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

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by dixie&trixie, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. dixie&trixie

    dixie&trixie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 11 hens and 1 rooster now on 2 acres. Me and my fiance are loking at buying a 10 acre property that is partly set up for a hobby farm. It has great space for a large garden and has a rudimentary horse shelter. It also has a pen for goats which the previous owner had. It also has a spring fed pond but usually its not completely full all summer. I am currently a stay at home mom and part-time student hoping to major in pre-vet. I would like to know about other hobby farmers and what they experienced with at first and some ideas that they can share with me to maybe make my experience more pleasant. What animals should I start with? What equipment is necessary for a small operation? Any help is appreciated!
     
  2. Poupoulles

    Poupoulles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mayberry (really!)
    Get away with the least possible amount of equipment and infrastructure for as long as possible! ie- build huts out of scrap wood and tarps for as long as possible. it will take you years to figure out what you are really good at/WANT to do so if you put a lot of money into something early on, it may not be what you want. So dont build the fancy barn or buy the tractor just yet.
    You may realize a year later that you never use the tractor and that you really needed that money for a new well...

    Feeder pigs are a really easy livestock to learn on. You can keep them outdoors in a pen made of hog panels and T posts that you move around and house them in almost any little field shelter. (we bent two hog panels into a hoop and drove rebar into the ground to keep it bent then covered it with a tarp and some D-rings to hold it on.) They convert feed really well and in six months you have a freezer of deliciousness. So you buy two little baby pigs off craigslist or your local ag classified and then take them to a processor six months later. Its not a big commitment.

    Dont get any animal you cant eat if you are sick of them. Dont get any animal that doesnt earn its own keep. (so no horses or random things like alpalcas unless you already have a market/way to make your money back)

    beekeeping is great but SUPER expensive to start with. See if your local beekeeping club has a member looking to put hives in new places and volunteer your land. You can learn, get honey and ease into it.

    Best time to plant a fruit tree was five years ago.


    Um, thats all I can think of right now!! Good luck! We love our little farm. We sell at two markets but are still mostly homestead/hobby scale. Slow but steady wins the race!
     
  3. dixie&trixie

    dixie&trixie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great advice, I was planning on the tractor and barn part but makes sense to use what we got until were settled.
     
  4. Run-A-MuckRanch

    Run-A-MuckRanch Out Of The Brooder

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    When we started our farm...hobby, lifestyle, occupation, income, fun, learning, FFA project, 4h project... whatever you wanna call it... we were lucky.....

    we literally bought the farm... we have lived here for 10 years or so... and have had animals on our property for about 8 of those 10 years... we had lots of buildings, barns, etc. etc. already here... as at one time our place was one of the largest dairy farms in the area... that was well before our time here though...
    Anyway....
    We gutted about 75% of our barn... And made many mini barn/sections with in...
    We have a poultry coop, pig pens, lambing and kidding areas, horse and cattle area, as well as quarantine areas and general areas for the animals. All though most of our animals free range on pasture, they still have their 'own' areas....
    ***I would suggest GOOD fencing no matter what animals you decide to try, keep, work with, raise... There is nothing like being out in the middle of the night trying to convince your escaped animal it's better to be inside the fenced in areas..,.when what they really want is to be eating out of the next persons garden or crops....lol
    ***Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.... Almost everything we have here has been reused, found, recycled etc. Everything from fencing, to posts, feeders and waters, to partitions and separators... Use what you have or can acquire for little to nothing... Craigslist, word of mouth, sales can all be helpful.
    ***Being willing to trade and barter.... we allow someone else to store his hay in one of our out buildings in exchange for hay when needed... some years he comes out ahead, others we do... just depends on how good our hay crop is of our own..
    ***Go bigger... I guess this would be if you already have 'some animals' that you know you like and want to continue raising...Build bigger than you think you will need....as it's sometimes hard er to add on... I know we ended up with this issue with our pig pens... We build an area that we thought would be perfect for our little pig friends... which it was the first year or two... After that because we had acquired more the next few years, our area was no longer suitable for them... So we had to build a new pig area... a larger pig area... in a different area, as our first area wasn't able to be expanded....
    ***I agree with the 'animals earn their keep" idea... our birds(chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea) give us eggs and meat, the pigs meat, the cows milk and meat, the goats milk and meat, our sheep give us milk, meat and wool. the rabbis give us meat...Now we don't necessarily eat all our animals, but we sell also. So everything has a purpose here... All though the Emu's weren't really profitable for us they were enjoyable...
    ***learn all you can... read up on health and husbandry, know your pastures and what grows and what don't (poisonous to animals, etc) If something were to happen to an animals is there a vet, local farmer, someone you know in the areas who is able to help out..
    ***climate.... of course everyone loves farming and working with the animals summer, spring and fall... but don't forget about winter... In Wisconsin we seem to have winter 10 outta 12 months a year... except this year has been especially nice... How do will you water during the winter... that's a main concern... When we built one of our first pens we didn't think that... well needless to say that first winter was a killer hauling 5 gallon buckets of water out because the hoses would freeze during the winter... so we would be lugging buckets to some of our farthest pens because we didn't think of something simple like that... needless to say that next spring we fixed that problem and now have running water out to that area year round...
    ***storage... do you have separate areas protected from weather for storing feed, hay, etc... is it easy to access year round.. in all types of weather... kinda goes with above.... nothing like trying to push a wheelbarrow full of hay through snow that is almost waist deep... it don't work so well.. again something we fixed the fallowing spring..
    *** know your areas wants and needs... example...if you raise birds for eggs and end up with more than you can handle is there people around you who would be willing to purchase from you..
    I guess those are just a few ideas right off hand... hope some of them are helpful for you....
     
  5. whitejerabias

    whitejerabias Out Of The Brooder

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    What a great thread. We are just about closing on our dream home. 3 acres of woodland for me to play around on. I am starting with chickens this spring and have dreams of Dorset cows, goats, turkeys, LGDs.... and, and, and...

    If anyone keeps a family cow and raises her offspring to slaughter, I'd love to hear all about that specifically. I think that is my biggest aspiration to my hobby farm dream.
     
  6. dixie&trixie

    dixie&trixie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2010
    Yreka California
    Yes cows are a dream of mine too. Id also like to have pigs, sheep, ducks, goats, rabbits, quail, guinea, and turkeys. We raise 3 turkeys this past spring and butcher them this fall. Its such a great feeling of accomplishment to raise your own food to freezer. To imagine how self sufficient the settlers were boggles my mind and its something I want to continue to strive for. I would also love to hear info on farm slaughters. How to's are a great learning tool.
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Spend lots and lots of time interviewing others who have already done what you hope to do. Watch, listen, ask questions and learn. Take it slow.

    Spend time with a great gardener, who's crops are providing them self sufficiency and marketable cash sales. I've been gardening for over 50 years and still learning.

    Spend time with a successful flock keeper. Learn, learn learn about chickens, observe, ask questions.

    Hopefully you already know successful people or will reach out to expert people in your area. Heading into a project, such as a dairy cow, chicken keeping, or gardening without taking the advantage of expert guidance and models can be both frustrating and costly. Take on one aspect each year. Don't try to take on three aspects all at once.

    Best wishes on your endeavors.
     
  8. Glenmar

    Glenmar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Get a lot of books and read about the animals and what they require. That's what we did.
     
  9. Poupoulles

    Poupoulles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mayberry (really!)
    YES!! Only one new thing a year! And remember that a dairy animal of any kind means twice a day EVERY DAY you are milking. I am dying to have a little milk cow, arent we all? But imagine yourself never able to take even a weekend to yourselves...

    Also its REALLY hard to find a good large animal vet in most parts of the country. So dont get into some big animal and you dont even have someone you can call if there is an issue. Really locate your local resources first, and THEN decide to try that project. I would find a vet, find someone locally who raises what interests you, and THEN decide if its worth it.
    There is such a huge learning curve- and it can be SO discouraging, so at least you wont have invested all your money into something before realizing you'd rather just be the turkey guru.
    You have chickens and you've done turkeys. So I would focus there your first year- raise ten turkeys and a batch of 25 meaties. It will boost your confidence!
     
  10. dixie&trixie

    dixie&trixie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2010
    Yreka California
    I never thought about raising meaties but thats a good idea.
     

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