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Well, my youngest child has gone off to college and I am hoping to sell my two non-farm type properties in the next year or so and buy a true farm. I am very, very sick of the biting bugs and bugs that make it almost impossible to garden organically here in NW Arkansas, but I'm not familiar with other climates in the U.S. (except CA, which I don't think I can afford). I hope to net $250,000 and buy a minimum of 40 acres with at least 10 open and level. I would love to hear from people from all over the U.S. regarding the climate/bugs and how it affects their efforts at farming. And the cost of land with a home on it in your neighborhood! Thanks for any feedback.
Water's a big issue anywhere in NM, and add considerable to farming expenses. I think the land prices are pretty high, too.
There used to be quite a bit of farming in eastern CO, on the plains, and of course KS, TX, OK panhandle area. If you want to do horse farming, I'd find where the Amish and Mennonite's have settled... they know how to find good, reasonable, arable land.
It does seem like the only property I'll be able to afford will be around OK, AR, KS, MO, maybe KY, TN. Much farther south, BIG bugs, much farther north, REAL cold. And I do have friends here, but I'm also scarred for life from the ticks and chiggers! One place that interests me (but I haven't checked prices) is the Black Hills of SD. I've met some people that just moved here from there and they say that it does get cold, but doesn't stay cold - kind of like here - if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes!
How about Arizona? There is a 40 acre parcel for sale near me, for only about $38,000 -- you'd have enough left over to build a nice house & put in your own well. This is in northern Arizona, 1/2 hour north of Heber, zone 6, just under 6000 feet elevation, summers are much cooler than Phoenix and winters get some snow now and then but it melts quickly. Wonderful climate! I live about 1.5 miles uphill from that parcel, on the rocky edge of a small canyon, but the 40 acres that is for sale has pretty good soil, I think, and is fairly level. True we don't get enough rain, but with your own well you can irrigate easily. Vegetation is mostly juniper. I own another 5 acres catty-corner from that property, and have planted elms, lilacs, snowberries, etc there and they are all doing well. If times get any tougher in this country, I may just plow up some of my 5 acres (which are for sale but nobody is buying) and plant a big-time garden! Up at my place I have two small veg gardens, several dwarf fruit trees, baby nut trees, and a small greenhouse -- I also have my own well so all my plants are doing great. Bugs? There almost aren't any -- I've lived up here almost 7 years (have owned my property since 1988) and have only seen 2 rattlesnakes. You do need a fence to keep the local rancher's cows out. The soil here is alkaline, you need to add lots of organic material. And bring your own earthworms! Let me know if you want more information, I can give you the realtor's name & phone number.
Oh, forgot to mention that we actually make our own electricity with solar panels, so you'd also need to put in a good solar system. Mine supplies me with plenty of electricity, it supports lights, satellite TV, satellite internet, washer & dryer, everything I had in the Big City. Even my well has a solar pump. We do have a propane company that brings gas for cooking & heating. We were "green" before it became popular! Most people out here (and there are very few, probably more antelope than people) have a generator for backup, but I have not used mine for 2 or 3 years.
It was great to get some detailed info about someplace other than AR! After tax season, I'm hoping to do some housesitting in different areas to get a feel for different climates. Your well never runs dry? What does a solar system like yours run to buy and have installed? Just rattlesnakes? Here there's not just rattlesnakes, but also water moccasins (cottonmouths), copperheads, and even a few coral snakes! You're able to garden organically? Here that's just about impossible.
Hard to say what my solar system cost as I bought it a little at a time over the past 10 or 15 years -- but according to Backwoods Solar, an excellent system can be bought for $18,500, probably if you do a lot of the installation yourself. Professional installation might double that cost but there is a rebate from the govt. Digging the well & dropping the pump cost about $18,000, plus the cost of the pump, generator etc. Water depth is about 600'. I spent a LOT more because I wanted the pump to be uphill, quite a ways from my house, and laying the pipe requried drilling through solid limestone -- we had to rent a hammer hoe, very expensive, but as I said, I am on a rocky ridge up here. Also I wanted to use solar power to pump rather than a generator. Our wells dip into what is called the "Coconino Acquifer" which is the largest acquifer in Arizona, and the water is sweet and pure. I don't expect it ever to go dry. So I have absolutely no water or electric bills. Goodness, you have some awful snakes! We only have rattlers, and not very many of those up here. No scorpions at all, they are only found down in the deserts. I do find some centipedes occasionally, under boards or big rocks. After the summer rains in July/August, there is a teeny flying beetle that drives me crazy for about a week -- until an old-timer told me to spray my window screens with Raid! Otherwise, I rarely see any bugs -- it is simply NOT humid or sticky here, the climate is very dry. SO, why can't you garden organically?
Can't garden organically because of the humidity and the bugs. Fungicide sprays for the fruit trees (I only grow pear trees because they don't need the sprays that apple trees need, but this year it rained and rained in the spring and all of my pears suffered from fireblight - actually killed one of my trees) and Sevin or Rotenone for all the vegie bugs. You name it, we have it. Bugs that actually eat the plants, bugs that just transmit diseases like blight and wilts. And this doesn't include the groundhogs, rabbits and deer that eat what's left! It's beautiful country - there is more variety in the flora and fauna than anywhere I've ever been (ginseng and goldenseal grow wild), but there's also more bugs than anywhere else I've ever been.
Oh, garden bugs! The first year after I planted my peach & nectarine trees they had peach leaf curl, so the next year I sprayed them with a very mild oil spray, and no more peach leaf curl. I get non-toxic sprays from Gardens Alive. My kitchen garden is only about 20 x 8, so hand-picking bugs is relatively easy. My chickens love the Colorado potato beetles I pick for them (those bugs like the potato & tomato plants only) and the juicy tomato hornworms, too. I had aphids on the cabbage but just kind of ignored them and only ate the good cabbage. The aphids spread to the corn but seemed to be only on the outside of the ears, strangely, so the corn was okay. The new garden is about 20 x 60 and I got it done and planted late last fall, so everything I planted froze with the first snow, so there wasn't time for any bugs to get going. Last spring all my drwaf fruit trees bloomed beautifully but I never saw any bees, so no fruit. This year I have bought some dormant Mason Bees and will put their house in the garden in early March. Must be nice to see some plants that grow naturally. We have junipers, tumble weeds, lots of wild grasses & wildflowers, and wild grapes in the canyon. I was amazed at the potato beetles & hornworms even finding my garden, since this country has never been farmed, only grazed by cattle. If you are a student of history (western), you may have heard of the Hashknife Outfit -- this was part of their range in the 1880's.
Your $250,000 can buy a very nice farmsite here. Most go for $150,000 to $200,000. OK, we get good & cold here at times. But the bugs freeze to death. New bugs have to get a ride here on the wind from down south. Some times not many, some times to many. Our soil is some of the richest in the world. Most has no rocks. It drains nicely. We average 25" of rain a year. No crop failures because of drought for many years. Hail damage once in a while. We had a partial damage only one year out of the 25 years we have been veggie farming. Days are long here in summer. Nearly 16 hours of daylight.
Now for the good part. All very small towns, 250 to 2500 people. All are friendly. Every town has a morning coffee shop gang. Larger towns, 11,000 or more are within 25 miles of most places. Almost every bigger town has a Farmers Market.
Water is not a problem here. Every farmsite has a good well. Southwestern MN has rural water. Water ie piped to farms just like in a city.
Of course we have the "Mall of America" if you like to shop. Larger towns have nice malls also.
This is called "Flyover Land", but people who stop never leave. Lots of pro sports people that played on Minnesota teams have made this their home after retiring from their sport.
I'm not sure about the size of farm you want. Most places here are close to 100% tillable, so 40 acres might be more than you need. We have 11 acres with 6 acres tillable. We have plenty of garden.
I'd like to think that we'll eventually find a way to buy a place near here, if not this exact one, but I'm always hopeful and keeping my eyes open for other productive places. The acre we are on has some good soil, but the rest of the area, not so much for growing things. I'll bloom where I'm planted and keep my eyes open for a smallholding of our own some day. In the interim, I live vicariously through those of you who have already done it, and so successfully :)
And yes, the fish were yummy and Orr was beautiful and pristine back in those days (30 plus years ago).
You're making MN sound awfully good! I hope to do some housesitting in the next year in various places - I think I'll put MN on my list! I love the thought of black dirt. That's what I had in CA - here you're VERY lucky to have brown dirt - usually it's red.
Hey there Luanne, I know at one time you lived in Spokane, Wa. Did you ever try the other side of the Mountains. The Northwest has some of the best soil you can find. No bugs hardly to speak of and very temperate climate. twenty degrees is cold and eighty five is very warm. There is virtually nothing you cannot grow that I know of except oranges and pinneapple. Yes we grow lots of peaches and evey berry you can name. Fishing is also great, You can only probably buy ten acres along with a very nice manufactured home with $250,000.00. But generally all ten acres will be tillable. Just a thought.