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Newbie questions about owning land//responsibilities

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all.  Just I dreamed for years about moving from the suburbs to the big city, I have now been dreaming for years about a farmhouse in the country.  chickens, ducks, dogs and an herb and veggie garden.  composting.  a wood stove.  I feel like I have questions, but not even sure what to ask!  One thing I find myself wondering is - what responsibilities come with owning, say, 10 acres of land?  Many of the properties I like have a cleared yard/garden area and then have a larger amount of forested acreage.  Just what I want for walking and exploring with my kids!  BUT - thats an awful lot of land to be responsible for.  What if......there's a fire?  or...... I dont know what else.


I should note that while I want to live the country life and my kids are all for it, my husband is still a city boy and will not be out chopping wood and the like.  So i need to know what I can handle pretty much on my own.


Is this making sense :)

post #2 of 11
Up until recently my parents have always had acreage, most of which was forrested. Both their blocks were pretty self-sufficient. It depends on the type of forest I guess.

The first block was rainforest and unfenced. The main work was keeping paths and clearings cleared and cleaning up if a tree fell in an area we used. Fire wasn't an issue because it was a very wet place.

Their second block was fenced and was in a fire prone area. They would check the fences periodically for rot in the posts or damage from falling trees/branches. They kept an area around the house clear of debris, gutters cleaned, plenty of taps in working order etc in case of a fire. They didn't do much to the actual forest but dad did retrieve a few fallen trees to use for firewood.
post #3 of 11

OP - you sound like my husband :)


I grew up in a very rural, agricultural area.  I now live in a small town and have a weekend cottage in a remote area, which I consider to be the best of both worlds.  As much as my husband fantasizes about being a gentleman farmer (he has never lived outside of a town) I will not go back to that lifestyle.  It is great for some people but not for me anymore.    A few things you might want to consider -


Location to services, shopping and schools - how far away are you willing to live?  1.5 hour round trips to the grocery store or doctor's office can be a real time sucker.  The upside is in the northeast, you can still find rural areas close to towns. 


Maintenance - who will take care of the big yard, plow the driveway, etc.?  This was my job growing up and I hated it but I know people who love to ride the lawnmower for 4 hours at a time.


Commuting time for work - Think about how much commuting time (and cost) works for you and/or your partner. 




As far as woodland goes, where you live will impact on what you can/should do with woodland. 


I grew up (and still live) in the northeast and woodland needs only as much attention as the owner wants to provide, forest fires aren't a huge issue.  I remember one, small fire in my 40+ years of living here and it was isolated to a very rural area and it didn't threaten any houses.  Other areas of the US, like out west, the danger is very real.


I know plenty of people that do absolutely nothing with their woodland.  Others harvest wood for heating, either to make money from selling it and/or for their own use.  Allowing people to come on to your land to pick up fallen wood for firewood is one way to keep things "tidy."  Timbering the land is another management method and quite common in my area, not clear cutting but selective timbering to maximize profits for the owners.  This can have a very positive environment impact as thinning the forest allows new growth to occur and this can create very beneficial habitat for wildlife. 


Another consideration is whether or not you will allow people to come on to your land to hunt.  In my state, unless the land is posted to prohibit hunting, hunters can hunt on someone else's property.  To "post or not to post" is a big issue in my area and causes strained relations with neighbors.


Concerning gardening and forested areas, you will likely battle critters who will view your garden as a buffet.  Everyone who gardens in my area must have a fence to keep out deer, groundhogs, rabbits, etc.  


Having chopped, split and stacked wood, I must admit it is not something I enjoy.  After the first year, we now buy our wood so all I need to do is stack it and that still kicks my butt. 


Even though I don't live that life anymore, part of me still wants to stay connected.  I subscribe to Mother Earth News and I think that provides some great information about a more self sustained lifestyle.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies!  I am looking in the northeast, in western ma which is where I grew up.  I plan to be within 20-30 minutes of amherst/northampton which means 35-45 minutes from my family.  we homeschool and would probably have to go into "town" 3 times per week for activities, etc.


I grew up with a wooded area behind my house.  My parents did not own it but I never knew anyone to have to do any type of clean up.  I never considered the hunting aspect in terms of my posting signs.....I did worry about the possibility of hunters and our safety so thank you for pointing out I have some say in this!


I really do not want to cut grass as I have always had allergies when grass is cut nearby.  My thoughts were 1. I do not need/like manicured grass 2. plant some other types of lower maintenance ground cover 3. get a riding lawn mower and ask dh if he will take on that responsibility 4. consider sheep for the future


I (along with help from the kids) would be responsible for the chickens, compost and gardens.....and any ducks or bees but that would be "Stage 2".  My husband would care for the dogs and lawn (I hope).  And hopefully the snow in the drive.  I have yet to discuss these types of details as he is slowly acclimating to the idea of leaving nyc and I do not want to scare him off.  I myself feel like I am suffocating in this noisy filthy city and have been begging to leave for years.  He has said we can start looking in a year.


Would love to hear more thoughts!

post #5 of 11

Sheep to keep the grass down would be awesome!  Will require very good fencing.  My dad had a sheep farm many years ago and he said sheep are born looking for a way to die and will naturally get themselves into trouble.  I begged for sheep when I was growing up but he would not give in.


Depending on where the house is placed on the property, plowing may not be a huge issue.  When we bought our weekend place, one of the things that appealed to me was that the house is close to the road, no long driveway to worry about.  You can get a plow or a snow blower attachment for most lawn tractors. 


We have an acre of mowed grass now and I am planning on natural plantings for half of it to cut down on the mowing needs.


Good luck and happy land/property hunting!

post #6 of 11

So you will be chopping all the wood for your woodstove then? That's a lot of wood! orngbiggrin.gif orngtongue.gif


We have 10 acres. My husband and teen son do most of the  outside work. I'm busy with all the children and cooking and housewifery stuff. :) We have an enormous amount of outside work though because we have a whole farm thing going with a zillion animals and big garden. If I were doing it myself, hmmm... I'd probably try to keep one or two milk goats, a few chickens for eggs and meat, and rabbits for meat. I don't think I'd try to chop wood unless absolutely necessary. :P I'd have to have a garden, too! Although I've never even done that, lol, my husband is the gardener! (I'm the food preserver, animal butcherer, veterinarian, and rabbit caretaker mainly).


I would suggest you dive into some books. There are SO many great ones these days! Just go to Amazon and type in "homesteading", then check to see if your library has the ones that catch your eye. There is one book that comes to mind that I loved, called "finding and buying your place in the country" (or something very close to that). I kept a whole list of questions that came up for me written right in the back of that book. There is just so much to think about when it comes to buying land, having land- what kind of land (!), and what you can do with it.


We chose not to go with a forested property because we didn't want all the shade and chilly weather trees can hold in- we wanted sun for our gardens, and because forests have scary things like wolves and bears in them. :p We chose pasture land for livestock and garden. But it's a totally personal choice- some folks just love the look and feel of forest, and/or need the wood for the woodstove.


Have fun dreaming! love.gif

post #7 of 11
Ps. We have a group of sheep out mowing our back lawn for us right now! :) Just outside the window of the room I'm in. They're baaa-ing as we speak. :)
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for resurrecting my thread!  We are dreaming less and planning more.


I have "the Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it" but I like the name of the one you mentioned! 


My husband would chop the wood - or else I would pay my brother in law to do so as I have awful tendonitis after caring for 3 babies.


I keep my eye out for places that have some cleared land around the house, but basically a forest in the backyard.


I have a button-pushing baby at the keyboard right now and will check in later!

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

oh - and i love the baa-ing sheep!

post #10 of 11
If you have a forest management plan, taxes are lower and they might be able to help you manage your woods... I.e. someone from the Dept of Land comes over. I forget the details but DH took the class.

We are sorta new to living in the country but it is a lot of work. As for fire, we plan to clear the trees and brush around the house...especially the hill side going up to the house as fires tend to go uphill. And we eventually hope to have a large tank uphill to put out fires...but the firemen do respond to our call if we needed them. We are 1 mile from the county paved road.
post #11 of 11

We started a forest management plan, and were working through it with the help of a friend who works for a sustainable forestry group.  It was not easy, very detailed and far into the future.  Where I live, any Jo Schmo could apply and get reduced taxes because nearly everyone has forest on their property, so they don't make it easy.  It required inventories, specific plans for 5, 10, 20 years, it was a lot of work and we ended up not going with it because it required ongoing oversight and we didn't want to commit to one single plan, and to some extent it assumes that you will be harvesting at some point.  So, not to be discouraging, but it is a lot of work, planning and follow-up, and for us it just wasn't a good fit.  

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