NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(  (Read 402 times)

EllieB

  • Joined Apr 2018
I should be jumping for joy. I have acquired a lovely house with just over 1.5 acres of level, fenced land....I had so many ideas before I got it of what I could use it for - ponies, donkeys, goats, hens (although we do have those already), pigs, ducks, a poly tunnel, even dog home boarding or camping pods!! But now I'm here I'm beginning to realise its limitations. 1.5-1.8 acres isn't a huge amount. I've started ruling things out:

pony/horse - prob not enough land
Ducks - need regular pond cleaning - we're on a water meter!
Pigs - think I'd get too attached and not be able to take to slaughter
Camping pods - we have a septic tank + soakaway (into one of the small paddocks) that already struggles to cope in wet weather so more drainage prob not an option

I have no idea what to do with it.

I love the idea of making some money from it - it doesn't need to make me a full living, but a few thousand a year would be ideal.

What do you have on your land? I'd love some inspiration.

Voss Electric Fence

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 08:03:09 am »
I’d turn it into a market garden, produce your own veg and see if you can get a little stall on a farmers market. But I doubt you’d make much from an acre or 2, definitely not thousands! If you could make thousands every farmer would be a millionaire  :roflanim: 

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 09:32:49 am »
1.5 acres is a large garden.   Any thing you do will use lots of water.....

 We have 30 acres I soggy Wales and work elsewhere to pay for our very expensive hobby .... But we love it.      You could make some money market gardening as T says .... But depends on you location.   Eggs is another possibility but again you would need to invest lots .   

Best use would be to grow meat for your own freezer ..... Get in some lambs  weaned pigs.
Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 10:23:45 am »
Hiya,

We have five acres and manage to lose a couple of grand with it last year, so with 1.5 acres hopefully you'll be able to lose a grand or so if you work hard at it  ;) .

Just some thoughts while I'm having my breakfast then:

Hens for eggs - Do you have a ready market for them, or passing trade for an honesty box? (perhaps combined with a veg stand). You could keep a combination of hens and ducks, and should be able to make a small profit you approach it in the right way.  We keep half a dozen ducks happy with just a seconds quality dog bath. (The water has to be changed daily, so bath volume x 365 x water meter rate = annual water cost).

Ponies / horses - actually there are some people who don't want a huge acreage for their ponies. The lady next door to us has to actively restrict the amount of grazing she gives hers, due to lamanitis problems. You'd need to build a stable, but that one could give a good return if you can find the right tenant?

Glamping - lots of capital outlay and effort, but again could give good returns if you're in a good location. There are alternatives to septic tanks, like reed beds or mini sewerage treatment plants. You're right though, the water still needs to go somewhere!

Personally I'd go with Backinwellies' suggestion of a few lambs or weaner pigs, but each to their own  :thumbsup: .
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 11:49:30 am »
Hiya,

We have five acres and manage to lose a couple of grand with it last year, so with 1.5 acres hopefully you'll be able to lose a grand or so if you work hard at it  ;) .


... economies of scale ? ....... nope...... just multiply Wombles figure by number of acres and that is about what we spent last year!!  (but we do eat steak on a week night  :excited: )

Linda

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.

http://nantygroes.blogspot.co.uk/
www.nantygroes.co.uk
Nantygroes  facebook page

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 12:00:47 pm »
You haven't said anything about yourself.  Do you have others, maybe children living with you?  Do you work or are you at home all day?  Do you like to cook, or grow things, or keep animals?  The last answer must be yes.
Your water problem is easily solved.  We collect rainwater in several 1000 litre barrels from every roof, large or small, that we have.  That is sufficient for all our stock, ponds, and vegetable production.  The water supply for our house is a well.  Water to the animals from the barrels is via a series of gravity fed pipes to drinkers (the barrels are raised and the water can run uphill a bit if necessary).  We have an electric pump at the lowest point to top up the supply barrels.  For your septic tank - plant a reed bed or willows downhill from it, or all around if it's flat - this will take up a lot of the water and contain any contamination, and will also provide some firewood and browse for sheep or goats.


For your land, yes it can be seen as a tiny amount and you are very sensible to reassess what you can keep there.  We all go through the initial over exuberance where what we have seems a huge area compared to what we had before, but land is never enough.  Keeping animals can be a major financial burden and rarely gives a profit, unless you add value.  This could be in the form, for example, of growing loads of fruit, veg and herbs then making jams, chutneys, cakes and so on for sale.  Selling surplus eggs at the gate can help cover the purchase cost and feed for your hens, but by making cakes, lemon curd and so on, you are adding value, by adding your time and effort.  You could grow flowers if you're in a suitable spot - locally grown is gaining in popularity today, as opposed to hot house flowers imported from halfway around the world.


Can I suggest that you don't make a final decision just yet?  Take a year to see how much time and effort growing takes in your location, see what will grow and what will not, see what through traffic there is (for garden gate sales), see what crafts might sell (if you are crafty) and take time to work out costings for sheep or goats.  I'm with you on bonding too closely to pigs to send them off, even though I grew up on a pig farm.  When we kept them here we loved our two sows so much, they were intelligent and such fun.  You might find the same with a small number of sheep - they are far brighter and more interesting when you keep them yourself than most people know, and are not for producing just any old slab of meat.  Have you thought of goats?  You can use the milk for all sorts, including soap making, and they provide the odd goatling which you can sell, or pop any males into the freezer (if you know which animals will ultimately be eaten from birth, it does make it a bit easier)


Glamping - not for me.  You would have other people around all the time in the season, with an impact on your privacy, and you would not be able to use the land for anything else.  You may be very gregarious and love having others sharing your little spot of Paradise, but I know I wouldn't.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

Gunestone

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 02:02:30 pm »
There are always Ouessant sheep, they need much less land then ordinary sheep, apparently you can keep up to 10 on an acre!

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 05:28:15 pm »
We have 3 acres and I grow veg on half an acre and sell veg boxes. We have a dozen hens and sell the eggs. This does bring in a few thousand a year and could do more if I didnt go out to work half time.
We tend to plough the money back into the holding and have a few sheep as pets /lawnmowers, an orchard, fruit cage and small area of woodland.
Its all great fun !

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 08:54:17 pm »
It's not growing stuff that's the issue.. it's enthusiasm, energy and weather and most importantly whether you can actually sell it.
For instance  an acre of garlic would be quite valuable (in theory) but weeding that lot by hand on such a small scale would be a tedious and tiring mare.  Blackcurrants grow nicely where i am and a more mature bush gives a kilo or two in an average year here  and that's 1400 plants per acre so perhaps 2-3 tons of blackcurrants - Yeah enjoy picking that lot and finding a marketable home for it or making 12,000 jars of jam :-)
It'd be more practical to do a 1/4 acre of christmas trees (just the 400) if you reckon to be able to sell them in 6-8years, and then it depends which part of the country you're in for the better crops - perhaps buying in seedlings to grow on for a later market of bare root ornamental shrubs and trees with underplanting in the short term for a cash crop of veg or flowers - or start a vineyard.

Or just enjoy the land and give a home to a couple of donkeys.

EllieB

  • Joined Apr 2018
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 10:52:50 pm »
Wow, great replies, thank you - lots to think about.

Pgkevet - some wise words, thank you

Terry T that sounds like something I’d like to work towards in time. I’m fortunate that my husband works full time and at present I stay at home so have time to procrastinate about all of this!!

Gunestone - never heard of Ouessant - off to Google them!

Fleecewife, thanks - so much to think about there and I absolutely agree I should take my time and see how my time evolves and also how the land changes seasonally before making any major decisions. We are a family of 5. My husband works full time, I look after the house (and spend hours researching what to do with 1.8 acres!). The children are aged between 7 and 14. I do enjoy cooking/gardening and, above all, love animals.
Fabulous suggestion about the water barrels - on my list! Also really interesting suggestion about the reed bed - thank you
So much to think about, thank you!

Womble - thanks. We are in a great spot a mile out of a market town with an accessible garden gate for an honesty box. Food for thought!

Backinwellies -thank you. I do fear it could well become just an expensive hobby! Your words of wisdom are appreciated

Twizzel - I realise now I was being a bit ambitious!

Thank you all for giving me lots to think about!

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 10:44:53 am »
After playing devils advocate some practical possibilities. I used to be enthusiastic about plants and trotted about many more specialist growers but it depends on being enthusiastic and developing your market.
Yes, most were under glass..and an acre or two of glass is a big investment but that was mostly cos of the stuff I was into looking at (and my comments reflect what was going on 10 years ago):

The citrus centre in sussex was several moderate greenhouses and the guy grafted his own rootstocks and charged for grafting lessons. I thought his prices were too high but he sold on to the RHS and mail order or visitors

The palm and cycad centre near syon lodge.. that chap started out as a serious hobbyist using his modest business (at that time a small shop in putney with a polytunnel in the back yard) as a tax break for holidays to go seed hunting - selling seeds and germinated plants and grew a few on at the back of the shop - even happily grew some fruiting bananas. These days it's a bigger concern with mostly imported plants and suprisingly many of the less hardy palms are pretty darned robust when large.. so importing big trees and planting them in his grounds has worked to show off.

Architectural plants - a place called evergreens bought in all their stuff - if you wanta  30foot poplar tree then they will deliver and plant it but they also have mature high bush blueberries and shed-loads of ornamentals all full size. There is another architectural plant place that does it the other way... grows all their stuff from seedlings and admits to being in a  frost pocket in sussex but somehow it works... mature cordyllines, washingtonia frillitarias, any of the hardier big showy stuff.

Then there's the orchid centre down near lewes... amazing selection in an acre of glass and mostly tissue culture (not that hard to do if clean and sterile in your procedures) but how they compete with the dutch I donlt know.

At the simpler level there's a nursey near my family home that supplies bedding plants for the local council - very seasonal and again under glass.

Where i used to live there were several small nurseries either just selling bedding plants to the nearby suburb or one that specialised in hanging baskets.. even more restricted to a few months early in the year and then took the rest of the year off.

Another simler still model was a cople of guys who just bought all their stuff in... had an acre covered in fabric and areas set out with  say  climbing roses, shrubs, fruit trees in pots... everything potted and ready to go - a simple retail business where they bought in small but bulk and grew on for a year and sold singly for a markup.

Yet another model is the folk who stick to a single speciality... just chrysanthemums for example or geraniums and get folk because of the special varieties they stock.

If you are local enough to a city/large town or specialised enough that folk will come see you it's a model worth considering -

Yet another way for more fun and playtime is to atually grow a limited range of stuff... the currants, blueberries, gooseberries for visitors to come see and sell plants of them... they all are easy from cuttings (well blueberries are a bit harder). Figs - dead easy, grapes yould have to grow the rootstock and graft  I wouldn't bother competing in the fruit tree market but filling your garden with soft fruit and ornamentals for a  walk around and buy plants and just have an orchard for yourself....

As a pre-teen i had a job helping out a small-holder.. he had 3 acres: a few sows but mostly a half acre of glass for early lettuce and then followed on with tomatoes (my job was pruning and picking). It was all drip fed. Outside he had  a large strawberry bed and the remainder was broad beans followed on with runner beans and rotated with other veg. BUT this was part of a large group of similar small holdings ( a post war idea for the italian and polish  folk that stayed) and they had a cooperative that bought all their produce and sold it on for them. It's not easy to market it solo. Indeed another model might be to become the cooperative .. get in touch with all the smallholders nearby.. dictate the stuff you want them to grow and sell it on for them.

Scotsdumpy

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 11:34:18 am »
http://spinfarming.com/spinfarmers/


Hi Ellieb - just a few thoughts from me. When we started out smallholding we had 2.5 acres in yorkshire. We kept sheep for wool and meat. Chickens for eggs. We had a large commercial type polytunnel and grew tomatoes, cukes, climbing beans etc, etc. We started out with goats - selling offspring, eating some and using the milk. At the time I worked in a large office and had a 'captive audience' who more or less fell over themselves to buy produce. By the end we raised turkeys for the same 'market' and this was by far the most lucrative aspect of our smallholding experience.
When we moved to Scotland we found that we didn't have the same market to sell to - neither of us worked so we didn't have the same network. At that time folk wouldn't buy a free range, norfolk black turkey when they could get a cheap frozen one from the supermarket. Weve still got goats, chickens, sheep and now cows, a large polytunnel and veg garden. Most of what we raise (animal wise) is mainly sold through the marts with a few lambs/ kids/ goats sold privately.  I've mainly stopped selling privately due to a few bad customers spoiling things for the majority good ones. I guess what I'm trying to say is research your market for whatever you do - see what sells, identify the next 'big thing' (who would have thought kale was a superfood)! And go for it! Ive attached a link to an American idea and I think some of the ideas could work here - in the right areas!
Good luck with whatever you go with - when you make your fortune let us know how you did it!




Alex_

  • Joined Jul 2016
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 01:55:55 pm »
Breed and sell quail, bunnies or other small creatures that do well in a smallish area?
Aquaponics with fish

There is a youtube channel I watch called weed 'em and reap who are on an acre in AZ.

They aren't super self sufficient but do have goats, birds and other animals.

It might give you some ideas.

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 07:00:24 pm »
We have had our holding fir 3 1/2 yrs now and for the first two I worked on it full time and got it where we wanted it.
The aim was then to upscale the veg boxes but I decided I didn't get quite enough brain stimulation or company so went back to work half time. This has worked really well for us as I can bring in far more income this way and get a good balance of company and activity.
I guess what I’d suggest is keep plans flexible, if you invest in an idea v heavily, you might feel bound to it.
Take some time to see what you enjoy doing most and have fun.

pharnorth

  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Small land? Only got 1.8 acres - no idea what to do with it :-(
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2018, 07:14:26 pm »
For cash on that acreage might be worth considering a small camping site if you are in right location (I.e camping & caravan club CL type).

As a family, we find the main benefit is reduction in food bill and improvement in quality of life from keeping lambs and pigs. 

 

wasted land

Started by Cattyniccy

Replies: 19
Views: 4138
Last post June 02, 2015, 06:26:50 pm
by pgkevet
Registering Land

Started by Faye.Lear

Replies: 1
Views: 721
Last post July 22, 2017, 01:44:18 pm
by bj_cardiff
MOVED: Using shetlands on the land

Started by Dan

Replies: 0
Views: 783
Last post March 16, 2013, 04:57:56 pm
by Dan
Land for a miniature pony?

Started by mrplattypus

Replies: 4
Views: 1643
Last post July 15, 2014, 12:21:36 am
by HappyHippy
Small holders insurance - do i need it?

Started by Sarahjane610

Replies: 24
Views: 2743
Last post March 17, 2017, 10:48:45 am
by Penninehillbilly

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Assist Animal Care Services Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Little Peckers

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2018. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS