The thing is that both Maibec and vinyl are pretty low-maintenance, whereas wood needs to be maintained and re-painted every few years. My in-laws have wood siding, and the paint noticably chips and looks iffy (and if you don't re-paint the wood gets humid, moldy, etc...) after 4-5 years. Knowing myself and my husband, that kind of re-painting is not gonna happen. I'll do inside maintanance, gardening, child care, animal care, I'll work full-time... but I'm just not gonna ever be interested enough in re-painting the house to take the time to do it. For someone who wouldn't mind doing the work (or I guess hiring someone to $$$), wood siding might totally be a better option. (Disclosure: I fought the vinyl decision for like 2 months. I'm not a fan of the look. But the contractor found one that doesn't look terrible, and at that point... Suck it up and admit what works for you, instead of saying it'll all work out and then being stuck with something you hate maintaining for years, y'know?)
My father-in-law has tubing set up over about 140 acres... it's not a small operation. We'll probably do buckets until we tap enough trees to merit the change, though. It's a lot of maintenance, so you need a large-ish operation to make the work worth it...
Don't know what kind of sheep yet! Every year, my in-laws buy 5-6 lambs and put them on about 2 acres of fenced-in property. Then the sheep look cute and keep the grass low all summer, and in the fall they get a trip to the butcher's. They eat a lot of lamb, and apparently it works out to 3-4$/lb for grass-fed, local, organic, etc lamb... ain't bad. Personally, I'd prefer to keep a few sheep year-round, but we'll see how it works out. Whatever we do for the hens will need to be pretty safe, though - there are coyotes and foxes near here, so hens go missing pretty easily. Still, hens are pretty great at keeping the base of blackberry/raspberry/blueberry bushes cleared out, as long as it's fenced in and fox-free... (and also we'll need to keep the foxes out of the rabbit hutch.)
Basically: my side of the family is very used to large houses (my parents just "downsized" down from 7000sq feet, and their "retirement" house is still bigger than the house we're building and planning on raising a family in), buying whatever they want/need, and no budgeting. So... seeing chickens, sheep, rabbits, smaller house, country living... they just Do Not Get It At All.
Maibec (yes I looked it up), some people prefer wood siding to vinyl. YMMV. Brick is a pain, all that pointing.
Wood stove, go for it, ours got us through 3 weeks of no power in January 1998 (the great ice storm). Including hot drinks for the tree guys from Pennsylvania (thanks to our US neighbours) and hydro people (thanks to Mississauga).
Sugar bush next door - great. Re collection methods, everyone bitches about tubing versus buckets, but tubing means much less soil compaction because there is no equipment out collecting the sap. I thought that was an interesting and valid viewpoint.
What kind of sheep? I know someone who runs Plymouth Rock hens in with her sheep, it works out well.
We're currently building a house, and it seems like everyone on my side of the family has opinions about the decisions we're making, and it just demonstrates how little they get it. Highlights include:
My aunt: But why vinyl siding? (Tone of voice implying that we were smearing turds on the walls...) What about Maybec? Or brick! Those would be so much nicer!
Me: Because 20K and 40K more, respectively.
There are a few things we spent (reasonable amounts of) money on for entirely aesthetic reasons, but I have yet to see how maybec siding is 20K nicer and will bring me 20K more enjoyment... Whereas 20K less on my mortgage will make me MUCH happier.
Or my dad: "You should put in a propane fireplace instead of the (gorgeous, enameled, with a window to see the fire...) woodstove you're putting in!"
Me: "... but the woodstove actually heats the house, and can heat food and whatnot in case of a power outage (we're in the country, in Quebec. This happens.) The propane fireplace just looks pretty, and heats the immediate area it's in. That's less functional..."
My dad: "but then you'll have to split wood. (Spoken as if this was a fate worst than death)"
Me: "... So we can split free wood from our woodlot and be in shape, and then relax on our couch watching the roaring fire, rather than sit in front of a propane-burning machine and pay for the privilege of going to the gym in addition? Sounds great...? "
Or my mother: "Oh, don't put in a vegetable garden! It's so much effort!"
20 minutes later: "Oh, you should absolutely put flower gardens all around the house!"
Me: "Well, we don't like driving to the grocery store, so access to fresh lettuce and veggies is great, and we can fence in the vegetable garden. And putting flowers everywhere would just ensure the chickens will eat them. Maybe we could grow something chicken-friendly and resistant that would still be pretty?"
My mom: *sour face at the mention of chickens* Because free-range eggs are something you buy at the farmer's market at 7$/dozen, you see. Now picture her face when she finds out about the sheep...