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Country Discussion Topics
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What to raise on a small farm for the greatest return.
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Deana Jager    Posted 10-14-2002 at 15:27:59       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We bought a 5 acre farm last December with a huge barn. My husband has his own business and I stay at home with our 3 children. I would like some opinions on what to raise on this small farm that would yeild the highest return. We live in norhtern Michigan where the winters are quite cold...although last year was not so bad. I have thought about Marans chickens, sheep or cashmere goats. We don't really have the equipment for growing any type of produce but would consider any suggestions. This is our first attempt at farming anything but I am ambitious and would try almost anything. I would appreciate any imput on this subject. Thanks!

Ron/PA    Posted 10-15-2002 at 06:19:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I know that you said that you don't lean toward crops, but I know that down here in central PA. the Amish and Mennonites, purchase some very high price ground in the lancaster valley, (20k+ Per acre) and the first thing they plant is cantelope. It is a great cash crop, provided you have the market for them. If you are a work at home mom,(How PC of me)you might have the time to go to farm markets and retail them.
Best of luck, and welcome to the cyber neighborhood.

M.R.    Posted 10-15-2002 at 00:17:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
Your children raised on a small farm is the greatest return.
We are always looking & thinking, reseaching what to raise or grow, for a reasonable return.

Only one time around in this world, do what you enjoy.

PS. All dogs should raise a kid or two. ;>}

LH    Posted 10-14-2002 at 17:34:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
If your not into sheep or other livestock, and you have tillable ground you might look into some of the herb farming. I understand lavender, and some other herbs payoff really well.

Fawteen    Posted 10-14-2002 at 16:36:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you have or can develop a market, sheep would be perfect for you. You can run at least 5 sheep per acre on good grazing, and you already have a barn to keep 'em in and store hay.

You might look into a dual-purpose breed (meat and wool) and shear the lambs just before slaughter to sell the wool. If you have the time and the ambition to wash and card your own wool, it's worth much more that way than as raw fleeces. Market the wool to the home spinners, the commercial wool market ain't worth a tinker's dam in this country.

I get $3.50 a pound hanging weight (bones and all) for my Shetland lambs, and can sell all I can put on the ground. Having an agreement with a good butcher or meat packing plant is essential. Doing your own is not really an option unless you have a cold storage facility to hang 'em in while they age.

Look into hay prices in your area. You want to winter over as few as you can manage if hay is expensive. I feed a bale a day to 6 animals once the snow covers all the graze. Also, you want your own ram. Trying to find a stud ram, and the logistics of getting him and your girls in the right place at the right time is a major PITA. Look into a breed that has a high twinning rate to get the most from your ewes.

Dennis    Posted 10-14-2002 at 17:49:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
What area of the country are you in?

Deaan    Posted 10-14-2002 at 20:03:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am located in mid-nothern Michigan
THank you all for the great ideas!

Fawteen    Posted 10-14-2002 at 18:14:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm on the coast of Maine, east of Bar Harbor.

Ana - hey, Fawteen    Posted 10-15-2002 at 06:36:59       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The local farmers here in MO tell me that you practically have to be a vet to raise sheep, that they get all kinds of diseases, need all kinds of shots, need a extra lot of care, and have lots of preditors. They say they are a lot of work. True or No?

Fawteen - Depends    Posted 10-15-2002 at 07:20:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
On the breed. I raise Shetlands, which are a "primitive" or "unimproved" breed. Rugged buggers, VERY low maintenance.

I've never had to assist with a lambing. The only vetting I do is to worm them twice a year and trim their hooves while I'm worming. I had them checked for OPP (ovine progressive pneumonia) before I bought them, and I'm very picky about who or what comes onto my farm. I feed them salt laced with Decox to prevent coccidiosis (sp?) Other than that, they're on their own.

While I'm generally aware of when they should lamb, and the signs to look for, the actual arrival of lambs is usually something of a surprise to me. I go down in the morning to do chores, and Whoops! there's a couple of extra sets of legs here!

It is my understanding that some of the more domesticated breeds (over domesticated IMHO) require assistance for every lambing, are prone to catching every disease under the sun and are generally just a big pain in the arse to be around.

Another advantage to Shetlands is that they are a small breed (120 pounds for a BIG ram) and are very calm and curious. A couple of my ewes think they are dogs and want to be scratched and petted every time they see me coming. If I take the time to spend with the lambs right after birth, they will actually jump up in my lap when I pull up a stump and have a seat to survey my kingdom. Very gratifying.

Scott Hansen    Posted 10-14-2002 at 15:32:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Marijuana...........just kidding.....

DeadCarp - lol    Posted 10-14-2002 at 16:59:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
That was the first thing that went thru my head too - especially with that big barn - :)

Few years back, our old neighbor retired and moved, so some nice young folks came along and rented the place. By midsummer, it looked like an auction with all the cars in the driveway over there - turned out it was a bust! They plugged up the whole driveway, had choppers circling the woods and Feds from all over, they took something like 8000 plants outa Emil's barn and locked everybody up and put the kids in foster care etc.. what a mess! I visited Emil and pestered him about spending 40 years raising corn and never got rich - musta planted the wrong thing. He said yeah, here they came along, planted grass and were all done farming in 3 months! Well i guess ...... heh heh

(BTW, the HUGE electric bill gave them away - nobody had to say boo)

Deana, here's something to think about - whatever you choose to raise, make sure there's an infrastructure in place to distribute it etc. Stay as far away from exotic things as possible, and here's why i say that. So many people sink their money in emus or fancy rabbits or something - and everything goes fine until they try to find a processing plant or truckers. Stress builds up, the family breaks down, drift off separately and the poor critters end up being put down or as the coyote feed. That's my 2 cents worth. Wish i had a more upbeat answer. :)

pat    Posted 10-14-2002 at 16:46:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
sad as that sounds ,,,,,, that was going to be my answer as well,,,,,,, it is a joke but it is sad that it is really the only thing that would probably make money on a farm these days,,,,,,, hahaha
except ya gotta keep away from all the helicopters ,,,,,

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