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Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

My name is Susan and my husband Don & I live in NC. We have a 4.5 acre farm and have been farming for 6 years now. We are suburbanites who were transplanted by circumstances to NC and moved to a rural county due to economics. Now we love it and would never leave. We were born farmers., we just didn't know it! We are trying to get our farm to the point of sustaining us and are on our way with a 3/4 acre veggie garden a soon to be one acre blueberry plot with 500 bushes and we hope by May to have 3 pork-ers, one for us and 2 to sell.

So what tips can you all give us to add to our plan? We also have a small greenhouse that I have not mastered yet and 2 coldframes. Oh yeah and Don likes to restore 2 wheel tractors.
Hope to talk with many of you,

Thumbnail by susandonb1141
Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Wow! That is some piece of machinery. {{{drool}}} Is that one of those machines that has all the different attachments... tillers, sickle mowers, etc? I'm thinking about getting one for our place, as a full sized tractor just doesn't make economic sense.

Welcome to the forum, and stand by for lots of ideas from the gang!
=0) Jay

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Oh, you definitely need some chickens to help with pest control and for pure entertainment value.

What about a dairy animal? Are you both working off farm during the day or would you have time to commit to daily milkings?

Do you eat bread or oatmeal? Can you start a test plot with heritage grains to see how they do in your area?

What about an oilseed crop, like sunflower or sesame?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Have you got a root cellar yet? I sure wish I had one here.

We're talking about compost heated water for the animals over on the farm forum, I think it is (solar in the barn). You might find that discussion interesting and thought provoking.

I'd be very cautious about adding animals... especially if money is an issue. Many folks end up with unproductive 'pets'... goats, horses, chickens, cows, etc. Make sure you've got the heart to cull and limit mercilessly, or you'll end up with too many animals, spending far more money than you ever intended and probably more than you can afford. Sounds like you've got a good plan with the hogs.

Before you add any animals, help out someone with the particular kind you have in mind and make sure you really want the animal and the work. Then build the structures you'll need first. Research breeds and types. Don't get too exotic to start, make your mistakes on common breeds, rather than rare, pricey ones. Write down your management plan (2 milking goats, stagger the breeding, butcher one kid & sell the rest, extra milk to the hogs sort of plan). See if you can stick to it, or can't bear it. Make new informed choice... eg. no babies 'cause I can't get rid of something I watched grow up (this is the one that got me with donkeys) =0)

There are many folksey crafts that are very pleasurable to add... rug hooking or braiding, leather work, wheat or rawhide braiding, wood carving, gourd carving or painting. Soap making seems to be a popular one, and you'll have lots of lard from that hog. Endless possibilities.

And of course... drool over seed catalogues! T'is the season and all...
I've already selected the seeds for the greenhouse I won't have for another year... LOL

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Good points Jay.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Check into rabbits. They are economical to feed, you can butcher early and they sell good. Easy to care for too. I used to raise them before we moved here. I had my regular customers I butchered for but Easter was my big project with them. I'd breed so they'd be ready to go for Easter. Then I'd sit on the side of the road and sell them. I'd make enough that way to buy feed for the rest for the whole year. Tgere are also smaller breeds of cattle for milking that take less room and less feed. They give a couple of gallons of milk a day. Just right for a single family and farm.

Love that tractor. My uncle had one back in the day but it didn't look that good. Does he sell them after restoration? I had an uncle who did that with lawn mowers. It was a hobby for him. I got one from him and used it for many years.

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Great Welcomes, Folks! Thanks!

Ok, Yes, Don uses the tractors in the gardens, the one in the pic is his baby, the "other woman" to me. lol He wants to show it at fairs and says if he got the right offer he would sell it, that makes me worry about my longevity, hmmmm?

We have another David Bradley that is our work tractor, exactly like the one in the pic but not as perrty, the pic below is Don using it last weekend. Then we have a restored two wheel Bolens that is narrower in size and easier for me to handle so I use that one. We love them, our reason for getting them wasn't restoration it was desperation. Our garden slopes and we couldn't use riding tractors in it without risking rolling so we discovered the 2 wheel walk behinds.

Ok, Jay, I am very proud of myself, I have already done just about everything you reccomended. I have thought, researched (for three years now) thought some more, prayed, discussed with Don, researched and talked to friends who farmed in MN for 20 years, THEN I made my decision. First I wanted sheep, so I bought lots of books and discovered there were too many diseases and not enough income potential. Then it was goats, I hate goats milk and cheese, they smell and I am not raising them for meat. Then it was chickens. I love them and they have alot of potential and I may still get a few but they would have to be for eggs and pets cause I couldn't eat them. I don't have room for a cow, though I would love one milking cow just for me, I may still look into this, I have 2 acres remaining so that should be enough room. Could never raise beef of my own, they have too cute of a face. So I decided on pork! We were given a 300 lb pig 3 years ago (long story for another post) anyway, she was ugly, stinky and nasty tried to eat me twice, so I had no problem taking her to a processor and going back two days later for my yummy pork! I am making a 16x32 area with a shelter for 3 porkers. Either, Duroc, Hampshire or ...??? I forgot the other one. So, I am ready to be a homesteader and I love the idea of soap, never thought of that! I grow lots of lavender, wooohoooo! You guys are all great inspirations!

Sorry to be so long winded, get me talkin bout my farm and I never shut up.


This message was edited Jan 7, 2009 6:50 PM

Thumbnail by susandonb1141
Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Is that bee hives in the back ground of the pic. And where is the pic of you with your tractor?

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Bee Hives? No? It is a giant pile of oak wood chips. I will get aapic of me and mine in a few days and post it.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

What are the white boxes in front of the barrel?

Comer, GA(Zone 7b)

OK just for my two cents worth. Chickens should be a must,if for no other reason than just the eggs.Also with a garden that size the the root cellar should be a must specialy if you have a good hillside to dig into. IMO larger farm animals are too high maintenance for my likes, 1 or 2 vet bills could deplete any savings you have unless you started out with substantial backing.
Definetely look into crafts they could supplement your income and most times can be a "cash crop".
Good Luck and happy farming

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Oh, I don't know that is not on our property.

I might get a few chickens for eggs. We are thinkin about a root cellar and definitly thinkin bout crafts. Gotta love "cash crops" lol

Humansville, MO(Zone 6a)

Susan show my toy to Bob I got this a month or so ago haven't had time to work on it. Was told the engine runs but haven't tried it yet. It does need a clutch Where does find parts for them

Thumbnail by dave719
Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Oh My Gosh, Dave if I show him, he will probably be knocking on your door in a few days , tools in hand! He loves restoring. You got a nice David Bradley there. How Awesome! They are wonderful tractors, will you actually use it in the garden or just want it to restore? Ok, to answer your question, Don looks on Ebay and gets stuff from there, but he knows about engines so he adlibs and modifies abit. We also have a good Farm & Tractor Show here in April and we actually bought our working David Bradley there.

So, are there any metal tags or plates anywhere on it that has model #'s or anything? We can help you determine the model and year made, that helps alot when looking for parts.

Don would love to help ya even long distance so I will dmail our email and phone # to you if you want to pick his brain. We love getting people interested in these tractors , they were very ingenious and really hard working little tractors, if you don't mind walking and we actually like that part of using these. I will post more pics this afternoon.

Best Wishes with it,
Susan & Don Berry
The Berry Farm
Sandy Ridge, NC

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Here is Don's restored 1953 David Bradley Super Power,

Thumbnail by susandonb1141
Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

This is my Bolen's tractor, it is girl size, I love using it.

Thumbnail by susandonb1141
Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

And two more that Don wants to work on, one will be a working and one we want to restore for shows.

Thumbnail by susandonb1141
Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Hey Sue,
Sounds like you've got a very sensible approach to taking on new things. =0) Just remember, chickens don't lay forever, their production falls off after a couple of years, and you're looking at excess animals... money suckers. So figure out a plan for the hens when their production drops off...

I agree with the comment about large animals... especially if you only have a couple of acres. That doesn't sound like enough to support a dairy cow of any size, not even the Dexters. It doesn't allow the pasture to rest. And you'll have to breed that cow, produce those cute little offspring, and think of something to do with them. If you can't bear the flip side of animal husbandry, which is death, then don't go there, stick with plants. Trade for your meat.

A lot of raising livestock is about caring responsibility; it is a web of interdependence. And one of our responsibilities is being strong enough to hold the full measure of the life we share... including its death. There's a great book, "The Compassionate Carnivore" that I would recommend every aspiring homesteader read. It will support and encourage your decision to have a part in the meat you eat, to care enough to create the good life for your livestock, and acknowledge its gift of life to you.

A cow's life, a pig's life, a chicken's life and their death enriches and supports our own immeasurably. When we take that life, we should not do it with eyes averted, but with a heart filled with appreciation of this great web, and a deep wish that we may embody all life in its mystery and abundance.

It's hard, but we are up to the task, no doubt in my mind the folks here have hearts filled with courage and care...


Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Very well said.

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

This is why I am thinking through the animal thing very carefully. Thank you for your thoughts.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Sorry susan. I wasn't wearing my glasses when I read your first post. I thought you said you had 45 acres, not 4.5 acres.

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

I wish I had 45! Boy, what I could do with that.

4.5 is a blessing, I am happy with that.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Jah, with 45 you'd end up feeling nagged about 'doing something' whereas 4.5 kind of tamps down wild, expansive energy... a little, anyway. LOL

Here's a thought...
research apple cider blends. I understand the best cider is made from a blend of apples. There's even a cider festival out there in your neck of the woods (which to me means anything east of the Mississippi) where you can try all sorts of ciders... Then plant a few trees, and make cider. Or apple wine. Boy, now that's good stuff. There's a winery up the road here that specializes in fruit wines... apple, pear, peach, nectarine (I'm drinking that one now), raspberry, chokecherry... why, hot dog, you could even do blueberry! =0)


Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

'Nother idea...

Varietal vinegar... there's a friend of the above vintners that makes vinegar from wine grapes. Seems everyone and their mother is making local grape wine anymore, so they took a mediocre vineyard and make a very nice vinegar from the grapes. Unusual and they sell all they make.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Or maybe one of those upick orchards. Blueberries and peaches do well for that. Maybe even those huge domestic blackberries.

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Jay, already way ahead of ya, thought about Blueberry wine! lol

With 500 bushes I should have enough to make a batch.

There are so many things that one can do with land. I love being a farmer.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Have you ever tasted blueberry wine? I'm very curious about how it would taste. The vintner up the road doesn't have that one. Some of hers are wine-like and some are more sherry like. I think it's fascinating how each one turns out. I really enjoyed the apple and pear, the strawberry was disappointing, the wild plum was like a sherry, so it goes nice in a spritzer for me. =0)

There are just so many wonderful, interesting fascinating opportunities... I totally agree with you.

I took the plunge today and ordered a high tunnel greenhouse, so that'll be my big step this year. Maybe we can figure this out together? And Cajun just sent me some lovely lettuce and patty pan squash seeds; I'm all aquiver with anticipation!

Here's to dirt under the nails...

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Blueberry liqueur.....

or blueberry schnapps perhaps?

Blueberry schnapps could put a zing in your pancakes or muffins.

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

Check out the blueberry schnapps recipe! Cooool!

I have made small batches of pear-ginger liquer, chocolate mint liquer and raspberry liquer. They all came out good.
Thanks for the link Merm.

Jay, happy to help you in any way I can with the greenhouse. Is it like a hoop house? We are helping a friend build a hoop house next weekend. I love my greenhouse. I have brocc, cabbage, tomatoes, cukes all germinated in there now and I just planted some peas in there too. I love my coldframes too, they work super. I have spinach and lettuce in those.

Send me a pic of what ya got, I love talkin greenhouses.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yeppers, mine's a hoop house or high tunnel. It's a ways away, having just ordered it today, and the ground is too frozen to do anything. My bed plan is non-existent this year, as I'm also working on putting up another attached greenhouse that ends up in the middle of my big bed from last year.

Do you have a fallow period in your greenhouse, or do you grow year round?

Let my bumbling inform others... have a site plan, so you don't end up building in the middle of a vegg bed... }=0(

All this talk of alkyhaul has remembered me of the chokecherry liquer brewing under the bathroom sink.... I'll have to give that a taste later. =0)

Blueberry schapps on your pancakes? Well, I guess we know how GM keeps her sunny disposition... LOL

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

LOL! Actually, I'm pretty much a tea totaler, but I do like to use selected spirits in my cooking and baking. ^_^

Dandelion wine and Elderberry wine are classics that you may want to try. Visions of giggly great aunts and their "tonics" come to mind.

Fayetteville, AR

Those old chickens make great soup stock - when my spring vegies mature (potatoes, carrots, onions) I make soup stock with a neighbor's old chickens, strain it, cool it to get the fat to rise and remove it, then can the soup stock. It's very yummy and salt-free!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

GM, don't forget the 'lemonade'!
Mike didn't invent it, I'll guaran-dam-tee it. LOL

Triad(for a few more, NC(Zone 7a)

I dont use the greenhouse from around May to December. But that is just because of lack of knowledge. I am hoping to change that.

Keep me posted on your progress.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Thanks, Susan! I'm sure you'll be hearing more than you can bear... I'm pretty wound up about it. =0) Which is tough in the dead of winter. Today and tomorrow, though, it looks like it's going to be nice enough to get the site cleaned up, anyway.

I've got Coleman's 4 Season, but I think I'll probably want a season off! I do travel quite a bit, and I actually moved up here so that I'd have to take winter off from so many projects (I'm a bad one for projects) and maybe have energy to do some pleasure travel, rather than just work travel (which I am getting heartily sick of, I assure you)

So right now, this minute, today (subject to change LOL) the plan is to fallow in winter and run chickens in the greenhouse, to til, fertilize and clean up. I'm probably just going to borrow chickens from friends for a couple of months and not get into more animals long term.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

What kind of work do you do, if I may be so nosey?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I'm retired...
I was a licensed vet tech for 10 years (small animal), and I was also an assistant trainer in a show stable, as well as groom and rider in a couple of private stables. Now I'm trying to stretch a buck and grow some good food... and see if I can get some field work done with donkeys, but I've got a feeling that's more for yucks and grins than anything. =0)


Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I am retired now. But for many years I worked at a hospital in the lab and then in a blood bank. I am also a retired fire fighter and EMT. I do some training and boarding on the side to help pay for the feed but nothing I can't rest from when I need to. DH and I also pastor a church. That's our first job. The rest is icing. It's a small church and we hope and pray it grows. Not because we want a bigger church but simply because the more people who attend means you are touching and helping more people. It's a tough and scary world we live in and having God for comfort is important. He gives us hope and peace. Through the church I have also got somewhat of a speaking ministry. I get invited to Ladies functions and I dress up and do funny skits that go along with the theme of the conference. Then I do just a few minutes of serious speaking at the end to tie it all together. I think laughter is the best medicine.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Max ought to be a big help to your ministry... I was going to say ass-et, but he just doesn't have quite the right qualities. =0)

It's interesting... I am training for ordination as a Zen priest; I am to be ordained this spring. I agree that a strong spiritual practice and community is a comfort in these times.

Joy to you,

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I have heard of Zen Buddist but since you harvest your animals I don't you think you fit that criteria. What is Zen?

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