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Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 07:10 PM   #1
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Calling all "hobby farmers"

DW has romantic notions about retiring to a place in the country and slowly filling it up with "heirloom" breeds of small livestock.

Now, travel seeming to be the predominant pastime of the ER crowd, I was just wondering if there were any "hobby farmers" on this board? Would I be correct in assuming the livestock puts a serious damper on your ability to "up and go"?

Did you know they actually have a color magazine published titled "Hobby Farm"? Saw it in Tractor Supply Company last week.

I must admit, self sufficiency has always been high on my list of desired pastimes. Perhaps rating even with travel.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 07:14 PM   #2
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

You can travel or you can farm.

This is the 'exclusive or'.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 07:47 PM   #3
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

What Khan said.

You like getting up early in the morning, every morning, to do chores? Who is going to watch that mean billy goat, milk that cow, or pick those chicken's eggs when you are gone? Is your livestock going to die of old age or are you prepared for the grittier aspects of farming? Farm animals are not pets.

Read some issues of Grit and Backwoods Home.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 08:09 PM   #4
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Maybe I should have mentioned that I grew up on a goat dairy, with chickens, pigs as well. So I'm familiar with the early morning, chores every day kind of thing. Was basically wondering if anybody here had found alternatives that allowed them to travel still.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 08:25 PM   #5
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

In general, a 'gentleman farmer' is someone who can only raise his hat. If you have animals (i.e., llamas, or horse(s)), you are tied to them with a strong cord: daily feedings, waterings, cleaning out of stalls and paddocks, vet bills, etc.

Plus, if you have something that has to be milked 2x a day, and you do it in a storm, lightning could hit the animal, and you could be left holding the bag.

DW and I have cats, which you can leave for 4-7 days, and only have to worry about returning to a shredded house.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 09:16 PM   #6
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Although the advice about animals is correct, there is a possible middle ground here. I bought a farm and leased some of the land to a neighboring farmer for crops and grazing and I kept control of part of the land for a tree farm. For the most part the tree farm doesn't tie me down to doing the maintenance at a particular time, so I get the "fun" of farming without being tied down to the day-to-day chores. Even for the house, the worst thing that happens is I'm unable to get there for a few weeks and can't cut the grass and I can do it with my bushhog later. No big deal.

Likewise, you could probably raise crops on a part-time basis. You'd have some intermittent long hours from spring to fall, but it wouldn't tie you down every day and you certainly could get away from it in the winter in most parts of the country.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 09:24 PM   #7
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

We live on a ranch / farm. We lease the majority of our land out. I have 3 - 5 head of cattle I feed and sale. I enjoy the life, but... I'm still connected to the area because I have 2 school age kids. We have neighbors that we share time looking after each others animals. allowing us 5-10 day get aways.

Don't under estimate the time and money for upkeep of the place. When I get the lawnmower tuned up its' 600++ bucks.

After the kids are gone, I think we will be less likely to have the animals.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-25-2007, 09:42 PM   #8
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

i could see doing something like that after a life of travel but not before. a pretty acre or two somewhere with miniature horses & a giraffe. i'm going to practice for that life during the earlier life of travel by helping to wash elephants in a river in thailand. how cool is early retirement!
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 06:56 AM   #9
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Its not really and "either or" situation to farm and travel. Certain types of farming would be difficult (anything that requires milking), but I farm 200 acres of land in New England. I raise sheep, upto 150 or more at a time, produce maple syrup, and grow heirloom and regular vegetables.

Right now I am in the middle of a 2 month vacation in the Bahamas.

Its true that certain times of year it would be harder than other. Going away during lambing season (April/May) would be hard unless you had an experience shepherd that was willing to lamb-out all the ewes - that would be hard to find, and thats my favorite part of being a shepherd anyway so I wouldn't want to miss it.

In the fall we also went away, but I had to schedule it around breeding season.

The key is to have a reliable person that can take over your chores when you are gone. My sister and her husband take care of my place - we pay them, and its like a mini-vacation for them.

It certainly would be easier to get away at a moments notice w/out animals, but with a little planning, its not that difficult.

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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 08:14 AM   #10
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Old McD, thanks. Your story was encouraging. I belive that a large part of the 25 year success of our marriage is what my family calls "the fact that I always cave in to whatever she wants". I can't seem to make them understand that unless I feel very strongly opposed to something, it really costs me nothing to make her happy. I think there have been two times in our marriage where I just put my foot down and said; NO, end of discussion. That said, if it makes her happy I'd like to let her try this.

20 years ago, when she first kicked this idea around was one of those times. But secretly, in the back of my mind I was mulling over possibilities. One of those that I return to from time to time is similar to Rhonda's and terminator's lease idea.

I grew up near THE major agricultural college in NYS, SUNY Cobleskill. I'd see all these kids there learning to be successful farmers. Too much work for me, remember BTDT. But then I'd think about interviewing to find a youngster to do the actual work of running the farm in exchange for free housing. I'd find myself a 50 acre farmette somewhere and build my little freehold on the back of it. Then let this hard charger live in the original house and use the rest of the farm as his education had taught him. No tithe, no rent, and no interference from me, as long as he was being a responsible steward of the land. Then we could have Cindy's little barnyard at our place, but if we wanted to leave for a trip somewhere we'd have a live-in farm-sitter. I still like this idea, and I think if he knew the profits were all his he'd be diligent about his efforts.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:01 AM   #11
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

That is an intriguing idea re: the use of students. Just keep in mind that a lot of things require serious effort and capital improvements, so a long-term relationship is best. I don't know if you could get that with a student or not. My farm neighbors are a family that has been farming their land for quite a while, so I know they will be there and that they will want to lease the land. Also, because of the long-term view we both have, they don't mind erecting or repairing a fence because they know they will get to use it for a long time. You just have to make sure you don't get someone with a short-timers view or they won't fix anything, they'll install the cheapest portable fence and could abuse your land (no fertilizer, extra crop turns, overgrazing, etc.). Of course some of that requires education on your part (e.g. you need to know how many acres per cow is a reasonable amount) so you know if they are treating your land well. I'm no genius about proper farming techniques, but I think my neighbor treats the land more or less the same way he would if it were his own and that's all I really want.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:05 AM   #12
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScooterGuy
DW and I have cats, which you can leave for 4-7 days, and only have to worry about returning to a shredded house.
You're lucky. I come home to "How the hell did they manage to poop up THERE?!?" :P
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:14 AM   #13
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Q. How do you make a million dollars farming?

A. Start with two million.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:15 AM   #14
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Just got in from feeding the cows this morning

What's up.

Oh, we get the magazine. Be careful, it can put all kind of ideas in DW's head.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:16 AM   #15
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Tuttle
Q. How do you make a million dollars farming?

A. Start with two million.
This is TRUE...
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 09:53 AM   #16
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

I actually subscribe to Hobby Farm magazine.

Anyone who knows me would double over laughing at the idea of me farming. I'm a city guy and a pretty lazy one at that. However, I feel a little more comfortable with at least a theoretical understanding of farming. If oil goes to $300/barrel, I feel like I could feed my family on squash, potatoes, and tomatoes

I've started gardening on my little suburb plot (about .4 acre). Every year I dig up a little more useless grass and grow a few more vegetables. Last year the deer ate more than us, but we still got a nice taste of fresh veggies.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 10:03 AM   #17
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

Our plans include living in the country on a small (~10 acres) plot of land we own, but I'm more interested in ochard "farming" than in livestock. There is still a good bit of work involved, but care of plants and trees to me seems less intimidating than care of livestock. (At the very least, if I screw something up and a tree dies, I won't feel nearly as terrible!)

But I have absolutely no experience with livestock, hence my reluctance to have any. If I had your background maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 01:08 PM   #18
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

"Would I be correct in assuming the livestock puts a serious damper on your ability to "up and go"?"

That's a "yes" to me. Someone has to be there if you have livestock. You... or someone you trust.

There are just too many things that can go wrong. A fence falls down and you have livestock all over the neighborhood. Some dogs get into the pasture and raise hell. One of the animals gets caught in the fence; broken leg and all hung up. They get sick. They get loose. The water system breaks. The food system breaks. You use an electric fence and it shuts off and they figure it out.

To me, this is the absolute opposite of independence. I'd about as soon make a hobby out of day care.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 01:14 PM   #19
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

I grew up raising cattle & hogs and it really ties you down. As dad got older, we cut back on the numbers, that didn't help much - you've still got to be there.

My brother now raises livestock and he's not afraid to ask people to help him, including me and my 81 year old dad, it gets old.
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"
Old 02-26-2007, 02:06 PM   #20
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Re: Calling all "hobby farmers"

I am an ER with properties in GA and Nevada. I plan on "Hobby Farm" by growing wine grapes which are not as intensive as animals. Have foreman to oversee basic day to day functions when off season. Still give me time to travel.
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