Tid Bits

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I feel kind of invasive here at the Farming Forum. I am a city slicker who longs for returning to the country and getting away from all the hubbub of everthing I see, hear,~smell~, and all in the city. I thought I would start or try and start a thread where everyone could jump in throw out a tip or 2 about ways to make chores easier, tasks around the farm more efficient, ect.

A tip section in the farming way of llife so to speak. I am looking to homestead before retirement age and would love to hear tricks and tips for when I get out and on my own. The Homestead Forum is full of tips and tricks, but you have to really sit down a read and read and read and well............ I only have so much (little tht is) time to sit and read. What with all I have- care for 2 kids(4th and 2nd grade this year) while my wife (math teacher) works 60+hrs. week for School District, 8 hrs. week work for church, and tutoring on the side), and me- 50hrs week job, 20hrs.week university class and studies(homework). Someday alot of this will come to a hault and I can get away to my own hide out, my own place where I work just as much but for me and my family not someone else. Not trying say ya'll do less than me, qiute the opposite opinion for me, ya'll do way more than I do.

Anyways, I wanted to start a tip section everyone could just throw out a tip or 2 or3 or more. Some could be used by others. A sharing of thoughts So-To-Speak.

p.s.-- I don't want to control the thread, but thought that if anyone wanted to comment on a tip or trick it could be done via dmail or another thread, rather than go on a tangent and cause everyone else to have to read and read and read .....ect. to get to the next TidBit(Tip or Trick)


calvin

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Welcome. I am an ex-suburbanite, and by real farming standards, I'll never be a farmer, but the farmers here are big of heart and generous with advise and encouragement. And there are several of us "wanna-bes" here, too, who will root for you! About 10 years ago, DH and I were running a schedule very much like yours. Sorry, these are mostly tips about preparing for the rural life, as I don't have much recent experience yet (only been out here on the sand - a year in September) Anyway, these are just IMHO, and as they say, your mileage may varry...

There are some ideas on preparing to become a rural person on this thread, too http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/631623/

From a city person's perspective and my own experience - start slow, real slow. If you think you've scaled down to something manageble, chop about another 30-50% off of that. Things like bringing water to the dogs seem like such a simple thing... until it snows and you discovered that while it is good that the dog pen is 100 feet away, it is also not always good :-)

Money solves a lot of things and takes care of many emergencies. More than ever, make sure you have a little stashed away in the bank if you can.

That being said, don't wait until you are a millionair before you take the plunge. Like having kids, you will never have enough money, time or experience, so you may as well "just do it" when the time seems right or the opportunity presents itself.

If you really want to farm, buy for the land, lay of the land and the quality of the soil... then for the structural integrity of any outbuildings (barns, etc.) and infrastructure (water, electricity, irrigation)... lastly, consider the house. Of course, we didn't do any of this - we bought in the middle of a desert with sand at least 10 ft down. Makes it more exciting that way :-)

Become good friends with your neighbors and reserve judgement - there are probably really good reasons they do things the way they do, even if it seems odd to you. They will be your lifeline when your dogs escape and terrorize the neighbor's cows, the pump breaks on the well, and any number of life's little traumas. At the very least, you will get an entertaining account from the old timers about when the mole crickets invaded back in '84 (or was it '85).

Really, really, really LIKE your spouse. Make them an ally in all you do. Don't be afraid to bribe them when necessary. Tell your wife she's beautiful when she's covered in dust, sweat, and mosquitos and has that murderous look in her eye :-) Buy her a tractor (sorry, I digress...)

Build up some muscles now. My DH is a not-currently-active-duty Marine, and has kept himself in USMC shape since he got out 20 years ago - he had no problem transitioning to rural life. I am an over 40 something wimp whose day job requires that I sit on my behind all day - I grew to love the smell of bengay. But I'm now stronger and healthier than I've been in 20 years and am no longer a bengay junkie. And those young girls at work - I can out walk, out carry (and yes, out talk) all of them.

You could do this now: keep a month's worth of emergency supplies (more if you will live where you get snowed in) - gallons of water that you constantly rotate out, canned pastas for the kids, flashlights/batteries (test them once a month), bug repelant, a full first aid kit - the kind that you can almost do open-heart surgery with, etc., etc. lots of toilet paper. Camping gear, camping stove or propane grill, etc.

If you don't already and if your state allows, learn to use a fire arm. Make your kids and your wife all take the safety class from Eddie the Eagle. I'm not as afraid of the 4 legged creatures as I am of the 2 legged kind, but the 4 legged can cause trouble when your a ways away from nowhere, too. I personally learned to shoot as the time we will need it is when DH isn't around. I like to think when I encounter a rattle snake that I will live and let live, but somehow, I don't think so.

Acquire for your very own and read everything by Gene Logsdon. Some of it is dated. Some of it will never go out of date. And he will make you laugh, too. Read Wendle Berry for inspiration. Subscribe to Backyard Chickens.

Start following the real estate prices in the areas you are considering moving to. Take family vacations to areas you really like. You don't HAVE to go to Disneyland on vacation - the Smokey Mountains are also awesome. When you find a few places that look like they'll fit your pocket book and your idea of country living, start going there as much as possible during all seasons of the year. We have sand for our "dirt road", so it isn't a big deal in snow (we don't actually get rain, I think), but when I lived in GA we had "red Georgia clay" and I ditched the truck several times each summer. Talk to the girl at the gas station while your visiting. Ask lots of questions. Buy maps. Take pictures. Fill binders with stuff and stuff about where.

Get a pickup truck with 4wd and have it paid off before you move. Don't get so pretty and expensive a truck that you will cry every time you get a ding or you hit a rabbit with it. Spray-in bed liners are a dream, but so is a little trailer made out of an old pickup bed - IMHO better to haul manure in a little trailer than in your truck (especially since my truck is my commuter car, too).

Marry a mechanic. (OK, that's probably not in the cards for you...) Any of you single girls out there, though, take this advise to heart. Or at least, marry someone who knows what a welder, table saw, cutting torch, pipe bender and sawzall are and how to use them. A man who can make anything from either wood or metal and can fix your vehicles is invaluable, even if there is a sizable "junk" yard on the north side of his shop that rivavls the square footage of your house!

Pick your battles with Mother Nature. You will loose the war in the end, but some of the victories can be wonderful.

Keep a journal and write down everything that works and doesn't work (and why, if possible). You could do this on a computer, a PDA or any number of electronic do dads (and I love them all), but I found that a leather bound journal that has graph paper for the leaves from Barns and Noble has worked out the best. I actually have devided the year up across 3 books and allowed enough room in each section for 3 years.

Along these lines, a tip I read but have not yet implemented - get a calendar and write down everything. I'm sort of doing this in my journal. For example, for the beginning of each month I have several lists. The one for August includes:

* Breed angoras in Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov after fall shearing so they will kid after spring sheering

* Bred on Aug 1 gives birth on
Mare- July 6
Cow - May 10
Ewe - Dec 27
Sow - Nov 20

*Birthing
Mare bred on Sept 1 give birth on Aug 6
Cow bred on Nov 1 gives birth on Aug 10
etc.

*Bees
Check for full supers & begin removing them
Process honey

Plant winter rye

Grand gala apples ready for harvesting soon

Order garlic before mid Sept

etc.

Become a real weather nut. Especially if you plan to have a large garden, a small orchard and animals and especially if you plan on doing so where everyone says it's impossible (i.e. desert, swamp, mountain top, tornado alley). In fact, starting a weather journal or spreadsheet now where you can compare temps, etc. over the course of a year on where you are now vs. the various places you would like to live might be good. For example, although we live in the desert of Nevada, it is actually an average of 4 degrees COOLER here in the summer than where I used to live in the CA central valley. Who would have thought?

Cultivate a thick skull and an open mind. This seems to help wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

Learn to identify and love good bugs, bad bugs, happy soil and what can make happy soil. Learn how to make compost (and therefore, happy soil) before your livelyhood or all of this year's crop depends on it. Worm composting might be a fun thing to do with the kids while you are "waiting". Might even be a good "class project" to incorporate into your wife's lesson plans.

Ok, sorry, I get carried away. Appologize for digressions. My whole life is a digression :-) Good luck. It is soooo worth leaving the city.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Get outa the city ASAP so that your kids will grow up knowing how to raise animals, grow vegetables and have a connection with the land, chores to do, and an appreciation for the hard work it takes to put food on the table. 4H and FFA clubs will give them good activities concerning farm animals and crops, and friends who do the same kinds of things.

When you get land, think carefully about where your chicken house will go, where the garden will be, etc. Observe where and when the sun shines on a certain place so you will see what activity is best for that spot. Another important consideration is "can I get water to it easily". Lots of farm activities depend on water. (Like KMom, I live where it is dry). If you relocate to a wet place you might want to be deciding how you can get rid of water. Wind patterns are also important. Living down wind from your pig pen is not good, and living downwind from the local stockyard isn't any better.

Try never to go anywhere empty handed. Go out to feed the chickens and bring in the eggs, take something to the garden or do some work there and bring something back. If I have a routine for feeding all the critters and follow it every day it saves time and steps.

Be organized as much as possible, it saves steps, time, money and frustration to know where those extra batteries are, or where all the hand tools are. It's frustrating to replace the item today after looking an hour for it and find the lost one tomorrow while you're looking for something else. Of course then you have a spare, if you can find it.

Vegas,NV Filbert, SC(Zone 7b)

Kmom and Mary, wonderful advice from both of you. I have already purchased two journals. One is full already and I started the second about a month ago. I write everything in it that I have learned from this site and a couple others that I visit. I also have been writing down the weather for the past year from the weather site. Various events that have occured that my neighbors and best friend have told me about are also put in there. Mary, I write down alot of the info that you give on the coffee thread about when you are having to stay with the neighbors animals and why. Horseshoe, Misty Meadows, Country Gardens give me a wealth of information of when animals and plants need certain attention.

I also started getting several magazines such as Countryside that have a wide array of information that some is helpful now and the rest may become helpful later. I also do a lot of research on line about various things such as solar power, generators, tractors, irrigation and cover crops. All this goes into the handy dandy notebook.

I have purchased several books on concete, tiling, wiring, construction of small buildings and etc... for me to read so when I start to think of a project I have a clue as to what is involved before I get to far into it. Same goes for the small farm animal books.

So to you both and to everyone else keep the info coming. It is welcomed and treasured.....

Thanks for starting this thread Calvin.

You've already had excellent advice above, but here's a few little things that might be worth considering.

Learn not to take things personally, as in many walks of life, it can sometimes feel like the entire world has been developed just to stop you doing one job. Think of that feeling thrice over and you can begin to imagine life on a farm.

Develop a tough skin inside and out. If you are the sensitive type, really consider whether this is the life for you. All kinds of agriculture from a few chickens in the back yard to full scale production is easier physically than it was decades ago but it's still as tough if not tougher mentally. There's no shame in bailing out if it doesn't suit you. It's not the rural idyll people like to think it is, it's a hard, tough life and it takes no prisoners.

You will be overwhelmed with advice, take it all with good grace as even poor advice for your ideas are still good practise on "how to recognise poor advice" when it's given. We all do things differently even with the same equipment. Everyone but everyone will know how to do it better than you including people who have never done anything remotely like you will be doing.

Buy clothes with good pockets, you can never have enough pockets, these pockets should be filled with useful things like twine. Buy a good, strong knife with a safety feature, it's worth shelling out a little extra on your knife.

People sometimes laugh at the British Army's preoccupation with feet. The health of your feet is paramount, if you can't run, walk and stand for long periods of time, don't even think about it. Good, strong, waterproof boots and warm/comfy socks are vital wear.

Bright blue or red electrical tape, wrap it around the handles of everything, it's amazing how often you can lose even a large tool like a fork just by putting it down or to one side.

Fencing is important, if you can get some lessons it will be worth it. By fencing I mean with the idea of enclosure rather than the sport although the latter may not be a bad idea, it's good to hone your reactions and a good work out.

Talking of lessons if you have anywhere you can take a few practical lessons in what you are intereted in doing or know someone who is doing it already, go and see if you can join in. Whether you are interested in the organic farming or conventional (contrary to popular belief it's not two entirely different kettles of fish in many ways, good management is good management and vice versa) you might like to try to become a WWOOFer, they may even have somewhere near to where you live now that you can visit on a regular basis.

Learn to like your own company or be sure you like the company of those you live with :) Not so daft a statement when you can spend days or weeks barely meeting another soul. Fortunately the internet and forums like DG is quite helpful there.

Retain a sense of humour. If you aren't laughing after falling into a big puddle of muck or accidentally freezing your fingers to a water pipe in winter, rest assured someone else will be laughing like a drain.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Great tips everyone, Really got to agree with the pockets tip. both at work and here at home I have pockets on shirts and pants and t-shirts. If I could I would have pockets on shoes/boots and arm sleeves.

Businesss is Business, work is work, and I now have to goto work and conduct my business (or I shuld say poke my nose and business in others~ the bad guys that is~. ya'll take care and kep them coming. How about tips on equipment care and animal care/maintenance stuff like that.

example of a tip I found on another thread: Take the water trough(black rubber) and soak it in a weak bleach solution to kill bacteria and help eliminate odor build up. Rinse thoroughly.

calvin

I, TX(Zone 8a)

HI there,

As far as the water trough goes add a few goldfish and they will do the work for you or at least ours do.

My biggest suggestion is to keep enough corn in the crib for at least a year. Meaning keep enough money in savings to keep you going in case of illness,drought or anyother emergency.

My family has farmed for 7 generations and you never can know everything there is to know. About the time you get something figured out the weather patterns change or the land will erode and who knows what else.

Also like raising children, read everything you can get your hands on and then burn the books. Cause no farm is a text book case. There are too many variables to anticipate them all.

It is a complicated life but when you add in Mother Nature and Father Time you never know what to expect. I have no idea what we would do if we didn't farm and ranch. We are too old to change now. Besides who would want to hire a worn out rancher and farmer.

Good luck and God be with you in your dreams.

Kim

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Get a cheap digital camera - one you won't cry over if it gets full of dirt or run over by something - pictures are a thousand words, as they say. Take weekly or at least monthly pictures of your flora and fauna - over the years, you will accumulate a wealth of info. I'm growing a small colletion of Insects-That-Like-To-Eat-My-Veggies right now :-) Also, when the snow is on the ground, I will be able to see my 4 ft tall peach tree with leaves on it. When life gets me down, I look back at the first pictures of this place - not one tree. Now we've over 20 (short, true, but taller than most of the sage!).

Baa, the US Marines have a preoccupation with feet, too. Good, sturdy boots are a must. I live in my rubber calf-high boots and gloves. Never know when I'm going to meet Mr. or Mrs. Rattler. I am going to invest in one with real soles, though, as you also never know when you'll meet a rusty something or other to step on.

Calvin, your job probably keeps you in better shape than mine, but I started working out in a modest way before moving to a rural area - and it wasn't enough, but I'm still sure glad I did. Might be good to do some light weight training with the DW, as both something to do and to help both stay in shape. Running probably helped my heart (to the detriment of my knees), but what I found, as a woman, that I sorely lacked, was upper body strenth and arm muscles.

We use 5 gal buckets for water for the dogs strategically placed near all the water hydrents. They get emptied on to trees, shrubs, etc. every day. The green ones will grow algae way faster than the orange ones. Around here, with gusty winds, they have to be at least 3/4 full or the wind will plaster them against the eastern fence. (When you're looking at land on a calm day, look at the fences. If you see "trash" piled up against one, especially "big" trash, then you know that there are days when the wind whips.)

Full sun does not mean full sun in the desert.

Actually, everything around here eventually gets the bleach solution treatment - from bird feeders to the dog pen (we have sand and we just let it soak in since nothing grows there anyway - we have a dobbie who likes veggies). Anything where animals congregate. Sunshine will disinfect, too, and that is part of why you want to rotate pastures.

Bees might be something you can keep now. If you face the "door" towards a piece of wood fence (not your neighbor's) maybe 3 ft wide by a little higher than the height of the hive and about 3 ft away from the hive, the bees will fly out and up. Depending on the nectar and pollen available in your yard and neighborhood, you might not get a huge amount of honey, but maybe enough to keep you going on bleak winter days when you think you will never be able to live in the country.

Are there 4h programs near by or scouts? Many cities let you keep a few hens (often not roosters) these days. Maybe a few girls to lay some eggs would be a good project for the kids (and you).

Never thought about goldfish in the stock pond. I bet they eat all kinds of bugs that come to visit the water. Do you feed them at all or just let them eat what nature provides?

Will think of more for this evening. Take care. Be safe on the wild and wooley streets.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

Loving this thread! I had to comment on the one from Kathleen about muscles.....One of the girls at my day job constantly works out and was bragging on her back muscles the other day. (she thinks you can't be "in shape" if you don't work out) My reply in my head is "I don't waste my time in a gym, when I can get all the work out you do and get something done on the farm", but I said, "I get my back muscles from 75lb bales of hay, hanging fence board, digging post holes(yes with a post hole digger), etc.....And I'd kill for a tractor! ;)

I, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi kmom,

Sometimes we feed the goldfish but not on a regular basis. When the kids had show steers they were fed everyday but now that those days are over it is just hit and miss.
THere are some that have been in there for at least 5 years. We don't take them out in the winter but then our winters are or have not been that bad.

Kim

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

More tips...

* plan your pastures a year or two in advance and start building or renovating them the day you sign papers (i.e. before you move in, if need be).

* maybe go cheap on some things, but not on fences.

* always double check that you locked the gates

* wandering dogs in our neighborhood are subject to being shot when chasing other people's livestock; pet canines need to stay at home.

* you cannot play x-box live on satellite Internet connections; if you live far out enough, you won't have cable, DSL or, possibly, even a land line telephone.

* check cell phone connections from all around the property before buying - can you hear me now? can you hear me now? at least you will know if and where the "dead" spots are

* everything uses AA batteries - rechargable are cheaper in the long run if you are organized and don't loose them

* there are emergency lights that plug into outlets that come on when the power goes out - one in every bathroom is a must; if you can't aford to do all the rooms from the get go (they're about $10 each, so it could add up fast), do the bathrooms, hall way and any child's room

* think of a backup plan for the well pump if the power goes out for any length of time - they are all expensive, so figure out where the bang for your buck is.

* when setting up an orchard, think not only about bloom time vs frost, but harvest time vs everything else's harvest time - better to spread out the harvest as much as possible and do a little picking after work every day than to be swamped for 3 weeks and hate it.

* dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees are probably what you want if your orchard will be mostly for your own family

* freezing is easier than canning, even if you have to blanch some of the produce before freezing

* figure out right away which animals are family and which ones are dinner and treat accordingly (or decide that all animals are pets and have a pricey hobby)

* learn about intensive rotational pasturing of everything from chickens to goats and sheep to cows

Vegas,NV Filbert, SC(Zone 7b)

More great suggestions.

You really did do your homework.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

My profession is project manager, research assistant, (software) deployment specialist, compulsive list maker and all around general geek... who had the good fortune of marrying a man who can build anything if you show him a picture and promise that there will be the purchase of a new tool involved! Actually, if you've been lurking around the farm forum as long as I have dreaming and dreaming, you'll see that these tips aren't really mine...they are all in here on this forum somewhere. We would NOT have had so successful a first year without the wonderful DG and Farm Forum folks for information and encouragement all those "dreaming" years. I just keep cutting and pasting things I run across into my many little files. I keep saying I'm going to organize them and write a book or an extensive website once I actually have some experience, but at the rate I'm going, it'll be another 20 years...

Speaking of tools...

* Chop saw - we got ours on sale at HD 2 years before we ever fed it a piece of wood - but it was ours, paid for and ready to go when we hit the dirt (er, sand) here. It's been in use nearly every sunny weekend since we got here. There are wood blades and metal blades and all sorts of expensive do-hickies that you can buy for it. Get one that will do angles. The larger the blade diameter, the larger the wood you can chop - but even if all you get is one that can cut 2x4's, you will find many opportunities to use it.

* A screwdriver in every drawer, glove box, "junk bin" and shelf that you can think of. The kind that flip around and have the standard on one side and the phillips on the other. Buy cheap when on sale or at the dollar store. We seem to be able to find other tools, but not screw drivers. This was a little pricey at first, but the time saved and the jumping up and down that I don't have to do has been worth it in the long run.

* A good pocket knife. DH has carried one as long as I can recall, and a kbar in the truck. After asking to borrow his about 100 times, it ocured to me that I needed my own. I don't use the kbar, but the pocket knife and small "leatherman" too is essential.

* DH bought me a battery powered electric screwdriver from snap-on for mother's day. The thing I really like about it is that it is very light weight and is one unit in a straight line (as opposed to the one DH uses that has a big ol' battery and is shaped like a pistol). Original purpose was to take down networking racks, but I have found that it is very handy around the property since I am still pretty wimpy. It even has a built in LED light. Pricey, but I'll probably have it forever.

* When your kids are old enough, get them their own tools and a tool box and tell them to leave yours alone. It kinda sorta works with our teenage boy, anyway. Funny how he puts HIS tools away but leaves mine about (everyone knows not to touch DH's tools! I guess I must be a pushover)

Other...

* The nearest grocery store is about 20 miles away; the nearest cheap grocery store is 50 miles away. That equals 3 hours in the snow. Before first snowfall I make sure we have a months worth of TP, paper towels, laundry soap, bleach, etc. In fact, about this time of year, I start buying 1 or 2 extra of something when I'm at the store. I've never lived in "snow country" (and ours is pretty marginally snow country at 4-8 inches a year!!!) and even with 4wd, I'm not good at driving in it, so I'm totally paranoid and don't want to have to drive in to town for TP or pay $3 a roll for it at the corner mart.

* Put lists and lists in your journal or notebook. Especially for suburbanites like me who don't just know things from osmosis through growing up in the country, I live and die by my lists. List of things to get before I order chickens, list of veggy varieties I saw in seed catalogs that I want to try, lists of bills to pay off before I can buy xyz, lists of dogwoods that might survive our cold and hot, etc., etc., etc.

* We know we live in rodent heaven, so all bird feeders are at least 100 ft from the house and sunflower seeds are stored in a tightly sealed plastic bin (ours is bunjie corded down since the wind will lift the lids of everything here). ... the birds will eat as much as you put out... we have currently drawn the line at one 25 lb bag of sunflower seeds every two weeks... but may up that in the winter because we feel sorry for all the birdies in the snow (like they didn't do just fine before we started subsidising the who darn neighborhood).

Sorry to be so longwinded tonight. DH is in CA with his job, DS is in CA spending a week with his grandma, and it's just me, Mauly (the dobbie dog) and a huge plate of fresh yellow neck squash from the farmer's market, browned lightly in butter, and the computer...

Ah, which brings me to one of the most important tips: always count your blessings. Many blessings to you all. Karla

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

OOOOOOH so many tidbits LOL
Kmom you got the floor. I'm taking notes.

I know others have tidbits we could all hear and possibly use so keep'em coming. (by all means Kmom keep goiing if you can). I started a journal and am logging as much as I can.

I use to Build fences for a small time rancher and his neighbors to section of the cattle for rotating pastures. He always paid me more than what was needed. and gave me the same advice everytime. (I used the fencing and cattle care for experience for my future life) His advoce was simple, "It is better you owe me than I Owe You."

I have tried to remember that in everything I do.

calvin

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)


My tid bit................ I save gallon milk jugs in winter. When it's below freezing, I have to carry water to the chickens rather than use the water hose. I fill up about 10 or so, and sit them where they won't freeze. Then when I go out to feed, I just grab a couple. I toss the empties in a barrel (out by chicken pen) and when it's time, carry them all back and fill them up again and have them ready for several more days. Saves standing out in the cold every time to fill jugs with water. I'd rather do it all at once to last a few days and have them ready.

Claremore, OK(Zone 6a)


Cull out any non-productive chickens before hard winter comes. Less roosters and non-laying chickens means less water to carry.

Springtime usually brings more baby chicks.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Excellent idea, PeggieK. I used gallon milk jugs to bring water to the dogs last winter, but spent each morning filling up 2 or 3 jugs. This year I will have to do something like that.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

I kept a spiral notebook hanging on a nail near the chicken coop door, with a pencil hanging on a string so I would always have it handy to write down how many eggs I collected that day. A new page for every month. Then I figured up the cost of the feed, and the price of eggs, and could decide if they were paying their way or not. When they weren't paying for their feed I could advertise them on a bulletin board at the feed store, sold them for a dollar each to somebody who just wanted a few chickens for bug and weed control, and started over with new chicks each spring. I had 2 batches of hens, one a year old and one two years old and one batch got replaced every year. One group lived in the corner of a shed with just chicken wire for a wall on the open side, the other group lived in the hen house that I built. They all got turned out every afternoon and went back to their proper places to roost. No roosters in our operation by that time, but baby chicks would have been cute running around with their mommas (and probably wouldn't have survived the hawks). Roosters eat lots more than hens, hassle the hens and attack people sometimes. We had one that would attack every person he saw, I think he was the odd chick in the batch, we didn't get him on purpose, and we never went near the chickens without a broom to swat him with. One day I just had enough of him (he wasn't going to quit), so he became soup.

Lone Oak, TX

Calvin,

I have not read all the postings above, but would like to add a few suggestions:

1. Please check your local library or rent or buy 2 docudramas by David Sutherland, made for PBS Frontline. The titles are "Farmer's Wife" and "Country Boys". They will give you some ideas what farm life is about. If after reading all the advice in this thread and watching those movies, you still want to farm, then the next step would be looking for land.

2. Finding land can sometimes take a long time. Took me actually 4 years. As you live in Texas, there is a program run by Texas Veteran Land Board which allows veterans to buy land, and also finance it. You don't have to be a veteran, because there are many foreclosed properties that are then resold to the public. If you are interested, contact the agency, which is located in San Antonio, and ask for their brochure.

3. No working farm can run without a tractor, so sooner or later you will have to purchase one. If possible, buy one with hydrostat, it makes driving a tractor much easier.

4. I assume you would also like to have some sort of livestock and gardens, so irrigation is important. It would be very helpful to build your irrigation line before you start building pens etc for your livestock. In a 5ac. area that I fenced in for my aviaries, theres is a 1500' pvc water line, buried 2' deep with 14 hose-bibs. It sure makes watering plants and animals a lot easier.

5. If you want to have a pond, think aeration. I mention Koender's aeration system in the "Dead Pond" thread, which you visited.

6. Last but not least is to buy some sort of motorized vehicle to put your tool box and carry feed bucket and water for the livestock. Sure beats carrying things by hand or pulling a cart. I was lucky to find a Cushman Industrial Vehicle, which has a 4'x6' bed. A tool box was permanently mounted on it and everything I need to water and feed my 300 birds can be carried on the vehicle, not to mention fertilizers, mulches etc.

I wish you good luck.

Sita


San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you sita,

Yes I am still interested, only not to start a commercial farm. I am interested in sustainable (permaculture) agriculture. Nothing on a grand scale just enough to produce and take care of a family of six and a little extra for sale to offset overhead. I am not interested in riches just sustainablility.
Great suggestions from everyone and I am adding the notes and suggestions to my knowledge bank. Thank you all.

I really hope others can come to this thread and use the TID BITS to their own advantage as well,

calvin

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