There was no house. Spanish peasants have never liked the idea of living on their land. They would typically own land within a couple of hours walk from their village. They prefer to come home after work and hang out as a community. But, during harvest season they would sleep over on the land, and so there was a sort of large toolshed, made of stone - everything is granite - measuring about 20'x10'. By going through the convoluted Spanish paperwork system we found we were able to get a simple permit to renovate this, and so with builders we have turned it into a modern, pretty, but very small house, bedroom upstairs, living room down downstairs and we tacked on a small modern shower-room and kitchen. We have in train planning permission to build somewhere bigger, but with things as they are I am constant tension with other half - who wants to build - while I am most reluctant to convert my stack at the present time.
We had no problem with the Spanish people or lack of lingo. Everyone was very helpful and kind. Also, of course, we were spending quite large sums of money in this tiny community. For comparison, the 300 foot borehole cost about $6k to drill. It took 2 days. Good old yankee Atlas Copco equipment. I think the pump was about 3k. It has to be powerful for it's size as in worst case it needs to lift water the whole 300' AND do this with feeble photovoltaic power. We could have got a cheaper pump if we'd had power - which we didn't have at the time. But, it's satisfying to watch this water pouring out like a fire hydrant and know that it's costing nothing. The panels and wiring up cost another 5k. 14k total, but with luck we are now set until the panels/pump wear out - hopefully not for 20 years or so.
We have had no problem with theft, which has always been on my mind. Particularly the electricity panels. We are in a cul de sac which I think has helped, there is no reason for anyone to walk by the property unless they live adjacent. Also, we do have a fairly conspicuous presence - in the area - of Guardia Civil - para-military federales. We go out of our way to be friendly - they are always in pairs, usually parked on the side of the road in landrovers.
We'd like to live pretty full time, but have kids strewn around Europe and I have an old mother in UK, so I think a good mix would be 3 months on, 2 weeks off. Spain is in terrible financial shape - but they are close knit community people - and everyone has a granny with a smallholding or garden who helps out with produce, meat, jam, etc. I don't see them starving. I am thus far under the radar and have paid zero tax - other than my taxes when taking ownership. But once we put up a house I'm sure we will have to pay. At present we supply our own water, take care of our own refuse (monster landfill 2 miles away), the road is a dirt track maintained by the forestry commission....so we're not really a drain on any public services.
This corner of Spain is ex Roman, medieval...it's where all the conquistadores came from. It's the least inhabited part of Europe. Largest original primeval mediterranean oak forests in existence. It's the Spanish equivalent of Texas. (where I once lived, so appreciate the individuality of the place).
Thank you for answering my questions and providing us all insight into how someone else is handling settng themselves up in another country. Do you need any new neighbors? :-}
Plan for Tomorrow, but Work your Plan Today
Where I am living land sizes really fluctuate, from just over an acre, to our neighbor to the east, who has eighty-five acres. Because of zoning changes every 20 acre parcel can be subdivided any four ways. We are looking into selling some of our land due to property taxes. Our taxes are ridiculous and in troubled times, may prove a real issue for us. Be aware of future property taxes.
What lots of folks don't realize is how easy it is to take a small parcel and plant a fast growing hedge. We have an Agricultural Extension office in town that provides very inexpensive starts during the Spring each year for land owners. A person merely orders them in advance, and on two consecutive weekends in the early Spring they are ready for pick-up. The starts are grown by the Ag College and Forest Service. The Extension Service runs ads and articles in the local papers letting you know when the trees will be available, and their cost.
There is a type of hedge (I forget the name and it's way too early in the AM (4:55 here) to find out what it is, that has long, treacherous thorns. I believe the Extension sells starts for this hedge for about $1.00 each. I've been assured that such a hedge will keep anything out and you in. I've also been warned that planting it along a roadway will result in constant flat tires (both auto and machinery) to any that travel over adjacent road as any discarded thorns do a marvelous job of hindering traffic.
Contacting the Ag School in your state can provide all kinds of information about the area, soils, rainfall, and services they have to offer.
Another thing to look at is proximity to State, Federal, and private timber land. Most private timber companies are happy to let you onto their land to collect wood from dead falls or diseased trees. Permits are easy to acquire for State and Federal lands, about $5.00 a cord. We are very close to thousands of acres of Gov't land, so with proper permits, fire wood is not an issue.
Buy a small parcel of land, plant a hedge around it using drip irrigation, and you are good to go. The money you save can be used for alternative energy, underground containers for food storage, defensive strategies, etc.
Hind site is always 20/20. We spent too much on our property (real estate was still in a bubble) and now regret it. Big properties require equipment and diesel, fencing, proper pasture management, etc.
Since we've moved in nearly all our neighbors are heavily into prepping.
It's costly to move to the country. There are hundreds of unexpected expenses. Please learn from our mistakes and don't cut yourself short of funds! Unless you are planning on having several families on your property, you don't need 20 acres.
Most gardens are at best, 1/4 - 1 acre in size. An orchard no more that a 1/4 acre. My goats require no more than two acres. A wood lot carefully planted of 1 acre is all you need. (Better yet, buy next to Forest Service/State/timber company land.
So I am back to the recommendation of five acres or less. I've added to that a hedge. That really ought to be ample. Just make sure the garden and orchard area are level! That is not negotiable. You need level land for orchard and garden!!!!!! And you need to budget in a good eight foot deer fence. Less than eight feet and you will be sorry...
And the money you save will be spent on all kinds of unexpected/unbudgeted items - like a greenhouse, fall-out shelter, fencing, seeds, fertilizers, animals, animal housing, etc.
Yes, you may get bad neighbors. But I'm betting rural folks are much more likely to watch each other's backs than city folks. People live in the country because they want to. They are much more independent than city folk. And they will not sit by when one of their neighbors is attacked, because they know that their farm will be next.
I am happy to answer any PM's. I know rural land and am happy to help you if I can.
thanks for these posts. I'm trying, like a lot of folks, to figure out what to do...all the while, time is ticking. I like the above post most of all...lots and lots of info that have certainly narrowed things down a bit for me.
thanks ever so much!
while i'm not trying to suggest that anyone make hasty or ill thought-out decisions, time is passing. buying rural land is just the first step in acquiring a more self-sustaining lifestyle base.
this winter, i am, as in winters past, adding to the future capacity of this little piece of land to support me and my progeny. tomorrow, i expect to go to a nearby orchard/nursery across the line in georgia and pick up two mahan pecan trees, two english (carpathian) walnut trees, and an american chestnut tree. also a "weeping snow fountain flowering cherry" tree. the first five are to provide future food supplies, the sixth, for beauty.
my point being, these things take time! it will be several (5? 10?) years before there is any yield on any of these, and perhaps as long after that before they get up to anywhere near full production. i am fortunate that i started building a self-sustaining rural lifestyle twenty seven years ago, and many of the improvements i started in the intervening years have come on line, production-wise. for those who have yet to acquire a piece of land, why are you dragging your feet?
i don't want to seem like a doom and gloomer, but i'm not certain how much longer conditions will permit travel to a nursery fifty miles away. (fuel availability etc.) the government may put restrictions on interstate shipment of nursery stock, ...whatever. i want to be as well prepared as i can before the manure contacts the air impeller. the problem is that i don't know when that will be. with the passage of time, i become more and more convinced that the contact will occur.
why are you dragging your feet? get with it, go ahead and buy a few (or more than a few) acres of rural base. if you can, get it near enough to your present urban base that you can make frequent visits. it is possible to make some of the preps (some of those that take the longest lead-time) on a weekend by weekend basis. fruit and nut trees can be planted and tended on an intermittent basis. fences can be built a couple of hundred yards at a time, garden plots can be cleared a little at a time, lots of stuff that needs doing. lots of stuff that can be done in installments.
get some land, drag an old travel trailer onto it to serve as an "advance base camp," and start.
why are you dragging your feet? time's a-wastin'.
Katie - on 5 vs. 10/20 acres and re: property taxes, IIRC, at least here in Texas, you need at least 10 acres to qualify for agricultural exemptions (or wildlife exemptions, I don't remember exactly which one). I haven't done the math yet to check the numbers, but buying a larger tract might be cost beneficial if it qualifies for tax breaks.
Bern - That is true in my neck of the woods too. It is well worth getting a large enough parcel to be able to qualify for the agricultural or forestry resource tax credits and rebates. They have allowed us to get our total (including retail sales tax ) tax burden down to almost zero.
If you have to plant a woodlot on the property you buy don't expect to have any firewood from it for a long time.
If you're buying a property with an existing woodlot be sure it is large enough to supply enough firewood to heat your house without degenerating your stand of trees. A rough rule of thumb that I have heard for a healthy, mature woodlot is that you can expect it to yield about 1 full cord (128 cubic feet) per acre and remain within the forest's ability to regenerate itself.
In the area where I live people are burning 7 to 8 cords of maple per heating season using wood burning add on to their oil furnace. I burn about 7 cords (80% spruce, balsam fir and tamarack / 20% maple) to heat a large old farmhouse with two wood stoves - there is no furnace or oil back up. I like to have 8 to 9 cords cut, split, seasoned and under cover just in case we get a brutally long or cold winter.
In my situation, I would not be comfortable with a woodlot smaller than 10 acres (larger if its condition was less than ideal) to be able to supply all my own firewood. IMO you can never have too much woodlot. Buy as much as you can afford. If your woodlot has capacity to produce more than you burn each year, it can be a great source of extra cash income or barter.
Mature stands may also yield logs that you can use to saw into lumber with a portable band saw mill for construction projects on your homestead. In that scenario, the slab wood generated when making a round log square before sawing it into 2xs, becomes your firewood.
An excellent resource for my part of our marble can be found here.
pure and simple. haven't been "awake" that long...and maybe I'm too late. Doesn't mean I'm gonna roll up in a ball and quit, tho. I'm eyeballin things close by, but there isn't much...and what there is, ain't cheap.
all I can do is all I can do at this point. gotta keep the bills paid and the family fed, ya know??
thanks for the push!
best of luck with the property!!! sounds wonderful!
Our state has tax exemptions for both forest and ag land. You need 20 acres to get those exemptions.
Our problem is our land is cleared range land (no trees). The tax exemption for agricultural purposes is ridiculous. You have to provide receipts for three years in a row showing $2000 + net farm income per acre before the exemption is possible. That would be $40,000 worth of farm income for the last three years. No one makes that here.
Someone went to a lot of effort clearing our land years ago. I'm not going to replant it into forest, especially with public forest land available within a few blocks.
So a trip to the county accessor is in order. Every state is different.
For those who can not move, and have a home in the city, here's an idea.
A friend bought a small shipping container and had it buried in his back yard. He disguised the entrance. He uses the container primarily for food storage. When neighbors asked him what he was doing, he told them that he was concerned about nuclear war, and was putting in place a fallout shelter. He had it buried four feet below the surface. His total cost was about $3500 for container and backhoe work.. He left space for himself to hide out in it in the event of civil unrest. He also stocked plenty of water.
Something like that is certainly better than doing nothing! I wish we had thought of it when we still had money.
As for woodlots, I just can't imagine that 10 acres are needed. An acre is approx 210' x 210'. Trees are generally planted ten to twenty feet apart, so that makes 120+ trees per acre. You need twenty feet for a pickup truck to get through. Here again, one needs to consult the extension service to get the correct information. They know what to plant in your particular area.
Now, that brings something to mind.
Here's another idea. My last investor clients knew every trick in the book for making money off of real estate. They were bad, greedy men. Their god was money, so everything crooked was on the table for them, including stealing a large chunk of my commission, via agreements made with my Broker.
What they would do is buy forested land. While it was in escrow and under "Feasibility Study" they would have the land "timber cruised." What that means is they would hire a man who knew timber to come out and price the standing timber on the property. If the figure was high enough, they would proceed with the sale. If not, they would back out. (They never gave money for earnest money. They always signed a promissory note due and payable upon removal of all contingencies. That way it was easy for them to walk away if the timber's value was not high enough for them.)
Right after escrow one of the investor's sons who was a logger would selectively log the property. He would clear two or three acres for a home site, then gently remove the large standing timber from the rest of the property. He did a beautiful job and really enhanced the property by bringing in sunlight and making room for the younger trees to grow. They would remove the trunks, and then spread grass seed over the logged property. The grass would inhibit the growth of weeds, and the property would look park like when it was ready for sale.
They would punch in a well, bring power to the property line, and generally make a fortune, as the logs would pay for the entire project (land, well, power, etc.) The trick in this scenario is getting ethical loggers. There are thousands of nightmare tales about loggers for every one good tale. So again, DD is really in order.
But it is a thought. Some forested property might be the way to go, as the timber could help defray the initial land costs. But warning! warning! warning! loggers are notoriously crooked, so you will need to ask around till you find one universally respected. Then you just might get yourself some free or nearly free land!
I'm curious, what crops are being grown in your area that generate that amount of net income?
I remember in Ontario farmers dreaming of "100 bushels to the acre" for winter wheat. @$7.30 per bushel https://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=wheat that's only $730 gross revenue and farmers would drool if they hit that 100 bushel bogey. Don't know what the net income off that would be, but a guess would be $100 to $150 per acre after paying for seed, fertilizer, fuel, maintenance and depreciation.
In our part of the world resource forestry and agricultural exemptions are allowed for all registered farms that have a plan to achieve $10,000 in gross farm revenue within 5 years. Custom work off farm can be included in gross farm revenue. Canada Revenue Agency can kick you off the registered status at any time if they deem that your farm plan is not viable. They don't though. I've got a friend who's been at it for 20 years. He's never hit the $10k revenue bogey. When I asked him how he can keep his exemptions he smiled and said "I've got a 5 year plan".
Here's a link to a quick reference chart of heating values by species as well as a table of expected firewood yield based on tree size/type. It takes more trees than you'd think to make up a cord of firewood.
Timber and pulp prices around here have been in the crapper since the implosion of the housing market in NE US. Firewood prices however, have doubled in the past 10 years.
I am definitely modifying my thinking about the size of land I should be looking at to do what I want to do. The minimum size has to be 10 acres where I live in order to qualify for the "Clean & Green" program, which reduces your property tax significantly (a reduction of approx. $300 per month). Farmland is selling, in my next of the woods, for around $10 to 15k per acre... which I think is crazy, but that's what it's going for....
This is a great thread and I appreciate everyone sharing their insights. I am sure that I will have tons more questions as I get further into this search. :-)
@Be Prepared - On Christmas Day I moved into a remodeled, clean, little house in MO that sits on 1.5 acres, completely flat, fenced in, two double car ports, a 350 sq.ft. chicken house, two wells and its already planted with fruit and nut trees. It is 12 miles to the nearest grocery store and hospital, four miles from Lake Truman and 12 miles to a 971-acre fish hatchery. I bought it for a low, low price (45K) and better yet, the owner financed 2/3 of the sale price so no banks were involved. Internet service with Hughes Satellite is $50/m and equipment installation is free. I feel I am in heaven.
Last Saturday I went to a land auction south of Osceola, MO where they sold three parcels (59, 40 and 35 acres) of hilly dense timber that had been logged off about 25 years ago. They couldn't get a bid. Finally it sold for $800 per acre; buyer(s) could take 1,2 or 3 parcels at that price.
Conclusion: Be flexible and watch for a good deal. Sellers will sometimes go lower than you think in price and terms.
I am going to try aquaponics on my place this summer. If I am remotely successful, I will try to install a large greenhouse and use a wood-fired hot water boiler from www.ozarkbiomassfurnace.com to supply heat to fish tanks in the greenhouse(s). I will also run a hot water loop to my house to replace the existing propane heater which takes up space in my living room. This spring I plan to raise chickens as soon as I can weasel-proof and disinfect the old chicken house.
Katie Rose, thank you for this forum. I hope some day to keep goats, but I am not ready to commit to twice daily milking. How does one keep up with that?
got home from the nursery yesterday with my nut trees (pecan, walnut, chestnut) and had just enough time to plant them in their prepared holes before it started to rain. ...hard, soaking rain! i couldn't have asked for better timing!
I read about your early morning visitation on the main thread. ( rarely read that)
You must become proficient with a firearm if you are going to live in isolated rural areas.
It is much easier for crazies to brutalize and kill your family out there than it is in suburbia.
There are so many sickos today that would enjoy a week long torture fest.
dogs are great warning system. But, they can be poisoned.
Never investigate strange noises in isolated rural areas without a firearm in hand. shot gun is good. proficiency with a hand gun is better.
If it had been me, I would have fired a few rounds in the air as those tail lights drove out of sight.
Just lurking; great thread. Maybe someday....
Stay well Katie Rose
Katie, thank you for keeping this forum going and ditto to all the contributors here - much appreciated!Treefrog has the right idea about planting trees as soon as you can. You may not be able to time the market & PM's, but you can time your tree-planting and the sooner the better. This is what I have been doing for the 10+ years on my semi-rural property.
This weekend a friend let me dig up three cherry trees to take home and transplant. The soil in which they had grown in was poor & rocky; the trees had been planted too close together and were shaded by tall evergreens so no wonder they had not produced their bounty so far.
It took all day yesterday to properly transplant these 3 cherry trees. When I dug the planting holes, first I removed the topsoil from the sod and separated the rest of the topsoil that came out of the hole from the mineral dirt below. Then I mixed compost with the topsoil & mineral dirt in a 2x2x1 ratio, then added some lime & rock phosphate, and used this concoction to fill the planting hole around each of the trees.
This is how I have planted other fruit & nut trees in the past, and the results are good, although admittedly I have not compared this with trees which had been simply slapped into the ground as I do not do this. If anybody here cares to share their tree-planting methodology please feel free to do do.
your compost-topsoil-subsoil mixture is similar to my technique. a few other tricks i have picked up along the way to here and now:
a) ph. soil is either acid, alkaline, or neutral. trees, and most other plants like soil that is near neutral or very mildly acid. my soil is quite acid, so in planting, i add to the mixture of soil to go back into the hole, a handful of fine grained (about the size of raisins, and smaller) limestone gravel. this acts as a slow time release form of lime. oyster shells, egg shells, and such work well too. particle size determines the rate of release. powdered lime from the garden store is fastest, coarse gravel or oyster shells would be much slower (many years).
b) phosphorus. trees (and other plants) need phosphorus. a trick i learned from my brother is to throw a steak bone or two in the bottom of the hole when planting a tree. bones are high in phosphorus, and take years to decompose, thus a multi-year supply.
c) berms. if you form a low circular ridge of earth a foot or two out from your new tree, with the tree in the middle of a wide, shallow saucer-like depression, any water (rain, water hose, whatever) in the area will be directed to where it will do the most good.
d) water. transplanted trees need water the first year. they need soaking twice a week their first three months, and once a week the rest of their first year. if it's been a week since it rained or since you watered, buy them a drink! after a year, they can generally make it on their own. i have well drained sandy loam. if you have heavier clay or other type soils, this timetable may need adjusting.
e) weeding. new trees don't do well if they have competition for water and nutrients. keep them weeded the first year. a thick mulch out a couple feet all around will cut down a lot on the labor involved. leave a couple inches right next to the tree clear.
f) flagging tape. you know where the trees are that you planted. not so some other person who may be doing your mowing. a stout stake beside your tree with some surveyor's flagging tape on it is a good precaution. this is especially true of smaller transplants - the ones that are cheaper and also the ones that survive transplanting the best.
g) timing. trees transplant best when they are dormant. like midwinter, like now!
h) pruning. transplanting always results in some root damage. prune back the tops proportionately.
i) fertilizing. i use both organic and chemical fertilizers. compost as mulch, and 8-8-8 in a light application every three months. i am fortunate in having access to plenty of horse manure and also poultry barn litter. these with lots of leaves and grass make a pretty good compost. a little limestone gravel counteracts a tendency to acidity, but slowly.
The best place to gather information about properties, zoning, well depths, etc. is the county building in the area you are considering moving.
I would begin with the Planning Dept. It's amazing how much information you can gather just talking to one of the Planners. You can find out about zoning, setbacks, well setbacks, wetland policy, any changes in policy in the works, good and bad well areas, the quality of the water (hard, soft, deep, shallow), etc.
Then move on to the Assessor's Office. These are the folks that need to keep their job by taxing you and your property. You can ask about low income tax breaks for the elderly, forest preserve breaks, farm tax rates, etc.
Next I would visit the Building Department and find out the permits needed to put up out-buildings, barns, septic systems, etc. Ask about alternative buildings like straw bale, rammed earth, tires, etc. Find out how much the permits cost.
You may want to contact well drillers in the area and get an idea on where the aquifers are and their size and dept.
If after visiting these and other departments it seems the county folks are Nazi's, rethink moving to that county.
Many times the county's hands are tied due to state laws. In WA State where I live the west side (Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bellingham) rules the state. They are very liberal and green, making life Hell for all the other folks who live in the state.
So, if your time at the county shows you that this is a place where little Nazi's are in charge, you may want to consider another county or even another state.
And always, make all decisions prayerfully.
Blackhawk, congratulations! You did good! In the future if you want grazing animals, you may want to trade with a neighbor for use of some of their pasture in exchange for eggs, milk, garden produce, etc.
You also may want to really check out the chicken coup before use. Chickens carry mites, and the mites linger in old coups. They make life miserable for chickens!
Also, do not accept chickens from anywhere other than a good hatchery. We had friends that were moving and "gave" us their chickens. Their chickens had mites, and they, in turn, infected our entire flock. Once a flock has mites, you can never get rid of them.
When we moved, we left the chickens behind with the new owner. Our property was already infected and we did not want to move mites onto our new farm. And, of course, we told the new owners why we were leaving them the chickens. They were thrilled to get them, as they were very good layers.
And, if you end up getting a few milk/meat goats, do not let them anywhere near where the chicken's free range. Chicken poop carries a bacteria that will kill baby goats. Last year I sold some beautiful little doelings to a family. They didn't know about not letting chickens anywhere near the baby goats. I didn't either, so I did not warn them. Sadly, all the babies died from the bacterial infection carried in the chicken poop.
Treefrog great tree-planting tips – thanks! That trick of throwing in some crushed shells & bones into the planting hole for a slow-release fertilizer is a good one. I learned that trick of creating berms around individual vegetable plants & trees when I was in Russia. Great way to conserve water – which came from a well at the dacha and had to be hand-carried to where it was used.
I happen to live in the western side of Washington State (They are very liberal and green, making life Hell for all the other folks who live in the state) – where the soil is also acidic & low in Phosphorous. Although I’ve never tested my soil, adding Phosphorous & Lime to planting holes & garden beds seems to help things to grow well.
To chime in on Katie’s comment above, if you visit your county Building Department and ask whether you need a permit for something – they will ALWAYS say, “of course you do!” You can bet your money on that one, especially given the present financial straits which all public entities are in.
In your opinion, is buying rural property WITH a well anymore advantageous than buying the property and digging one?
My plan (dream?) is to purchase a few acres in the next several years (hopefully we have that much time left) and live out my remaining years knowing that my son's family has a refuge to flee to when the SHTF.
Sorry to boil it down to such an either/or question but would like your opinion.
Thanks in advance.
ClinkinKY (Where there is still some reasonably priced acreage available)