Southern Maryland wannabee homesteader needs help.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My husband and I own 9 acres 30 miles south of Wash,D.C. The property is private and a bit overgrown. There are two fields, a tobacco barn and more. My problem: I just don't have the time to take care of the place with my job. My husband works all the time and when he is home, he plays video games. Does anyone have any ideas about how to get help without having to pay someone? I thought about bartering the use of the land for upkeep on it. Any suggestions?
-- Andrea Robinson (AndreaandNate@aol.com), November 12, 2000
Andrea are you just concerned that it is overgrown? If that's the case you might want to think about getting a couple of goat's, they are easy to maintain and on nine ac. it wont take them long to clean it up. Is this area fenced? Are you within driving distance of it? If not them maybe goats wouldn't be a good suggestion. Good luck. God Bless.
-- tracy emily in TN (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 13, 2000.
As the previous answer said, goats for the overgrowth and if you would like to get started with a little gardening, I would suggest Mel Bartholomews' "Square Foot Gardening". The book describes using 4 foot squares for high output,low maintenance gardening. We found ourselves in much the same situation with not enough time. Started with 3 squares, now we have 17 more available. Nice thing about it, once you have it gridded off, every thing is done with hand tools and can be maintained by 1 person in about 1 hr per week (for 3 squares). There is a website www.squarefootgardening.com
Last time I checked it went to another PBS gardener, but he was hosting the square foot site there while it was under contruction. The book is 345 pages of gardening made easy.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), November 13, 2000.
Depending on what you want done there are several options. In addition to the one mentioned about goats, if you just need the land kept in good pasture, you can offer grazing rights to neighbors if they have animals and can use the pastures. We do this with our next door neighbor for their horses. This keeps our pasture grazed until I am ready to raise my own grazing animals. He also mows it a couple of times a year to cut down the tall grass that the horses aren't eating.
If you are interested in vegetable gardening and if your land is situated right, you could offer community garden space to people in your area. You could offer it free to them to raise what they want with the stipulation that they give you some of what they grow. Like most gardens, there is always surplus so everybody would be happy.
If you are interested in a full time homesteading operation, you could try to see if you could find someone who is interested in learning about animals and raising crops in return for their being around during the day to take care of things. You could give them a place to live as well as part of the bargain. This is a lot more complicated to do and it also assumes you already possess the knowledge to impart but just can't give the time to it.
Also, I would try to find something about homesteading that your husband might like such as building a greenhouse or raising chickens or something. If you can get him interested in some aspect he will probably get more interested as he learns. My husband was not particularly interested in homesteading until I convinced him to build a greenhouse for me. The greenhouse is now HIS thing and he absolutely loves growing the plants in it. He is the macho type and never thought he would actually enjoy growing plants but he says he likes the quiet and solitude as well as starting something from seed and then watching what it produces. Good luck.
-- Colleen (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 13, 2000.
I have found that letting someone know you are going to pay someone else to get a job done is quite effective in getting help. I've only done it once. I was matter of fact, not mean, and I meant what I said. It's just that help was offered before I actually got around to hiring the job done. :)
-- Laura Jensen (email@example.com), November 13, 2000.
Your situation doesn't sound so different from my own about 6 years ago. It seems you have a two fold problem. One is that your partner doesn't seem particularly interested in participating in a homestead type project and that is something between you two. It was a big source of friction between my first husband and I.
Now the next question is what to do about maintaining the land. When I lived in southern Maryland there were a number of businesses that focused on producing landscaping plants (if you get a chance, look at Roozen's nursery - it's an inspiration), herb production (there are many fine restaurants in the area) as well as turf farming. I recently read landscape production is the number 6 agricultural product in the US. All of that takes cash to get started with, but it may be something that could spark your husband's interest, especially if its something productive.
Have you thought about what someone might want to use the land for? If someone wants to use it for a hayfield, chances are that it will take some money to get it back into production, especially if it's been neglected. Naturally, that person will expect some guarantee that they will get a return on their money. If it's being kept for hay, it will still appear unmowed most of the summer which means you'll be contending with snakes, etc. Also, unless it is close to a working farm, moving all the haying equipment may be too much work during the busy haying season, especially for nine acres.
You may be able to find someone who wants to graze animals, but then you need fencing and clearly established guidelines on who is going to make sure water is available, etc. If you think keeping land can take time, you may not want the responsibility of livestock.
You may check with the county extension office or attend the occasional farmer's meetings that are held. It may also pay to advertise. There just may be a handspinner who wants to graze some sheep or a person who is just aching to put an large garden into production. Good luck.
-- Anne Tower (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 14, 2000.