Starting a small farm is a dream many of us have. However, if you are contemplating making it more than just a dream you should probably drink a glass of reality. I hate to break it to you, but you cannot wake up one morning, buy a piece of land and start a small farm immediately. Believe me, it’s not going to happen. It takes land, infrastructure, planning, hard work, equipment and cash.
The cash part, I cannot help you with. What I can help you with is giving you some tips you may not have thought of to get you on your way. Keep in mind, it can take years from the time you purchase your acreage until you have a small, organized farm.
By the way, the “small” in small farm is relative. A small farm can be a 10-acre hobby farm or homestead, or a 150-acre farm that is the primary source of income for you and yours.
Tips Before You Buy
Have a plan: Have a business plan if you are going to be using your farm for any income. This is wise even if you plan on only doing hobby farming and making a couple thousand dollars a year.
Yes, farming is unpredictable. But you should have goals and you need to keep track of expenses. This is the time to consider what crops and livestock you want to raise and what kind of land you will need to do so.
Find the right land: Don’t settle on just any acreage. Do your homework and be sure that the land you are considering meets your needs for the crops and livestock you desire to raise.
Water: No Water, no farm. Make sure all water rights convey to you. Check for water quality from any streams and ponds.
Stay out of debt: The more money you have to spend on your family and your farm, the more successful you shall be. Debt also can destroy any dream you have or make it agonizingly slow going. You also could lose anything you gain if hard times hit and you are sunk in debt.
Distance to market: For a person who is a survivalist, I understand not wanting to live next door to a city. You don’t have to. But if you own a farm for profit, you need to have a market. And it should be one that you can drive to in a reasonable time. Your market does not have to be a big city, but could be a town and rural community.
Infrastructure: Try to find land that already has barns, fencing, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
Building new infrastructure is costly and most old farms have much of this in place, whereas blank land will be a start from scratch adventure.
On the Land
Set up needed infrastructure before you add livestock: Fencing, roads, shelter and water all need to be in place before you add animals. Inspect existing infrastructure for damage and make repairs before adding cows, pigs, sheep and goats. You don’t want to wake up in the morning and find out your Angus are trampling your neighbor’s cornfield and he’s getting his shotgun ready.
Tractor and implements: You will need at least one solid tractor. I strongly recommend your first machine be at least 40 horsepower, four-wheel drive and have a front-end loader and bucket attachment. You can buy new or used, that’s up to you. Consider buying implements used for the most part. Purchasing used implements will save you thousands of dollars.
Don’t go overboard: Your first year should be a conservative year. Take the time to learn, if you haven’t already. Build slowly and carefully. Don’t rush in and get burnt!
Keep organized: Don’t be that one farmer – the one who trashes his land and has his possessions and tools strewn about. Keep your farm as organized as you can. Any customer who comes to your farm will pay attention to how it is kept. You don’t want any government attention for being a hoarder or just plain messy. Local governments are known for making residents clean up and making them foot the bill.
Enjoy it! You have planned for so long to be here. Have a good attitude and enjoy every minute the Lord gives you on your farm.
What advice would you add for starting your own small farm? Let us know in the section below: