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Author Topic: Can a smallholding pay??  (Read 12361 times)

urban farmer

  • Joined Sep 2009
Can a smallholding pay??
« on: September 20, 2009, 09:41:07 am »
Hi all,
  a quick one for you that I am sure most of you have either done or considerd yourselves which is why I would greatly value your opinions.

My girlfriend and I are considering purchasing a smallholding either in the UK or her native Brittanny but are tied by the age old problem of Will it pay? Can it support us in terms of meat/ veg etc?  We both have property at present and relatively good jobs in London but the leap to going back t my agric roots seems a very big one.

Has anyone got any tips/ things w should b onidering please?  Any help or advice very gratefully received

Unicorn

  • Guest
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 10:11:06 am »
Want the truth - the real truth.
It is very hard work - all hours, every day. Some months your income will be very low, some very high.

You have to have a business head, work hard, and forward plan - cash flow a major area to be aware of.

Any capital you have, will dissapear very quickly, eventually you will go to the bank and it has all gone - now
you have to earn a living from the land, and feed yourself and your animals.  Your partnership will have to be very strong to survive the ups and downs of a smallholders goings on - if you get bad luck, it doesn't rain it pours.

You get out what you put in.  Its not 9 - 5 with a regular paycheck - most people have both - Job and Smallholding.

Only a very hardy few pack in work - and work hard on their smallholding as their "only income".

Want the Fantasy, the dream, the idyllic illusion

You will enjoy the fresh air, flowers, looking after the animals, not have to sit in traffic jams, attend meetings with obnoxious staff that dont know what there doing, but are more senior so get away with it, will not have to
get out of bed if you really dont want to, can take a vacation whenever you want - but you won't want.

No office politics, no having to suffer fools gladly, and yes it is great to see what you can achieve with a lot of hard work, fencing, building, planting, nurturing, rearing animals and plants.

The rest of what you need to know, good, and bad, are in all the postings on here.

Good luck with your decisions. 
I packed in a job in England 16 years ago that paid me 68,000 sterling in my last year - 1993.
Just to let you know that I have the experience of both sides of the coin too. 
Suffered Much - Learned Lots
Enjoy the experience no matter where it leads
Widsom comes from change and mistakes - make many
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D    :pig: :cat: :chook: :dog: :goat: :sheep: :&> :farmer: :horse: (This is what we have)
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 10:16:49 am by Unicorn »

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2009, 12:17:59 pm »
As I said in aother post, I think it depends on your financial position. To make a reasonable income - and let's face it, we all need some kind of cash income, however small we might be able to manage with - you will need a fair sized holding. If you have to borrow to buy, then you're in it to the banks - and they don't take payment in eggs.

I think if you can set off debt free and with low future capital requirements and can manage with a small cash return, then you can probably do it.

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2009, 06:45:09 pm »
We have 8 sows, a boar and no mortgage.  We had a captive market for English sausages and bacon, and for a time we managed.  When the £ dropped against the euro, we almost went bankrupt.  OH works to feed the pigs these days.  Please do your homework very very carefully and have at least one of you bringing in an income.

northfifeduckling

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Fife
    • North Fife Blog
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2009, 07:37:28 pm »
Mine doesn't, but I was always aiming at a degree of self-sufficiency and I don't have any four-legged animals (yet). Even with the smallest holding like mine, it is nearly a full-time job! I do see a reduction in my food bills now, which is something, I suppose...I listened to a brilliant talk yesterday by a smallholder who made it work
http://www.whitmuirorganics.co.uk/
I agree with Rosemary - it depends on size and with the size comes the workload, you may have to employ helpers, etc.  :&>

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2009, 07:47:42 pm »
I remember being told by an old farmer friend that the smallest viable croft was 60 acres.  Whether that relates to smallholdings or not I don't know.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

cmorrell

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Kirkintilloch, NE of Glasgow
    • Calum Morrell Photography
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2009, 10:18:31 pm »
This is purely from the research and planning I've done, not experience.

I would agree with everything that's been said above about the difficulty, albeit possible, in making a smallholding pay ... but one thing I'd add is wonder what else can be done alongside the smallholding to add value and income. For my own future, my absolute ideal would be to be spending most of my time managing a smallholding which I've paid for upfront so no debts while continuing to photograph perhaps just 10 weddings a years and do some additional work from the smallholding itself which, while not smallholding related, could benefit from the setup nicely (yes, I'm being cagey about that part for a reason :P).

The ideal is that the smallholding would operate at *least* as breakeven and the photography/other to bring in a reasonable income while still allowing me maximum freedom.

Roxy

  • Joined May 2009
  • Peak District
    • festivalcarriages.co.uk
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2009, 11:14:37 pm »
Well, I know a lot of farmers with plenty of land and animals who are struggling .....so it is even harder with less acreage.

We have a total of 22 acres, and people keep asking me if we can make a living from it - the answer is no.  Well, its no, if we have cows, pigs or sheep, as we just could not keep enough to make it pay on the amount of land, but yes, probably if we took horse liveries on!!!

14 acres we let out for summer grazing, and the farmer usually has 8 cows, 8 calves and a bull through the summer.  He takes them away mid October, and by that time they have eaten all the grass - they certainly could not stop any longer.

I would like nothing more than to make a living from the farm, but realistically we can't, so unfortunately we both have jobs to pay the mortgage.

urban farmer

  • Joined Sep 2009
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2009, 02:15:11 pm »
Thanks everyone for the reality check, don't worry we will give it  long hard think before we jump in.  The plan at present seems to be to both carry on working whilst my shifts give me 4 days off, with a view to one of us staying home while the other works.  We would ideally like to go into the 'value added' things my partner is good a such as prserves, cakes etc. as  saleable surplus but who knows.

Thanks again for all your help, very much look forward to chatting to you all some more 

sausagesandcash

  • Joined Jan 2009
  • UK
    • IrishHandcraft
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 04:14:13 pm »
If you have to borrow to buy, then you're in it to the banks - and they don't take payment in eggs.



Reminds me of the story of a farmer years ago who got a bank loan to set up a pig farm. The long and the short of things is that the market took a downturn and he couldn't meet his repayments. He went in to see the bank manager about the situation. During the meeting he asked the bank manager 'Are you into pigs at all', 'No', replied the bank manager with a sneering smile. 'Well', replied the farmer 'You're into them in a big way now!'


carl

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2009, 04:28:44 pm »
I see it as a way to augment our income, from good salaried jobs, with a healthy rewarding hobby. Fresh air, exercise, mental activity and good food. long hours in all conditions that sometimes gives you nowt back, as either the crop fails, the animal dies or critters or blight remove the end product. Quite a lot of well run farms make a loss, due to uncontrollable circumstances, especially mother nature. Think about running another business that allows you to do smallholding as well. ie holiday lets, b&b, part time jobs locally or running something from home. If you can balance  a job you like, which gives a reasonable income, with running a smallholding that gives something back, then you have cracked it.

greenfingers

  • Joined Jul 2008
  • Grange by Keith, Banffshire
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2009, 07:27:12 pm »
Hi there,
We only have an acre or so, but we have used it wisely, I have a huge vege garden, which this year the crops have not really been brilliant, tomatoes and tatties hit by blight,  but hopefully should see us through to February-March 2010.  We have a few chickens which have been very egg productive.
We both work still but the joy of coming home here is great, it takes me 20 minutes to get home along some lovely Scottish countryside and the view from  my old farmhouse is wonderful, Hubby is a bus driver so some days he manages to see the views as well rather than around Aberdeen all day.  The air is great, the wildlife and flowers etc is a huge bonus.  We still have a big mortgage but only a short life one, we do struggle still and we hope to rent a bit of land from our neighbour and maybe raise a few pigs that will give us meat etc, we have had some of our hens to eat.  We would not give this up for the world. 
Driving around Kent and the M25 was not good for us we had to get away,
Elaine

Always look on the bright side of life, de dum, de dum de dum, de dum!!

marigold

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • Kirriemuir Scotland
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2009, 09:40:06 pm »
I wish we could get our smallholding to pay. We  had a meeting with our mortgage people today and it seems as though the credit crunch has devalued our place mid house build and we're temporarily scuppered. I say temporarily cos I can't believe that after we've serviced our plot, brought up services,got planning permission and a building warrant the whole thing is worth less than when we started. So now we're living in a shed, I'm driving an hour and a half each day to a full on job and we're paying a mortgage on a pile of concrete. But we still have our fields and our chooks and this thread has just helped me to resolve to keep working and trying to find an answer to keep hopeful. We chose to self build so that we could buy a plot in a wonderful place with acreage attached in order for us to develop a smallholding. The other choice was moving into a tidy village house. Even though its really stressful right now, I still think we will find a way forward and its true i don't even want to go on holiday anymore.
kirsty

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2009, 11:20:49 pm »
Remember that as soon as your house is liveable in you can get a temporary habitation certificate - you don't need to wait for the full completion certificate.  So long as you have a working kitchen, working bathroom, functioning drains, running water - you can get the habitation one.  My house wasn't even painted inside when I moved in.  The painters worked round me.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Hilarysmum

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Can a smallholding pay??
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2009, 07:03:25 am »
Back to the smallholding in Brittany part - smallholding attracts cotisations which are quite heavy.  If you are still considering Brittany then check and double check as so many people here are giving up smallholding due to the high social charges yet still having to pay cotisations on the land. 

 

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