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Dying to start my hobby farm!! What is some good beginner advice? - Page 2

post #11 of 24

Hey I'm in the same boat as you! We are putting our home on the market next month and are looking for a hobby farm with anything above 5 acres. I found a great house with 5 acres and it already has a barn on it set up for dairy critters. Here is my plan by year, just to give you an idea:

 

This year (year we move in):

Start fencing around 1/2 acre orchard

if right time of year, plant orchard

Start building raised beds. 

Plant garlic in oct

plant berry beds (if right time of year)

build hoops over beds to put up bird netting

Plant asparagus beds (if right time of year)

put up fencing/build pig hutch

build chicken coop and tractors

 

2nd year

buy layer chickens in spring

buy a batch of meaties in Spring and again in fall

Buy a couple turkey poults

buy two piglets in spring so we can butcher them in winter.

start grape vines on fencing round orchard

Plant orchard if I'm not done

plant cover crop in orchard

finish raised beds

plant plant plant

set up fencing for cow with rotational pastures

Plant pastures if needed

 

3rd year

finish orchard if needed

finish raised beds if i need to.(I'm not super woman now)

fix up barn to how we like it

Get a cow!!!!!!!

Work up a strong garden plan to rotate my crops well

Bees?

 

4th year

either sheep or goats will come in the picture. 

greenhouse

coldframe

Have hubby build me a herb box that hangs from kitchen window

LGD?

Hubby wants to do rabbits,I'm not so keen.

 

Bees are a question as I really want them for my orchard and for honey, but I am allergic to them. So DH would have to be willing to take up the bee thing. We'll see. The getting of a cow might also get pushed back a year due to not being quite ready. I really want my focus on getting the orchard in and the gardening done. Because gardening and poultry is what I know. Hence why pigs and a cow come later. I have pretty elaborate gardening plans so that comes first. I've always been a big gardener and this year I may not get a garden which is driving me crazy!!!

 

We have a good friend we'd be sharing the milk with from the cow, and I make cheese so I'm not worried. I think we will get sheep over goats as sheep are good mowers as well as lamb is delish. Plus I can play with their fluffiness :). Pigs I want to get two as they competively eat then and get bigger faster. Then I can get them every other year rather than having them all the time. I have a lot of plans! Luckily hubby is handy!

Wishing for our hobby farm.
I'm one of the Crazy Pullets of BYC!: The Unique One
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Wishing for our hobby farm.
I'm one of the Crazy Pullets of BYC!: The Unique One
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post #12 of 24

All I can say is try to be as self sufficient as you can when taking care of your animals, but know when to call a vet. If you want to get into horses you would have to devote most of your acreage to them if you are interested in breeding. Chickens are fun too, however I am the type of person that rather makes good money in small quantities than little money in large quantities, meaning I prefer selling off 2 foals once a year to make a profit rather than running an operation of 2,000 chickens. Limit yourself on the species you want to take care of, since each species needs their own specialized care, equipment, medication, etc. Find animals that work well together, i.e. chickens and maybe turkeys or pheasants, sheep and goat, horses and donkeys or ponies etc. Just my humble opinion.

 

I am in my second year of bee keeping and it is definitely interesting. My start up cost was about $600 so compared to the cost of my chicken house/wire/run/chicks/feed, it is about comparable but much less upkeep. I also tell people that the nice thing about bees is that you don’t have to call into work because your bees have a colic and you are waiting for the vet.

 

Start out slow. Especially at the beginning there may be times when you feel that you are ready to grow your farm faster, expand, take on more challenges. Don’t. Take your time, learn about one species and then move on. I grew my farm too fast and I am still backtracking on some of my early mistakes.

 

Don’t expect instant profit. It took me 4 years to start making a profit on my farm. It is an investment and you first need to get all your ducks in a row, run your place as time/money efficient as possible, know your costs/incomes in your sleep and then start making a profit. My very first profit this year- devided over the past 4 years- would have helped me break even on my cost for the entire time had I been able to split it up, but it doesn’t always work that way.

 

Unless you are very rich, try and run your farm with the intention of making a profit. In order to do so, you must analyze your projects and see what makes financial sense and what doesn’t. Most of the time this means a decision between what’s in your heart, and what your wallet says. If you are into horses, keep the foals you will want to breed later, and get rid of the ones that you don’t need in your breeding program. With my chickens, I get rid of my old hens at 2 years old, excess roosters go into the stewing pot as well. Know your market and analyze where the demand will be in a few years or decades. With horses, don’t 100% devote yourself to breeds that are currently “in”, those tend to act like the housing bubble because every breeder wants to get in on the quick market and will eventually begin eroding your pricing due to higher quantities. Diversify your breeding.  

 

Customer Service. Strive for long time customer relationships. Much easier to work off an existing customer base and have the good word spread, than trying to advertise and get new customers. Word goes around quicker than you’d believe.

 

Best of luck and happy learning :)

Now selling French Black Copper Maran eggs
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Now selling French Black Copper Maran eggs
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post #13 of 24

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiquee View Post

Hey I'm in the same boat as you! We are putting our home on the market next month and are looking for a hobby farm with anything above 5 acres. I found a great house with 5 acres and it already has a barn on it set up for dairy critters. Here is my plan by year, just to give you an idea:

 

This year (year we move in):

Start fencing around 1/2 acre orchard

if right time of year, plant orchard

Start building raised beds. 

Plant garlic in oct

plant berry beds (if right time of year)

build hoops over beds to put up bird netting

Plant asparagus beds (if right time of year)

put up fencing/build pig hutch

build chicken coop and tractors

 

 

 

 

I would humbly suggest waiting before you put the orchard in. At least six months to a year. You may think you know the best place for it, and then realize a year later that it really isnt! You need to learn about your particular little patch - where does the frost pool, where does the water bog up, where is the good soil, where is the place with all the half buried rocks. So spend as much time really getting to know your place in depth. You may have insane weed problems or an area that gets no air circulation in summer which means your trees will be battling fungal diseases all the time. I learned all this to my own cost!!!! But its so hard to resist getting some trees in, right?! 

The very first thing I would do is get soil samples from all over the farm and send them to your state lab for soil testing. 

Oh and an AMAZING book for orchards is Michael Phillips' The Apple Grower, or his new book the Holistic Orchard Book.

We are hoping to expand our family through open adoption.

Please visit our site: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/thadandanna

Chestnut Ridge Farm- Raising pasture-raised poultry, eggs and pork in the North Carolina foothills.

 

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We are hoping to expand our family through open adoption.

Please visit our site: http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/thadandanna

Chestnut Ridge Farm- Raising pasture-raised poultry, eggs and pork in the North Carolina foothills.

 

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post #14 of 24

We moved to a hobby farm just over 12 months ago. The best advice given so far in this thread has been in respect to re-using and recycling! 

 

When my hubby & I first moved onto our hobby farm we made a pile of scrap. Since then this pile of scrap has halved because of all the bits & pieces we have pulled back out to make yards for animals. Now we are scared to get the scrap taken away!.

 

We home butcher our own animals (lamb and will eventually do our cattle when they are old enough). We have found locals that were willing to show us the ropes for the small price of a spit roast and a few drinks after ward. There are also other options like paying a butcher to come out and do it for you.

 

My tip - One thing that is important (which we have been a bit slack at) is PASTURE MANAGEMENT. It is the key to maintaining good feed for your stock on a small allotment over a long period of time. Rotate stock regularly. Don't keep animals on one area for that long that they bring the grass back to dust. Rest your land and give it time to recover.  Fertilize (even if you are doing it organically with manure) and keep a structured worming and weed control program.

 

Your biggest asset will be your land. Treat it with respect and kind care and it will repay you many times over.

 

Have an amazing time. I know my husband and I are big_smile.png

"There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter....Which luckily I am"

- Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

 

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"There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter....Which luckily I am"

- Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

 

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post #15 of 24

Yes!! Tractor!  Farmall Cub! :)

post #16 of 24

hi guys. 

 

I want to do this as well. Although, I have no desire for larger animals. Mostly chickens/etc and small vegetable garden/s. I haven't done anything yet, other than read a few articles. What's the first thing I need to do? I have no idea how to get started. I just want to be self-sustaining (family). I want to grow enough to feed our family and our close/nearby relatives when needed. I don't want to rely on "shopping for all my needs". (also worry about hormones etc). Dying to get started. 

I can't decide on pigs -eventually.maybe. No cows. I don't know the first thing about cows and worry that I couldn't care for them properly. 

I really just don't know where to start. 

post #17 of 24

Lot of people giving great advice.  My #1 tip is just that there is just "too much" to learn so keep going to sites like this, read books, etc.... but realize nothing replaces the real experience of doing it and no matter how much research you do there will be mistakes and do not let it frustrate you.  I have seen too many people give up something they love and enjoy out of frustration or guilt (i.e. not properly securing their coop and find all their chickens slaughtered one morning).  Understand going in you are going to make some bad decisions and have to redo things, lose animals, etc.  Budget for this happening as well.  

 

Other than that I would say make sure you manage your pens/pastures appropriately.  From the start make plans to be able to seperate sick animals for example.  Be able to rotate pastures is another good one.  Many people that start hobby farms where I live and have goats, alpacas, etc end up with bare dirt over their entire pasture in less than a year because they vastly underestimate the amount of grazing these animals will do.  Obviously in some cases the cause is having more animals than their land will support, but another is because they often do not rotate the pastures and they just let the animals range over the entire area.  If you rotate the animals out of a pasture before it is dirt it will grow back quickly.  If it gets grazed down to dirt then it is out of use for a couple months at a minimum.  

post #18 of 24
My hobby "farm" actually started while living with my husband in the city. We knew we wanted a farm someday, though he was never brought up on one like I was, he did keep parrots so he had some bird knowledge. I didn't want to move to the city but we had to start somewhere. We began by raising quail (knowing we wanted to get into the egg business) and selling their eggs. We worked hard on building up a good reputation with our customers because, if you're going to be in any kind of business, that is one of the most important things. After things got going smoothly, about four or five years down the road, we had enough customers that we looked to expand. We also wanted to make sure we didn't go in over our heads and be in debt the first year we moved in - I also was a homemaker and wasn't working at the time. My suggestion? Buy most of what you will need NOW so when you get in there you aren't taking out more loans to purchase equipment, etc. Our mini farm was a rundown fixer-upper and took much work before we were ready to expand to even chickens and ducks. Our original plan before we moved was to get other livestock... well we decided after feed prices began to soar that we were perfectly fine just with poultry. We let the birds graze on a certain part of the field one year and then move them to a different part the next, and where they were the previous year we put our garden there. Fresh manure and the crops grow well, plus the chickens dig up most of the dirt so we don't have to till much but you wouldn't believe how fast the grass grows back (of course we don't use any hazardous chemicals).
Edited by myfinefeatheredfriends - 1/18/13 at 10:11pm
post #19 of 24

Ohhhh, I want 2 goats! My concerns are that I won't be able to change pasturage, and that goats need routine and I am not so good at that. Also, I know I would get really attached to the kids, but maybe my family would be able to tell me that they can go. AND, I know the start up cost might be a lot. :(  I just will see how things go...


Edited by Mac14 - 1/18/13 at 10:20pm

I have 2 cats, (might have) 1 Golden Retriever, 1 gold fish, and now 13 chickens.

Tough Cookie (T.C.) Cleo, at 6 weeks old, died in April 2012. Kanaliha Cleo, at 9 weeks old, died on May 14, 2013. Barbra Ann, at about 6 months old, died on June 19, 2013. All were EE's. D.C. (Dad's Chicken), at about a year and a half, died August 14, 2013, she was a RIR. Sir Rorzan William Tyson Zieman the...

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I have 2 cats, (might have) 1 Golden Retriever, 1 gold fish, and now 13 chickens.

Tough Cookie (T.C.) Cleo, at 6 weeks old, died in April 2012. Kanaliha Cleo, at 9 weeks old, died on May 14, 2013. Barbra Ann, at about 6 months old, died on June 19, 2013. All were EE's. D.C. (Dad's Chicken), at about a year and a half, died August 14, 2013, she was a RIR. Sir Rorzan William Tyson Zieman the...

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post #20 of 24

 My best advice is, find a small feed store, that an older person works at.   our has a wonderful man names Joe.   He knows everything.   I stop there sometimes just to ask questions.  He knows, lots of people.  so if your looking to buy or get rid of something, he knows who may need/have it.

    Were new to area, plus to ag world.   his advice, time has been pricless to me

 

  all the best!

two dd ages 4 and 2, dh who encourges my craziness, 1 german sheperd dog, 13 laying hens, raising meaties as needed, turkerys as needed and would love to raise pigs
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two dd ages 4 and 2, dh who encourges my craziness, 1 german sheperd dog, 13 laying hens, raising meaties as needed, turkerys as needed and would love to raise pigs
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