Quantcast

Starting A Homestead/Hobby Farm - Tips?

Help Support Homesteading Forum:

Lemonmoon

New Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
3
This is probably both the most basic and open-ended question anyone could ask, so hopefully people will have fun answering :)

I've been planning to start a simple homestead (hobby farm might be more accurate) for years now, but only yesterday made a 5-year plan to get me there by the time I'm 29.

This made me realize: holy **** I'm going to own a farm in 5 years. And thought I should probably start learning and researching.
I know a bit, of course. I've worked on a horse farm, had my own veggie garden, I've owned backyard chickens and I've studied agriculture, horticulture and sustainability for a few years so I'm not going in ENTIRELY blind. But right now it definitely feels that way!

So my question is - any advice on where I should go from here? What should I research first? What knowledge did you wish you knew at the start? Basically any little bit of advice to start me in the right direction.

Here's a little bit about me that I hope will help in answering. I'm currently 23 and live (and will buy a farm) in Southern ontario. I'm supported financially by my parents and spouse. I do not plan to own a hobby farm to make money off of it or even break even. I will obviously be starting very slow. I'm thinking of finding a property in the range of 20-30 acres, enough to comfortably keep a few horses on plus the rest of the farm. I'm budgeting for a property of $8-900,000. I know I want chickens and I'd really like a dairy cow but I'm otherwise up for suggestions on what animals to get, what to plant, etc.

Obviously I'm very new to this so I'm sorry if any of you find yourselves shaking your head or rolling your eyes at my little start of a plan. But I'm here to learn so let me know whatnyou think! And thank you so much in advance for taking the time to help me out :)
 

Meerkat

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
24,194
Welcome to the forum, will you have any one else on the farm? $900,000 is a lot of money! And do you want wilderness or rural?
I'd start seeing where I want this place and inding out what kind of people live in the area. Be sure thats where you want to live,
 

SheepDog

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
5,959
Location
SE Washington State
The hardest part for me is the planning stage. The animals will give you a good idea of the crops you need to support them and you can calculate the produce you need to grow to feed your family. You talk about horses and a dairy cow so you must have some idea of the time investment that those animals require. The horses need exercise and the cow has to be bred, ween the calf and then you get milk by milking her twice a day. You will get about two gallons of milk a day. That only lasts for about 7 to 9 months, then you have to breed again and the process starts over.
What will you do with your surplus milk? What will you do with the calves? What power do you plan to use and what fuel? Will you have backups for both? Water will be a big (important) necessity. You should have a backup supply and a back-up for the back-up.
What skills do you have? Are you going to be able to maintain your equipment, make things you need or want? You will need to store fuel for any machinery that you use to plant, cultivate and harvest crops. You will need someplace to store your equipment and hand tools as well as a place to work on your equipment. How much land does it take to support the number of horses and the cow and calf for food and exercise room? You will need fences to keep the animals safe and at home.
There are many more considerations but as you go forward keep in mind that there are additional cost associated with everything you need and want. It is not just the price of what you buy, it is insurance, taxes, vet bills, licensing and maintenance costs too. Add to that the time each requires. This is a total lifestyle change and it requires daily work. No days off, and no vacations unless you pay someone to do the work for you.
 

Lemonmoon

New Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
3
Thanks for your replies! I'll try and address them best as I can.
I want to live rural - my budget accounts for having a large plot of land within 20 minutes of a town. To clarify, Southern ontario is a pretty expensive place to live in most areas, even rural, so 800,000 pretty much gets you the bare minimum in terms of property size and a liveable home.
I'm considering a pretty large area in Southern ontario and plan to narrow it down as I understand what I want on the farm better.
Most of the time it will just be me and my spouse. The farm will likely be my full time job, at least in warm months. Again, I plan to start small - just chickens until I get comfortable with that, then maybe my horse when I'm ready for that and so on.

I definitely realize there's a lot going into this :) I've already started a list of all the research topics I'm looking into, maybe some online courses I want to take. If it helps, I'm looking less for a giant list of all the little things that go into owning a farm and more for resources to get started with, a direction to look into. For example, before I can consider the intricacies of what it takes to own a cow, I first have to consider how long I'd wait after getting the property to purchase one. Or what animals I should get before getting a cow. Hopefully that makes sense :) just any helpful resources, starting points or things you wish you know at the start of your homestead/hobby farm. Like I said I'm not entirely starting from scratch but owning a small farm will definitely be new.
 

Alaskajohn

Bugged out
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
525
Location
Alaska
Congratulations on a great dream. I got my dream come true homestead/hobby farm about 6 years ago. Honestly, the one thing I wish I did was take some trade courses at the local community college, but they do not exist anywhere near my little ranch. Some electrical, welding, plumbing, engineering knowledge goes a long way when you are away from civilization and the cost and distance make being self reliant essential.

Also, be prepared for an ever growing list of projects that need to be done and things breaking and needing fixing. You will need to manage these items that distract from your agricultural and husbandry activities. So my advice is to build upon these activities gradually if you don't have a lifetime of experience in these areas.

I love this lifestyle, by the way, and would not trade it for anything else. And your are on the right forum for rational discussions on this subject.
 

LadyLocust

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Mar 5, 2019
Messages
3,350
Location
Washington
This is probably both the most basic and open-ended question anyone could ask, so hopefully people will have fun answering :)

I've been planning to start a simple homestead (hobby farm might be more accurate) for years now, but only yesterday made a 5-year plan to get me there by the time I'm 29.

This made me realize: holy **** I'm going to own a farm in 5 years. And thought I should probably start learning and researching.
I know a bit, of course. I've worked on a horse farm, had my own veggie garden, I've owned backyard chickens and I've studied agriculture, horticulture and sustainability for a few years so I'm not going in ENTIRELY blind. But right now it definitely feels that way!

So my question is - any advice on where I should go from here? What should I research first? What knowledge did you wish you knew at the start? Basically any little bit of advice to start me in the right direction.

Here's a little bit about me that I hope will help in answering. I'm currently 23 and live (and will buy a farm) in Southern ontario. I'm supported financially by my parents and spouse. I do not plan to own a hobby farm to make money off of it or even break even. I will obviously be starting very slow. I'm thinking of finding a property in the range of 20-30 acres, enough to comfortably keep a few horses on plus the rest of the farm. I'm budgeting for a property of $8-900,000. I know I want chickens and I'd really like a dairy cow but I'm otherwise up for suggestions on what animals to get, what to plant, etc.

Obviously I'm very new to this so I'm sorry if any of you find yourselves shaking your head or rolling your eyes at my little start of a plan. But I'm here to learn so let me know whatnyou think! And thank you so much in advance for taking the time to help me out :)
A loaded question :)
When I first read the post, my instant reaction is have twice as much in the bank as you plan on spending.
Second was have the facilities in place and feed, breading (dairy cow) lined up and in place prior to getting the critters.
From there, it will be up to you as to what to add. Some people like goats; I don't think I would own one. Some folks don't like sheep. Cattle are big, and on and on and on. One other thing to think about is once you acquire said property, how much will it cost to maintain it, and if it isn't generating an income, you will continue to be dependent. Consider the "what ifs" just as a safe guard. Best of luck!
 

Lemonmoon

New Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
3
Great advice!
I'm very lucky in one regard - my spouse is knowledgeable when it comes to plumbing, woodworking and electrical work and is a registered mechanic, so I have a long of bases covered. My dad is an engineer and has a lot of home repair experience so thats good too. My spouse tends to love those kinds of projects too (literally telling me- I can't wait for the day you wake me up before dawn to fix a fence!) So thats a pretty good start! Yes, saving up is becoming an increasing concern so I'm glad it's being brought to my attention! I'm thinking I might buy the property and then maybe spend a few years saving more to get ready for real livestock... we will see. My parents are involved in the project and plan to own half the property so that helps.
 
Last edited:

PinnickelFarms

Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
9
We started with a similar plan and have been living our dream for 10 years now. We lived in our RV while we were waiting for the property close so I had a lot of time to research and make some decisions. We have tried, and abandoned, many ideas that sounded good on paper but didn’t work out like we thought. Some of them I nixed just by researching and thinking through all the steps to build and maintain it (like a greenhouse).

I have a couple of thoughts I’ll share. Start small and only add what you enjoy and what you can actually manage. It is easy to become overwhelmed if you do too much. Farming, even as a hobby, is hard work and its even harder if you don’t like it. And it can be heartbreaking, especially if you make a mistake that causes harm to an animal.

For example, I love my nanny goats but the smell of a billy goat in rut is disgusting! I found myself hating to go near their pasture. That brings me to next bit of advice: find like-minded friends/neighbors to share knowledge and barter with. I worked out a deal with a neighbor to “borrow” her billy in exchange for helping her with rabbits.

Most important, research each topic from several reputable sources. Many college ag programs have great material for free. I raised all my bottle calves from these sources.

On the other hand- it is a great way to live and I have no regrets! Good luck...
 

joel

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
1,778
Pasture raised chicken eggs & organic fruits & vegetables is a profitable farm.
But you need to check with the State regs, some state will not let you use the term organic for month or years, because of past chemical use.
If you have the land for more than five years with no chemical use, it is a snap. Egg have to be washed in USA, but small farms of under 1000 egg sold to homes, not store, can bypass washing with roll a way nest. The egg stay clean & you can gather anytime of the day, without going in the coop in some set up. Polyface is good place to start. Then there are honey bees, pernnial crops, rabbits,ducks & larger animals.
 

Spikedriver

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
HCL Supporter
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
3,558
Location
Midwest
I think I need to ask some finance questions...

900k is a crap ton of money. In the US we need 40% down to buy agricultural land. I don't know what Canadian lending rules are, or what programs might be available to first time buyers there, but you're going to be looking at a helluva bank note. A small farm probably isn't going to make enough to pay that note unless you have a lot more than 40% down. I don't mean to be discouraging - there's always a way, it just might take a lot of digging around for info, and a little luck, to figure it out.

Raising livestock is a pain. I grew up on a cattle/hog operation. I'm not sure how well pasture raised hogs tolerate the weather in Ontario, but if I was going to raise livestock on a small scale, I'd probably choose natural or organic pork. Fencing can be a pain and hogs are stupid/smart - too stupid to do what you want them too, and smart enough to figure out how to do what you don't want them to! But there's a market for natural/organic pork.

Be sure to budget for equipment like mowers, tractors, implements, etc. - having a mechanic for a spouse will be quite handy in that regard because you'll be better able to keep older, cheaper used equipment working...

Good luck with all this! Keep us posted on the process!
 

Latest posts

Top