, hunting, fishing in the summer. So, as far as marketing, that is who we would reach, the tourists, they drive by our place to get to the lake- and perhaps locals with eggs and fresh veggies. A lot of people are moving into the area who do like organic, and goat cheese, etc. (I do too!) Have always gone that directon, so maybe goats would be a way to go. Appreciate the input!!!!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 5:13PM
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Wish ole man McDonald was around...he might tell ya to go easy ? if theres game in the area (deer) apples will be real tricky and goats will be prey for the predators that are already in the area, for the game. I'm of the opinion that you sorta of work with the land and the enviourment of what the land can produce, productively, without a big fight (expense) but like they say you can make anyting successful if you throw enough money at it ? A postive hard work attitude will do wonders, it can also be good or bad wonders :)Best tool you can use will be a 'fair' evaluation of the situation.....anyways good luck some times the trip getting there is more fun than arrival....

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 12:36AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

We are going to get into the CRP program and it should pay the taxes at least. We have about 20 acres of wetland along a creek that we really can't do much with. USDA will help us re-forest it with hardwoods and shrubs. We haven't signed the contract yet, so if anyone thinks this is a bad idea, please tell me!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 9:34AM
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I signed a 100 ft bufferstrip along the creek that forms the eastern boundary of my farm into the CRP program - about 7 acres total, back in '98 - we were a targeted watershed area at the time, and from the way things were going, I figured it was just a matter of time until NRCS started mandating these sorts of setbacks, so I figured, I'd get paid for it now, AND have a place to plant the pecans, hickories, walnuts, etc. that I play around with as my hobby.
CRP payments for this riparian bufferstrip are about double what they were paying for routine CRP plots at that time, so I've got no complaints. Just be aware that they limit what you can do with those properties - no haying or grazing, and they also control when or how often you're allowed to mow, as well as what you plant there.
Mine will be coming out of the 10-yr program in another few years; I might re-enroll if they're still suppporting this program, but I'll still keep it as a buffer - but I might flash-graze it at least a couple of times per year if I come out of the CRP program - and studies have shown that controlled, rapid pass-through grazing can actually benefit wildlife more than folks had realized even as little as 10 years ago. However, even when flash-grazing this strip, I'll still keep the cows fenced out of the creek, and off the creekbanks proper.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 12:01PM
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marquisella(z4 NY)

Blueberries need an acidic sandy soil. So you should check the ph of your land before you do anything. It would frustrating to plant a slew of blueberries, or any other crop and find out later the ph of the soil will prevent them from flourishing.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 8:39AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Velvet Sparrow's experience idea reminds me of the movement toward "farm-life" experiences that some farms are providing. They let city families come stay at the farm and pay to do farm chores and live the farm life for a week or two. From what I've read, many operations are set up like a bed and breakfast, and the families have options to feed the farm animals, help weed the veggie patch, pick berries and fruit for the farmstand, etc. On their "time off," they can swim in the farm pond, go sightseeing, take a trail ride, fish, whatever.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 9:56AM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

Teri, Have you thought about CSA. Community-Supported Agriculture. A book by Elizabeth Henderson, "Sharing the Harvest" is filled with good information. My neighbors and I have a Duck Co-op CSA. We have 16 Khaki Campbells. 13 females and 3 drakes. The five familes share in the start-up expense and everyday chores. Campbells produce about 300 eggs per duck, per year. We had our first egg today.

The five families have about $100.00 each into the project.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 2:22PM
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Have thought about a bed and breakfast, we have a "dude ranch" in the area that is on the same line. The work load is really something to consider. It has to be something that works with our family dynamics. The U Pick things are seasonal- easier to handle. CSA sounds good too, does it lessen the work load for you? Will check out the book. What a wonderful first egg! Have just subscribed to Hobby Farms- has anyone read it?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 8:13PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)


CSA is a great way to go. The five families invested start up capital. This paid for feed, straw (for bedding),equipment (water trough,feeder,heat lamp). I supplied the duck house, pond and fencing. As for the labor/Chores, we divided them up also. One family feeds and lets them out in the morning. One family feeds and locks them up at night. Another family cleans the duck house out every Saturday or Sunday. After I built the house and fenced in the pond, its been pretty easy for me.
I only fill in on the chores when needed.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 9:36PM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

We sell ducks to make extra money. I actually had a four-legged duck hatch out, and we sold that one for more than the rest of the ducks this year.

However, my flock was moved from their original habitat and didn't start laying eggs until July, so I got only a single hatching each.

So while we did fine for a first year, at a the new farm, I was used to getting 150 or more ducklings and only got 35.

So we are now gearing up for a new year and a better hatching. Also I have a nice big compost pile thanks to my horses, that should get us a vegetable crop and herbs to sell.

The chickens lay eggs daily, and we've gotten most of the extras sold. I'd like to get enough of them to take to market. Either a farmers market or the flea market.

None of this is big bucks, but it makes for a nice nest egg for future expansion and winter duck feed.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Where do you find a market for your ducks and eggs? In the newspaper? Do they sell easily? How much room do they need? That is great about the 4 legged duck!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 8:27PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

Our Little CSA CO-OP is on San Juan Island, Wa. We have many Bed and Breakfast here. We are hoping to get a handful of regular customers. Another option is a sign at the end of our private road. I can think of at least 6 homesteds that sell chicken eggs here. They range from $3.00 to $4.00 a dozen. Don't know anyone on the Island sell duck eggs. I'm hoping we have a niche.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 10:31PM
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