New to acreage - Need help

woodcutter1979October 12, 2008

I have just recently moved to an acreage and would love to hear some advise on what would be a useful and profitable use of the land. We live in South Dakota so that will give you an idea of the weather. We are on 10 acres. Up on a hill and out back of our house it slops down to a flat area. About 4 or 5 acres are now being mowed. The other areas as you go farther from the house is just wild grasses, some trees and seveal small creeks that run through. To our west and south is just pasture that some farmers have cattle grazing to the east is more just wild grass.

Any ideas. Grow tree, pumpkings, wild flowers, sweet corn, bees and honey? I just don't know. I work at home so I am around alot. The neighbors all have horses but I don't think we would ever have a horse or any type of farm animals, i.e. goats or chickens.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks, Frank

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highdesertwoman(Northern AZ)

Sounds like a great property!

A fruit or nut orchard is a good investment and you only have to plant it once. Also you might consider grape vines or blueberry plants.

A small garden can supply a lot of fresh, great tasting vegatables and if there are a lot of rabbits or deer in your area a fence can save a lot of frustration. It's nice to look thru the seed catalogs in the long winters and think about spring.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 11:45PM
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sumac(SE MI)

Hi Frank, You will love living on acreage. We do all the things you mentioned except the bees. However the farmer that leases the land across the road has bees on that property and I'm sure they visit ours as well. We also have an apple and pear orchard and I can tell you apples are high maintenance. Need lots of spraying, timed just right. We also have a rather large garden and a fish pond. All of which is just for hobby. Some other thoughts might be to let some areas go. You'll be surprised how fast the trees will come. Also wild flowers or food plots for wildlife. Enjoy your new property!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Wow, not many responses to this question.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:00AM
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Hi woodcutter,

How about this - do you have children & how old are they? A wife? what are they interested in? What are you interested in?

Check w/your Chamber of Commerce/DNR or drive around your area and see what your area/community has to offer - find out what is NOT available and expand on that. Find out what your neighbors or community want. Go to town/city meetings find out what the ordinances/laws/permits that are needed.

I second what highdesertwoman/sumac suggested - sounds like fun.

If, you don't want farm animals what about a wildlife rescue center/refuge.

Just remember what ever you do-start out slow-and research,research/find out what the start-up cost/maintenance will be.

Hope this helps -even if it just a little

Have fun on your new acreage-and you will when you figure out what it is you want to do.

We have 65 chickens and they are a joy to keep!


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 2:10PM
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tattoo7lady(zone 6)

Hi woodcutter! I also agree with highdesertwoman & sumac's ideas. I'm in VA, round here we have cows, chickens, pigs in addition to the horses. Some people have tree farms in addition to these - our area lets you have some property tax credit (as in real estate taxes) for the acres you do tree farming on. The most popular around here is Christmas tree farming.

I agree with Nelda's advice to start out slow, and do research to check costs, etc b/4 diving in too much. Chickens are LOTS of fun to keep, and you reap the benefits of getting the eggs too! ;)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 9:15PM
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Hard to say since we don't know what you like. I bought my small farm with 20 acres so I could start a daylily business. So in addition to working full time, I grow sell and hybridize daylilies.

Then I added some mini donks as pets, and the list goes on.

What do you like to do?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 12:38PM
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First question...annual rainfall?

Second question...why are you asking what to do on your own property? The answer you will most likely receive is what someone else would do, which may or may not accurately reflect your own goals.

Third do you define profit? If by profit you mean quarterly results, balance sheets and financial statements, I'd suggest paving the acreage and putting in a factory.

The first point to ponder is going to be water. Depending on exactly where in South Dakota you live and exactly what you plan to do (ie, crops), access to water, be it from a cloud or a pipe, may be the limiting factor.

As far as what you can do, there are an infinite number of answers, all right and none wrong. Follow your interests, where ever they may lead you. The only answer worth considering is that which piques your fancy.

And profit may be that which makes you happy, allows you to acquire new skills or insight, or simply amuses you.

Carpe diem. and make it your own.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Woodcutter, I think heptacodium has given some good advice. I, too, live on 10 acres but it is mostly pasture. There are a lot of things I would love to do but I work a full time job outside the home and really, there doesn't seem to be much that would actually bring in a "profit" with the limited time I would have to spend at it. I envy that you work from home so don't do anything that you don't totally enjoy and have a great interest in.
I sell the extra eggs from my chickens but certainly don't make a profit at it. It buys a bag of feed here and there and helps defray the cost of something that brings me great enjoyment. I've also done quite a bit of bartering with my eggs and have a freezer and canning pantry full of apples, peaches, pears, and apricots. I have found chickens to be both extremely entertaining and easy to care for.
I plan an orchard next spring of a variety of fruits but, again, for our own use and perhaps a bit of bartering. There is always the farmer's market for your produce either from an orchard or garden. You won't get rich that way but it is rewarding work and cheaper than therapy ;) We are raising a couple of pigs for the freezer and I wouldn't say they are cost-effective, either. The point is that I know what they've eaten and the good and happy life they will have had.
I really like the bee idea but I would have to research that fully before attempting it. As with any type of crop or critter, you will be at the whim of your environment. Some things you can control and some not. I've also thought about blueberries....after an initial investment and soil management, you may make back the money you spend plus a little more depending on the local market. Profit and rewards are two different things and it would be nice if the same crop/hobby/interest could provide both. Good luck to you and enjoy your land. Lori

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Thanks for the constructive input.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 5:35PM
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Hi Woodcutter:
Where in South Dakota are you? Are you East River or West River? I live in the Black Hills, in between Hermosa & Keystone. Where you live in South Dakota is going to make a huge difference as to what you can do with your acreage. If you are looking to farm or grow crops or raise livestock, you are much better off East River. The Black Hills has lots of microclimates that will determine what is useable on your acreage. Most of it is not good.

For instance, I used to live in Rapid Valley on a homestead that was built in the late 1800s. We had a good irrigated 5 acre pasture that produced enough grass to keep 4 horses through the summer comfortably. That only worked because it was irrigated. We had to hay through the winter. I kept chickens and a dairy goat. I had a large garden that did very well -- but again, all because it was irrigated. I did have a nice apple orchard, but it was planted sometime in the 60s and the trees were very mature. Again, it was planted along the irrigation ditch so that is why it did well.

Here in the hills it is a totally different story. I have 10 acres and keep 4 horses on it and I have to hay them year round. There is very little moisture and the soil is dismal. My garden is all amended soil done in a sheet composting method. It struggles, again because of lack of moisture. Growing anything here in the hills is a LOT of work for very little return. You won't be able to raise any kind of livestock without expensive supplemental food (hay is well over $150 a ton), unless you are sitting on a couple hundred acres. Blueberries will not grow here. Apple trees do not do well. The only thing I have had success with is the small Nanking cherries. They produce a lot of fruit, but it takes a lot of work to process because they are small with large stones.

Sorry to be so bleak. I guess the point is, I live here because I love the hills -- and this is home to me, I've lived here for 30 years -- but as far as a "profitable" farming/ranching venture on 10 acres it just isn't doable. Here in the hills anyway.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 12:29PM
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