Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Farm Do-over

We are very near the point of beginning a massive transition in our lives and on the farm. We are moving the farm 60 miles west to just south of De Soto, IA in northern Madison County. We will be buying a small piece of the family farm, precisely 20 acres of land out of a complex of over 800 acres. My family has farmed in that area for four generations, but there is only one member of my direct family line still farming out there. Our objective is to get ourselves set-up at the new site  and see where things take us. I am trying to think of this as a farming do-over. A chance to do what we wanted to 6 years ago when we left college, but family politics and our lack of experience farming prevented us from pursuing that plan.

A Rough Panaramic View of the New Farm

I have no expectation that this will be an easy process, but I think it is right for our family and our business in the future. This new location will provide us with the potential access to farm assets including land that the family owns that is not being utilized or is being under utilized. This move also allows us potential access to farm equipment, even if a good amount of it has not been used in many years. It allows us the amenities of West Des Moines in less then 30 minutes of driving. This includes more employment options for Janice and the pre-school options we wanted for Hazel. Lastly, it allows much better access to more customers for our business. Pella has been a very big part of our business, but it took us along time to get going and I am concerned that we are reaching the limits of what we might expect from that market. We do still intend to bring product to Pella to continue to serve our customers there because we value them not only as customers, but as friends.

There is an added layer of complexity (you might have guessed it from the photo), we will be moving to a blank site. The farm complex has multiple houses, many of them are in various states of disrepair. None of the old houses are located in a place that fit our parameters and all of them would take significant money and time to make livable. Our wants for a potential site were as follows: it had to have ready access to rural water, it had to have access to rural broadband internet, it needed to be something that was not being used or was under utilized, and we preferred it to be in the Adel-Desoto-Minburn School District (ADM). There were only two places on the farm that fit these objectives. We were lucky enough to negotiate the better of the two options.

Aerial of New Site

We close on the land in early September. We are currently planning on locating our future house and buildings imbedded in the southeast portion of the black Locust grove by the road. This will mean much time behind the chain saw. Luckily Black locust makes excellent fence posts if allowed to dry first and shed its bark. We will also need to build a new access because the current site access is blind and quite dangerous given the traffic on the road. This will be no small feat as it is very steep hill we will have to tear into and grade out. We have purchased a different tractor to aid us in this process, that I will touch on in more detail soon.

Location of Future Site Access

Lastly, we have already signed a contract to have a farm building constructed on site by Cleary Construction in De Soto, IA. We got a good deal on a basic structure that will be a 30x50 foot building, with a 10 foot high access door. The building will then be extended an additional 12 feet and ending with an open lean-to. The intent of the building is house machinery in the main bay and allow us to block the lean-to part of the building off to allow shelter for livestock. With the cost of building a building it seamed better to us to build quite a bit bigger then we immediately need and just grow into it.

Representation of what the Building Minus the Lean-to Extension on the Right Side

If we can get all of that done and begin to lay out fencing and digging in water lines by winter, that would be great. There are many more details that we are chipping on. This is a big shift for us and we are trying to hit it as hard as we can right now.

I must apologize for not being very communicative with our customers this year, be it email or blog post. We have had a lot on our plate. Having a baby at home and a three year old has been very draining. Janice has been working on her MBA at night and one many weekends. Preschool started on Monday, and I am feeling invigorated with the freedom this affords me. I do intend to blog more regularly as we have quite a bit to talk about moving forward. I want to talk about lessens I leaned on this farm, things I don't like, thinks I like, things we are going to replicate on the new farm, and things I will try very hard to avoid. To that end, I am hoping to blog at least weekly if not biweekly from here to winter, so stay tuned as we flip our world upside down.

First Day of Preschool, Yay

1 comment:

  1. It may seem hard while you’re still adjusting and figuring out a working process, but at least you don’t have to start with nothing, should the farm equipment prove workable, or at the very least fixable. And it looks very promising, especially with all the possibilities that will open up after you move to your new farm.