Advice before purchase, please

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7 years 11 months ago #37982 by Trkle
Hi, we're a family with three primary-school-aged children, looking to buy a lifestyle block outside Auckland. We both grew up in the South Island on a few acres and I had horses, but we've been living in the city since adulthood. My husband is incredibly able - building, wiring, fixing, etc so I feel confident that he will figure out anything he doesn't already know (and there will be a lot, I'm under no illusions about that!) We've also renovated some very, very old houses ourselves while living in them, so are not averse to hard work, but we do want to be able to continue to have other areas of our lives too - to head off for a day out etc without feeling like we are falling behind on the property.
We are currently looking at a property of 15 acres, with several paddocks of around an acre each. It currently has two beef cattle, which can stay if we want them, also three chickens. Otherwise, the property is leased to horse owners for grazing. The fences are electrified and in good order, and there is a water bore. I'm just seeking opinion about whether this all sounds too much for first timers, or manageable without completely taking over our every waking moment, as we both have jobs - albeit very flexible ones. The horse owners would be responsible for their own animals, but I am unsure how much work we could expect from just paddock maintenance etc. I'd be grateful for any opinions or advice. Thanks!

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7 years 11 months ago #490763 by kernels
Hi Trkle, we made the move from the north shore out to 3 acres near Helensville about 4 months ago, so I can give you some advice based on recent lessons.

They are not called life-sentence-blocks for no reason, but it depends very much on how you tackle things and what standard you aspire to. For instance, it now takes me half a day to mow only the grass next to our driveway with a ride-on where before that was how long it took to mow the whole section with a hand mower.

15 acres is quite a bit of land to maintain, you are going to have to look at a serious number of animals to keep things in check. leasing the land out to horse owners is OK, but in the bit of experience that we have had in that, the financial income is almost nothing and the horses wreck the paddock.

The 3 kids would be the biggest question mark, presumably you would have to be reasonably close to schools or at least have reliable school buses operating.

Having said all that, I would never move back, after 4 months, I love how dark and quiet the nights are (you can even see stars!) We've got a few lazy alpacas to eat some of the grass (need more), I've started planting fruit trees, raised vege gardens will get built before the summer, I have my archery range, my kids are loving it + too many other little good things to mention.

Do you have any friends that live on a lifestyle block ?

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7 years 11 months ago #490765 by Trkle
Hi, thanks for your reply. My mother has 3 acres, pony, sheep, nut orchard (is that the term?) etc, which she manages herself very ably, and works part time as well. She also mows the large lawn area with a hand mower. I'm not worried about income at this stage, I think our major consideration will be how to keep the grass down with so many paddocks. It looks very lush... Or is it naive to think that will be the biggest hurdle?

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7 years 11 months ago #490766 by kernels

Trkle;495494 wrote: Hi, thanks for your reply. My mother has 3 acres, pony, sheep, nut orchard (is that the term?) etc, which she manages herself very ably, and works part time as well. She also mows the large lawn area with a hand mower. I'm not worried about income at this stage, I think our major consideration will be how to keep the grass down with so many paddocks. It looks very lush... Or is it naive to think that will be the biggest hurdle?

Absolutely, you will have all the normal home ownership maintenance type issues that you probably have at the moment, and then on top of that there will be fencing, planting, pruning, drenching, milking and about 100 other 'ings' to do.

For me it's worth it, my wife and I are both early 30's and have decided that this is our last house, so I'm not stressing out about things too much. If I don't have time to do something today, then I do it tomorrow, or next week or next year.

I hope someone with more knowledge will be able to guide you on the easiest way to keep the grass down until you decide which way you want to go long term.

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7 years 11 months ago #490768 by kindajojo
We have 23 actress, both work full time in demanding jobs but flexible hours. I run 10 to 12 Galloways and 20 to 25 breeding wilti ewes. It takes about half an hour in the evening to feed out, check troughs etc...bit longer if we are lambing..
T
We have worked to make the block low maintenance....good fencing, yards. Low maintenance animals and we under stocked so don't really need to feed put a lot.
In saying that we spend a lot of the time in the weekends working on stuff...but that's what we enjoy so it's not a burden and it's not stuff that needs doing, but stuff we want to do.

We recently went away for 5 weeks and left son in charge....he had numbers for emergencies and apart from opening a gate or two to let the animals into new pasture there was nothing to do.
I think it's as much work as you want it to be. You could just work on your house and continue to collect income from grazing the horses until you feel you can manage more workload.
Most lifestyle blockers I have met think after a year that they would like a few more acres....

If you don't want to mow the lawn fence it off and graze it. We fenced off out longest driveway and the sheep can be put there a day or so and they keep the grass down, the advantage is we don't have to mow it, the disadvantage is there is a bit of poo in the driveway....
It's not an immaculate place but it's home

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7 years 11 months ago #490773 by rider1803
I personally would not want graziers on my property (I own horses myself so not biased) but you will find there is always someone at your property taking care of their horse - feeding, riding etc, so you don't get a lot of peace and quiet for yourself. We have a self-contained unit joined to our home that we have recently had a friend and her two children staying in and it is a shock to the system and we cannot wait for them to move out (in a nice way) so we can have "our" property back to ourselves.

As someone above said they understock so limit the need for lots of feedout etc which is a great idea, if I was you I would get a few more beefies and run them, that way you will have a lovely home kill and can sell the others if need be. They can be left (providing adequate water and grass) in their paddock for the weekend if you want to go away and if you want to go away for longer are easier for someone else to keep an eye on for you.

Confirmed horse addict.

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7 years 11 months ago #490775 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Advice before purchase, please
Many people move onto a 5 acre block and then feel its not enough so get a larger block. [am certainly one of those myself, and 10 1/2 acres isnt really big enough for me.]
If you run some cattle they tend to be low maintenance compared with other animals and the more of the property that is in paddocks, then the lower the maintenance in terms of mowing etc
I like the poster above, would probably not want horse grazers either as it means people coming and going when they please rather than when you choose.
Am feeding my neighbours horses at the moment, a veritable mud slide across the paddocks and the damage they can do to pasture is quite substantial, compared with cattle or sheep.
Low stocking rates can make life easier for you and having surplus grass can be less stressful than having no grass at all
There shouldnt be much more work in running 15 acres than running 5 if the fencing and pasture is in good condition

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7 years 11 months ago #490782 by Blueberry
I'm with the other posters - I would not want any 'strangers' coming and going on my property either (glad I'm not the only one[:I])

if you do not need the income from horse grazing, then get yourself some weaners every second year, homekill what you need and sell the others. Having just one mob to move is easy, no matter the size of that mob. Does that property have yards and a loading ramp so you can look after and load the cattle?

And - despite Kaiapo-Kens other post - I also would try to get as much land as is affordable now. You can always go from low intensity use to higher productivity later on, when the kids are older, or you work from home, or one of you wants to make an income off the block.

[;)] Blueberry
treading lightly on mother earth

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7 years 11 months ago #490784 by kernels

Blueberry;495513 wrote: I'm with the other posters - I would not want any 'strangers' coming and going on my property either (glad I'm not the only one[:I])

if you do not need the income from horse grazing, then get yourself some weaners every second year, homekill what you need and sell the others. Having just one mob to move is easy, no matter the size of that mob. Does that property have yards and a loading ramp so you can look after and load the cattle?

And - despite Kaiapo-Kens other post - I also would try to get as much land as is affordable now. You can always go from low intensity use to higher productivity later on, when the kids are older, or you work from home, or one of you wants to make an income off the block.

Great, concise advice here.

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7 years 11 months ago #490791 by Baroque
Had grazers for a while here too and they can be a bit of a pain however if you make sure you have a good contract and set some rules then it can be quite workable if you don't mind someone else being on your place. Money up front is a good idea [1-2 months in advance plus a bond] as some grazers will take advantage of you.

Figure in fencing and water upgrades/mending on the property. Also raceways and access upgrades and repairs if they are coming on and off regularly the property will need maintenance. Shelterbelts?

As for other stock you will really need to see what the property will support first so don't be in a panic to buy stock until you see what it can support in the worst weather. [;)]

Breeding & training quality Spanish horses - THE horse of Kings! Also breeding Arapawa & Pitt Island sheep.

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7 years 11 months ago #490793 by Baroque
And make sure you have good yards and a loading race if you are intending having any stock!

Breeding & training quality Spanish horses - THE horse of Kings! Also breeding Arapawa & Pitt Island sheep.

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7 years 11 months ago #490801 by rider1803

Baroque;495522 wrote: Had grazers for a while here too and they can be a bit of a pain however if you make sure you have a good contract and set some rules then it can be quite workable if you don't mind someone else being on your place. Money up front is a good idea [1-2 months in advance plus a bond] as some grazers will take advantage of you.


I would think however if you are not experienced with horses and / or grazers yourself and understand the grazing situation well you are just opening yourself up for a world of problems - just my two cents worth :)

Confirmed horse addict.

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7 years 11 months ago #490803 by stephclark

rider1803;495532 wrote: I would think however if you are not experienced with horses and / or grazers yourself and understand the grazing situation well you are just opening yourself up for a world of problems - just my two cents worth :)


good point there too...
what happens if horse gets into trouble ( stuck in fence/colic/escapes to road) and you are the only one around.. yes its the owners responsibility to look after their horse.. but I personally couldn't stand by waiting for them to arrive to deal with an issue...
when we first moved to ours, I had grazers.. drove me nuts and I am horsey!.. I spent more time sorting out the grazers horses than my own.. torn covers hanging around necks, gates left undone I had to get the vet out to one of them..and was the owner grateful?.. nah.. horse had only shredded its leg to the bone! should have left it in the fence all day bleeding..NOT

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7 years 11 months ago #490852 by Baroque

stephclark;495534 wrote: good point there too...
what happens if horse gets into trouble ( stuck in fence/colic/escapes to road) and you are the only one around.. yes its the owners responsibility to look after their horse.. but I personally couldn't stand by waiting for them to arrive to deal with an issue...
when we first moved to ours, I had grazers.. drove me nuts and I am horsey!.. I spent more time sorting out the grazers horses than my own.. torn covers hanging around necks, gates left undone I had to get the vet out to one of them..and was the owner grateful?.. nah.. horse had only shredded its leg to the bone! should have left it in the fence all day bleeding..NOT

yep I had similar problems with grazers, hence why I don't have grazers anymore because some just drove me nuts not turning up for the vet, dentist, farrier etc and generally not looking after their horses properly. I am fairly experienced with horses and have one or more of everything at my place so am well used to handling youngstock, stallions, mares and stroppy horses generally.

I had one grazer with 2 horses who'd booked a vet for the lame one then failed to turn up and when I called her to tell her the vet was there she said she'd forgotten they were coming and expected me to go and catch her unhandled horse and hold it for the vet while I was still recovering from a serious injury! (I could barely walk at the time and was recovering from being bucked off while practicing mounted archery and had badly torn R hamstring, R glutes, R elbow tendons, and popped my R shoulder out so was not really in the best shape to be handling her horses!) [}:)] We got the job done and no-one got hurt thankfully but she was out of there as soon as I could get rid of her.

I'm assuming the original poster has a fair bit of horse experience as they said they had horses.

If you have facilities such as arenas, yards, stables and if you do have grazers you do need to make sure you put good rules in place for their use and for any damages that the horses or owners cause.

Hence why I said you need a good contract because if you want to kick them out at any stage for being a nuisance or damaging stuff and not contributing to its repair, that you can do so without any financial comeback.

Breeding & training quality Spanish horses - THE horse of Kings! Also breeding Arapawa & Pitt Island sheep.

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7 years 10 months ago #490881 by Peterkit03

stephclark;495534 wrote: good point there too...
what happens if horse gets into trouble ( stuck in fence/colic/escapes to road) and you are the only one around.. yes its the owners responsibility to look after their horse.. but I personally couldn't stand by waiting for them to arrive to deal with an issue...
when we first moved to ours, I had grazers.. drove me nuts and I am horsey!.. I spent more time sorting out the grazers horses than my own.. torn covers hanging around necks, gates left undone I had to get the vet out to one of them..and was the owner grateful?.. nah.. horse had only shredded its leg to the bone! should have left it in the fence all day bleeding..NOT

Good advice here too. There are good people out there still. But some bad apple tents to lurk around to take advantage.
There is always a saying, " let's be gangster now, so we can be friends later."

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