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Question: Is hobby farming right for me? Expand / Collapse
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Posted 1/29/2014 4:45:47 PM
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Hello to all!

New member here and I would welcome discussion and advice on deciding if hobby farming is a reasonable option for me.

Background: Husband of 25 years passed away this past May. We own a piece of property of about 20 acres. This is located in mid-Michigan.

This spring building will commence on a modified version of our dream retirement home.
Other buildings currently on the property include a 100 year old hand hewn log cabin (being preserved), a garage, and a huge pole building (full!).

Roughly 10 acres would be available for potential hobby farm use. The downside to this is the property is wooded; some oak but mostly pine.

Let me tell you what I have available to me as far as equipment. There are 2 1940's Allis Chalmer tractors. With a little work at least one of these tractors can be made operational. There is a horse drawn hay wagon and a restored horse drawn bobsled.
Since the pole barn is FULL I know there is more that can be made available for use in this possible endeavor.

I have a food management background, have worked for the US Forest Service, and have a wide range of interests (flowers, herbs, nature crafts, upcycling items for gardens, wood crafts, etc).
So, with this little bit of information...what suggestions/advice can you give!
Post #31259
Posted 1/30/2014 2:27:57 PM
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Since I have such a large number of pine trees I was wondering if I should consider pine hay/straw to be my first potential 'cash crop'?
With that thought I am wondering if anyone has any idea if there are plans available to build a small pine straw baler?
Post #31260
Posted 2/2/2014 4:08:53 PM


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I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I can't imagine how hard that must be. Speaking from my own experience, I think there would be pros and cons, depending on your financial position and physical health.

It is hard physical labor starting a farm, We have spent our first three years planting, fencing, clearing and building barns. I don't know if I could have done that alone. On the other hand, you will never be bored! There is so much to do everyday that it is o erwhelming because we both still work full time. I don't know much about the market for pine straw. I gather it from my neighbors place for my blueberries. I could use several truck loads every year but I dont know anything about where you would get a baler. Our local TSC sells it by the truck load, but you might find a local market for it.

If you like animals you might consider milk goats. I make soap with the milk and plan to try my hand at cheese this Spring. I keep the babies with the mammas most of the time and just milk when I can, which takes the pressure off of having to milk every single day.

Good luck with whatever you decide and please keep us posted on your journey,...

Best wishes,

M. and D.
Post #31264
Posted 2/2/2014 5:54:34 PM
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Hi and thank you for your reply.

I still haven't come across plans for the pine straw baler. Since there is SO much of this free mulch I thought it would be the easiest place for me to start.

I most likely will wait a summer before deciding to commit to any animals although goats milk soap has appealed to me.

This coming season I would like to concentrate on getting some raspberries (or similar) established.
I do have some reservations about the berries as the property is just across the road from a river and there have been a couple recent sightings of bear.

Getting one of the Allis tractors tuned up will be a priority this spring. Than I will have a little extra 'help' with some of the tougher chores. I sure wish Roger Welsch would write a repair manual for the Allis Chalmers tractors he is so fond of! If you haven't read any of his books you really should...very entertaining!

Until next time...
Post #31265
Posted 2/4/2014 9:36:36 AM
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pine straw bailer....what we've seen down here that they take a hay rack and rack wind rows of the pine straw, then pick out the limbs and hand bail. Pine straw bails aren't as big as hay bales down here. So I would check into the dimision of the pine bales. The farmers here made a certain size box, pack it with pine straw and hand twine.
Post #31269
Posted 2/4/2014 4:49:49 PM


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Not sure if you have a dog, but our Great Pyr is a good guardian for the animals and an effective alarm system for anything that shouldnt be here, man or beast.

I ordered a dozen black raspberries to add to my garden this spring, so I hope the weather gets warm soon so we can clear more room!

Thanks for the book tip, I will see if I can find his books.

M. and D.
Post #31273
Posted 2/4/2014 7:00:20 PM
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cweick (2/4/2014)
The farmers here made a certain size box, pack it with pine straw and hand twine.

This sounds like the one I saw in a photo! Now to find plans to build one!
Post #31276
Posted 2/5/2014 7:35:15 AM
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Try looking through msucares.com
Post #31278
Posted 2/6/2014 11:46:58 AM
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I think this is what you are looking for. I came across it yesterday. The plans aren't as detailed as I prefer, but I think it is close enough to make a first-run pass at it.

http://essmextension.tamu.edu/pinestraw/baling.html

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. - Abraham Lincoln
Post #31283
Posted 2/11/2014 4:00:29 PM
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I think if your 10 acres is wooded and you want to get into hobby farming, meat goats would do a good job at eating the vegetation down and some seasonal hogs would also do a great job at turning and fertilizing the land. I have the same issues here about an hour or so north of you. I raise chickens, turkeys, and hogs with about 2 acres of garden and greenhouse. and 8 acres of low oak forest in the front and poplar on the north end. I hope this help you make a decision on your future. Good Luck and enjoy.   Jim
Post #31303
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