New to farming

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8 years 4 months ago #513633 by Farm_mama
New to farming was created by Farm_mama
Hi guys,

We are new to farming and are keen to learn everything we can with the aim of avoiding the obvious mistakes! We are in the Nelson region and have recently purchased a small 12 acre peice of land to raise our family on. ideally we could grow a good portion of our diet without too Many compromises. I would be curious to know how many hours other families spend managing similar sized farms. How did you learn? Did you ever wish you had a larger block of land? How much is too much and how much is too small?

Thanks for your help,

Fm

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8 years 4 months ago #513638 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic New to farming
Welcome to LSB FM. A lot of us were lucky enough grow up on farms and gathered information by osmosis I think :) but equally there are others that like you are starting out. Check out the site for information of interest to you. Not only are there good [people on the forum, but LSB also has experienced professionals covering everything from growing your own vegetables to poultry and animal husbandry and everything in between. The drop down menu on the "lifestyle file" on top green band, will give you plenty of reading to begin your journey. Asking size of land might be like asking how long is a piece of string. A lot will depend on how you manage it, and what your dreams and plans encompass. 12 aces is a good size to handle while you learn and if it's mainly all pasture, then you have enough to raise your own beef or sheep if you want meat for your freezer, or, for the children to learn how to care and be responsible for for animals that may be pets.
You should also be able to have a good vegetable garden.
While I worked in the city, I was on a large section in the heart of town (1614m2) but managed a decent orchard, good vegetable and glass house gardens and 12 chooks. A large portion of what we ate, we grew ourselves.
Equally I was brought up on a dairy farm, milking cows and raising calves, so you adapt your work to suit the size of your land.

All the best for your adventure.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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8 years 4 months ago #513655 by igor
Replied by igor on topic New to farming
Welcome to the forum. I read your other post about what to do with five acres before this one and understood it to mean that you had started with twelve acres and already built / planted trees on seven of them. If this is not the case and you are still at the starting out stage with twelve near enough to bare acres you will be sweet as long as you don't go mad with building stuff and planting pretty stuff that neither you nor your stock can eat. I would suggest an acre at the most for the house and barns, with maybe another acre for food gardens, leaving ten acres for grazing and or cropping. Remember that a lot of popular ornamental plants are toxic to man and beast so should never be planted anywhere near a farm.
Pigs will destroy your pasture very quickly. This can be a good thing if you want them to do it, for example if you are breaking in a piece of rough ground for a vegetable garden or getting ready to regrass a paddock, but generally it is not desirable. That said they are very easy care animals and will eat pretty much anything ensuring that very little is wasted.
If you are both young enough and keen enough I see no reason why you should not succeed. At least one of you will be fully employed at home keeping things going (growing?) while the other will need at least part time work somewhere else to pay for the stuff you can't grow. I do not believe that the target you have set yourselves can be achieved if you both have fulltime jobs somewhere else.
We have three and three eighths acres of our own plus a neighbour's small paddock and an adjoining small piece of waste ground that we have annexed because no-one else was using it. This gives us about four acres effective grazing which is just enough to wish it was more. This being the case we are forced to buy in a lot of feed in the form of hay, baleage, and grain. Twelve acres (ten effective) would give us the flexibility to run the same amount of stock that we struggle with on four acres while growing at least some of our own hay and having enough reserve carrying capacity to handle an unusually dry or wet season.

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8 years 4 months ago #513659 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic New to farming
Whether making hay or other supplements is realistic or not can depend on the availability of contractors with the right machinery who have the time or are willing to come and do your little corner. Find out about that harvesting possibility before assuming it's something you can do. We just don't bother here, despite having the space, because getting contractors to come when the weather is right, is just too difficult and we'd waste as much as we made, I suspect.

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8 years 4 months ago #513678 by Farm_mama
Replied by Farm_mama on topic New to farming
Hi guys, it is amazing indeed how quickly pasture can be eaten up with things like ponds, kids play areas, pathways, etc. We have planted a lot of trees and a food forest as well for productivity which eats into it even further. It is perhaps possible for us to extend the pasture a bit by cutting into things but probably not enough to matter. Maybe getting us from 5.5 to 6 acres at best. Being new to farming we are lucky to have the ability to work from home so the free time is there and we are young enough to have the energy and enthusiasm to put in the work needed, but with that being said we wanted to also make sure we can do what it is we set out to achieve which is produce a lot of our own fruit, veg, and meat. Our family size at the moment is 6 with uncertainty about potentially increasing it to 8 - so if we are boxed into a corner with regards to pasture size for cows, how else to produce the meat? Focus on smaller things like chickens, rabbits, pigs, etc?

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8 years 4 months ago #513689 by igor
Replied by igor on topic New to farming
Children's play areas and grazing land need not, and indeed for me should not, be exclusively one or the other. Our children have a trampoline in the hen run because there is no other piece of flattish ground available and a slide in the lower paddock where the cows (not bull) and goats usually graze. They all have enough stock sense to be safe with most of the livestock but are forbidden to go in with certain animals unless I am with them.
When your fruit trees get up a bit you might get away with grazing sheep among them as long as ring-barking does not become an issue. Alternatively you could graze geese in the orchard. Even with a family of eight you should get two feeds off a big goose.

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8 years 4 months ago #513759 by Farm_mama
Replied by Farm_mama on topic New to farming
You have a very good point igor (about the childrens play area) and after reading your post the first thing we did is have a good think about how to rope in that area as part of the pasture. A no-brainer that we can't believe we didn't see before - thank you!

We were told sheep were pretty high maintenance animals to keep (at least relative to cows) and we not originally going to have any. Geese we have never looked in - thanks for the tip!!

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8 years 4 months ago #513800 by Anakei
Replied by Anakei on topic New to farming
Definitely look at rabbits. Excellent source of protein and you should be able to produce most of their feed. They have the best conversion rate of meat to feed of any animal.

Urban mini farmer and guerilla gardener

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8 years 4 months ago #513856 by Farm_mama
Replied by Farm_mama on topic New to farming
We developed a taste for rabbits while in Italy as they are sold quite commonly over there and yummy :-) Odd how no one really sells them in the markets here (Kiwis don't like them??), and we have every intention of raising our own.

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8 years 4 months ago #514177 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic New to farming
Rabbit farming got hit really hard when RCV was introduced into NZ, so that to keep your stock required a $20 per rabbit vaccination. RCV is still in NZ but feral rabbits are developing immunity to it. Feral rabbits grow much more slowly than domestic breeds, and are much more naughty. I don't know if domestic breeds have also developed immunity.
We used a movable pen arrangement made out of gates covered with chicken wire, but the rabbits dug deep tunnels which needed to be checked and filled in very regularly. Killing them was a pain too, especially as the meat was not much better than other meats. So lots of work for not enough reward. But if I had a gun, rabbits would certainly be part of our or the dogs menu.

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8 years 4 months ago #514260 by Farm_mama
Replied by Farm_mama on topic New to farming
Appreciate the information LongRidge. We have watched plenty of videos on rabbit butchering and whatnot and it seems straightforward enough, but to go from birth to a meal on the table is a process we have yet to experience and you may very well be right - the effort may not be worth the time involved. They seem (on the surface anyways) so easy to maintain and grow. Has anyone else raised for meat?

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8 years 4 months ago #514280 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic New to farming
I am not advocating "don't do it", but for me. like keeping poultry, goats, pigs, donkeys, dogs and cats, they are on the don't do it again list. Some people find keeping rabbits is a worthwhile use of vegetable scraps and time (and possibly thyme).

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