Small Scale farming- looking for input
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    17

    Default Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Hi All,

    We recently bought a farmhouse on 4 acres of property. 1 acre houses the barn/house/garage , but we also have 3 acres that was soybeans last fall.

    The farmer harvested the soybeans, but let the chaff lay on bare soil.

    Anyone have any recommendations on best use for the property?

    I was originally considering ~2 head beef cattle/ some goats, and letting them pasture feed, but then I got some cash crop ideas in my head.

    Hops, saffron, pumpkins, strawberries, sweet clover (for bees), fruit trees- all seem like potential money makers if done right. Would likely start small then spread into the full 3 acres.

    Anyone have any recommendations for some supplemental income?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Tappahannock Va
    Posts
    131

    Default

    BEES!
    of course!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    768

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Probably bees !!! 3 acres isn't enough to do cattle on. You might put 1 cow and her calf on it, but you'd better sell the calf at weaning time, alao the need forba bull... you got to keep the cow bred. Borrow a neighbors. and stockpile some good winter grass on it, and put up some hay !!!! Gardening is good also, you will find that working 3 acres of plants, is some serious work involved also. Tractor, tiller, hoes, ect. Now goats would work, with the right fencing, as 3 acres would keep several busy, like 4-5. Sheep are better on grass though. Also u have to trim feet often, and be on a good worm med rotation every month. Goats like high weeds, and brush. The parasite load is very heavy for them on grass. So small plantings, and bees would work well. Look into chickens, and mabye a duck, or goose too. Just watch out for predators. Dogs are your worst enemy !!! People let their pets roam allot, and will kill goats, and any kind of foul, worse than coyote , ect... all from experience. As I have a fair sized and diverse cooperation. Also, I've experienced the worst of most issues above. Good luck, and any help, just soot me a line here.
    Richard

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Already have the bees! Dont need all 3 acres for bee space though.

    Father in law makes hay, so that is covered if we did cattle. Plus our barn can house hay + animals.

    Already have 4 chickens we brought with us- lost 6 to various predators at the previous house.

    Only concern with goats is selling them. Wife wants 2 for milk, so any others would have to be for meat/selling. Never ate goat before....

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,527

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    I dont like the taste of goat. And sometimes theyre hard to sell however prices have gone way up on them in the last month. My friend gets a gallon a day from her milk goats. Our house/outbuildings sit on 4 acres and its hard to keep the goats in "food" on 4 acres. Plus they get into the trees. Pain in the butt animals but I kinda like them, especially when I need weeds knocked down real quickly. On 3 acres you might consider a greenhouse or two to grow starts for the spring.
    Zone 5 @ 4700 ft. High Desert

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    My friend that got me into bees has started a goat milk soap business. He seems to be doing very well as he had to hire farm help and raise more goats. If nothing else, the goats will keep the 3 acres under control and improve the soil until you do make a plan.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Sioux City, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Turn it into a market garden. I grow 3 acres of produce to bring to farmers markets alongside my honey and it's very profitable if done right. We make most of our money off of bush beans, sweet corn, tomatoes (in a high tunnel), watermelons, and squash.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, etc.
    Maybe cherries.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
    Posts
    1,133

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    "Father in law makes hay..." Does that mean he grows it or cuts & bales it, or what? If he grows it to sell, then rent the dirt to him for cash. Doing it yourself will involve $$$ for machinery.....and 3 acres ain't worth investing much on machinery.
    Animals of any kind call for fencing, feed in winter or dry weather, continued care.
    I'd let someone else take the chances and figure out how to live without that extra income.

    This advise comes from someone on the uphill side of 70 yr. old who farmed for the last 50 years. Now days my work includes ONLY my 22 hives of bees.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    768

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    I'd say do the bees, and produce. Not enough land really, except for a few pet goats. Goats eat the tops of plants, and parasite load below that level is seriously bad for them. Can't do but one cow, and the feed cost is not worth the efforts . 1 cow needs 3 to 4 acres of really good pasture year round, and lots of hay, and feed in winter. A pet horse, but they will eat that down to the dirt very fast. 2 or 3 goats, and a good worming schedule, and mabye some chickens, and ducks/geese. They eat grass also.. good luck

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Tappahannock Va
    Posts
    131

    Default

    We're in the same boat, going to try cut flowers!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,727

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Jeff, ddillon in Hanover Co. (and on Beesource) does bees and cut flowers. Reach out to him if you need advice.

    One of my mentees near you grows various types of lettuce for sale at the farmers market.
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 09-06-2018 at 08:57 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Tappahannock Va
    Posts
    131

    Default

    Thanks John, was hoping to find someone close by that might provide some advice. Probably won't get it off the ground next spring. Still totally wiped out trying to get the store finished. I know beds need to be prepared in the fall... So much to do, so little time! Wish I had a large fortune to get started! I'm sure I could make a small fortune from it! 🙂

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    768

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    I do like the idea of vegetable growing. You could truck it to neighbors, or farmers market. I've done this in the past with success. Not allot.of money, but time cures this mostly. You will find your niche. Good luck.... Richard

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    George County, MS
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Small Scale farming- looking for input

    Market gardens are hot these days.
    Look up a few on YouTube - Curtis Stone, Richard Perkins, Jean Martin Fortier, etc.

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