While fast-paced city life may be the perfect fit for some people, many couples and families are opting to move out of the city and into a more rural setting. Whether it’s a one-acre lot or a 500-acre farm, families across the nation are starting to move toward a more farm-like lifestyle. Gardening is one of the fastest growing hobbies, and canning is right on its tail. Whether your family is looking to just get some breathing room, or you're beginning to look toward a full-time farming operation, here are a few things to consider before packing up the wagon and heading out West.
One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a farm is what you'll use it for. Will the farm be primarily for residential use and gardening? Will relatives or in-laws be living on the farm with you? Will you be attempting to make a living off the land? Will you have livestock? An old farmer once said that in order to live off the land, you need to be able to sell something every week – whether that’s eggs, cattle, wool, or hay. Since many farms have the ability to be multipurpose, it’s important to figure out what you want to do with the land and do your homework ahead of time.
Size and Amenities
When it comes to choosing the size of your farm, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of what you’re going to raise, and how much what you’re going to raise will consume. On average, you’ll need one acre per cow, one-half acre per goat, one acre per for every twenty pigs, and one-and-a-half acres for a horse (plus one more acre for each additional horse.) If the farm has water, be sure to find out if it’s potable. If you'll have livestock, a pond is always a plus. If you’ll be growing a garden, you’ll need to allot land for that as well. Orchards, arbors, houses, barns, sheds, etc. will all need to be considered.
Fences, Barns, and Other Structures
When it comes to running a farm, you'll need not only a place to keep your equipment and vehicles, but also structures and fences to contain your livestock as well. Fencing comes in many different types, with varying prices and upkeep requirements. When considering a farm, pay close attention to the fences, considering any places that will require additional fencing, or sections that need repair. The supplies you need to repair fences are usually affordable, so it's a wise idea to learn how to repair and install fences yourself, as having it done professionally can be expensive.
Barns can be a blessing or a curse. If you're getting an inspection done on the property, pay close attention to the condition of the barns, making sure they're in good, usable condition. Tool sheds, chicken coops and other structures can prove invaluable, and can make your farm set-up much easier, so consider what your needs will be and find a property that accommodates them.
While a 300-acre farm is a lot of land, some of the land will most likely not be farmable. Most farms have wooded areas, streams, or valleys that cannot be farmed. Consider what you will be growing, and make sure that the farm has enough farmable acres to accommodate your desires.
Access to Services
When you move away from an urban or suburban area, the first thing you'll notice is a lack of proximity to community services and retail areas. Many larger farms will be even more remote, so consider how far you're willing to drive to get your groceries or a late-night snack. Many farm families only do grocery shopping once a week, or even every two weeks.
Also think about other community services such as fire departments, hospitals, and police stations. These may be much further away than you're used to, which is why having a first aid kit, home security system, and complete farm insurance coverage are so important.
Living the Farm Life
There are many factors to consider before signing on the dotted line for a farm, and these tips are a good stepping stone to getting a clearer grasp on the properties and farms that may fit your family best. Your Trusted Choice ® independent insurance agent can advise you on your options and make sure your farm and all of its buildings, equipment and livestock are fully protected.