8 acres becomes 258 acres

by Farmer Liz
Over the past 6 weeks my husband and I have been working hard to secure finance for another property, and today we found out that it had settled and its now ours!

The property is 258 acres in Kumbia, which is near Kingaroy and about 30 min from where we live now in Nanango.  The property has no house, just good fencing, a hay shed, nice solid stock yards, five dams and four divined bore sites.  The property comprises of about 60 acres of cultivation, with about half of the remainder selectively cleared and contoured, and the rest with natural vegetation cover.

Many of you will wonder why we need 258 A when we already had 8 A.  There are two reasons.  Firstly we have been buying a lot of supplement feed recently and we felt that we would never be entirely self-sufficient with the number of animals that we want to keep on only 8 A.  We really need about 20-50 A, but a block that size is hard to find, and most are not good quality country, just the bad bits chopped of a larger farm to make a little money.  Also, with 20-50 A, the work to maintain the property is close to the work required for 200+ A, but the land isn't enough to generate an income, and it is our dream to one day in the distant future be able to"retire" from office work to farm together full-time.  So we thought we may as well buy a decent size property and see what we could achieve.  This way we never have to worry about running out of food or water for our animals, and we should be able to make a little extra money as well.

We plan at first to fatten beef cattle steers, buying a mob of 20-30 from the stock yards and selling them 9-12 months later when they are nice and big.  Eventually we will build a house up there and sell our little 8 acre property.  Then we can get into more intensive farming activities such as pasture fed chickens in tractors and mob-stocking the cattle (a la Joel Salatin).  We feel quite confident that we can make this work given our experience with animals on our 8 acres, but it is a little scary knowing that we will be raising larger numbers of animals for profit, so it will be important that our experiments with organic production methods do work as that will allow us to keep costs low (rather than buying chemicals).  Until we have built up the business, we will both continue to work full-time off the farm.

Our choice of property may seem strange to some people, in fact this property was on the market for 2 years before we made an offer.  We think that people were put off my the amount of vegetation on the property and the current restrictions in Queensland on clearing vegetation.  Indeed, we will need a permit to clear anything, except to make a house yard or for fencing, but that suits us.  We see the vegetation as free fence posts, firewood, shade for the cattle and fertility for the rest of the property.  I think the ratios are about what Peter Andrews recommends (one third trees, one third grazing and one third cropping), so its the perfect block from our point of view!

In preparation for taking on this challenge we have both read Joel Salatin's book "You can farm", which has some great advice for wannabe farmers such as ourselves.  He says that farmers complain that they can't earn a living, and the same is true in our area.  Joel agrees that conventional farming methods are not successful and that to make money you have to think differently.  I think we are ready to do that and I really hope that we will be able to both work on the farm together one day.

I've also been trying to get into some permaculture books, because I think we can really benefit from applying permaculture principles on this property.

So now I have a blog identity crisis!  Is it 8 acres, 258 acres or 266 acres?   I don't want to change the blog name at the moment, so I guess I'll be posting about both properties for now, if I have time.  But I can assure you that there will be many interesting posts to come as we are on a steep learning curve!

The following are some photos of our new property taken by real estate agents over the past 2 years or so, as we haven't had time to take our own yet..... there's none of the trees as they weren't a major selling point for anyone except us apparently!

cattle (not our's) by one of the dams

some of the cleared grazing areas

more grazing

and more grazing

the hay shed

the stock yards (nice and solid)

the view
cultivation area ploughed

cultivation area planted

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