Author Topic: Micro Farming while retired?  (Read 9268 times)

Kaplin261

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Micro Farming while retired?
« on: June 17, 2015, 04:42:12 AM »
In a little over 10 years the wife and I will have the following:
A home worth $250k with no lein
$100k for operating costs invested in something like a Vangard account
$400k in a 401k, we will be 20 years away from being able to draw from this

We want the 401k to sit and grow till we can draw from it without being penalized, that will be a 20 year window. I have always fantasized about a small farm operation and I feel like this could be a way to make that $25k a year income that's required to live off of.

 We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income. At the same time we could reduce our own costs by having organic food to eat from the farm. I'm pretty handy and will probably build some sort of small rental home on the property as well. I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it, now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation.

We will also have a son, he will be 12 years of age when the plan starts to take place.

Viable plan or just a crazy dream that will lead to years of frustration? My wife is a chemist who manages QA labs, I am a data center technician. So were not currently in this type of field.

catccc

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2015, 07:03:46 AM »
I know many people that work in farming, specifically small farms, and it is a very hard way to make money, and $25K is (surprisingly) a lot to ask of a small farm.  Not sure how in-depth your experience was growing up on a small farm, but depending on what you have taken away from it, it's likely you'll need some support or education to do this in a manner that will net a profit.  Bad weather or disease can wipe out your harvest.  It is hard labor, and you'll have to work a lot of hours, between raising the actual food, then finding outlets to sell it, spending time at farmers markets, marketing your CSA, etc. 

DH and I have never owned our own farm, but he has worked at several small ones- vegetable operations, small orchards, beekeeping, cattle, and is currently in a joint venture raising broilers.

Your food wouldn't be organic, strictly speaking- there is a lot of time and money involved in becoming certified.

I'm not saying you can't do it... I just know several people who dream of farming, and I understand that from a cube, office, or lab, the grass sure looks greener.  But people have a tendency to romanticize farming, and reality doesn't always line up with expectations.  I'd encourage you to try to find work at a farm and figure out if you really want to do it.  Most farm tasks are fun for the first few hours, but after 8 hours of thinning peaches, you'll probably want to be doing something else.  Except that you can't because there are rows and rows of more peaches to thin...

Also, if you go for it, don't have your heart set on a certain kind of operation.  I know a couple that had farming experience, purchased a property, and it turns out it stinks for raising veggies, their prior experience.  And market demands can change. I think you need to be flexible. 

This is also 10 years off which is a long time, so you have plenty of time to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 08:31:58 AM by catccc »

wwweb

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 07:32:03 AM »
Farming is hard work!  Small scale farming (without mechanical harvesters etc) is even harder.

The only way I see to make your plan work is to branch into hospitality - e.g. a bed and breakfast farm combo.

skunkfunk

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2015, 07:49:08 AM »
I have quite a bit of extended family that operate small farms. The one who actually does it for a living without another job has around 1000+ acres and is NOT rich. You'll never make $25k from a 10 acre farm, the rental property is more promising, even.

There's quite a bit that goes into it, too. Whether you're growing vegetables or raising cattle, the market is fierce and you need to be well-educated or you'll get destroyed.

catccc

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2015, 08:33:01 AM »
You probably could make $25K between the two of you working on someone else's farm...

Retired To Win

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2015, 08:44:18 AM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2015, 09:35:03 AM »
I have quite a bit of extended family that operate small farms. The one who actually does it for a living without another job has around 1000+ acres and is NOT rich. You'll never make $25k from a 10 acre farm, the rental property is more promising, even.

There's quite a bit that goes into it, too. Whether you're growing vegetables or raising cattle, the market is fierce and you need to be well-educated or you'll get destroyed.

I have a friend that makes $15k annually off of a couple green houses that probably don't take up 1/10 of an acre, but he does run wide open for 3-4 months durning the spring planting season and has to deal with freezes, bugs, etc.  With two adults and a hard working kid, I am sure he could scale it up to $25k a year on less than an acre.

I have another friend that makes a meager living (a few years back he told me $12k taxable for a family of three, but I think he is doing better now) off of around 5 acres of berries by selling Jam made from the berries.

It is doable, but as others have mentioned, it is a lot of hard work that has to be done "right now" or all is lost.  I recommend reading all the Joel Salatin you can get your hands on.  Small acreage can be profitable using the following principals (some of which have already been mentioned):

Labor intensive (not land intensive) crops (made better by access to intern labor)
Agroturism
U-Pick operations
High value crops
Direct selling (made better by access to high cost of living markets)
Value added of Organic (certified or not)
Out of season production (everyone is selling tomatoes in July!)
Keeping production costs low by sourcing local, used, materials.

We've been small scale farming for over 10 years now, and I have yet to come across anything that I would feel confident enough to be reliably profitable year in and year out, as almost NOTHING has produced as expected.  We have battled voles, rabbits, groundhogs, parasites, hawks, rats, drought, flood, frost, fungus, blight, etc, despite picking ventures generally considered reliable, not longshots. And while most of these things can be mitigated, every nickle spent, every loss, and every hour worked eats into your return, until you are working a sub-minimum wage job.  While I still love it and don't mind working for nearly nothing on my terms, I think it would get real old if I HAD to do it to make ends meet, not to mention the stress, which would defeat much of the reason for my ER persuit.  You can end up feeling just as trapped on 10 acres as you can in an office.  BTW, 5 acres is MORE than enough to keep a family very busy if you are doing almost anything besides mechanically farmed row crops and/or pasture.   

Once I ER, I will probably spend some time marketing some of our products, but I will not be reliant on the income in any form or fashion and will remain at liberty to cut anything at anytime if I am not enjoying it.

Sounds like you and your wife have pretty good jobs. Nobody knows what will happen over the next ten years, but ten years ago, I would have never dreamed of where I am today.  Keep saving and investing and you might not even need to generate additional income.       
 

kpd905

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2015, 09:41:06 AM »
I would focus on some high cost items and see if you can find an arrangement with area restaurants.  Mushrooms are one example.  Grow oysters, shiitake and maybe a few others. Sell to restaurants or at a farmers market.  I'm not sure if $25k would be feasible, but it could get you part way there.

Axecleaver

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2015, 10:06:32 AM »
I recommend that you think about this in terms of generating 25k in value for your family. Part of that could be replacing grocery expenses, part could be generating value for other families and getting something in trade, and part could be generating hard dollars through farmer's markets. I enjoy a big garden and growing fruit trees and berries, but at best this offsets some of our expenses. For the first two years, I definitely spent more on my hobby than I generated in value. Now five years in, I'm generating a net positive value, but it's more about doing something I enjoy on a daily basis than saving money.

You could look into starting up a CSA. You would need to sign up 250 families to throw in $100 for a season of vegetables, could you generate $100 in value for 250 families over the course of a year? The most successful CSA's are about marketing and telling a good story. Having a weekly blog where you get folks excited about the crops you're bringing to them and anthropromorphizing your farm animals should do the trick.

Also, you can get access to your 401k early and penalty-free by using a SEPP, for exactly the situation you describe. Lots of threads here about how to do that.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2015, 10:13:29 AM »
This is really similar to our plan.  However, we already have the farm and are planning on having one of us run it starting this year.  I think it is possible for a $25,000 income on a small farm, but it isn't very likely that it will happen right away.  One of the reasons is that even a small farm will need a lot of equipment in the beginning.  We are gathering most of that now while we have two incomes.  Some of the big ticket items that we have found we need are a tractor, fencing for livestock and chickens, outbuildings, fruit trees (these can get really expensive), lumbar for raised beds, chipper shredder and the list goes on.  It is hard to make a profit at first because of these things.  Our income will eventually come from farmers market, CSA, you-pick fruit, meat, a small vacation rental and maybe even hosting events.

Even though it is difficult, we really love it and believe it is a wonderful place to raise our children.

Kaplin261

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2015, 10:47:57 AM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

I agree that a small scale sample of what we're getting into is to start something in our backyard.


I plan to have 10 different operations that will create a opertunity to make a profit.

1. Airbnb log cabin.
2. Farm micro brewery
3. Aquaponics CSA
4. Christmas tree farm
5. Pick your own pumpkin
6. Orchard (Pick your own)
7. Traditional veggy garden (CSA and pick your own)
8. Landscaping plants
9. Food truck/trailer to go to events selling Cooked foods with ingredients from the farm.
10. Host events like weddings, have a trailer with everything needed to store or transport to other loctions other then the farm.

A lot of these income producers synergies with each other. And helps draw people out to the farm.

A farm wedding would draw out on average 100 people, then cater it with the food truck, the brewery would make the beer, the log cabin could also get income from this for a family staying from out of town who are involved with the wedding. I could take a loss on event hosting and make up the profits with the other activities involved.

I would avoid the traditional farming activity's that have major competition like big farmers already have a edge on. Farm animals require to much labor and require some one to feed and care for them daily making it inpossible to vacation.

I also need to note that I will probably be buying the 10 acres within the next two years and slowly preping it and getting it ready for the grand plan.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2015, 11:00:23 AM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

I agree that a small scale sample of what we're getting into is to start something in our backyard.


I plan to have 10 different operations that will create a opertunity to make a profit.

1. Airbnb log cabin.
2. Farm micro brewery
3. Aquaponics CSA
4. Christmas tree farm
5. Pick your own pumpkin
6. Orchard (Pick your own)
7. Traditional veggy garden (CSA and pick your own)
8. Landscaping plants
9. Food truck/trailer to go to events selling Cooked foods with ingredients from the farm.
10. Host events like weddings, have a trailer with everything needed to store or transport to other loctions other then the farm.

A lot of these income producers synergies with each other. And helps draw people out to the farm.

A farm wedding would draw out on average 100 people, then cater it with the food truck, the brewery would make the beer, the log cabin could also get income from this for a family staying from out of town who are involved with the wedding. I could take a loss on event hosting and make up the profits with the other activities involved.

I would avoid the traditional farming activity's that have major competition like big farmers already have a edge on. Farm animals require to much labor and require some one to feed and care for them daily making it inpossible to vacation.

I also need to note that I will probably be buying the 10 acres within the next two years and slowly preping it and getting it ready for the grand plan.

Insurance alone would be impossibly expensive on a place like that I imagine...

catccc

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2015, 11:05:24 AM »
You could look into starting up a CSA. You would need to sign up 250 families to throw in $100 for a season of vegetables, could you generate $100 in value for 250 families over the course of a year? The most successful CSA's are about marketing and telling a good story. Having a weekly blog where you get folks excited about the crops you're bringing to them and anthropromorphizing your farm animals should do the trick.

IDK where you are, but CSAs around here are more like 50 families at $600/season.  That's $30K, and that's before all your expenses.

partgypsy

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2015, 11:10:23 AM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

I agree that a small scale sample of what we're getting into is to start something in our backyard.


I plan to have 10 different operations that will create a opertunity to make a profit.

1. Airbnb log cabin.
2. Farm micro brewery
3. Aquaponics CSA
4. Christmas tree farm
5. Pick your own pumpkin
6. Orchard (Pick your own)
7. Traditional veggy garden (CSA and pick your own)
8. Landscaping plants
9. Food truck/trailer to go to events selling Cooked foods with ingredients from the farm.
10. Host events like weddings, have a trailer with everything needed to store or transport to other loctions other then the farm.

A lot of these income producers synergies with each other. And helps draw people out to the farm.

A farm wedding would draw out on average 100 people, then cater it with the food truck, the brewery would make the beer, the log cabin could also get income from this for a family staying from out of town who are involved with the wedding. I could take a loss on event hosting and make up the profits with the other activities involved.

I would avoid the traditional farming activity's that have major competition like big farmers already have a edge on. Farm animals require to much labor and require some one to feed and care for them daily making it inpossible to vacation.

I also need to note that I will probably be buying the 10 acres within the next two years and slowly preping it and getting it ready for the grand plan.

Personally, working an office job sounds like a lot less work and headache than what you are proposing! 

dantownehall

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2015, 11:29:12 AM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

I agree that a small scale sample of what we're getting into is to start something in our backyard.


I plan to have 10 different operations that will create a opertunity to make a profit.

1. Airbnb log cabin.
2. Farm micro brewery
3. Aquaponics CSA
4. Christmas tree farm
5. Pick your own pumpkin
6. Orchard (Pick your own)
7. Traditional veggy garden (CSA and pick your own)
8. Landscaping plants
9. Food truck/trailer to go to events selling Cooked foods with ingredients from the farm.
10. Host events like weddings, have a trailer with everything needed to store or transport to other loctions other then the farm.

A lot of these income producers synergies with each other. And helps draw people out to the farm.

A farm wedding would draw out on average 100 people, then cater it with the food truck, the brewery would make the beer, the log cabin could also get income from this for a family staying from out of town who are involved with the wedding. I could take a loss on event hosting and make up the profits with the other activities involved.

I would avoid the traditional farming activity's that have major competition like big farmers already have a edge on. Farm animals require to much labor and require some one to feed and care for them daily making it inpossible to vacation.

I also need to note that I will probably be buying the 10 acres within the next two years and slowly preping it and getting it ready for the grand plan.

I got pretty exhausted just reading that!

I want to farm in my retirement as well, but I'm planning on having finances covered by then, and not needing a lot of farm income if any to be OK.

From what I've seen, small farms typically do better with value added products, CSAs, and pick-your-own.

MayDay

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2015, 02:26:58 PM »
If I was doing that, I'd have a pick your own fruit farm, or a Christmas tree farm. But not a million different things.

Your list makes me want a nap.

music lover

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2015, 03:35:35 PM »
I have always fantasized about a small farm operation and I feel like this could be a way to make that $25k a year income that's required to live off of.

If it was that easy to make $25k, everyone would do it. My mother has a 120' x 100' garden and spends a LOT of time maintaining it, and if she sold everything she grew, I doubt she'd clear more than a few hundred bucks.

She does it because she likes it, not because it saves any real money. You can buy a 50 pound bag of potatoes for $10, so once you factor in the time spent turning over the soil, planting, watering, pulling weeds, digging them out, cleaning them, you might be working for $2 an hour if you're lucky.

And, if you get too much rain at the wrong time, all your work has gone to waste.

Mrs.LC

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2015, 04:34:05 PM »
The part that scares me about your post is that you say you really didn't like being on the farm before.  What didn't you like?  How do you know you will like it now?

Is growing your own food the primary goal or is scratching together a 25K net income? 

I would recommend reading homesteading books to get a better idea of what you would be getting yourself into and also to really soul search your passion.  Two books that come to mind are The Encyclopedia of Country Living and The Have More Plan.   

anonprof

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2015, 04:44:07 PM »
In addition to Joel Salatin, also consider reading Elliot Coleman and Jean-Martin Fortier.  Jean-Martin farms less than 2 acres and claims ~45% profit (something like 70k income for him and his wife) using low-tech, high-yield methods of production.

Maybe attend a Mother Earth News Fair near you (they occur about 5x a year in various locations).  Joel Salatin and Jean-Martin were both presenters this year in Oregon.

Kaplin261

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2015, 04:55:58 PM »
Strategically selling seasonal items when the market is right is the reason behind my 10 item list. Each item only needs to produce on average $2500.

1. Christmas trees $50 Sold on Premise x 50(Nov-Dec)
2. CSA membership $125 x 20(Apr-Sept)
3. Log Cabin rental $100 nightly x 25
4. Food truck to big events $200 x 13
5. Pint of beer $4 x 625
6. Orchard PYO $25 x 100 (Jun-Sept)
7. Landscaping plants and cut flowers (mar-oct)
8. Wedding host,tent and chairs $4k (mar-oct)
9. Pumpkin patch $20 x 125 PYO (sept-oct)
10.Community honesty garden PYO (Jun-Sept)


Jeremy E.

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2015, 05:06:27 PM »
In a little over 10 years the wife and I will have the following:
A home worth $250k with no lein
$100k for operating costs invested in something like a Vangard account
$400k in a 401k, we will be 20 years away from being able to draw from this

We want the 401k to sit and grow till we can draw from it without being penalized, that will be a 20 year window. I have always fantasized about a small farm operation and I feel like this could be a way to make that $25k a year income that's required to live off of.

 We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income. At the same time we could reduce our own costs by having organic food to eat from the farm. I'm pretty handy and will probably build some sort of small rental home on the property as well. I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it, now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation.

We will also have a son, he will be 12 years of age when the plan starts to take place.

Viable plan or just a crazy dream that will lead to years of frustration? My wife is a chemist who manages QA labs, I am a data center technician. So were not currently in this type of field.
Just so you know, there are ways of getting money out of your 401k prior to age 59 1/2, Either by Substantially Equal Periodic Payments(SEPP) or by using a roth conversion ladder (detailed in the following link)
http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/12/05/stocks-part-xx-early-retirement-withdrawal-strategies-and-roth-conversion-ladders-from-a-mad-fientist/

GFPchicken

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2015, 06:18:52 PM »
This is similar to what we plan on doing. You might want to look into books by Joel Salatin (You can Farm is a good one to start). A promising new book about making money from a vegetable CSA is The Market Gardener by Fortier. He and his wife gross $140k Canadian dollars a year having a 200-share CSA on 1.5 acres. They are near Quebec which probably helps a lot. Location location location! A lot of that is profit since they need no big machinery, are organic so don't have to buy pesticides, etc. It can totally be done, but how "easily" will depend on where you are (the closer you can get to a big population center the better) and how much you're willing to do the hard work, and how good you are at direct marketing. The people who have 1000+ acres and not making a living are selling commodity crops to the food industry. This way they are at the mercy of the wholesale prices, and have to work with very thin profit margins. To make a living farming 10 acres you need to be selling directly to the consumers.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2015, 10:13:52 AM »
Definitely try this out before starting if you can - I know you didn't mention livestock in your list but I wanted to mention it in case you are interested in keeping animals for your own family's purposes. we have backyard poultry and even though they are adorable and provide eggs, they definitely don't save on grocery expenses (our super tiny flock blows through 50lbs of feed in no time). money saving measures with livestock always seem to have their own price - ex: free range birds eat less feed but free range flocks suffer higher predator losses and require more frequent replacements. we have birds because i love animals and i like having a clean conscience about the quality of care they receive, but it would still probably be cheaper (or break even) to just pay $4 a dozen for the humane certified eggs at the store than produce my own.

however, we do brew and make our own wine at home and that does actually save us significant amounts compared to store prices...so maybe it is more about trying out a few different things over the next 10 years and seeing what is most easily economized while still remaining personally fulfilling. then you will be going into your micro-farming experience with a good understanding of what is worth it.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 10:21:25 AM by little_brown_dog »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2015, 11:39:06 AM »
People have already mentioned Eliot Coleman, but a ready-made business model for small-scale farming (you don't even need to own the land, it's premised on leasing backyard/urban plots) is SPIN farming.

Both Coleman and various SPIN farmers (e.g. Curtis Stone) peg ~$25k/acre, but that the most one person can realistically intensively farm is 1.5 acres. The only reason to want more than a couple acres is for animals, orchards, or have some additional wild space/privacy.

I've read extensively on small-scale farming and usually it's a mix of market gardening and/or getting a foot in the door with local chefs that produces the best $/acre initially. CSAs are great but it takes an awful lot of skill and trial/error learning the appropriate planting times, relay plantings, and varieties that work in your area and your site to end up with a balanced box each week.

Your 10 different thing list is way too scattered. The best small farmers have FOCUS. Every additional venture requires new mental bandwidth.

For extremely low capital, SPIN farming is the best method. Coleman's methods are similar, except he also has extensive experience with unheated and heated greenhouses for 4 season production even in Maine.

Many, many gardening/homesteading/farming books are worth reading, but for specifically business-minded books those are my recommendations. I've not heard of Fortier, though, so definitely gonna add that to my reading list.

Kaplin261

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2015, 01:43:54 PM »
Lots of books I need to read, thank you for the recommendations. I'm years away from living this dream just trying to hone and sharpen my tools for when I'm ready.

I don't really want to have family time being about working together doing hard labor 60 hours a week. Our current salaries combined come out to $140k a year and that only requires 40 hours from each of us. The farm seemed like a way to put in 20 hours a week on average and make a small fraction of what we would of used to make and also be a outlet for our son to grow and learn about a business.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2015, 02:06:18 PM »
Lots of books I need to read, thank you for the recommendations. I'm years away from living this dream just trying to hone and sharpen my tools for when I'm ready.

I don't really want to have family time being about working together doing hard labor 60 hours a week. Our current salaries combined come out to $140k a year and that only requires 40 hours from each of us. The farm seemed like a way to put in 20 hours a week on average and make a small fraction of what we would of used to make and also be a outlet for our son to grow and learn about a business.

20 hours a week on a farm? That was never even close to my experience, just saying. I mean, maybe if you average everything out across a year (when winters are sleepy) but your summer days during peak crop production you will be going from sun up to sun down just about. Just my experience, and to be fair I was harvesting and canning/drying/pickling everything as I went, so YMMV.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2015, 02:21:55 PM »
Grazing livestock is probably least time intensive "crop" we produce, but also the most land intensive unless you want to truck in feed, which lowers your return. 

With two solid incomes, I would suggest one of you quitting while the other gets the farm income up to desired levels, once you are there, the other can quit. 

Scandium

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2015, 11:08:12 AM »
Wow, that list doesn't sound like a retirement, rather a career change. To a more stressful one too. But you might enjoy it more, what do I know.

I know little about farming,  but from what I've read about brewing it takes quite a bit of work and money to sell beer. Mostly thanks to intrusive regulations. Health inspection requirements down to the last weld, proper labeling, etc etc. And most don't make much money for years, if ever.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2015, 11:15:39 AM »
Viable plan or just a crazy dream that will lead to years of frustration? My wife is a chemist who manages QA labs, I am a data center technician. So were not currently in this type of field.

Probably crazy dream. And definitely not "retirement" in any sense I'd consider. If you want to homestead (not for profit) that's a different thing. If you want to learn more about profitable small scale farming, there's a podcast called Permaculture Voices that's been doing a regular interview segment with Curtis Stone, the SPIN Farmer who does actually make a living on small acreage urban farming. (He's a hero in certain circles for it, too - which should tell you how uncommon that achievement really is.) I'd listen to every single one before making any decisions.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2015, 12:06:30 PM »
... I have always fantasized about a small farm operation... We would sell our home, and buy 10 acres and start creating a minimum of $25k a year of income.... I grew up on a small farm and didn't really like it; now I find myself missing that type of life style and dreaming of how I could start my own operation...we're not currently in this type of field.

My best advice is for you to try/test this out on a small scale right now where you are.  Start a "home sized" small vegetable garden/patch and see how you feel about what you're having to do to make it work.  Then mentally scale up how you will feel doing the same for a much larger operation.

Try it before you buy it, you know.  Always a smart way to go if you've got the option.

Good luck.

I agree that a small scale sample of what we're getting into is to start something in our backyard.


I plan to have 10 different operations that will create a opertunity to make a profit.

1. Airbnb log cabin.
2. Farm micro brewery
3. Aquaponics CSA
4. Christmas tree farm
5. Pick your own pumpkin
6. Orchard (Pick your own)
7. Traditional veggy garden (CSA and pick your own)
8. Landscaping plants
9. Food truck/trailer to go to events selling Cooked foods with ingredients from the farm.
10. Host events like weddings, have a trailer with everything needed to store or transport to other loctions other then the farm.

A lot of these income producers synergies with each other. And helps draw people out to the farm.

A farm wedding would draw out on average 100 people, then cater it with the food truck, the brewery would make the beer, the log cabin could also get income from this for a family staying from out of town who are involved with the wedding. I could take a loss on event hosting and make up the profits with the other activities involved.

I would avoid the traditional farming activity's that have major competition like big farmers already have a edge on. Farm animals require to much labor and require some one to feed and care for them daily making it inpossible to vacation.

I also need to note that I will probably be buying the 10 acres within the next two years and slowly preping it and getting it ready for the grand plan.

I'll also jump in with an anecdote... my brother (also grew up on a farm, so had experience even) tried to do a SPIN/permaculture type setup. Ended up very much in debt and with everything failing. There's currently a meat locker with 3 year old organic chickens getting progressively more freezer-burnt. Keep in mind that it's an area where if you fail, you can't really liquidate inventory very well, so you can have near total losses on your investment.

myrax

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2015, 01:26:42 PM »
You'll need to check your local zoning codes carefully for most of these activities! In some states (especially Oregon), agricultural land use is heavily regulated, and there are rules about types of events and frequency.

Strategically selling seasonal items when the market is right is the reason behind my 10 item list. Each item only needs to produce on average $2500.


3. Log Cabin rental $100 nightly x 25
4. Food truck to big events $200 x 13
5. Pint of beer $4 x 625
6. Orchard PYO $25 x 100 (Jun-Sept)
7. Landscaping plants and cut flowers (mar-oct)
8. Wedding host,tent and chairs $4k (mar-oct)
9. Pumpkin patch $20 x 125 PYO (sept-oct)
10.Community honesty garden PYO (Jun-Sept)

horsepoor

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2015, 01:55:08 PM »
Lots of books I need to read, thank you for the recommendations. I'm years away from living this dream just trying to hone and sharpen my tools for when I'm ready.

I don't really want to have family time being about working together doing hard labor 60 hours a week. Our current salaries combined come out to $140k a year and that only requires 40 hours from each of us. The farm seemed like a way to put in 20 hours a week on average and make a small fraction of what we would of used to make and also be a outlet for our son to grow and learn about a business.

Dude, I have about 3,000 square foot garden plus 5 chickens and it takes me at least 10 hours a week between planning, starting seedlings, watering fertilizing mulching weeding and harvesting.  And everything just goes to my kitchen and gets processed or consumed.  No marketing, no regulatory hoops to jump through, no taking the produce downtown and sitting in a farmer's market stall.  I think you'd have an easier time making $25K by each getting a half-time job at Starbuck's, honestly. 

I think the value in micro-farming would be in focusing on one or two premium niche products.  For instance, I've thought of selling seed garlic because agricultural laws prevent garlic import into my state, and locally, seed garlic sells for like $30/lb.  I've also come up with a fermented hot sauce that would probably bring $8/bottle at the farmer's market, but bottling and selling that type of thing probably wouldn't fly in may states.

To add to your reading list, you might read Good Food Revolution by Will Allen.  He provides some info on his financial struggles and some ingenious things he's done to make an urban farm more solvent.  But that dude works his ass off.

MsPeacock

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2015, 11:44:55 AM »
Farming, even small farming, as a means of primary income sounds like really hard work! I  like to garden but no way would I want to extend that to trying to make a living from that.

As a related side note:

http://ww2.gazette.net/stories/06162010/wheanew193357_32552.php

Story of a real small farm near DC.

waltworks

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Re: Micro Farming while retired?
« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2015, 12:00:18 PM »
Holy scattershot disaster... no, don't do 10 different things badly to try to make $25k/year.

You could do that a lot of much easier and less stressful ways, and farm as a hobby for fun.

If you must farm for profit, I'd pick one or two things you think you can do well at and if those go really well, branch out further.

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