Farmers in search of a farm
November 18, 2012
Knowing when to move on is a vital skill, one which Thomas and I have both learned well. It’s good to know when to politely duck out of a cocktail party (generally just before Twister comes out). It’s good to know when it’s time to dump your fish to look for another fish in the sea. It’s good to know when the misery of your low wage job is no longer worth the money. And it’s good to know when you need to leave your much loved rental farm for a farm of your own.
When we moved up here just over a year ago our plan was to rent for a year or so while we figured out how to keep a large group of animals alive. We quickly felt at home, and settled into daily life here on our farm. What we knew all along has become more evident recently. “Our” farm is not ours, and never will be. We have over-stayed our welcome at this location, and are now actively searching for a new farm. Despite the large size of our current rental farm, we don’t have access to enough pasture for our growing herd of goats and sheep. Our poultry are no longer welcomed to roam freely outdoors. Our pigs have been asked to move indoors as well. To keep the peace, we penned up the chickens and ducks in a large indoor/outdoor pen, where they do seem ever so slightly miserable despite the fact that they easily have 10 times the space as the supposed “cage free” and “free range” hens that supply your better grocery store eggs. Rather than confine them indoors, the pigs have been moved over the hill into a ditch/ trash dump area, which was the only other option we were given besides indoor confinement. We cleaned up the area quite well, built them cozy shelter, and created a rather large paddock area in which they will winter in peace. It’s neither easy nor convenient for us to tend them in their new location, but they’re happy, and that is truly what matters to us. Animal welfare is not a negotiable matter. The animals sustain and nourish us, and we must do the same in return.
We are thankful for the time we have had on this beautiful farm, and all we have learned from the farm, its owner, and those we have met in the area. But it’s time to move on.
Land ownership is the biggest hurdle in becoming a farmer. We moved to this particular area because there are still affordable farms around. Granted we are not in a position to buy one of these affordable farms at the moment, but in terms of farm land pricing, there are still some deals to be had. We don’t have a down payment, and don’t care to become indebted to a mortgage company or pay realtors money we could spend on hay or boots without holes in them.
So, we’re looking for a farm to call our own and don’t have the qualifications on paper to obtain the proper debt to obtain such a farm. But this whole thing started as a dream, so we’re dreaming big once more, and have confidence that we’ll find the perfect situation. At least we’ll find the most perfect situation $1,000 a month (or less) can offer. Ideally we can work out a lease, rent-to-own, or land contract situation. We have energy, motivation, good grammar, charm (that’s all Thomas), and a bunch of critters.
There is a great span between what we need in a farm and what we ultimately want. We will be happy with anything in the middle. Below you will find a list of required features of our new farm, followed by a list of features of our ideal dream farm.
- The humans need at least a one bedroom house/cottage/cabin/trailer. Pets will live in the house. A solid roof and good insulation are key, and a wood stove is preferred.
- The neighbors must be nice or live far away- ideally both.
- A barn or other structure for animal shelter as well as hay storage.
- Goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, guinea fowl, peafowl, rabbits, geese, dogs, cats, alpaca and cattle will live on, feed on, poop on, and make all manner of noise on the property. They will be minimally contained, only to keep them out of gardens, neighboring property, and the road.
- 5-10 acres is minimum, with the majority open for grazing. Brushy areas are fine, as pigs and goats will turn them back to pasture in short order. Fencing is helpful, but not crucial.
- Plentiful, free, or cheap potable water for humans and animals is preferred. Wells, springs and ponds are helpful. Fracking the area is not welcomed.
- The location needs to be within an hour commute of Albany, NY for the sake of employment, unless the farm comes with it’s own source of immediate income.
- A location in Schoharie county or some county west of Albany is preferred, but not necessary.
- The property needs to be available for long term or indefinite rental.
- Rent or monthly payment can be no more than $1,000.
- We would like to relocate this winter, so we are settled before lambs, kids, piglets, and chicks are born in the springtime.
- Large Victorian farmhouse with wraparound porch.
- Potential to become bed and breakfast/ agritourism destination.
- 100 or more acres of pasture, tillable ground, woods, and ponds/lakes.
- Extra housing onsite for interns and others looking to start farming careers.
- Existing dairy barns and cheese making facilities.
- A quiet and peaceful location, free of light pollution.
- Large historic barns suitable for hosting weddings and other events.
- A large kitchen that could become a commercial kitchen.
We ask our friends and families and other readers to circulate this post, and our Craigslist ad we have currently posted.
We are also open to other creative financial suggestions. We don’t have to own the farm right away, or own 100% of it. We just need to be the stewards of a piece of land that will give us the freedom to treat our animals well, and to grow our farming business to a point where it stops financially draining us, and starts (at least partially) sustaining us. And when we our work is done, we will hand the farm on to someone else who can respect it, and love it, and tend it, and keep it a farm.
Thank you for your continued positive thoughts and energy, kind words, and prayers.