October 28, 2011

Supporting Young Farmers & Ranchers - and Our Story

So while I begin this article I want to point out that yes there are a few programs and grant opportunities for young farmers and ranchers, I acknowledge that and will move on. Some of our closest friends and relatives know that we are desperately hunting more land, at this point in time, any kind of land. We’ve even considered the idea of purchasing land somewhere else and developing it later or finding someone to run our cattle on it. We are not satisfied with the operation that we have (while we are very proud) and our goals and dreams are much larger. I will not give up. In this process we have contacted many local individuals about purchasing their land. There is land owned in our area this has no use, no purpose, it’s just there, fence or no fence, barn or no barn, and who knows the last time it was developed. Surprisingly there is land owned in this area that the owners have never seen with their own eyes. What are some of the reason people refuse to sell their land? The fear of how much in taxes they will have to pay has been one, being stubborn is two, and just not caring may be the biggest of them all. So will they just sit on their land until it is passed on to their estate?

Ryan and I originally made a commitment to not start building a house until we found another piece of property to buy. I mean why build a house when you fear you won’t be able to expand and grow in the future. We feel like we are unique, we built our place from the ground up, brought in electricity, drilled a water well, started with two head and by next year will have a select set ranging around 60 based on cows and heifers on hand right now, not to mention the yearlings we run in the summer. We had two barns framed in, then we built a tack room and a bunkhouse. We have dug each and every hole for fence posts, put in lots of t-posts, strung miles and miles worth of wire, wired posts, built a great set of pens, and an almost finished arena. Why, well we purchased our property in July of 2007, barns framed in November of 2007 while we were getting married. The bunkhouse was started in March of 2008, finished in November of 2008 (it took so long because we built it ourselves, at night till the wee hours and around our work schedules). We moved in around Thanksgiving, having so much to be thankful for, including the fact that I was very pregnant and due in January. Nothing like having a deadline!

Our goal on the current piece of property was a five year plan to be finished…that being November of 2012. We are ahead of schedule, and ever more anxious to find something else, another pasture, even some farm land (although you will never hear me say we are farmers, story later). If land-owners do not sell their land to younger generations I believe several things will happen.
-        There will be very few farmers and ranchers in the future – those who have inherited their family farms and ranches, maybe even never having had a real job, and those who were able to purchase for probably too much money an existing farm or ranch.
-        There could be a huge impact on crop and livestock production.
-        And last but not least, people will move, move to an area that does support young farmers and ranchers, and that would like to see the next generation succeed in an operation.

It’s not like we don’t have any experience either. Being born and raised on what was a very large operation in Central Texas, and having shown cattle across the nation, ranching is what I eat, breath and sleep. Ryan has a unique background that makes him qualified for just about anything, any species, and even running for President, thankfully he knows and likes cows too!
This has been an article coming for a long time, we are frustrated, frustrated with our neighbors, frustrated with land-owners, the economy and so much more. I will not give up on our dreams and goals and some day we will have the opportunity to expand, hopefully sooner than later and hopefully in this area!
Also check the food page - and see what I have in the crockpot this morning!

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