Author Topic: Fire farming?  (Read 4388 times)

ericbonabike

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Fire farming?
« on: August 29, 2020, 07:42:36 PM »
Has anybody retired, bought a farm or a ranch, and then managed to be profitable at that activity ?

My wife and I are thinking about retiring in 4-5 years and buying some land for cows. 

Background:  Iím a city boy with some small amount of mechanical aptitude and a strong work ethic. 
My parents bought a 100 acre farm and Iíve been helping them.  But theyíre city folks too, and havenít really pursued trying to make it profitable. So, Iíve been repairing fences, fixing cattle gates, etc.  but itís been fun. And my kid loves it. 

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 09:02:16 PM »
By profitable do you mean simply making $1 more than you spent based on free labor? Or counting the cost of your labor at a reasonable rate (somewhere above minimum wage)?

My impression is that most farms are not really profitable, i.e. able to support a person/family, without being relatively large or worked intensively. So 5-acres in organic vegetables could provide a living but it might take 1,000+ acres of range land and a herd of 100+ cattle to do the same.

I had a colleague in the National Guard that was a cattle rancher in eastern New Mexico. He needed 500-1,000 acres for a small herd of a few dozen cows. I'm pretty sure his wife worked outside the home and he might have as well to make ends meet.

ericbonabike

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2020, 10:30:05 PM »
I guess what I mean:

Can you pay yourself a reasonable wage for your labor after you deduct all expenses. ?    Letís say 15-20 an hour. 

Trudie

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2020, 11:16:59 PM »
Define profitable.  Do you mean marginally profitable?  Iím a city kid, but my parents and in-laws grew up on farms or in agriculture.  Itís a tough business.  Not only are you at the whims of weather and forces of nature, but youíre also at the whims  of crazy commodity markets, federal farm bills, and the political power of big ag.

If you want a hobby farm because you enjoy it, I say forge ahead.  Raise your own food.  Get goats, chickens...whatever floats your boat.  You will be lucky to feed your family, and maybe thatís enough.
If itís a labor of love to do the work, then more power to you.  I am not being flippant.  Some people thrive on hard physical work and are content sticking close to home.

But if you think you really want to produce an agricultural product for profit, then plan on taking yourself back to school.  Take courses for new farmers offered at your state land grant university or through your state extension service.  School yourself on crop management, animal husbandry, commodities markets, and a shit-ton of ag science.  Still, there isnít a lot of money to be made in it.  You need to specialize and be a big corporate player to do that.  But maybe thatís not your goal.

Just know your goals and understand what youíre getting into.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2020, 03:52:24 AM »
You are suggesting doing this after retirement, which I presume means being FIREd and having enough cash to live off. Why would a farm then have to be profitable? I can totally understand wanting to have a farm. But why the need to make decent wages? Why not just hobby farming?

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2020, 08:05:57 AM »
If you are looking for a "hobby" farming activity, you might want to look into reforesting farmland.  Years ago I met a man who inherited a family farm but had no desire to work it. He was however really into hunting and fishing. He was able to take advantage of a government (not sure if it was federal or state of South Carolina) to pay to reforest his property. It was a win-win. He got a small payment from the government and a private forest in which to hunt.  I don't know if any such government programs still exist, but it might be worth looking into.

ericbonabike

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2020, 11:37:06 AM »
Well, I was thinking about something like this:

100+ acres in rural area. Currently considering New Hampshire (no income tax but high property tax.  Could buy in for mid 300s to low 400s).
Pennsylvania.  Lowish (3%) income tax and when I turn 59.5 100% of ira withdrawals are state tax free.  Low property taxes. Low sales tax.  But one of 7 or so states with inheritance tax. Maybe could buy in at low 300s.
Washington state.  Buy in is higher,   mid to high 400s. No state income tax. Medium property tax.  High sales tax.


Iíd like to start as a hobby farmer.  Maybe get 4-5 cows. 

But my intuition says economy of scales means, I could on that same land raise 30-40 cows.  Selling a third off every year or so. 

By then our net worth will be close to $2 mill if all goes well over next 5 years.  (Current LNW 1.7 mill).
I feel comfortable pulling 80k a year out, but then what do I do with that much free time. I like being busy. And I like working.  I like cutting firewood and splitting it. I like mucking stalls.  I like operating machinery. 

My parents had 100 acres.  And mostly let a neighbor bale it.  They had three cows and they slaughtered and butchered two for personal consumption.   This filled up two deep freezers which four families is still working on.

Dictionary Time

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2020, 11:55:28 AM »
You should listen to the podcast from Chicken Thistle Farm. Itís not current, but theyíre all still out there. They describe the journey of their small farm from pasture to plate. They both worked off farm and started small and grew it for a while. They really give you the unvarnished truth. And theyíre pretty entertaining. I miss their show. Iíve followed many people who try this sort of thing, and they mostly give up or scale back or fade away. It was seemed more popular during the financial crisis and recession. So if you do it, you should definitely do a blog and podcast so I can live vicariously.

lhamo

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2020, 02:14:26 PM »
I am contemplating some type of intensive market gardening or regnerative ag project, but it is probably 3-4 years out.

Strongly recommend you binge watch some of the many you tube channels that focus on how to do this kind of stuff cheaply/profitably.  There are some scrappy folks out there making good money, often on leased land (best if you can get a long-term lease if you are investing in building the soil).

The Rhodes family's Great American Farm Tour provides a good overview of what was going on in 2017.  Many of the people they visited now have their own youtube channels.  They also just wrapped up their latest "100 days of growing food" series that shows how they are doing Joel Salatin style-regenerative ag on their inherited farm to grow most of their own food supply.  I think they only are actively using about 8-10 acres, with rotational grazing of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and ducks.

Richard Perkins has profiled a lot of interesting cases in Europe, along with what he is doing at high latitude at Ridgedale Permaculture in Sweden.

Curtis Stone was making $80-100k Canadian doing intensive market gardening on urban lots in the Okanogan.  I think he is now doing mostly consulting/training.

Jean-Paul Fortier has an amazing set-up near Montreal.

The Epic Gardening guy (Kevin something) just bought a largish lot in San Diego that he is developing into an urban homestead.

The lingering question I have is how much these guys typically make off their farming efforts versus courses, consulting, you tube ads, etc.  But it does seem that if you set things up correctly and can farm intensively using soil building and water conserving methods with a population nearby that is willing to pay good market rates for organically grown (but not necessarily certified) produce and animal products, you can make a decent living within a year or two.  I think almost all of the people  I mentioned above got started with minimal capital investment.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 02:17:56 PM by lhamo »

NorCal

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2020, 02:52:13 PM »
I have two uncles that each run a cattle ranch. Each has apx 300 acres and between 50 - 100 head of cattle. The land is owned outright, so no mortgage payments.

I havenít talked business with them in many years. I know one went a 5yr stretch with basically breaking even. He made no money for his labor.

Best I can tell, the other uncle nets $40-$50k/yr, but he also does a lot of work for other local ranchers.

One thing about ranching is that the line between personal and business expense gets blurred really fast. Getting info on an apples to apples basis is nearly impossible.

Running a cattle ranch will take huge chunks of labor for very little return outside the satisfaction of the work.

Car Jack

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2020, 05:49:11 AM »
Go find a farm similar to what you want to work.  Approach the farmer and tell him you are thinking of getting a farm and want to know what the work is like.  Then volunteer to work his farm with him for some amount of time for free.

I get that you like splitting firewood (I've done about 4 cords in anticipation of the upcoming winter) and working with your hands.  But the downside is being up well before 5 in the morning and zero days off ever.  You will never go on a vacation again for the rest of your life.  Farmland taxes in many states are reduced if you enter a program and do what's on the plan.  I'm under MA chapter 61 forest management so all but 1 acre of my property is taxed 10% of normal taxes.  But if you've got 100 acres, the property can be valued at a couple hundred grand, so you're still paying thousands a year in taxes.

Most farmers are able to maintain all the tools to do the job.  This includes machines and vehicles.  You'll need at least some skill in welding for when stuff breaks.


Fishindude

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2020, 07:43:00 AM »
I'm retired and own three farms totalling just shy of 400 acres.
Income from the farms is a pretty decent chunk of our retirement income.   We cash rent the tillable ground, much of the non tillable is in federal CRP type programs that generate some income, and we also selectively log our woodlots every 15 -20 years or so for additional income.   Pretty minimal work on my end with steady income coming from most of the ground.

With current cattle prices, you could probably do okay, but I wouldn't want anything to do with it because you have to be there every day.   No taking off for vacations unless you have someone to check on the livestock daily.   To do it right and cost effectively you also need to raise your own hay, so 100 acres won't handle a lot of cattle, as a large part will be tied up in hay ground, plus you need to move cattle around so they don't wipe out particular pastures.   With smaller acreage like this you're likely to be more of a "feed lot" operation, buying and having most of your feed trucked in which will significantly reduce any profits.

Getting started will be costly too; fence, tractor, implements, feeding equipment, barns & sheds, tools, truck, etc.
Very few farmers take regular wages.  They bank money when they sell product, then live off what's in the bank and pay the bills till the next sale, hoping there is enough to last.   Starting from scratch it will take quite a while to figure out if you are actually coming out ahead on the deal.    Raising only 4-5 cattle won't make you any money, but you might get one for the freezer cheap.

It is a pretty rewarding, enjoyable lifelstyle if you like good old fashioned, healthy outdoor work.   Farm equipment purchases can also be done without paying sales tax, which is pretty nice.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 08:09:21 AM by Fishindude »

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2020, 08:10:08 AM »
You should listen to the podcast from Chicken Thistle Farm. Itís not current, but theyíre all still out there. They describe the journey of their small farm from pasture to plate. They both worked off farm and started small and grew it for a while. They really give you the unvarnished truth. And theyíre pretty entertaining. I miss their show.

I'd also recommend that podcast as a good example that doesn't seem to sugar coat things in order to drive income to other sources (i.e., Youtube Channel, books, consulting, etc.).

For what it's worth, I have a 5 acre hobby orchard. It's a lot of fun, but I use the Charles Foster Kane method of accounting when it comes to finances for it.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2020, 02:34:01 PM »
The old saying goes: "To make a small fortune farming, start out with a large one!" 

 I throughly enjoy good honest farm labor, and would have made a go of doing it for a living if I had seen anything that could have produced a decent return on my time and/or capital vs working for megacorp, but never could get there.  I know a lot of farmers and the ones that make money either inherited land and/or work their tails off in labor intensive small acreage ventures.  In my discussions with them, the large acreage folks accept a 3-4% return on their land and basically volunteer their time when you compare the returns on land to the market.  The small acreage folks average around $10 hour and work their tails off. The large operations take enormous depreciation expense on buildings and equipment that seem to eat up profits from the bumper years.  With either size operation, profits can swing wildly from year to year based on weather, pests, markets, etc.

Personally, I opted for 6 acres that we farm for at home consumption.  It is big enough to do a bit of what ever we want.  Small and simple enough that I can leave for weeks at a time with a neighbor to watch over things.  We don't make any money to speak of, but it does offset a lot of grocery expense and keeps me physically active.  Makes for a nice park in my backyard as well where the kids can get out and play. 

There are certainly ways to make money farming, but very little of it I would consider "retirement".
« Last Edit: August 31, 2020, 02:36:25 PM by Gone Fishing »

reeshau

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2020, 05:38:43 PM »
It doesn't involve livestock at all, but you might check out Clay Bottom Farm:

https://www.claybottomfarm.com/

They live off their farm, and have reduced it over the years from 5 acres down to 1/2 an acre.  A lot of their secret is correct choice of what to grow:  specialty produce demanded by local restaurants and foodies.  (Customers first!)  Then, they applied and developed a number of techniques to keep a 12-month farm in Northern Indiana, and reduce resources required. (including their time)

asauer

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2020, 07:42:49 AM »
It depends.  I have alot of family who used to raise cattle/ hogs and all quit b/c it cost way too much and they weren't earning enough plus throw in unexpected events like plague or a bad run of stock and they were constantly operating at a loss.

A friend of mine has had success with smaller animals, goats, rabbits, quail, chickens and selling them as part of a CSA/ cooperative because they cost less to raise and she can diversify her products (goat's milk ice cream, cheese, soap, quail eggs (sold to restaurants), chicken eggs, rabbit meat, rabbit fur products) and she rents out her goats to clear brush for homeowners and commercial properties.  However, if you look at her per hour wage its like $5/ hr.  So, you have to think of it more as a lifestyle vs. job.

SwordGuy

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2020, 10:16:19 AM »
You're not retired if you're working a farm.

Farms are work.  Particularly farms with livestock.   Animals aren't like cars, you can't just park them in the driveway and forget about them until you want to go somewhere.   They require care.

There is money in farming, but small farms have all the costs and none of the economies of scale.

Fishindude

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2020, 06:42:53 AM »
You're not retired if you're working a farm.

Farms are work.  Particularly farms with livestock.   Animals aren't like cars, you can't just park them in the driveway and forget about them until you want to go somewhere.   They require care.

People have different visions of retirement.
I know I'd take farm work and dealing with cows any day over going into the office and all the people problems that comes with that.
Some prefer the simple, physical work on a farm and consider it quite stress free and relaxing.

Some folks think it's cool to jump on their bike and ride ten miles to work, while many of us think that is nuts and jump in the car and drive there.
Different strokes for different folks.


Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2020, 04:34:12 PM »
A frugal friend of mine who has no intentions of retiring early feels like he NEEDS land.  His place just north of Huntsville TX is 11+/- acres of east Texas piney woods adjacent to the Sam Houston National Forest.  He qualifies for a timber exemption on his taxes by having the place selectively logged once every ten years.  He knocked down about 2 acres for a big fenced area for dogs and chickens (rabbits were too much work per unity of protein) and a pretty decent sized "square foot gardening" plot where he produces most of the veggies needed for a family of 7 during the peak harvest months.  The chickens produce enough eggs for the seven plus more for barter at work. 

He loses his mind if he can't "stretch his legs".  It is unlikely he could make a living at farming.  But it is unlikely as well he could maintain his sanity without a big garden, chickens, private hunting land, etc. 

I think you need to get the bottom of why you want the land to turn a profit.  You may just need a hobby farm that breaks even to maximize your happiness.

If I was going to attempt a farm here in east Texas Zone 9a, I'd buy a plot off the main highways, level it, plant grass seed, put in a solar powered well and irrigation, and pay a third party to harvest hay periodically.  (I knew a guy back in my pre-fire days who quit his job to make more money harvesting hay for a living.  There are plenty of services that work for a portion of your revenue.)  You'd get an ag tax exemption on taxes and break even or close to it most years.  In drought years, hay goes to 700 dollars a bale.  Once every ten years you'd make a mint and buy another plot or two for cash.  Meanwhile, the property is appreciating for a terminal payoff.  I'd continue to live in the Houston burbs.

Indio

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2020, 06:34:08 PM »
Have you seen the Biggest Little Farm film? It's about a couple starting out doing regenerative, sustainable farming and where they were 10 years later. 

There are so many ways to approach farming or have a farm lifestyle that doesn't become a money pit. I know a few folks who have turned their farms into profitable business by fixing up the barn or building a separate one that looks old and using it for weddings or corporate event location. A gazebo, shade plantings and flower garden becomes an outdoor wedding spot and the barn is used for the reception. They have also put in a few tiny houses for guest rentals or airbnb for people who want a getaway. Another person I know, put in you-pick-your-own orchards which are not labor intensive after planting and first few years of maintenance. Another person rented out a few acres to younger farmers that wanted to try out the lifestyle for a couple of years or someone who just wanted to grow food. And to farmers that needed more space to grow hay. I know another farmer that specialized in different kinds of medicinal herbs and turned it into an online organic apothecary business. Another one I heard about cleared about five acres and told the electric and phone company they could bring trees they cleaned up after a storm to his place. He set up a saw mill and was making all kinds of custom wood projects - flooring, beams, etc. He also had a few acress dedicated to woodchips and set up a composting operation. A couple of times a month city friends who wanted to drive tractors, visited and moved the chips around for him.



fixie

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2020, 08:29:00 AM »
I'm on the process of doing just that, but taking my time to grow slowly and make small mistakes.  If cows are your thing, I'd recommend controlling the land instead of owning the land.  Look to Greg Judy on YouTube for a very good, low cost model for running beef cattle.
It's important not to have fancy illusions about farming, as something like 90% of US farms have off-farm income.  But, it is certainly possible.

lhamo

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2020, 08:43:43 PM »
Richard Perkins is launching a new shorter course called "Start the Right Farm"  where he will walk through all the key considerations for starting off on the right foot to be efficient, profitable and sustainable. 

https://www.starttherightfarm.com/

Video overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHWDZPcRN3w

Roots&Wings

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2020, 05:49:23 AM »
Lots of good suggestions here. The Dutch farmer is another one who gets into the detailed financials of small scale farming (I believe they are 1/3 acre and make around $50k), e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ04HY1wD1k

trollwithamustache

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2020, 10:27:11 AM »
have you talked to an accountant? Farms can be a rich source of write offs. You can also buy a lot of tools and expense it if thats what you want.

Buut, you are talking about starting a business without a business plan.  ie, picking a state for its tax treatment is probably the wrong way to start a profitable farm. If you are going to raise cows, pick a place with better beef prices. or near a city you can see fancy grass fed meat to.  If you start going to farmers markets and can identify something missing, thats what you can grow to be the only one making that thing.

windytrail

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2020, 11:24:21 AM »
Cool thread. I have thought about this as well and am still 5+ years from ER, but wanted to offer some ideas similar to what others have shared:

- If you are near a City, customers will pay tons of money for organic produce. $5 a pound or more for some vegetables, especially if you can market them as "rare" or novel. Restaurants would love to buy your product and your story - i.e. small "mom and pop" farmer who uses regenerative soil practices, etc.
- Host weddings, parties, events in a barnhouse or other detached structure. Weddings can really bring in the dough! People love the idea of getting married at an organic farm.
- Host people through Airbnb or a bed and breakfast inn. This is more common in Europe but has huge potential here if you are in a somewhat desirable area.
- If you need extra help at the outset, get free labor from travelers through Workaway (https://www.workaway.info/) or WWOFFing (https://wwoof.net/)
- Goat shares (http://5solasfarm.com/5_Solas_Farm/Goat_Shares.html). You can raise goats and have other people buy into them with a monthly membership. In exchange they can come by and milk a goat every other weekend.

Having a city person's mindset can be an advantage here, because there are countless ways to make money off of city people who romanticize about farm life but do not have the drive to take the leap themselves. Good luck!

Fishindude

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2020, 01:39:38 PM »
Cool thread. I have thought about this as well and am still 5+ years from ER, but wanted to offer some ideas similar to what others have shared:

- If you are near a City, customers will pay tons of money for organic produce. $5 a pound or more for some vegetables, especially if you can market them as "rare" or novel. Restaurants would love to buy your product and your story - i.e. small "mom and pop" farmer who uses regenerative soil practices, etc.
- Host weddings, parties, events in a barnhouse or other detached structure. Weddings can really bring in the dough! People love the idea of getting married at an organic farm.
- Host people through Airbnb or a bed and breakfast inn. This is more common in Europe but has huge potential here if you are in a somewhat desirable area.
- If you need extra help at the outset, get free labor from travelers through Workaway (https://www.workaway.info/) or WWOFFing (https://wwoof.net/)
- Goat shares (http://5solasfarm.com/5_Solas_Farm/Goat_Shares.html). You can raise goats and have other people buy into them with a monthly membership. In exchange they can come by and milk a goat every other weekend.

Having a city person's mindset can be an advantage here, because there are countless ways to make money off of city people who romanticize about farm life but do not have the drive to take the leap themselves. Good luck!

Probably some solid ideas, but some of the best parts of farm life are peace and quiet, no people around, privacy, etc.
I would have zero interest in having a bunch of strangers coming out to the farm all the time.

BTDretire

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2020, 06:58:51 AM »
I am contemplating some type of intensive market gardening or regnerative ag project, but it is probably 3-4 years out.
Strongly recommend you binge watch some of the many you tube channels that focus on how to do this kind of stuff cheaply/profitably. 
  I was going to post something similar. Lots of people making money growing greens, (sprouts) or several types of lettuce, kale, herbs, etc. Sometimes on a city lot.
 I'm putting together a vertical hydroponic grow tube to experiment with, lot's of plants in a small space.
Mine is for home use only. I don't want another job!

Roots&Wings

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2020, 10:37:33 AM »
Cool thread. I have thought about this as well and am still 5+ years from ER, but wanted to offer some ideas similar to what others have shared:

- If you are near a City, customers will pay tons of money for organic produce. $5 a pound or more for some vegetables, especially if you can market them as "rare" or novel. Restaurants would love to buy your product and your story - i.e. small "mom and pop" farmer who uses regenerative soil practices, etc.
- Host weddings, parties, events in a barnhouse or other detached structure. Weddings can really bring in the dough! People love the idea of getting married at an organic farm.
- Host people through Airbnb or a bed and breakfast inn. This is more common in Europe but has huge potential here if you are in a somewhat desirable area.
- If you need extra help at the outset, get free labor from travelers through Workaway (https://www.workaway.info/) or WWOFFing (https://wwoof.net/)
- Goat shares (http://5solasfarm.com/5_Solas_Farm/Goat_Shares.html). You can raise goats and have other people buy into them with a monthly membership. In exchange they can come by and milk a goat every other weekend.

Having a city person's mindset can be an advantage here, because there are countless ways to make money off of city people who romanticize about farm life but do not have the drive to take the leap themselves. Good luck!

Cool stuff @windytrail! Goatshares sounds like this fruit farm in Costa Rica I recently heard about where you can buy a share/sponsor a fruit tree (you get to visit "your" tree, pick fruit when it's fruiting, and the farm will grow and maintain it for you). Interesting ideas!

joe189man

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2020, 10:09:44 AM »
i found this website https://retipster.com/best-markets-farmland/

it may be helpful in your analysis, it gives resources to consider drought, rainfall, land values, population density, soil quality, tax rates, and farmland trust maps showing what lands may be best suited for


Gone Fishing

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2020, 10:31:44 AM »
Have you seen the Biggest Little Farm film? It's about a couple starting out doing regenerative, sustainable farming and where they were 10 years later. 

There are so many ways to approach farming or have a farm lifestyle that doesn't become a money pit. I know a few folks who have turned their farms into profitable business by fixing up the barn or building a separate one that looks old and using it for weddings or corporate event location. A gazebo, shade plantings and flower garden becomes an outdoor wedding spot and the barn is used for the reception. They have also put in a few tiny houses for guest rentals or airbnb for people who want a getaway. Another person I know, put in you-pick-your-own orchards which are not labor intensive after planting and first few years of maintenance. Another person rented out a few acres to younger farmers that wanted to try out the lifestyle for a couple of years or someone who just wanted to grow food. And to farmers that needed more space to grow hay. I know another farmer that specialized in different kinds of medicinal herbs and turned it into an online organic apothecary business. Another one I heard about cleared about five acres and told the electric and phone company they could bring trees they cleaned up after a storm to his place. He set up a saw mill and was making all kinds of custom wood projects - flooring, beams, etc. He also had a few acress dedicated to woodchips and set up a composting operation. A couple of times a month city friends who wanted to drive tractors, visited and moved the chips around for him.

Thanks for the recommendation!  I finally got around to watching it.  I really feel liked they showed the reality of farming vs the sugar coated view you often get.  Like they say, if you have livestock, you are going to have dead stock! I wish they had gone into the finances a little more.

Nangirl17

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #30 on: October 26, 2020, 08:55:01 AM »
you have to be there every day.   No taking off for vacations unless you have someone to check on the livestock daily. 

Posting to re-emphasize this. Farming ties you down. If you have animals, you'll have to pay someone to do your work for you if you want to go anywhere for longer than a day (or half day, if you're milking twice a day), eating into your already minimal profits, and risking your operation if they mess up (and they'll never do as good a job as you do).

If you're not a fan of the daily grind, don't get into farming - there is plenty of exercise and fresh air, but plenty of days where you'll be going out in miserable weather and doing the daily grind... only now with actual poop involved.

If the lifestyle is for you, it can be rewarding - eating your own food, getting dirt under your fingernails, relying on yourself and the weather.... my great grandmother was very grateful to be on the farm in the Depression - "at least we had food to eat."


Sanitary Engineer

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #31 on: October 26, 2020, 09:37:15 AM »
Good resources here.  We just watched "Unbroken Ground", a Patagonia Provisions promotion, but enjoyed seeing the hope of a farming revolution.  I want to check out some of the channels named above.

We have recently allowed ourselves to dream of having a property with 10-100 acres for homestead farming and, I suppose, a vague idea of regenerative agriculture.  We have been quickly dissuaded since finding the perfect property is a drag and we stumbled on an unused apple orchard a block from our house on Town owned land that we can pour our farming impulses into.

lhamo

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #32 on: October 26, 2020, 04:31:47 PM »
We have been quickly dissuaded since finding the perfect property is a drag and we stumbled on an unused apple orchard a block from our house on Town owned land that we can pour our farming impulses into.

Ooh -- that sounds awesome!  Food forest plans?

Sanitary Engineer

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2020, 08:01:43 AM »
Assuming we get the ok from the Town Tree Warden, we are going to follow the advice in this article.

https://www.vermontwoodlands.org/resources-post/care-and-maintenance-of-wild-apple-trees-in-vermont/

Mighty Eyebrows

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Re: Fire farming?
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2020, 09:04:33 PM »
Running a cattle ranch will take huge chunks of labor for very little return outside the satisfaction of the work.

This is the most insightful post in this thread.

I say this as someone who has several thousand acres. I don't recommend livestock farming to anyone, really. It is not really fair on the animals and the finances don't make any sense unless you have some government subsidies (so, not really fair on society, either). However, if you are keen, I can set you up with a ranch in Canada.