We realized that we had three basic options:
- Leave my job at the church and find a job near my Dad's so we could farm with him. That was an idea that we pursued for a while, but we really do feel called to this are for both our ministry and our farming.
- Buy a smaller acreage with an existing house and buildings. The reality is that if we did that we would be looking at 10 acres or less with 20 acres being the top possibility. While that would be enough for some operations we thought we would like more to begin with.
- Buy bare land and build as inexpensively as possible. Our idea with this one is that we will have a larger land base and then we can expand as money is available.
What that meant for us is that we would only buy something that my job would pay for, not something that would require farming income. That way when the farm took a little while to get going we would not be overly pinched. Yes, it meant some sacrifices and laying out a large down payment, but I think it is a practical way to get started ... which was our goal.
That is where the "buying a farm is like buying a house" analogy breaks down though. Because when you are buying a farm there is plenty of other infrastructure that needs to be put into place no matter how basic your operation is at the beginning and we have resolved to only pay cash for those things. If we started putting all of those farming expenses into a loan I think we would run into trouble.
Speaking of loans ... don't try to get some of those "beginning farmer" loans if you are a true beginning farmer. The ones we were pointed to all required three years of farm management experience or at least 50% of your income coming from the farm in the first year. But, the loan stuff is really a touch subject with me so I will just point you to my wife's blog because she has posted about the loan stuff in more detail (HERE ... HERE ... HERE ... HERE). The other day she also wrote down some of her thoughts on the money issue.