Reap the lifestyle farming rewards
Important facts to ensure a successful start for a small farm
So you’ve decided to invest in a lifestyle section. There are less cars, less pollution, better eggs and better meat. You can take time out to watch lambs or calves careering up and down the paddock at sunset. You will get the satisfaction of improving a piece of land or your herd or flock. These things take time and effort. Here are tips to make your lifestyle easier: Animals: They depend on you for food, health, and safety. It’s important to learn about each animal’s needs. Proper food, shelter, and water are vital and they need to be kept stressfree. Trees are good for shelter from summer heat and winter’s rain and wind. Binoculars are handy to check on stock from the comfort of the house. If you wish to make money by breeding and selling stock the perfect animal is fertile and healthy. Sheep, goats, cattle and deer are herd, or flock animals. Sheep are reasonably easy care but they’re going to need shearing, crutching, drenching and docking. To farm goats, a sense of humour, the ability to forgive, are a must. Cows need to be milked daily and can be too heavy for soils that are prone to pugging. Miniature cattle are a popular choice for small farms. Steers are easy to manage. Chickens lay eggs with rich yellow yolks, providing breakfast or lunch for the family. Chickens are relaxing to watch as they meander through the yard fossicking for insects. Transport around the section: You can move about rapidly on a motorbike. Many farm implements, such as trailers, are designed to be towed by a quadbike. Bike spreaders are handy for applying urea. You may be able to hire a spreader when necessary. Tractors can be expensive and for some jobs, such as haymaking, you can employ a contractor. A tractor with a front- end loader can be useful. Make the most of the digger: While the digger is clearing dirt for the septic tank, get the operator to also work on the drive, and farm tracks. Neighbours: Get to know them and exchange phone numbers. Be a good neighbour and be observant. Neighbours are like a cross between friends and family. They are like family in that you cannot pick them, but like friends in that the only way to have good ones is to be one. So many things could happen that are outside your field of expertise. Fortunately, there are neighbours and local farmers to get advice from, so you are not going it alone. Being willing to learn is important when adapting to a new lifestyle. At the start there is a steep learning curve. Perservere, and reap the rewards of a wonderful lifestyle.
Here are a few tips for buyers looking for a lifestyle section. Get all the facts before you buy, and ask for advice. Consider your requirements objectively, and be hard-nosed about whether the property meets them. You should be very clear what you’re looking for in terms of location, price, size, flexibility for the future and lifestyle. You need to keep the broad picture uppermost in your mind, and not be swayed by things such as location or features that are not ultimately important to achieving your goals. When emotion overrules rationality, buyers make mistakes. You don’t want to find out later that your water supply is restricted, or your plans are subject to resource consent. Lifestyle block services are often available to help you with the big jobs or advice, talk to your agent or neighbours to find out if this is available in the area. In some districts ex-farmers specialise in working for the small scale farms. Check the local council for details on any prospective property. Check the condition and layout of fences separating areas of land. This will help you manage your stock effectively. Boundary fences need to be sound. Sheep, pigs and goats will soon learn which wires are loose. Deer are great athletes, and all fences on deer farms need to be deer fenced, and deer gated. Hungry animals can get themselves into all sorts of trouble. Dangerous areas need to be fenced off. This includes steep banks, and deep muddy areas. If you buy an existing farm then the hard and expensive work will be done. This is a completely different story when you buy bare land. You’ll need to budget carefully and take your time to work out the layout of your new farm.
Water is a priority and you’ll need a reliable source which is clean and copious because of the extra demand from the animals. You will have to ensure there’s enough water supply during the driest of summers. Make sure you let your real estate agent know what you’re looking for. Give them a basic idea of your price range. They will be able to show you property boundaries – the exact area of land for sale, the government valuation, the rates, knowledge of the land, and house water supply. If you have children, ask about the local schools, check the school bus route and other points of interest. Ask lots of questions and study the pasture. Another great suggestion is to take your camera and shoot lots of photos of every aspect. When you’re at home you can look at the photos to remind you what you liked and what you may need to think about.