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 Post subject: 30 acres
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 11:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2003 4:29 pm
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Location: Flat, TX
Hi, I live in east Coryell county (gatesville, TX) and own 30 acres of good farmland. We have had cattle on it for the last 20 or so years, the land is just setting there now. I was wondering what would be the best cash crops to grow for a small timer.
It is just me and my wife, can not afford hiring anybody to start with.
I do have a tractor and misc. equipment for farming. I also have a very limited budget.
I have had a large garden for many years, everything that I have planted has done very well.
Thank You,
Ray S.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 2:40 pm 
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"Best," depends on what you are willing to do and put up with. Grass has been your historical crop with the cattle doing the harvesting. With today's price of cattle, you are probably not able to get back into that right away. If you could carry 1 AU per acre, your potential gross might be under $20,000 with expenses eating at the bottom line. Cattle take less time than what I'm going to suggest below so your cost per hour with cattle might be relatively high.

If you had 30 acres of pastured chickens, 10,000 to 25,000 per year, you would have all you two could handle and clear under $50,000 per year including expenses. But they don't give you much time for vacations. Chickens go from eggs to market in a matter of weeks rather than months/years for large livestock, so you're hopping all the time. Pastured chickens don't smell and will spread manure evenly over the entire place. The more work you do on premises, the more you make. Assuming you slaughter them, you have all the feathers and waste to compost or do something with, too.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:12 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
You might want to contact Robert Hutchins at Rehoboth Ranch or maybe the Magedsons at Good Earth organic farm and talk to them about what they have developed. Jon and Wendy Taggart at Burgundy Pasture Beef would be good to talk with too. All of them are nice people more than willing to help those who want to have a sustainable farm with crops & livestock you can make a living at raising.

Hope this information is helpful to you...I wish I were in your shoes!
Kathe Kitchens :D


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:14 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
By the way, I forgot to tell you its easy to find the website for any of these farms either by the links on this website or by just doing a search by the name of the farm. I gave you the names of all three.
I guess full information is best, huh? :roll:
Kathe


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:09 pm 
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Location: houston, tx
Rayns, this is something I'm always thinking about myself. Somewhere on this bulletin board they have Malcolm Beck's new website. If you haven't visited it and listened to his story, do so--it is most interesting. Might help you think through the possibilities. - Susan

Here it is....

http://www.malcolmbeck.com/

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 Post subject: 30 acres
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:25 am 
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Location: Whitesboro,TX
How much work do you want to do. You could pastured eggs or blue berries. Organic blue berries in the spring will bring a great price with selling to local people and/or stores. Organic animal or crops will get you top dollar. I would look at Joel Salatin's books on checkens if you have any interest in chickens. Large mutant cattle that are bred to eat grain are hard to raise and make a profit on 30 acres, but if cattle is your interest then mini Herefords and mini Angus is a better way to go. They are bred to be docile and to do well on grass, and pure bred always taste better and more tender than the outcrosses. You can always raise more beef/acre with short stocky cattle that the large ones - this has been well documented.
If you are interested in crops there are other sources. There was a lot of work done in Alabama years ago to help black farmers to make a good living off of twenty five acres (this was avarage seize farm in rural south. The idea was multiple crops all year long so if you had drought in spring you probably wouldn't have drought in fall. This work was done before organic farming and the projected profit per year was about $100,000.00
I believe the work was done at the Tuskegee Institute.
Robert D Bard


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 12:51 am 
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Here's a website about a family that turned their acreage profitable by diversifying out of cattle. They had several issues they've overcome.

http://www.hrm-texas.org/practitioner_p ... _farm.html

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:57 pm 
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I just finished reading two of Joel Salatin's books, "You Can Farm," and "Salad Bar Beef," about his methods of organic farming.

I've done some other research on him and found and article that said in the year 2000 he sold 8,000 chickens, 400,000 eggs, 100 cattle, 100 pigs, 1,000 rabbits, 700 turkeys, and 100 pick-up loads of firewood. Every animal and egg was pre-sold before he even bought the animals. He lives in Virginia. How big a farm do you think he has? I was more than surprised. His farm is 550 acres of which 450 acres is timber (firewood).

What he does is intensive grazing management with portable electric fencing for the cattle. Chicken tractors follow the cattle in the same pasture and rabbits tractors follow the chickens. All the broiler chickens are gone by October when the turkeys come in for the holidays. Two-year-old layer chickens are sold as stewers at a discount. Pigs are turned into corn fields grown just for them. They eat the entire plant. By the end of December, there's nothing left but the expecting cows, doe rabbits, and layer chickens. Then in March the chickens start coming in, and later on, the cows all calve just in time for the spring lush of forage.

He nets about $2,000/acre (selling at a discount to retail organic prices) and has two months off in the winter. There's a lot more to it, but Salatin insists that his system will work on any size property. He also says there is more room for growth by bringing in different animals at the appropriate places.

Do an Internet search on Polyface Farm and/or Joel Salatin. There are lots of articles and interviews with him around the net. His books are about $35. I got them by interlibrary loan from Southwest Texas University. A&M has them, too.

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 Post subject: 30 acres
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 3:07 pm 
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Location: Flat, TX
Thanks for all the information.
I appreciate everyones thoughts.
Ray


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:21 am 
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Location: Proctor, Texas
Joel Salatin is an excellent example of someone maiximizing his land and his efforts, however, he has something that most rural folks don't have. He is near Washington DC and two other major metro areas within a leisurely afternoon's drive to his farm.

In Texas, the farms tend to be more remote than east coasters and establishing and transporting to market more of a challenge.

=============

Regarding pastured poultry...having done it for several years...full time pasturing poultry is just that - FULL TIME. You run a batch of chickens for 8 weeks and must tend them twice a day. In order to make money, you must have several batches simultaneously. When producing pastured poultry, you are married to the flock.

And processing 100 chickens is a good day's work (and rather dirty too).

I am not meaning to be negative, I am simply making sure that folks who start into these endeavors do so with realistic expectations. Of 4 experienced rural ag families who started in Salatin's pastured poultry system that I know, we are the only ones who are still doing it. And the last couple of years spent building the business has been challenging.

It is hard, frustrating work. There are steep learning curves. There is some capital outlays. And nature sometimes works against you. And, if it were easy and extremely profitable, we would be up to our ears in farmers driving Cadillacs.

But, there are great rewards to running your own ag operations and living free in the country. Having been in agriculture for a long time, after a time with Fortune 500 businesses, I now cannot imagine any other profession than organic, grass-fed beef, chicken, and egg production. I know that what I eat is good and good for me...I raised it and I know what is in it. I wouldnt do anything else.


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