January 4, 2014
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So many of you have been so helpful in our farm hunt. We truly appreciate the leads and links that many of you have sent us. We have seen DOZENS of properties, but have yet to find the one. Some were nice. Very nice. With very nice prices to match. Others were in shambles. Some had neighbors with pet wolves. Some had glistening Jacuzzi tubs in the kitchen. Some had no electricity or toilets (okay those were Amish, so they had an excuse.) When we started our hunt we posted about all of the things we wanted in a new farm. We were planning to mortgage every penny we could. But the reality of having a hefty mortgage is that one or both of us will have to work off of the farm, perhaps indefinitely. It’s hard to farm when you’re at a desk 50 hours a week. Rather than figure out how to make more money off the farm, or how to finance more and more, we have decided to go the other way. Find the cheapest farm we can work with.
Here is the revised list of needs in a property
Price. Price. Price.
Sadly, this is the deciding factor in all of our decision making. We would love to find a $125,000 property. That would leave us with some wiggle room to spruce up this or that on the farm. Farms in our price range are rarely ready to go. If we found the perfect farm with no improvement needed we could spend up to $200,000 or $250,000 in a very well located place, but that is the maximum we are willing to finance.
We have broadened our search quite a lot. Vermont is our primary focus at this point, as the raw dairy laws are farmer friendly there, and it would be nice to be able to sell the milk from our 20 goats. The local and farm fresh food scene is more developed than our current area. We assume our budget will land us in the Northeast Kingdom, but southern Vermont would be just fine. We are still considering New York- all counties that are not targeted for fracking. (Cheap farms abound that have their gas and mineral rights leased already) New Hampshire, Maine, or even Western Massachusetts could work. And even good old Pennsylvania would be considered.
We are open to properties with as little as 20 acres. We want and ultimately need much more. But financially if a smaller property will keep our costs in check, then so be it. On a smaller property almost all of it needs to be level and usable. Larger properties can have more varied terrain, provided there is a bit of tillable land and a level spot for the garden.
This is the biggest change in focus. We are looking for less of a showplace and more of a homestead than we were initially. This could be a cabin, or a cottage, or a mobile home. As long as it has a roof, a wood stove (okay we can add that), a toilet, and maybe some electricity (Thomas insists), we can make it work. Fixer uppers are okay provided it is livable. Off grid situations are of great interest, but not necessary.
We need a sturdy barn for the animals to come into for winter. Especially in Vermont and other northern locales, it’s just easier on man and beast if there is a roof overhead, and plenty of storage for hay. We let animals out of the barn whenever they will be comfortable and benefit from being outdoors, but sometimes the elements are detrimental to animal health and human morale. We are willing to put up a pole barn if the right property comes along that meets all other requirements at a low price.
We still want some privacy. Not that we’re going to be cooking meth or running a nudist colony. We just have lots of animals, and animals can be loud. And they get out. A peacock roosting on our truck is charming, but a peacock screaming at the neighbors window is a problem. Pigs are destructive and can dig up a garden in no time. If it’s our garden, oh well. But if it’s a neighbor’s prize winning peony bed… You get the idea. A location set away from busy roads is also necessary for the safety of animals and motorists.
We are still looking to close on a property this winter, and move in late March. Yes, the clock is ticking. We do have an intermediate place we can go, but with the critters in tow, we hope to move all at once.
I won’t go into our philosophy and the ins and outs of what we farm and how we farm. Just poke around the blog if you want to see that we’re serious about what we do, and committed to farm preservation.
If you need to reach us, just send us a comment on this or any post. We get the blog comments easily. Thank you, friends.