Yesterday was spent doing all kinds of things of a rancherly sort.

My neighbor up the hill decided to clear out some cedar underbrush and  while he was burning some small log in a well-cleared area, we jumped in his 4X4 and he gave me a tour of his fence work.

Between his property, his brothers, and parents, there’s probably 3+ miles of fence line, but he’s got most of it cleared either side of the fence back about 8-feet, or so, allowing it to be bush-hogged.

Then the fence line itself is given a dose of Round-Up and the fence line stays clear.

That’s the way most fencing is done around these parts, cleared, bush-hogged, and poisoned.  Needless to say, my fence lines don’t look so neat, and no, I don’t use Round-Up.

This spring I’m looking at using something that would be organic..like salt water (fairly strong salt solution) on the theory that it, too, will kill things where applied, but won’t have such disastrous environmental consequences.

Still his fence lines look amazing.

But that’s not the story.

When we got back to the burn site, one of the logs that has been ablaze has decided to roll down the hill, and caught the dry leaves on the surface on fire.

Two people, one with a rake and one with a tractor had the situation in hand in about 10-minutes time.  The tractor put down an outer perimeter, the rake man pulled dry leaves out from around brush that was left…

Afterwards, we spent a little time on the “narration” of this, since when his S.O. came home, she would no doubt see the burned patch of about 100-feet, or so, up by the front entrance to the property and start asking questions.

Controlled burn…that’s what this is….

And so it was. 

I made a note of that:  In the future should we ever have a fire jump outside the immediate burn area, I’ll use that “controlled burn” approach and hope Elaine will believe it, as well.

Figures out from the US Department of Agriculture show that all these homesteading sites that are popping up like fleas on a dog lately, are tilling fertile soil.

Some new 2014 data on farm sales have been released and here’s what they show:

The percent of all farms by sales class are:

* Sales Class $1,000 – $9,999: 50.6%

* Sales Class $10,000 – $99,999: 29.9%

* Sales Class $100,000 – $249,999: 7.0%

* Sales Class $250,000 – $499,999: 4.7%

* Sales Class $500,000 – $999,999: 4.0%

* Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 3.9%

People are buying up land, something I knew would be coming as we slide down the deflationary skids toward hard times.

A lot of people don’t see if, yet, but that’s what my models have always predicted – a return to the thinking that was behind one of the most popular books of the last Depression:  Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management.

Since being published during the last really “Hard Times” this book has sold on the order of 3-million copies, and there’s a lot that can be improved upon today.  For one, we don’t have to wait for the Rural Electrification Agency to come through and put up power, since most last has power to it now, at least at one corner or edge of most properties.

No doubt, a lot of the properties above are bug-out options  that people see a future near for, although in truth, there may be a lot of “squaring up: in there, too.

Take my neighbor and I:  Behind his place, and mine, is about a 20-acres parcel.   About 150 feet of it runs along the back of his property and 450-feet runs along the back of mine.

We kicked around buying it, and each taking a piece of it to “square up” our property, but so far the owner hasn’t shown much interest in selling, or has, and just hasn’t mentioned it to us, yet.

The price we heard was around $75,000 – which pushes out to $3,750 per acre.

That’s actually not a bad price.  But land with good road access may go higher:  There have been some pieces of land go for $5,000 an acre, but that would a piece like ours.  Something with a creek on it, some elevation, decent soil, and above all, some standing timber.

Even though we did a selective cutting in 2004 (which made enough money to buy the tractor and some implements brand new), there’s plenty of wood left. It’s like money in the bank.

Land has three values – should you ever go shopping for a piece of property:  One price is the price of the land as it sets.  The fences aren’t necessarily working good, so there’s money to be invested there.  But offsetting that might be some old growth pines are oaks.  These can bring a pretty penny….

That gets into a whole conversation about the best time to sell tress:  March/April because that’s when sap is running, the trees weigh the the most at the mill, and therefore, top dollar.  Except lumber prices haven’t been that good.

The second value of land is after logging, before burning and clean up.  Logging slash will be wind-rowed up into long burn piles if you want it, but after-logged land is usually something that requires a lot of work to whip back into shape.  We used goats and small fires, but if you’re in a hurry, you can rent a dozer and a land man, and have it repaired pronto for a few thousand per acre.  

Or, you can just goat it, let the big stuff rot (five years on the ground and it will be down to where you can mash it with a tractor and bush hog in most cases, or you can burn and stump grind.  This is all according to your needs, age, ambition, and resources.

This third price of land is for cleared farm or pasture lands.  This is land that can be turned into an income stream right away.

Around here, we’ll get anywhere from two cuttings of hay to four in a really great haying year. 

On the other hand, if you want to hay 10-acres, on a small patch of 20, you could raise probably 2- “units.”

A “unit” is a mother cow and a calf – we reckon 5-acres for the pair, at least early on.  Up to 7-8 for the pair by late summer. 

Still, if you can get four cattle every couple of years, a good beef on the hoof (done on your own organic land (keep your fence lines natural!) is worth $1,000 to $1,500.  So you can cut your meat costs or sell, depending on your emotional attachments, karmic froo-froo and such forth.

Still, land should produce anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per acre, if it’s being worked to its potential.

Depends on a person’s level of ambition, I figure.  Raw land, with some timber?  Maybe it will go for $4,000 per acre around here.  But the land at that price will require work.

At $6,500 per acre, it ought to be close to a good highway, and be ready for cropping which could produce $500 and up per year, so the land will pay for itself and the diesel and equipment rents to bring in whatever you’re doing.

I’ll post this over on our Rural Pioneer site, and if I get time, Oilman2 has some notes on his development (aquaculture) going on 40 miles south of us.

Main thing I wanted to mention is if you’re looking to do something for humanity, come up with a way to keep weeds and trash from growing in fence lines without chemicals that aren’t good for use.  Salt?  Maybe…but even that adds up in the soil over time.

Till, later…

George   george@ure.net


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