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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:47 pm 
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Ok, so here's the deal my grand parents are getting up there in age, they live in a less populated area of western Washington. On 5 acres of heavily wooded land, with a dirt road as the only access, and wood heat as the only heat source so having to chop nearly 6 cord of wood isn't easy for a man over the age of 85.

So grandpa sent out an email saying they were going to look for a hose near my parents so they can be closer to them (only kin this side if the country). But grandpa asked if I wanted the house. My initial thought is.... HELL YES! The only down side is the commute to work it'd be about 45-60 min because of traffic. I'm also unsure if a time line because grandpa built this house, and it has extreme sentimental value to him. So I know he's reluctant to move, but they are willing, when they find another place to sign this over to me.

Now the up sides to the property, 5 acres, central wood heat, well water, abundant trees, 2 car garage, covered wood shed, covered carport, very large garden area, 800ish sq ft wood working room.

Down sides it's going to be me, most likely by myself. That's a lot of upkeep on a house that's this big, not to mention the land and the garden.

Image

So here's a pic I took from google earth, there's a gravel out at the west end if the property with a 200+' drop off. The neighbors to the north are rarely home, the neighbor to the south I don know, and I think my grandparents have met a dozen times at the most in 37 years they've lived there.

Of course id want to go off grid as much as possible, and I was thinking wind. There's a couple areas that are clear that are up on the property (it mostly on a slope the easy is the high spot the west is low. My needs for the wind would mostly be for back up power to the pump house.

What do you guys think? What else could I do to get this place more self sustaining?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:02 am 
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check out some of the threads on permies .com.
its a permaculture site where lots of folks ask similar questions and get great free advice. if you haven't looked in to or heard of permaculture its also a great place to get a free primer on the subject. the most basic advice will probably be plant more fruit and nut trees now because they usually take a while to start producing. also what if any thing do your neighbors grow around you? grandpa would probably be a great source or knowledge. if you like to try your had at gardening and a self sustainable life style this looks like a great opportunity. best of luck how ever it turns out and above all have some fun out there.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:35 am 
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Definitely look into permaculture. Also look into garden space. (how large is large? Is it enough to grow adequate food? )You need good sunlight to grow veggies and that might require removing a handful of trees if you need a little more space. Gardens done right aren't as much work as you think. Mulch is your friend. It keeps the weeds to a minimum and enriches and softens the soil as it breaks down. What about livestock like chickens, ducks, or Guinea hens? VERY easy to care for, and they give eggs and meat if you are inclined to butcher. They have some basic requirements. (Shelter from weather, a place to nest, protection from predators) Ever think about beekeeping? Hives can be fun, but they take more work and investment in my experience. I can't tell from the areal view, but if most of that acerage is just woodland it shouldn't require too much care. It's not like you're raking up the leaves and mowing under the trees.

When it comes to yearly gruntwork, I hire a nephew of mine for the weekend once a year in early spring. We mulch all the beds, plant veggies and flowers, clean the chicken coop, work on fencing, trim the bushes... And he works cheap. For a fried chicken dinner, a chance to drive the riding lawnmower and $40 I get plenty of labor out of him. Don't be afraid to get help once in a while. :D


It looks like a beautiful place, I'm jealous already. :evil: :mrgreen: :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:48 am 
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Armor76 wrote:
Definitely look into permaculture. Also look into garden space. (how large is large? Is it enough to grow adequate food? )You need good sunlight to grow veggies and that might require removing a handful of trees if you need a little more space. Gardens done right aren't as much work as you think. Mulch is your friend. It keeps the weeds to a minimum and enriches and softens the soil as it breaks down. What about livestock like chickens, ducks, or Guinea hens? VERY easy to care for, and they give eggs and meat if you are inclined to butcher. They have some basic requirements. (Shelter from weather, a place to nest, protection from predators) Ever think about beekeeping? Hives can be fun, but they take more work and investment in my experience. I can't tell from the areal view, but if most of that acerage is just woodland it shouldn't require too much care. It's not like you're raking up the leaves and mowing under the trees.

When it comes to yearly gruntwork, I hire a nephew of mine for the weekend once a year in early spring. We mulch all the beds, plant veggies and flowers, clean the chicken coop, work on fencing, trim the bushes... And he works cheap. For a fried chicken dinner, a chance to drive the riding lawnmower and $40 I get plenty of labor out of him. Don't be afraid to get help once in a while. :D


It looks like a beautiful place, I'm jealous already. :evil: :mrgreen: :lol:


Yea garden space is is larger then the foot print of the house, It hasn't been kept up as much as in years past but its on the north end of the lot with the house and the drive way clear of trees to the south, its also on a hill so the trees actually don't effect the sun of the garden except the early morning, after 10am you have sun until the sun sets.

I've been gardening for most my life when I lived with my parents. So I know quite a bit but yes I have looked into permaculture. I was also looking at getting a few goats and chickens, but that'll be down the road. I travel a lot and plan to for the next few years. So for now I think I'll be planting more fruit trees. They have a half dozen apple, some pear, peach, and others ( cant remember off the top of my head).

It is mostly wooded there's a large figure eight that runs though the wooded area for general maintenance. But cutting down some trees possibly hiring a logging company to take out a few of the more expensive profitable trees. Just as an income boost for me so that I can get a windmill going for power and a battery bank is definitely in the plan.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:08 am 
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thebigstick wrote:
check out some of the threads on permies .com.
its a permaculture site where lots of folks ask similar questions and get great free advice. if you haven't looked in to or heard of permaculture its also a great place to get a free primer on the subject. the most basic advice will probably be plant more fruit and nut trees now because they usually take a while to start producing. also what if any thing do your neighbors grow around you? grandpa would probably be a great source or knowledge. if you like to try your had at gardening and a self sustainable life style this looks like a great opportunity. best of luck how ever it turns out and above all have some fun out there.


Thanks I have actually looked into permaculture, I was actually thinking about 3 different styles of gardening. I want to do permaculture but that doesn't really produce food though the winter here. The other two I want to try is aquaponics, and the in earth method with a shelter over top. It doesn't get that cold here. So digging into the ground about 6' with a glass roof to provide food during the winter would be excellent. The aquaponics would be great because I could convert the small greenhouse they have attached to the house into a very very small aquaponics system and try to scale up.

Thanks guys for the in put. I'm starting a notebook of all suggestions and organizing it to things I thing would be most important.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:53 am 
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Get goats. You can go meat goats or dairy goats if you like milk and cheese. Either way, they keep down overgrowth and can pull a cart. Their favorite foods are browse, so weedy stuff and vines. Perhaps add a donkey, sheep, or other grazer to get the patches of grass the goats will leave. Free-range chickens and guinea fowel will help with your bug population and, considering the location, you could probably do with a cat or two to keep the mouses out o' da houses. Also, permaculture, but that's been mentioned. Will you have your bees there? That will go great with the permaculture.

Premier1 electric mesh fence works great. We use the semi-permanent. It can be kept up all year, but can also be moved like for when goats need fresh pasture. Good stuff.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:58 am 
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As far as off-grid power, I like solar/wind hybrid systems so that's something to check out.

As for my thoughts on projects, go a bit slower than you'd like to. If you go fast you can get overwhelmed quickly but a small garden you expand yearly, a new bit of livestock every year or two as it tickles your fancy, and a major project every 1-3 years (fencing in the place, barn raising, whatever) might be a good pace to start at then slow down or speed up as it suits you.

+1 on the goats.

Last bit of advice, keep an eye on what will happen if nothing happens, ie keep 1 eye on the resale value of the place with every change you make.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:41 pm 
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Anianna wrote:
Get goats. You can go meat goats or dairy goats if you like milk and cheese. Either way, they keep down overgrowth and can pull a cart. Their favorite foods are browse, so weedy stuff and vines. Perhaps add a donkey, sheep, or other grazer to get the patches of grass the goats will leave. Free-range chickens and guinea fowel will help with your bug population and, considering the location, you could probably do with a cat or two to keep the mouses out o' da houses. Also, permaculture, but that's been mentioned. Will you have your bees there? That will go great with the permaculture.

Premier1 electric mesh fence works great. We use the semi-permanent. It can be kept up all year, but can also be moved like for when goats need fresh pasture. Good stuff.


Thanks I was going to get livestock, but that'll be down the road I think for now I am going to start looking into more fruit trees, maybe a nut tree or two, also thinking about getting a couple Kiwi vines.

Down the road when I get settled in I will definitely get some goats mostly dairy maybe a couple for meat. One of the nice things about the house is they have a wine cellar that stays about 53* year round, which I think is the perfect temp for cheese aging. Chickens are definitely on the list too, mom has them now and they are pretty cool. They will probably have a large coupe, and a penned in area because there's lots of racoons. I'll have to look into some other guinea fowel to roam around to keep the bugs down. The bees WILL be coming! The mead MUST FLOW! Hahaha

Tater Raider wrote:
As far as off-grid power, I like solar/wind hybrid systems so that's something to check out.

As for my thoughts on projects, go a bit slower than you'd like to. If you go fast you can get overwhelmed quickly but a small garden you expand yearly, a new bit of livestock every year or two as it tickles your fancy, and a major project every 1-3 years (fencing in the place, barn raising, whatever) might be a good pace to start at then slow down or speed up as it suits you.

+1 on the goats.

Last bit of advice, keep an eye on what will happen if nothing happens, ie keep 1 eye on the resale value of the place with every change you make.


Thanks for the advice I definitely plan on taking it very slowly. One of the first projects will be to start in on the gardens, up and going again. They've been getting over run by weeds. Gardens are easy I've been doing it, or helping with it since I was basically born. They have a green house on the south side of the house that's gone into some disrepair, so getting that fixed and putting some grow lights in there is top priority. The other is getting a new tiller, grandpa has one but it's tiny, I talked to him and he said the main garden is about 1000 sq ft. The second garden is about 800 sq ft. So getting a large tiller will really help. I think the first year I'm going to just start a small section and get the permaculture started and slowly expand.

Again this is pretty much going to be done by myself. I have some young cousins I may higher and see if they want to learn along with me, but they are.... Well..... Not exactly manual labor kind of kids. If it doesn't have a screen and you tap the crop to harvest then they don't like farming.

The next project would be planning for the wind turbine. I have an idea of where it's going to go. My biggest concern is the battery bank and where it's going to go. I don't feel comfortable having it in the actual house. So I'm thinking that I will build either a shed for it near the garage/house. Or build a room inside the garage. It's a nice size 2 car garage, and I'm a car guy. So I don't know if I could justify taking up room in the garage.

Anyways enough rambling for me. Time to do some research and start a journal on projects, dreams, and aspirations.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:05 pm 
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Dude, this is awesome. Congrats on scoring a great place, and best of luck with the planning!

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You've been handed quite a blessing!

I recommend first, clearing enough trees to create a path for solar energy.
Cut the logs for fuel, and mulch the trimmings for woodchips in your garden.
Get chickens and some Guinea Hens in the spring. The Guinea hens will roam your property, and pick it clean of bugs and ticks. Your wooded area will provide ample protection for your guinea hens to roost, breed and hide from predators, but ground predators, and birds of prey will keep their numbers under control. Start a meal worm farm now, so you have live protein to feed your chicken and guinea hens next winter. You can also section off a portion of your garden, to grow grain and oats, to feed them through the winter.

These are a few of my favorite things. (:

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Beowolf wrote:
Dude, this is awesome. Congrats on scoring a great place, and best of luck with the planning!


Don't I know it! Trust me I am VERY greatful and want to do this place justice the house was built by my grandpa and family. They have all the original blueprints, wiring diagrams, pipe layout, everything... My grandpa was an engineer so everything was done meticulously.

AfleetAlex wrote:
You've been handed quite a blessing!

I recommend first, clearing enough trees to create a path for solar energy.
Cut the logs for fuel, and mulch the trimmings for woodchips in your garden.
Get chickens and some Guinea Hens in the spring. The Guinea hens will roam your property, and pick it clean of bugs and ticks. Your wooded area will provide ample protection for your guinea hens to roost, breed and hide from predators, but ground predators, and birds of prey will keep their numbers under control. Start a meal worm farm now, so you have live protein to feed your chicken and guinea hens next winter. You can also section off a portion of your garden, to grow grain and oats, to feed them through the winter.

These are a few of my favorite things. (:


Great ideas! Thanks! Solar will be put in after the wind as its a bit more work to do by myself and cost wise is more than I can afford, but i do plan on clearing some trees. As I've said the property is on a slope, the bottom of the property is about 100-120 feet lower then where the house is, and the top of the property is about 30-40 feet higher then where the house sits. The part of the property around the house has been terraced, So I was thinking about clearing some more trees to open up the lower terrace and give me some more room around the house. The satellite view isn't very good. I want to go down and snap some pictures soon to give myself a better idea of what it looks like.

Funny enough the grandparents, have a worm bin, that they use for compost. I don't know what more would be involved to make it into a meal worm bin. As for grains, I'm not sure how well grains grow here in western washington we do get a lot of rain some summers and a lot of grains are very delicate.... So not sure that's also all that practical for me, plus I really know nothing about grains, nor now to get them off the stalks, but I guess that's something that can be learned, and I'm all about bettering myself.

Does anyone have any good resources for planning an power room? Some place I can start researching and looking at sycmatics for building a room to house my battery bank along with the breakers, inverters, bypass, and such? I'm thinking I have a connection with a friend that can get me some shipping containers. I could probably get a 20' container an convert it into my up for my electrical. I don't know if they have 20' refer units (insulated) but that might be an option.

Seriously this has been a great help. I was in shock when they asked me if I wanted it. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, and not freak out at the possibilities that have been given to me.

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You might also want to look at putting in a small pond, stock it with fish every so often and its another self replenishing food source. Also check the septic system for type and what kind of maintenance it needs if any. Good luck and enjoy though its a great gift.

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Being you recognize this is a big place to keep up on your own, don't start too many projects at once. Gardens and livestock take a lot of work so don't get into those until you have the ability to really manage them. Once you do start them take it slow and start small, build up to the size that will be sustaining over time.

This is a really great opportunity. And I imagine your grandparents are happy that you are keeping the place they love in the family.

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ineffableone wrote:
Being you recognize this is a big place to keep up on your own, don't start too many projects at once. Gardens and livestock take a lot of work so don't get into those until you have the ability to really manage them. Once you do start them take it slow and start small, build up to the size that will be sustaining over time.

This is a really great opportunity. And I imagine your grandparents are happy that you are keeping the place they love in the family.


It is completely frightening to think how big this place it, and how much work will be involved in getting it in the order I would like. I'm thinking probably 10 years or so... to have it up and running the way I like. live stock will probably one of the last things I get, I still have a lot of traveling I want to do. For me the best time to travel is fall-spring so I'll have summer to work on the gardens. The first summer I live there I don't really plan much maybe some chilis, tomoatos, and onions. I'll be doing most of the planning then and land clearing. Not to mention I'll have to start getting wood. Grandpa goes though about 6 cord of wood a winter, though he likes it hot. I'm ok having it around 55-60. So the wood will just be something new, I grew up with wood heat so I don't mind splitting wood, or having a fire. But I'll be new for me to collect it myself.

cricketdave wrote:
You might also want to look at putting in a small pond, stock it with fish every so often and its another self replenishing food source. Also check the septic system for type and what kind of maintenance it needs if any. Good luck and enjoy though its a great gift.


I was thinking about a pond, they put in a little pond couple hundred gallons for gold fish. I might look into expanding it but that'll another project for later on. Plus I'd have to put a net or something over it because the racoons and fox's always came in and ate the gold fish. I'd have to dig it down a lot deeper too because we don't often get real cold but every few years the pond would freeze down to almost no room for the gold fish. I also plan on building a little aquaponics system (start small at first) and have a small kiddy pool for talapia or some cheap fish.

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What a fantastic family you have. Congratulations.

A few rambling thoughts...
1. Identify what is growing on the property before you make any additional plans. Find out what you can coppice, what you can eat, and what is poison. You may be surprised at the number of medicinal and edible plants that are already there.
2. I would caution bringing in a company to harvest wood on such a small plot. Unless you have easy access to all 5 acres, they will wnat to cut a way in. i have never met a tree company owner who wants to lug trees through a forrest. They want to load them close to where they fall. Even the Amish who use horses to drag, lol.
3. Food Forest. Plant the items that will need a 5 or more years to produce now. English Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds (too cold?), hickory (smoking wood and to bring in game), etc. Permaculture basics are a good way to start the plan. Sounds like your grandparents already had a bit of that going on with the greenhouse, multiple gardens and worm bin.
4. Leaf mold. The best non-animal fertilizer I have ever used. You got 5 acres of trees. Get yourself a way to collect all those leaves and cover that garden in them every fall. 6+ inches deep. Till them in every spring after they are crumbly. Every kind but black walnut. It is a wives tale that oak raises the acidity too far to plant year after year. I used white and black oak leaves, shredded, on my northern garden for years. Production got better every year.
5. Take your time and have fun. You have decades.
6. Would you get bees?


Heck, 5 acres would keep me occupied til I died...

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Murphman wrote:
4. Leaf mold. The best non-animal fertilizer I have ever used. You got 5 acres of trees. Get yourself a way to collect all those leaves and cover that garden in them every fall. 6+ inches deep. Till them in every spring after they are crumbly. Every kind but black walnut. It is a wives tale that oak raises the acidity too far to plant year after year. I used white and black oak leaves, shredded, on my northern garden for years. Production got better every year.


From the picture of the land and knowing Western WA most of those trees if not all are evergreen. No leaf mold, just needles. Evergreens needles tend to make for a fairly acidic soil too. Though plenty of ways to fix that.

As for cutting down trees.

Doing some selective cutting of the trees can be good it is part of what keeps a forest healthy, just make sure you get someone who knows what they are doing. Most folks I know who will selective cut small amounts like this, have small mills they bring with them and set up on site. They will cut the tree and process it right there then haul away just the boards they want to keep. You wont get top dollar for the trees you cut down. Since the folks who pay high dollar will only come to clear large stands not small selective cuts. It is even possible that a tree could be worth more as fire wood than lumber. You already mentioned you will need to harvest firewood, so look around at that possibility before committing to selling trees as lumber.

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Thanks for the info I'll look into the selective cutting, and funny thing. My grandpa actually has a mill. It's part of the workshop. So that's a bonus for me. I may look into getting a better mill or borrowing one because the one he has uses chain saws. And the curf (I believe that's the correct word) is very thick. I'd like to have more if a band saw style. The other nice thing about this 5 acre property, is that it comes with another 5 acre property for firewood, seriously I can't make this stuff up, I'm very very lucky. Grandpa did not want to harvest any trees on this property, unless they were dying, or he needed a straight piece for lumber. One other thing there is a road that figure 8's throughout the property. So access to most if the land isn't hard.

As for tree mulch, there are 3 (I believe) HUGE maple trees, and a few other leafy trees. The driveway is actually covered with a a couple too. So I might be able to harvest enough. May not be able to do 6" but I could do a couple in sure. But yes most are needles.

As for what's growing there are a few places with poison oak, but he tried to kill that as much as possible and supposedly did a good job.

And yes I will have bees, I help my dad with the bees currently, he's got around 10 hives now. I'll be taking them over as my dad gets sicker and sicker. Eventually just completely taking over on e he dies. We currently have a pretty good set up, and with all this property, I believe that the bees will thrive, might even let a few swarm and start some wild hives. I think I would only want up to a dozen hives, maybe expand to 20 eventually. Most the honey would be used to make mead, and perhaps sell some quarts on the side.




Thanks again everyone! All this information is coming at me as one of these days I'm going to have to sit down and organize everything and get a 10 year plan going for the MAJOR projects. I'm very lucky to have found this site, and have a family as awesome as I do. As always keep the ideas coming! I'm still young, and love thinking that soon I'll have an actual home and not just an apartment where I'm giving away my money to some corporation. If I get a chance I'll see if I can get down there, snap a few pictures of the property to get a better idea of what in dealing with, and talking about.

Edit: The second plot is about 5miles away from this one it is not connected. Thought I should point that out.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:37 am 
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Halfapint wrote:
Thanks for the info I'll look into the selective cutting, and funny thing. My grandpa actually has a mill. It's part of the workshop. So that's a bonus for me. I may look into getting a better mill or borrowing one because the one he has uses chain saws. And the curf (I believe that's the correct word) is very thick. I'd like to have more if a band saw style. The other nice thing about this 5 acre property, is that it comes with another 5 acre property for firewood, seriously I can't make this stuff up, I'm very very lucky. Grandpa did not want to harvest any trees on this property, unless they were dying, or he needed a straight piece for lumber. One other thing there is a road that figure 8's throughout the property. So access to most if the land isn't hard.


Chain saw mills are ok in a pinch, but your right they waist a lot with the thick blade.

Wood-miser Mills are what you might want to look at. LT10-40 are the ones that would be the most affordable.
http://www.woodmizer.com/us/PortableEquipment/ManualSawmills.aspx
They are possible to find used also http://www.woodmizer.com/usedsawmills/default.aspx
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:30 pm 
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Merovech wrote:
Never allow land to pass out of the family. Never.


Oh I know, that's why no matter how hard it will be. I'm going to make this work.

ineffableone wrote:
Chain saw mills are ok in a pinch, but your right they waist a lot with the thick blade.

Wood-miser Mills are what you might want to look at. LT10-40 are the ones that would be the most affordable.
http://www.woodmizer.com/us/PortableEquipment/ManualSawmills.aspx
They are possible to find used also http://www.woodmizer.com/usedsawmills/default.aspx


A little out of my price range for something I wont use very often. I don't see foresee myself needing to mill my own lumber anytime in the next few years, If I do it will only be a few board feet for repair. It's just a toy I'd really like to have to be more "self sustaining".

I think the first piece of gear that I'd spend some money on would be a small front end loader with a backhoe. That would make so much of the work I need to do much much quicker. I don't need a huge one, but something small. Something like a Bobcat T100, S100, or even S70..... They come with some attachments, the ones I was thinking of would be backhoe and bucket.

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Last edited by Halfapint on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Just keep dreaming, figure out priorities, and work your way towards the bigger stuff. :D


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Tater Raider wrote:
Just keep dreaming, figure out priorities, and work your way towards the bigger stuff. :D


I've been reading through your thread there Tater and you're a big inspiration, also one of the reasons I know how much work it is to have this much land. So thanks for let me live through you for the last couple years!

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I am a little short on time right now so I may have missed something up above. But, what if they stay and you live with them? Or vice versa... Help em out... They teach you... Given the option I would love to have my grandparents with me. They could teach my wife and I a lot. We recently bought a 10 acre farm and are having to relearn skills that have been lost to our parents generation.


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Halfapint wrote:
Tater Raider wrote:
Just keep dreaming, figure out priorities, and work your way towards the bigger stuff. :D

I've been reading through your thread there Tater and you're a big inspiration, also one of the reasons I know how much work it is to have this much land. So thanks for let me live through you for the last couple years!

I'm glad I could help.

I'm a bit off so what I consider busy and others consider busy don't usually match up. Me + working 1 day a week + 5 acres = someone else + full time job + 5-10 acres might be a fair comparison. Don't bother me, I do what I can.

Don't let it bother you either. Do what you can and let the rest go, then do more as you adjust. It can actually be fun done that way. I mean aside from the stress, night sweats, nightmares, fits of pure, unbridled rage, trying to figure out why all the cabbages died, etc.

:awesome:


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