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Author Topic: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!  (Read 1450 times)

Tux

  • Joined Jun 2018
  • Gwent
Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« on: June 29, 2018, 10:32:38 pm »
Hello *waves* the husband has just inherited 1/4 of the (30 years estranged) family farm, which I suspect to be at least 10 acres minimum for his share. The land is good, but the location (South Wales) is pretty inaccessable... no water, no electric, etc., although there is an available bowser in situ.

We live 15 mins away, plus hill-climbing and gate opening allowance and have a Landy with a tow-bar. My question is... what the hell do we do with it? Hubby is a dog walker so can visit frequently, and I work at a vets so I can get meds and lab services at cost price, in addition to not being squeamish.

A lot of the land has been let go and taken over by ferns, but there's not a speck of ragwort and historically it's made decent hay. We have access to a tractor, roller and hay-making gubbins but there's little storage and the sheep dip is overgrown and incomplete. I know a lot about horses and dogs, general A&P and practical first aid, and a little about chickens but anything else is basically a small horse or a wooly dog! Hubby is good with machinery, and I can DIY. All the fencing is good - post and sheep mesh, and we have one failed sheepdog and one untested but from working stock in our arsenal.

Where do we start? We're not after megabucks, but an extra bit of income would come in handy. I'm familiar with grazing rotation and basic land management and hubby can drive a tractor. It's not really arable land so looking for livestock suggestions - something to start small and grow over a few years while putting out a bit of hay in the meantime.

Thank you in advance,

The clueless inheritors of land.
Animal minds are simple, and therefore sharp. Animals never spend time dividing experience into little bits and speculating about all the bits they've missed. The whole panoply of the universe has been neatly expressed to them as things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
Voss Electric Fence

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2018, 09:09:01 am »
Where do we start? We're not after megabucks, but an extra bit of income would come in handy. I'm familiar with grazing rotation and basic land management and hubby can drive a tractor.
Well, if you already have haymaking equipment, and the land is good for that, why not make hay and sell it?  A few adverts in your local feed store / equestrian place / smallholder facebook groups, and off you go!  That should turn a good profit, but not tie you to visiting daily. Yes, you'd probably have to build a barn for storage (unless you can rent?), but barns are very useful things to have anyway.

Then in the longer term you could get sheep or whatever you wanted, though IME although 'income' is do-able, 'profit' is a different matter entirely. We don't dip sheep any more BTW, so don't worry about that. You would need good fences though.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Tux

  • Joined Jun 2018
  • Gwent
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 09:27:11 am »
Morning Womble,

Thank you for your advice, much appreciated! They're doing hay up there at the moment so hubby is off to learn hay-making today.

His uncle who has the rest of the land has not long built a small barn and there's a couple of outbuildings that we could probably sheet the sides of with tarps or corrogated steel to use as overflow, so you're absolutely right, it's a very sensible place to start :-)
Animal minds are simple, and therefore sharp. Animals never spend time dividing experience into little bits and speculating about all the bits they've missed. The whole panoply of the universe has been neatly expressed to them as things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 09:32:09 am »
Many folk would fall over themselves in the rush to be you - inheriting land  ;D


I agree with womble - go with the haymaking the first year or two, so you're bringing in something, and meanwhile have a good think about what you want to do with your windfall, rather than just what's possible.  Living away from the land makes it more complicated, but not impossible, to keep livestock, especially something like poultry.
This will give you time to find out what you are allowed to do on the land (life's overful of rules and regs), how things grow there, the local microclimate, wind direction etc.  Armed with that sort of stuff, then you can take a year or two to work out how best to use this land to your best advantage.
Look at local farms, and at local successful smallholdings - doing 'farmsized' things on a smallholding sized scale is often less profitable, but you can do smallholding type things, such as breeding rare breeds, much better.


Throughout TAS there are a number of questions similar to yours (so you're not alone) - spend a little time searching through past posts where you will pick up plenty of ideas, which might adapt to your purpose.
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Lingon

  • Joined Feb 2018
  • Uppsala, Sweden
  • The more I see of mankind, the more I prefer dogs.
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 05:12:20 pm »
10 acres isn't that much, so I have a hard time seeing any earnings coming from keeping sheep or something like that. Any earnings that you get one year can be gone the next if the weather gives bad hay harvest.

I would instead look into bee keeping. And ask the neighbours that live nearby, if they want to rent the grazing rights. And perhaps plants some bushes and trees that will give you nuts, fruits and berries a few years from now.

Tux

  • Joined Jun 2018
  • Gwent
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 07:21:44 pm »
Many folk would fall over themselves in the rush to be you - inheriting land  ;D

We're both a bit gobsmacked to be honest! I can see that there's an awful lot of research in my imminent future  :o Thank you very much for the advice, and I'll have a good browse of the forums.
Animal minds are simple, and therefore sharp. Animals never spend time dividing experience into little bits and speculating about all the bits they've missed. The whole panoply of the universe has been neatly expressed to them as things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 08:43:12 pm »
Lots of thinking ahead for you! But don't be paralysed by choice or fear. If you have an urge to get half a dozen rare breed sheep, and you're decently competent (sounds like you are or at least will be) - then try it. You can always sell them again if it's not working out. BUT that back-up plan relies on you being honest with yourselves about what is and isn't feasible for you to do around your main jobs, and enough sense to assess how you are getting on.


Lots of slightly alternative farming in Wales. In your shoes I'd be looking at permaculture, holistic farm design & planning, natural flood / water management, etc.

Tux

  • Joined Jun 2018
  • Gwent
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2018, 09:49:40 pm »
Ugh, sheep... I can see sheep being a bone of contention as the hubby's no-longer-estranged-Uncle does sheep on the remaining land and he wants to learn from his uncle, however the hubby doesn't like lamb, so (remember, I know nothing about sheep here), if the selling of said sheep doesn't go to plan, I don't even get to make use of the spoils which seems a bit counter-productive.

Personally, I'd like to pop a dozen chooks up there for eggs, and work out how to get a cockerel in without worrying about inbreding or embryos in my omlettes (sorry, stock take day at work and my brain is fried). Also there's a pond closely situated to a field shelter which makes me think pig, and we're both rather partial to porcine derived produce, which seems like a win-win (I may reconsider this after doing the maths).

In reference to my first post, I would consider 'an extra bit of income' as a reduction on my husband-feeding bill... Which reminds me that I don't even know where the nearest abbatoir is - I can gut a chicken but that's about where my knowledge ends! All of this transpired yesterday and has thrown us both. Considerable rumination required!
Animal minds are simple, and therefore sharp. Animals never spend time dividing experience into little bits and speculating about all the bits they've missed. The whole panoply of the universe has been neatly expressed to them as things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2018, 09:27:53 am »
15 mins away …. hmmm …………. think you need to change husbands eating habits!  hens or pigs need twice a day (at least) attention 7 days a week.   Sheep for a lot of the year is a once a day check.   You would be better of having the hens in your back garden!
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.

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Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2018, 11:44:14 pm »
 :wave: no help from me, I'm afraid. I only do goats and grow stuff, but I wanted to say welcome to the forum.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 08:12:17 am »
<<< Personally, I'd like to pop a dozen chooks up there for eggs, and work out how to get a cockerel in without worrying about inbreding or embryos in my omlettes >>>

Looking back at my earlier contribution, I see that my wording is ambiguous.  I think poultry are one of the less likely things to do at a distance, especially free range.  Hens have to be let out in the morning and shut in at dusk.  Some people use automatic pophole closers  but I would worry that the late-to-bedders would get shut out, and foxes tend to prowl at dawn and dusk, so it's best to be around then.  Don't forget too that the time of dawn and dusk varies enormously over the year, and can fall during the working day when you may be away at work, in winter. Eggs need to be collected while they are still clean during the day and before someone comes along and helps themselves.   

Predation is one of the biggest problems you would find, so you'd have to create something of a Fort Knox, which means no free range.

Inbreeding and embryos in your eggs are not problems - you collect the eggs every day, and never use any you are unsure were laid that day.  If you want to breed your own stock, then you let a bird go broody and don't eat her eggs part way through her brooding.   If you want to keep next generation hens for more eggs then either change your cockerel or let them get on with it - I've never come across genetic faults in in-bred hens and we've had a few! Producing pedigree stock for sale would be a different matter, but you can divide your birds into separate breeding units in that case, and change your cockerel as necessary.

You mention your husband doesn't like lamb.  Hebridean meat is nothing like baby lamb, as it is slow growing and late maturing, so the sheep are killed at 16 months, not 4-6. The meat looks far more like beef and is not fatty (it's often lamb fat that turns people off).  If you can source any Heb meat, try it and see.  It's slower cooked than baby lamb, and if there is any fat then crisp it before serving.  He'd never know it was sheep - it's even called 'hogget' rather than lamb.

You could build a house on your land so you were living on site, but it's rather a drastic solution :D

« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 08:15:36 am by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

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

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

pgkevet

  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 10:47:55 am »
Just to put an alternative viewpoint. Much depends on location of land - height, flat?, depth of soil etc. But if it can make decent hay then I see no reason why you can't grow stuff on it... a mater of deciding what might grow best. A little lateral thinking instead of cash crops perhaps. There are flourishing welsh vineyards, my best soft fruit result here is with blackcurrants and blueberries. Mind you picking 10 acres of blackcurrants by hand would be a chore :-). Honeyberries will survive -40C.
As an exreme example of lateral thinking I knew one chappie in Jamaica living on a rocky outcrop - presumably old lava flow because the rock was bubbly - who had hand hacked decent holes and grew fruit bushes in them.. a bit like having everything in large pots. many things you might not imagine will sell of you can market them.. sphagnum moss for instance.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2018, 11:28:38 am »
You mention your husband doesn't like lamb.  Hebridean meat is nothing like baby lamb, as it is slow growing and late maturing, so the sheep are killed at 16 months, not 4-6. The meat looks far more like beef and is not fatty (it's often lamb fat that turns people off).  If you can source any Heb meat, try it and see.  It's slower cooked than baby lamb, and if there is any fat then crisp it before serving.  He'd never know it was sheep - it's even called 'hogget' rather than lamb.


I nearly wrote something similar.  Ex-BH's family mostly were not fans of lamb, including himself, and neither is my sister, but they all love Castlemilk Moorit meat.  It's very very lean, tastes somewhere in between lamb and venison, and is absolutely delicious.  The sheep are absolutely delightful to look at, too. :hugsheep: :love: :sheep:  And if you decided to get into spinning :spin:, they have a wonderfully coloured, very very fine fleece.  (But come back and ask for some advice if you decide to go this route, some Castlemilks have very very short fleece and some have a bit of kemp in the fleece, although they shouldn't.)

Shetland and Manx Loaghtan are equally different to 'ordinary' lamb, strongly flavoured and very lean, and most people really enjoy the hogget meat and mutton, whether or not they are fans of lamb.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Tux

  • Joined Jun 2018
  • Gwent
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 10:07:25 pm »
:wave: no help from me, I'm afraid. I only do goats and grow stuff, but I wanted to say welcome to the forum.

Hi! Nice to 'meet' you :) I have a huge soft spot for Pygmy goats  :goat:

You could build a house on your land so you were living on site, but it's rather a drastic solution :D

Y'know, I've been considering that... The house that's there now has just been left to rot and needs bulldozing (it's a stubby, squat little bungalow that's started subsiding - I've even been looking at static caravans to go on the hardstanding that would be left after knocking it down... then I realised that the hairpin bends on the way up are too tight for a Landrover, let alone a 32' static!

I really appreciate your advice about the chickens and sheep; it's given me much food for thought (no pun intended). I did wonder about the possibility of microchipping chickens and using one of those chip activated door-flaps, as I've also written off automatic closing systems for the same reasons you mentioned, and I'll definitely look into Hogget :)

Just to put an alternative viewpoint. Much depends on location of land - height, flat?, depth of soil etc. But if it can make decent hay then I see no reason why you can't grow stuff on it...


It's definitely not flat, but I've been given to understand that in it's heyday there was a flourishing garden and numerous fruit trees (all long since cut down for firewood)  :-[  I have a sheep pen which has at least a foot of deep litter in it to clear this weekend, so I'm going to save it for use as compost and find a suitable gardening area to play with.

Shetland and Manx Loaghtan are equally different to 'ordinary' lamb, strongly flavoured and very lean, and most people really enjoy the hogget meat and mutton, whether or not they are fans of lamb.

Thank you for the Hogget recommendation, I'll see if I can sneak some in somewhere!
Animal minds are simple, and therefore sharp. Animals never spend time dividing experience into little bits and speculating about all the bits they've missed. The whole panoply of the universe has been neatly expressed to them as things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow - some say it's in England !
Re: Accidental farmers - what to do/keep?!
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2018, 10:52:34 pm »
Never mind, Tux, that it's a "squat little bungalow that's started subsiding". 

I'm sure many forum members would be v happy to find themselves in your circumstance.  Potentially some good value in this bit of land whether you decide to develop for your own purposes or dispose of. 

 

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