Life of a Farm Blog

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For Sale

If anyone is looking to relocate there is 22 acres and an old house for sale next door. Very nice land. The house is older and I’m sure in need of repair. The neighbors were my grandparents’ age and lived there as long as I can remember. He pastored the local church and she was a cook for the school system. They have both passed away now and the children have decided to sell. I’d love to have at least part of it, but no way I can swing the $200,000 asking price.

Saturday was warm so I took the kids on a walk to the cliffs on the back side of our pasture. The farm is dotted with rock shelters. One set is known as the horse cliffs. The story is that civil war soldiers from the south used the cliffs to hide their horses. It’s quite a little walk to get in to these, but the children love to visit them. The warm weather also brought out the folks to install the skirting on the new double-wide. According to the weather forecast this is the calm before the storm. We are expecting an inch of snow tonight and temps in the low teens by tomorrow night. I guess winter is finally here to stay.

I used the 6000 4WD to set out 2 rolls each to the horses and the cows and goats. As soon as the weather lets up again I’m going to drag the drive because the rock is settling in and showing some low spots. My neighbor Joe Phillips who helps me in the hay called to say he wanted to buy some more hay for the horses he has. I only had 5 rolls that were of horse quality so I let him have them. Mr. Wisham also called needing hay moved and to tell me he is out of hay and looking to buy more. I told him I’d let him have 4 rolls, but I had to keep the rest for my animals.

Progress continues with the house. We’ve ordered a new counter top for the kitchen. All that is lacking on the addition now is the flooring and some trim. We’ve got cabin grade hardwood flooring ordered too. We are leaning toward replacing all the windows so the house will be easier to heat. That will cut into our excavating budget a little but should really improve the house.

I spent a while Tuesday chatting with the local county extension agent. We talked alot about what I could do with the farm. He doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for agriculture. He said if I want to make enough money to ever stay on the farm, chickenhouses is the way to go. He agreed with me that the area could use it’s own pumpkin patch since the closest one is an hour or more away. According to the figures being shown locally the cattle market is heading for a train wreck. I guess we’ll hold off until spring on any excavation because we cannot have any ponds on the place if we build chickenhouses.

I’ll post some pics of the progress and of the land for sale here. Hope this finds all of you well….


35 Responses to “For Sale”

  1. jtrenn Says:

    Why can you have ponds if you have chickenhouses?

  2. Hillbilly-Willy Says:

    I take on the name of Hillbilly-Willy for fun, but by day, I am a professional Agriculture Lender with a branch of the Largest Ag Lender in the United States. I have my masters degree from Texas A & M University.

    It is true that to make money from a farm these days it is difficult to do it on cattle etc. However, his statement about Poultry houses may be somewhat misleading also. The cost to get those built is such that it is becoming prohibitive. However, many people are making a living with poultry houses. It usually takes one person working the houses and the other member of the family working in town making grocery money.

    Just hang in there doing what your doing. Give the kids a good life on the farm. It may mean that you still have to work off the farm, but with help you can get it done. With a few breaks, maybe one of these days you can retire to the farm.

    10-4 Willy

  3. Don Parker Says:

    It is tough to make money farming, but a country boy can survive. Hey – some of those Rebs hiding their hourses may have been my relatives. Might be a good place to take a metal detector. In Bama, hunting and fishing is big business. Lots of commercial catfish ponds and “u-pick-em” places; also organic farming is growing. I am going to raise grapes for a winery and raise some bob white quail for hunting lodges and individuals.

  4. joelw Says:

    jtrenn
    Most poultry growers are prohibited from having anything that could encourage wild birds to land on the farm. Today’s commercial chickens are bred to lay or grow and not to resist disease. Any contact with wild birds could be deadly.

    Hillbilly
    To make money of any signifigance on the farm is almost impossible. The bad thing about poultry houses besides the $676000 investment is that they are single use buildings. Nothing else you could do with them other than raise chickens without a bunch of rennovation. I’m having a really hard time deciding if I should give up all the benefits of my union scale job for the benefits on the farm. There’s no question they both have their benefits.
    If I can retire here and have the place paid for to pass on to the children I will be happy. I’ll just keep plugging along and play the hands that are dealt to me.

  5. joelw Says:

    Don
    You’re right a country boy can survive. I know some folks have dug in these places before so I figure everything is gone by now. Many moons ago my older brother found a confederate belt buckle. I’d like to do the U-pick and raise some Quail and Pheasants. the next few months will help make my decision as to which way to turn.

  6. Alan Says:

    You folks may think this is a crazy suggestion but it comes sincerely from me, a person who isn’t a farmer but always wanted to experience a day on the farm. You wonder what to do at the farm to make a go of it. Here is an idea I believe would be profitable yet charitable and fullfilling. (I’d want to be the first guest). Offer folks and opportunity to come stay at the farm in a very simple but very clean “bunkhouse”. Offer them farm chores to do like feeding the animals, picking the eggs or planting the crops. Offer typical farmers types of meals, (I imagine the meals would be simple and wholesome) and charge them a very affordable fee for their stay. I’d personally like to show my kids what they do on a farm and allow them to experience planting whatever it is they could be a part of. I want them to understand the hard work farmers who are the backbone of America, do. Have a web log with pictures of everything guests did. Offer them the vegtables at a really reasonable cost, maybe even the children would be encouraged to eat them since tey saw it grow or took part of the planting process. I have a billion more ideas. If anyone wishes to hear about them, please email me at americanswede@yahoo.com.
    May God bless you and look after you all.

  7. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family & Friends,
    Just happened on this site and blog this morning, good stuff! Some of your Kaintuck terminology is a little strange to me, but okay, my folks were from the Missouri Ozarks so some of mine are strange to others to.
    The comments re the poultry farming is pretty much nail on the head for commercial breeds, but there are some out there that are a heckuvalot more disease/condition tolerant. Many of these are desirable for production on organic farms (a little better profit margin on these birds, but more time/expense in raising, record keeping and marketing.) I think the idea of quail/pheasants/game birds is spot on. The market is expanding for both live birds for hunting preserves/fanciers and dressed birds for market. The biggest problem with dressed birds is you either have to run them through a USDA processing plant, set up and run your own processing plant or contract with a company that does them like they do turkeys/chickens/hogs (you’re a grower, raising someone else’s birds for them, so you are subject to market demands/grower availability.)
    As to the building conversion if you build poultry houses let me recommend that you consider single story buildings with sidewalls tall enough you can convert to hogs/dairy goats if necessary. Back east lots of chickens were raised in two story buildings, but I think a lot of that is a thing of the past. Another option you might look into, at least for starting out, is a quonset type arch building. You can buy some of these for a few thousand dollars, but the downside is they are little more than a tent on a pipe frame. They will probably work well in warm weather, but too costly to heat when brooding chicks in the winter.
    If you’re near a fair sized town run an ad in the local paper offering your fattened hogs for sale. We do that here with cattle, sheep and hogs. Clearly state that these are animals being sold live for slaughter, that you will deliver to the buyers locker plant or place of residence. The reason why we do it that way here has to do with the “pure foods” laws. You’re not to resell meat you produce and either home process or have processed under your name.
    I think if your best half (I didn’t say better, because we all know a good farm wife is the best half of the farm) is willing to go to all the work/effort of basically running a bed and breakfast along with doing all of the other farm chores/housework she does, (not to mention taking care of you, and the children) then the idea of a farm based business might work. I know a number of people who have home based small farm businesses that help make the operation successful. These include the bed and breakfast, produce stands/u pick, bulk food/country market stores, to just about anything that can add value to products that you can raise or make. The biggest problem most of them have is the amount of time you have to put in and the headaches imposed by governmental regulations. (A friend had a pumpkin patch/cider mill for several years and got out of it due to her health, and the aggravation she went through with the government. Part of it was due to the pure foods laws, they don’t think unpasturized apple cider is safe for human consumption, and part was the business regulations on small businesses. She got the last law changed so that small businesses with a total sales volume under a given amount is exempted from meeting certain regulations.) Anyway, before you buy seed to plant pumpkins talk to your insurance agent about coverage for liability if you run a pumpkin patch. She was told that her horses, a pair of very docile Hapflingers, were dangerous animals and she couldn’t allow the public near them.
    I’ve run on a bit, and I hope I didn’t use up all the comments space. Take care and try to stay warm!
    Kevin

  8. WCSL Says:

    The Western Coalition for Sustainable Living says that farming/horticulture is necessary on the local level for America to survive the next 10 to 15 years.

  9. Jennifer Says:

    Your family is beautiful and so is your farm. I just started reading your blog and I am hooked! As far as Alan stated about having people come out and stay in a bunk house, I know my family and I would love to do something like that. I have 2 girls that are age 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 and we are trying to start our own hobby farm with a few chickens and goats. Kids love the idea of working with animals and if kids love it, parents will do it! I wish you and your family the best of luck! I’ll keep reading as long as you keep writing.

    Best wishes,
    Jenny

  10. joelw Says:

    Alan,
    I don’t think it’s crazy at all. I would like nothing more than to share the farm with everyone.

    Kevin,
    If I go the commercial poultry grower route I will have to build houses which are to Cobb (Tyson) specs. I also could have no other avian species or be around avian species.
    I fully understand the hassle involved in a pumpkin patch. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it I am not close to a very big city. However I’m still going to try to sell whole and half hogs to neighbors and friends. I can sell them to them live and transport them to their processor.
    The plan is to grow all the vegetables we can this summer to sell at the Farmer’s Market that is starting here this summer. According to the county extension agent there is a demand for vegetables and pumpkins.

    WCSL,
    I would certainly like to see more of the things we eat grown locally. Not that long ago folks grew atleast part of what they ate.

    Jennifer,
    I’m glad you enjoy the writing. Be careful with that hobby farm, you’ll be hooked. It’s such a blessing to get close to animals.

  11. jeo Says:

    plant corn, ethanol is the future

  12. ES Says:

    can afford to rent it? if so, I could buy and you could rent it out?

  13. sheeplady Says:

    Please do not get sucked into the commercial poultry house trap. You have to go so deep into debt ($350,000 per house)and just about the time you get it paid down Tyson or whoever you’re growing for will decide it’s time to renovate your houses and you’re deeper in debt. If you want chickens, read “Pastured Poultry” by Joel Saladin. (I think that’s the spelling) Get some sheep or goats. On a small acreage, they make more sense than cows, are more efficent and much easier to handle. Your payback is quicker and you’ll make more money. Look into growing produce for the local Farmer’s Mkt. Raise chickens that produce brown eggs, people love brown eggs at the Farmers Mkt.
    Just do NOT get sucked into the commerical chicken house trap. I know several families who have tried this and ended up both of them working jobs off the farm AND taking care of the chicken houses. Get more info on sheep and goats. Boer goats are the best for meat production.

  14. JohnInCackalackey Says:

    I agree with Sheeplady. Be careful about going into poultry. Here’s a really good booklet, called “QUestions to Ask Before Signing a POultry Contract.”

    http://www.rafiusa.org/pubs/Questions_toAsk.pdf (its only 471 kb, so it downlods quickly)

    The first edition was written back in ’95 by a former poultry grower. The new edition was published last year, I think.

    The way i see it, contract farming is just another dead-end road. If any but the biggest farmers are to survive today, they have to grow stuff other than commodities. You’ve got to set yourself apart somehow. Pumpkins, direct-marketing, organic, or “value-added” like preserves or custom-work.

    But you already know all this. The tough part is writing the business plan, creating your marketing plan, and then executing it.

    Why is it tough? Well because in all likelihood, the farm-business you need to pursue is precisely the thing that none of your neighbors is doing. So you’ll be learning all by yourself. Or learning from a farmer several counties over. Or in another state.

    My parents are 20 year dairy farmers. But they’ve survived — no, THRIVED — through the odd-ball niche market of goat cheese.

    It’s a tough business, farming. But I admire what you’re doing with this website. That’s a start.

    Good luck to ya.

    John

  15. joelw Says:

    jeo,
    I certainly hope you are right. i’m all for anything that can benefit farmers and reduce our dependancy on unfriendly foreign countries!

    ES,
    Not sure exactly what your asking here.
    One thing to bear in mind. As an investment property this wouldn’t be a very good one. The only thing it has going for it in that respect would be it’s close proximity to the Federal Prison McCreary. Mainly a property that someone would want to retire on. Virtually no industry here. Most the house would fetch in rent would be $300 or so a month.
    I’d be interested in buying the half of the property that borders ours, but the seller will not split it up. I have tried to rent the land, but another local farmer has it tied up and it’s just growing up more every year.

  16. joelw Says:

    John,
    I’ve read the publication you are suggesting and asked all those questions. It seems that Cobb really goes above what most companies do. Hen houses are also very different than broilers or pullets. To be honest though my heart tells me it’s not right for me. My whole vision for this farm is sharing it with others and teaching children lifes lessons.
    I’ve been watching a pumpkin patch about an hour and a half away. We’ve been several times and videod and taken pictures. They have really grown over the last couple years and aren’t as friendly as they used to be. Atleast 1500 kids visit this patch with the local school system and the bus ride takes away a lot of their time. A few of the teachers have approached me about starting one here.
    We’ll figure out what’s right for us. I believe the best thing is just not to rush into anything.
    Thanks for reading and for the advice and encouragment.

  17. joelw Says:

    Sheeplady,
    I’ve had good luck with boer goats. I really enjoy them. I honestly believe I could sell 100 dozen fresh eggs a week if I had them. There is a new Farmers Market starting up here this summer so we’ll definately try selling some vegetables.
    The actual cost to get into the hen houses is $676000 per 2 houses. Cobb will put in the contract no equipment upgrades for the intitial 10 year contract. I believe if I could make it through the first 10 years It’d be more profitable than my current job. For the first 10 years about the best anyone can hope for is $3500 month before outside labor.

  18. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family & Friends,
    Well, you can see both the advantages and disadvantages to being a contract grower, only thing is I wish I could show you the headaches and busted farmers Tyson and Premium Standard Farms have produced in my area. (Contract cancellations, and demands for repayment for structures and equipment they required. DNR fines for improper manure disposal, etc.) If you can go it alone, you will be miles ahead when it comes to converting or adapting your operation to prevailing market demands and your desires/abilities. Biggest problem of course is funding. Develop a good market plan, and keep the job off the farm. Most bankers are much more receptive to someone who can show that they understand both the ups and downs of what they want to do, and are more willing to work with someone who wants to “hedge his bets.”
    I grew up on a farm doing cattle finishing and farrow to finish hogs. I’ll share some stories about it with you later, but I feel like I’ve been taking too much of your time and space.
    Take care, and just keep at it!

  19. Gladys Burns Says:

    I can,t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about life on the farm with your kids. I give you a lot of credit with the life you are giing your kids on your beautiful farm. Every thing looks so nice. I am surprised you have any time to write your coming and going. I hope to enjoy more of your writings.
    Sincerely G. Burns

  20. joelw Says:

    Gladys,
    I’m so glad you like the writing. The farm isn’t as “clean” as it looks I just don’t take pictures of the “dirty” places. I’ve still got a million things I need to do. Hopefully this summer I can get the kids to help me with a bunch of projects. Thanks for reading!

  21. cw Says:

    I was surfing the web & just “stumbled” in to your blog. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog this morning! Where is your farm and/or the one for sale here? I might be interested in it.
    Thanks!

  22. joelw Says:

    cw,
    We are in Pine Knot, Ky. Just south of Somerset Ky. and north of Oneida TN. Postal code here is 42635. If I could find someone who could perhaps partner up on the purchase of the other small farm I’d be interested or I would gladly rent/lease the land.

  23. OakHillFarm Says:

    I just ran across your website. I have enjoyed reading it. I know you know this, but you are giving your kids a very valuable childhood. Keep up the good work. We have very similar dreams. I can give you some advice on commercial chicken houses. We just gave up on it last year after 14 years. Make sure you do your own research, not just trusting the Company. The birds are not treated inhumanely like many people say, but there are some negative sides. Such as paying for propane, cost of propane put us out of business. If you want to hear our story feel free to email. You’ve got a great web site! Hope to hear from you.

  24. patty/looking for a farm!!!! Says:

    where is this property at? propetry here is getting rediculas, we have horses our kids work at the place where we board. that is the only way we could keep them, their in 4H and do very well in school. so i would like farm property just depends where

  25. joelw Says:

    patty,
    Pine Knot, Ky postal code 42635. Located about 3/4 mile from Federal Prison McCreary. State Hwy 1044.

  26. Shed of Geekbooks Says:

    I’d stay away from chickens. Sounds like way more trouble than they’re worth. Find something you can stick in the ground and sell locally, maybe even over the Internet. It’s a national market.

  27. Shed of Geekbooks Says:

    Oh hey, that 22 acres sounds nice. Any pictures?

  28. joelw Says:

    Shed of Geekbooks,
    Any of the links to pics should take you to pictures of the old house and the surrounding land. I labeled them for sale.

  29. K.C. Says:

    Joel just happened upon your site today. I hope before you go commercial poultry you’d consider going free range organic. In the last 3yr I can’t recall a hand full of times I’ve eaten comm. chicken it was pretty disgusting to me. If it don’t look good don’t eat it if it don’t smell right deff. don’t eat it.

    In the last almost 2yrs I’ve been eating organic & in the last 2mths about 100%. The local co-op here in Southern Illinois has some great foods. The organic chicken and bison is delicious I’ll never eat any other. The Amish have been supplying the poultry for the last 6mths so I’m told.

    In 1978 I worked for then prob. the largest hog barn(parlor) company in the U.S. out of NE. We built 10 500 sow units for tyson foods around the N.E. side of Phelps Lake in North Carolina I often wonder now what kind of impact they may/have done to the environment there. If I recall tyson had hundreds of comm. chicken barns there.

    In 1993 I went to the only Farm Aid I ever attended in Ames Iowa. Found out after the fact tyson foods had shop set up behind the stage cooking and selling their product. Haven’t seen where they’ve been any part of Farm Aid since maybe bcz of the ma & pa’s they have put out of business and their lobbying procedures.

    Interesting article in the washington post about 4wks ago everyone should read. It’s about smithfield foods in N.C. and how their plant there has destroyed 1/3 commercial coastal fishing or so they seem to suggest. It also stated the damage it’s done to the north The Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound to the south. Just look on your atlas folk’s and you’ll be dumbfounded just how big of an area this hog plant has devastated soon to be destroyed if not already beyond repair.

    Interesting tidbit about a friend of mine who’d lived in N.C. up until 2yr ago. I rem. him telling back then and carrying on about said company’s bacon but he quite buying because the quality was unpredictable to the point he would actually throw it away. And this man is a connoisseur of breakfast vittles being raised back through the 50-60′s on one of the biggest dairy farms in Michigan(so I’m told). And not that smithfield’s is sold just there I’m just trying to get a point across. I hope everyone will read and educate and consider boycotting this company and another I have mentioned here.

    Joel I’m not a farmer nor a lobbyist but I hope you’d maybe visit some people in and around some of these commercial organizations and get the real scoop as to their impact to the environment and folks health.

    Buy local buy organic support our country’s small farms. Good day fellow Americans. K.C.

  30. Gladys Burns Says:

    Joel I just wanted to wish you luck in all your endeavors. You are a hard working young m
    an and you will be rewarded for all your devotion to the family and farm. love your entries. Feels like one is sitting i n person with you, you write so well.
    Gladys

  31. Bob Blado Says:

    Joel,
    I just happened upon your blog while looking for Boer goats for sale. For the past 42 years, my wife and I have lived outside of Washington DC but I always said that I would never retire here, taking 3-4 hours to commute daily into the city and suburbs. About 7 years ago, we got the chance to buy a house in the country on 4 acres and I put up a large 5 car garage and figured we’d retire here and live out our lives. The house was larger than we needed, 3,000 sq feet but with our kids gone, we figured that we would have plenty of room for the 10 grandchildren. About 4 years ago, my kids convinced me to buy the Harley that I always wanted. Having been a volunteer fire fighter , EMT for over 30 years , I bought a special edition fire fighters bike. We went up to Central Wisconsin to a Nam Vets rally and met my brother whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. While up there we started looking at some land, which was inexpensive compared to here. I found 40 acres in a small town, read in no town, just farmers, I met the neighbors around me and we were hooked. I was going back home to my roots, having spent my summers on my grandparents farm before I went to Nam. We have, over the last 3 years, had a new 4 bedroom modular and 3 car garage built and as of May 4,2007 I will be unemployed and heading “back home”. We are getting into raising australian lowline angus, free range chickens, hogs and Boer goats. The farm will be certified organic and I am working on the plan to sell the eggs, along with the grass fed beef and goat and maybe some catfish from the pond. My grandchildren aged from 17 to 3 are fighting over who will spend the summers with us. People at work here laugh that this “Old country boy” is going to spend his retirement working on the farm, but they are jealous that I set out to achieve the dream and did it. Have you checked into Lowline cattle or Boer goats? Both of which are earth and people friendly. I have been in contact with farmers who will work with you by cutting the price of your seed stock and they will do all the marketing for the offspring, should you choose to go that way. My neighbors up there have already made plans for re-planting the 20 acres of hay and putting up the new barn and cant wait for us to get up there, so they can see what we plan on doing. As someone previously mentioned, organic is the way to go and I’m sure there are other outlets like bed and breakfasts and small diners who would like to buy fresh eggs and milk and other produce should you decide to go that way. We wish you luck in your endeavor and remember, life is too short, go for your dreams. God Bless
    Bob

  32. joelw Says:

    Bo
    I have an uncle outside DC in Virginia. Sounds like you have a good plan. I’m sure you’ll be happy. The few times I’ve been away from home I’ve longed to get back. I think the coming home bug is hitting my uncle too. Only problem is his significant other’s home is the city.
    I gotta admit if I could come up with the capital to start the pumpkin patch and a bed and breakfast that’s the route I’d go. I really think I could do good at it.
    Right now my main objective is to do something with the farm that will pay for it and allow me to be home with the kids. It seems the poultry houses will get me there.

  33. Ann Nowell Says:

    I came across your blog while I was scanning for chicken farming…I live in Florida on 2.5 acres where we have chickens and quail..we did have a couple of pigmy goats where my grandchildren love to play with..My husband raises quail from eggs that he hatches off and the kids love to watch them harch..Keep up the work and let your kids enjoy this life style..It is becoming extinct in some parts of the states..A lot of the dairy land here is being sold for residitual properties..I do not like to live next to someone that you can touch out your window..I am glad that I gave my kids the benefit of living in a country setting when they were small and my son still loves that lifestyle now..I wish you all the luck and God bless you and your family in all that you do to keep the dying lifestyle from going under…

  34. alli davil Says:

    I just wanted to comment on Alans’idea about paying to stay on the farm with alittle bit of a twist.I(probably a lone wolf)would like to live on a farm but am not in the position to purchase any land.I wanted to purchase land and have a school which I won’t go into detail about now, but it is not feasible now for me.I hope to find a farm where i get free board and for that, i would help with chores.I can cook,sew,garden,can,bake,etc.I do arts and crafts and study herbology,organic gardening, and other subjects that interest me.I don’t know if anyone else is looking for such a situation, but I think it would be great for people who want the lifestyle but can’t do it on their own.You might find someone like this to live and help on your farm. Just a thought. Have a lovely day on the farm and enjoy it for me.

  35. joelw Says:

    Ann Nowell,
    Thanks for the support! Nice to know I’m not the only one who feels like children deserve to be out in the country where they can spread their wings and learn about things while they actually happen. Again thanks and keep checking back!

    Alli Davil,
    Seems like I remember seeig a bit in a magazine (perhaps Countryside) where folks where doing just as you speak of. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. For me, now that the decision has been made to become full time poultry farmers, it would be complicated. There are so many restrictions placed on people who contract grow and their employees.
    I’m excited about the opportunity to be home on the farm all the time, but kid of disapointed that some of my dreams have been pushed aside in the process. Thanks for reading and check back soon!

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