Advice before starting

13 years 7 months ago #24828 by dj
Advice before starting was created by dj
We are all geared up to head for a piece of land, a lifestyle block.
We have our eyes open and we are aware of many, but not all, of the challenges that we will have to face.
We’re not exactly sure where we’ll go, but we have a hankering to be somewhere between Wellington and Hastings. We have our favourite spots in that long line, but it will depend on what’s available and when we’re ready. And we might still have to commute to Wellington for a while, so that adds a constraint.
We are going to do our best to do this properly, and although we’d happily go tomorrow, we realise that there are several steps that we will have to take.
We would like to be as self-sufficient as possible, at least in terms of growing our own food. And that means animals as well as fruit, nuts, herbs and vegetables.
We think that we will have to have some means of earning money while we get things sorted out, hence the possibility of commuting for a while. If we raise some pigs for meat and to sell, it would be a year or two before we’d get any benefit in the freezer or from income from sales – likewise fruit and vegetable produce.
We need to know what we need to have. How much land? How much of that for rotating grazing stock, how much for our own vegetables. What about an orchard? We saw an 8 acre place a couple of months ago and that looked like a manageable and potentially productive size.
What facilities do we need? How do we ensure a good quality and sufficient water supply, especially in an area which has the odd drought?
How would we know if the land we buy is suitable for our purposes – is it already past its best, or is it the wrong type of soil? Where do we find out?
How do we choose what animals to raise? We’d like pigs and chooks for starters, but what do we need before we get them? And what will we feed them until we meet our self-sufficiency target? What grows best in our chosen location – how would we find that out?
What animals work together? What are the bad combinations?
We think we’d like to grow some rare breeds? What additional problems does that create? How much to buy some rare breed pigs?
If we want to use our raw produce to make cooked or processed items, what do we have to have in the kitchen? Do we have to have a separate kitchen for that purpose?
We want to get it as right as possible before we finally move, and we’d like to do that in two years time if we can.
We know we are asking about the length of a piece of string in some cases, but having had a pretty good look around a range of websites and libraries, we are astonished how few places there are to get the up-to-date advice that we seek.
We really are raring to go, and we’d appreciate any advice that we can get at this early stage.
We are absolutely aware of the commitment in terms of hard work and frustration, and have some experience – a while ago maybe, but we are very determined that it’s right for us.
I can see several conversations that could start up from this.

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13 years 7 months ago #349628 by Stu_R
Replied by Stu_R on topic Advice before starting
Hi DJ and welcome to the lsb family :)
For livestock, the biggest things i have found are Yards, and good fencing
Great sheds are also a bonus :)
Am sure there will be lots that will be able to offer more advice thnan i can :)

5 retired Greyhounds ( Bridgette , Lilly, GoGo,Sam and now Lenny) 15 friendly sheep all of whom are named and come when you call them :) , 2 goats, Mollie and Eee Bee :
Olive trees , .. old bugger doing the best he can with no money or land :)

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13 years 7 months ago #349634 by sod
Replied by sod on topic Advice before starting
Agree with Stu but he likes white wooly ground lice and their fence jumping rellys ( sheep and goats :D ) hi if you are looking over this way we have had wettest winter so water table is very high, lot higher than other years, so be carefull we have had a lot of droughts loast few years but some great springs and this looks very hopefull. To start with I would say buy weaner pigs and feed up to killers plus yearling steer or heifer then you can get meat in freezer reasonably quick. Rest of things depend on where would like to buy a lot of people go to Wellywood from here to work. Love all your questions :) all the best

Having time is a measure of enthusiasm:rolleyes:

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13 years 7 months ago #349685 by Ronney
Replied by Ronney on topic Advice before starting
Hi and welcome :D

What you think you might like to have and the reality are more often than not, two different things.

Your at the drawing board. You know where you might like to live so now work out how much money you have and what you can afford to purchase. If you buy bare land, can you afford to build a house, fence it, put in suitable fencing for pigs and hens, water reticulation, electric or conventional fencing - and the list goes on. If your after an established property, go for the most you can get for your dollar - house, sheds, fencing, water, good driveway, cattle yards (a must) Whichever way you go, is it going to be within easy commuting distance for work - and this is a biggy. No point in having grand ideas if your spending 3 hours a day on the road and trying to deal with stock in the dark. They don't appreciate it and nor will you.

Once you've got your land, get 6 chooks and a chook ark to put them in, a yearling for the freezer, a vegetable garden and leave it at that for a year. During that time, see how your land fares through winter and summer, how dry it gets, how boggy it gets, how windy it is, where shelter belts need to go (if any), where the best places would be for pigs, hens and orchard, how water holds out, where fences and sheds need to go etc. This is your planning stage and while it might seem to be a waste of time, it will pay off down the track. During this time you can also have soil tests done and sort out some of the other questions that you have. Don't run before you can walk[;)] Owning land and livestock, be it 1 acre or 1,000, is a committment not to be looked at through rose coloured spectacles.

Nobody can give you the advice that your after because you are literally asking how long is a bit of string.

Good luck,

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13 years 7 months ago #349739 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Advice before starting
This post really needs to be asked in "Your Place" so that you can get some ideas from those people that don't often come here.
The first thing though is that we don't give advice. You have to pay for advice .... so we give opinions based on our experience ..... even if it does sound like "advice" at times.

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13 years 7 months ago #350148 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Advice before starting
I will try to begin.
1. Nowhere will be perfect for both of you. Be prepared to compromise.
2. When I thought about going full-time farming I worked out that we would need about 300 hectares of a good mix of hill and flat to make a living. Our 100 sheep, 15 cattle, 20 goats (and rapidly decreasing, it was over 100 at one stage), and about 20 donkeys (was 3 at one stage) costs us upwards of $15000 per year to run.
3. The "rule" with farming is 2 years profit, 3 years little or no profit, 2 years huge losses, 3 years little or no profit.
4. Birthing animals is extremely stressful. Don't do it unless you have a strong stomach, lots of time, and nothing frustrates you.
5. Owning animals is a 24/7/365 job. You must be available, or employ someone who is available, to get the animals off the road at 2am, to feed out on the wettest and coldest day, to birth an animal, to tend to illnesses, to fix the water leak in the middle of summer (our first 4 years, we had leakages on Chistmas Day or the day after), to carry water to the stock when there is a leak or someone leaves a tap on, etc, etc .....
6. I love nuts so planted lots when we started. The pine nuts are doing quite well ... but are too difficult to open. The walnuts do ok some years, but a shower of rain or a frost at the wrong time stuffs them. The hazels haven't produced a darned thing. They all need winter chilling. The stock ate the olives and the loquat. Worse, nuts have a chemical in them that causes mouth ulcers, so I cannot eat them. So some years I have 20kg of walnuts and other years 100kg, if I pick them up by hand before the animals eat them. Not enough to buy a processing plant for.
7. The orchard has been an absolute failure. The apples get blackspot and codlin, the peaches curly leaf, the apricots get frosted during blossom, the plums have shotblast. I could and should spray much more, but I don't have the commercial chemicals.
8. Pigs carry a number of diseases that are very nasty to cattle. If you have pigs, keep them away from the cattle pasture. Free range pigs will eat lambs and kids if they get in together. Miss Piggy got at least one of our 4 month old hoggets.
9. Fencing for pigs is a bit different than for cattle and sheep. A low hotwire works quite well, but specially-made "pig netting" also help to keep them in.
10. Unless you have access to kitchen scraps that don't contain meat, or fruit or vegetables, feeding a pig on pellets is hugely expensive. Miss Piggy cost us $150 in pellets for 20 kg of fat and 20 kg of meat. If pigs are fed meat then the items must be cooked.
11. Sows can get very grumpy when they are pregnant, hence the need for pig crates, to stop them beating up their friends.
12. We have a spring and rainwater from about 300 meters squared of roof. We have 70,000 litres of water tanks. We had to buy 50,000 litres when we had a year with 650mm rain and the spring dried up.
13. You are not permitted to irrigate unless you have a permit to do so from ground water, river/stream water, or a pond. You are not permitted to irrigate at all from townsupply household water.
14. Cattle that are not in milk need more than 20L water per day in summer, milking cows 60-80L, sheep 2 -10L, goats 1-5L.
15. Lincoln University probably has soil maps for all of NZ. When we wer looking for a block in Canterbury in 1997 we borrowed the books.
15a. Every different plant requires slightly different soil conditions and elements. The more different requirements that you have then the more you will have to adjust the soil to grow what you want. Some plants grow in acid soils (eg the solanums (potato, tomato, eggplant), pumpkin family), others more neutral (eg carrots, beet, maize, grass, clover), others quite alkaline (eg brassicas (cabbage family), lucerne).
16. The local Council might have flood maps and photographs of the area that you are looking in.
17. You cannot sell homekilled meat even after cooking it. If you want to sell your meat then it has to be taken away and killed in a licensed abbatoir (not a licensed homekill butcher), and processed in a licenced premisis.
18. Processing other foods requires the appropriate licence/s. Look at the thread on Rural Issues about Biddies cheeses being closed down.
19. With animals you need a yards that is suitable for them. My cattle kept jumping out of or breaking my goat-height yards, so I made higher and stronger cattle yards. Being heavier gates and higher, I cannot draft sheep in them. I can work the donkeys in both the cattle and sheep yards, but if I had horse yards then horses and donkeys is all they could be used for.
20. The general estimate for stocking rate is about 200kg per acre of good pasture, so 4 sheep, 2/3 cow, 1/2 horse. Understock when starting.

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13 years 7 months ago #350239 by Aria
Replied by Aria on topic Advice before starting
Hi dj - we're a newbie to the llifestyle block life as well - and we pretty much bought the place we have in the Manawatu because;

a. it has a lovely view over PNth city
b. it was very well priced
c. our 'kids' (who are grown up with their own families in suburbia) thought it would be a great place to bring their kids! :-)

Anyway, we ended up with 90 acres - roughly 50 in pines, 20 in pasture and the balance a steep stream/gully. Previous owner ran horses on the property - so it has a stable, an arena and a corral. We have no experience of raising animals and so have signed 1 year grazing leases for our paddocks with two different neighbours.

I think LR's comments 1-3 are very important. The land isn't going to provide a living (unless you buy a going concern farm - and even the very longterm highly skilled farmers find it near impossible to turn a decent profit these days). So, perhaps the best thing is to choose your property based on purchasing with the least amount of debt possible (freeing you up to spend more time working the land) and in a location with a good variety of job prospects in the near vicinity. Certainly in this regard we have found the Manawatu really good value.

Best wishes in your search!

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