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TomF
01-08-2010, 02:36 PM
Hmm. I'm 47, and think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to grow landrace varieties of wheat, rye and barley, to help keep the genetic diversity of those old strains alive and awake. I like the notion of heritage breeds of livestock too, for much the same reason. All the reasons that make me like regionally developed small wooden boats are the same ones making me like regionally developed and locally grown food.

But while I'm actually contemplating a career change in the next few years, it's barmy to think I could make a living farming in such ways, as a 50-year-old beginner. Best I'll be able to manage is some degree of hobby-farm, where an off-site "real job" pays the bills. I've a few ideas of how to possibly do that, but I doubt they'll come to pass.

It is a shame that I didn't figure this out 'till it was too late.

Anyone else have a mid-life crisis to share?

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
01-08-2010, 02:50 PM
Regional heritage breeds? Moose, Elk, Salmon and the like?????

Paul Pless
01-08-2010, 03:04 PM
Hmm. I'm 47, and think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to grow landrace varieties of wheat, rye and barley, to help keep the genetic diversity of those old strains alive and awake.

But while I'm actually contemplating a career change in the next few years, it's barmy to think I could make a living farming in such ways, as a 50-year-old beginner. Best I'll be able to manage is some degree of hobby-farm, where an off-site "real job" pays the bills. I've a few ideas of how to possibly do that, but I doubt they'll come to pass.Microbrewery!

You did say 'midlife crisis', they're not supposed to be practical you know. . . probably be cheaper in the long run to just buy a jaguar and maybe have a fling or two in Vegas.

TomF
01-08-2010, 03:05 PM
Regional heritage breeds? Moose, Elk, Salmon and the like?????Err, heritage breeds of domesticated livestock. Canadienne cattle, local variants of Berkshire pigs etc. that were bred to work well in our climate .. rather than in a 4000-animal industrial barn.

Here in the Maritimes, there are some growers who've essentially been developing a "modern landrace" of wheat, by sowing two Spring wheat varieties together (Acadia and Selkirk) which were dominant in our regional agriculture in the early-mid 20th Century. Enough genetic variation to adapt to local conditions and varying weather between one year and the next, and as pre-Green Revolution plants, they require far lower fertilizer and herbicide inputs.

While the practice is gaining popularity with certified organic growers now, there are folks on Prince Edward Island who've apparently been doing this since the 1960s.

TomF
01-08-2010, 03:07 PM
Paul,

If I could find a way to grow Maris Otter barley and malt it, there'd be markets enough in existing micro-breweries out here.

But you're right about the economics. My sister grows award winning grapes on some of the best land in the Niagara bench, but even they're having a tough time selling at a price that will keep them profitable.

Pugwash
01-08-2010, 03:14 PM
To be honest that's not much of a midlife crisis. Now this is a midlife crisis......

http://www.allfordmustangs.com/photopost/data/3175/hot_red_convertible_babe_2.jpg


However, I'm not sure you need to be so despondent about the financial side of your new venture. Particularly if you combine it with other organic growing.

I googled "successful organic box schemes" and it would appear that all the links direct you to British based outfits, but I see no reason why the same business model should not work in your vicinity.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/real_food/article1380105.ece

Before moving to the US I lived on a farm that did just what you are talking about, with great results, and it was started by someone in their late forties with no agricultural experience (unless you could owning wholefood shops). I would be happy to get you in touch with her, if you want. I'm sure she would be more than willing to offer advice.

:)

:)

TomF
01-08-2010, 03:23 PM
Very cool, Pugwash. I'd be happy to chat with your friend, even though realistically I expect I couldn't convince my mob to make such a whole-hearted switch. More likely when the older two have left home.

FWIW when I rode a motorbike at ridiculous speeds back in university, I had a girlfriend who looked kinda like that ... except more hair, more chest, and (judging by the expression) perhaps more brains. The girl in your picture seems to have a similar difficulty keeping her pants on though :D... I guess I did my midlife crisis early. Now that girl looks disconcertingly like she could sit next to my daughter in 1st year.

I'm far better off with my current spouse.

Pugwash
01-08-2010, 03:34 PM
Of course, being labour intensive, organic growing could get very spendy if it were not for http://www.wwoof.org/.

Having witnessed a stream of woofers over several years I can definately say it's a mixed bag, but it's also a two way street. A lot of small organic holdings couldn't survive without them.

I'll PM you Patricias details later, right now I have to go back to work (closing on Monday).

Goood luck.

J P
01-08-2010, 04:24 PM
I'm just starting to look into the feasibility of small scale organic hop farming with the idea of selling direct to local microbreweries. We have three breweries within 15 miles or so and several more 50 miles away. From what I've heard they would take all they could get.

TimH
01-08-2010, 04:37 PM
Old world chickens and turkeys too. Now days what we eat are barely chickens and turkeys. They have been so genetically altered that they could not live long. They grow so fast and large that their bones break.

http://www.cacklehatchery.com/page4.html

StevenBauer
01-08-2010, 04:49 PM
I googled "successful organic box schemes" and it would appear that all the links direct you to British based outfits,...

I think the reason you only got British based outfits is that "box schemes" does not translate to American English. No such animal.


Steven

shamus
01-08-2010, 04:55 PM
Enough genetic variation to adapt to local conditions and varying weather between one year and the next

I know a guy who worked on this idea with his principal crop, which was children. He fathered them all over the district. None of them turned out any good though.

PeterSibley
01-08-2010, 05:18 PM
As a variation on your original scheme ,a while ago here there was a documentarty on TV about a chap with the perfect job .He travelled throughout central Asia , tiny farms and the remotest villages collecting varieties of some of the original wheay ,barley ,oat and rye varieties .Some of the farms would have 100 different varieties in one field .

The perfect vocation .

PeterSibley
01-08-2010, 05:19 PM
I know a guy who worked on this idea with his principal crop, which was children. He fathered them all over the district. None of them turned out any good though.

:D:D

pefjr
01-08-2010, 05:30 PM
Ishmael can help you out on this crisis, as soon as he gets back from his own crisis. You ever thought about goats, drums, and Mexico?

Paul Pless
01-08-2010, 05:30 PM
I know a guy who worked on this idea with his principal crop, which was children. He fathered them all over the district. None of them turned out any good though.the result of a midlife crisis?

switters
01-08-2010, 05:43 PM
You gentlemen are having an old life crisis, if you were having a midlife crisis you would be discussing sports cars and various rent schemes for mistresses.

Pugwash gave you the opportunity, and it was squandered.:p

Paul Pless
01-08-2010, 05:49 PM
You gentlemen are having an old life crisis, if you were having a midlife crisis you would be discussing sports cars and various rent schemes for mistresses.

Pugwash gave you the opportunity, and it was squandered.:pSee the portion of my initial post to this thread following the ellipsis.

Rich Jones
01-08-2010, 05:56 PM
I, too, haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Gonna be 57 or 58 in May; can't remember which. Retiring in a year or so and dream of actually selling some of the many boats I've built and perhaps building more and make a couple of bucks. Boat building as a career is tough, but as a hobby career, is feasible. Good luck with the farm. Reminds me of the old sit-com "Green Acres".

switters
01-08-2010, 06:02 PM
See the portion of my initial post to this thread following the ellipsis.

Sorry Paul, should have given you an exemption since you are youngster like I am.

The Bigfella
01-08-2010, 06:06 PM
I got a Top Gear book for Christmas... Mid-life Crisis Cars. Oops. Seem to still have some of those. Never did buy a Porsche though.

jack grebe
01-08-2010, 07:21 PM
To be honest that's not much of a midlife crisis. Now this is a midlife crisis......

http://www.allfordmustangs.com/photopost/data/3175/hot_red_convertible_babe_2.jpg



Naaaaa, the rims suck, and lemon yellow would look alot betterrrrrrrr, hey, what is my GF doing in that pic:eek:

Robert Meyer
01-08-2010, 08:02 PM
Hmm. I'm 47, and think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to grow landrace varieties of wheat, rye and barley, to help keep the genetic diversity of those old strains alive and awake. I like the notion of heritage breeds of livestock too, for much the same reason. All the reasons that make me like regionally developed small wooden boats are the same ones making me like regionally developed and locally grown food.
Anyone else have a mid-life crisis to share?

A gentleman in South Carolina had a mid-life crisis that involved growing heritage rice. He enjoyed the work and the prospect of saving genetic rice stock. Of course he must have been rich to acquire the necessary tidal fields and install all the related plumbing. He did this for quite awhile and sold some of his rice locally. Haven't heard about him lately. Good luck with your grains - let us have first crack at your results. You are going to use water/wind powered stones for grinding? We demand purity from our hobbyists.

Henning 4148
01-09-2010, 07:14 AM
Start it as a hobby on a small scale, just a few acres to begin with. Get to know the market and its rules. Play the keys and listen for the responses, if you get a strong response on some of the keys, that is the area where the chances are. Then decide in a few years if the complete switch is possible. Be aware, that animals are a lot more work than plants - you may want to stick with the plant side if you have other interests as well.

In Europe, organic is becoming more and more of a topic, with the big trade corporations joining in the tune now, but of course they want organic at cut throat prices which means industrial scale production which means massive investment which normally makes it not feasible.

Even so - there is a (small? big?) market potential for excellent or special food. You may have to look into the marketing yourself, delivery service to excellent restaurants, marketing on farmers markets etc. There are some foods that really have to be fresh to be tasty. Many old strains were better tasting than what we have today as a lot of todays produce is tailored for long shelf life and transportation requirements. Like strawberries and tomatoes, but other stuff like potatoes as well.

Another field might be seed production - if you find, that there is a market for seed from old strains, you might want to specialize on the seed production.

And - before you switch from hobby to "all in", do the figures. Ask yourself and your family how much lifestyle you and your family want / need. Also, consider part time farming and part time money earning in other fields. Good luck!

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
01-09-2010, 09:08 AM
Err, heritage breeds of domesticated livestock. Canadienne cattle, local variants of Berkshire pigs etc. that were bred to work well in our climate .......

There is a fair bit of that going on in the UK, but I suspect that we have a MUCH longer history of selective breeding to suit local conditions.
This is mostly done as hobby funded by a real day-job though occasionally with some clever stuff which takes a left-handed approach - One guy I know of makes money by renting his rare breeds for TV and film work - another uses the farm as a tourist-mine.

On the plant side of the game, the Henry Doubleday Institute (http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/hsl/index.php) is a must know group - friendly too.

mmd
01-09-2010, 11:52 AM
How come that while I've been reading this thread, I hear strains of the theme to the old Eddie Arnold/Zsa Zsa Gabor comedy "Green Acres" in my head? <grin>

Green Acres is the place to be;
Farm living is the life for me...

Tristan
01-09-2010, 04:07 PM
47 is not too old to get started on new stuff. I'm 76 and just now thinking about a fourth or fifth "career."

bobbys
01-09-2010, 04:48 PM
Im thinking of a worm or slug farm.

I do ok with moles and great with banana slugs.

I do need to develop a market though and the competition would be stiff ..

I do have big ant hills but not sure what the market is yet for the Ants.

Henning 4148
01-09-2010, 06:04 PM
Another field for hobby growing might be wood for wooden boats - specifically for knot free planks and for grown knees etc. It sounds like an almost lost art. In them old days, they restrained the branches on purpose to get the curvature they desired etc.

Captain Blight
01-09-2010, 06:10 PM
I keep thinking about buying a few acres up the mountain on Hawai'i and growing vanilla orchids. Good Tahitian vanilla sells for reefer prices, and it's LEGAL.

Ooh, there's an idea! Isn't reefer semi-legal to grow in Canada? Grow it in with the hops and no one would ever know....

JimD
01-09-2010, 06:25 PM
... Isn't reefer semi-legal to grow in Canada? Grow it in with the hops and no one would ever know....

He'd probaby make beer out of the grass and end up smoking the hops.

TomF
01-09-2010, 09:01 PM
He'd probaby make beer out of the grass and end up smoking the hops.Not quite that much of an agricultural newb!:D

TomF
01-09-2010, 09:02 PM
Another field for hobby growing might be wood for wooden boats - specifically for knot free planks and for grown knees etc. It sounds like an almost lost art. In them old days, they restrained the branches on purpose to get the curvature they desired etc.Actually, I've wondered about that. But the profits would be for my grandchildren, not me.

TomF
01-09-2010, 09:04 PM
47 is not too old to get started on new stuff. I'm 76 and just now thinking about a fourth or fifth "career."I may manage it yet, with one or another variation. Committed to my current patch of dirt and job for another few years, till it matters little to the kids whether we're in this location or not. But we may be looking for some land in the next year or two, if finances look like they'll support it.

Paul Girouard
01-09-2010, 09:05 PM
Your view of mid-life although acceptable is a bit "off" or unrealistic.

Heck, 94 ain't THAT old is it:D

Pourquoi Rene
01-10-2010, 01:45 PM
I was sent a photo of 5 single handers, each cruising the world that happened to meet up in Cape Town (wish I could find photo). They looked like a couple of smiling rugby players after a win. Youngest was 67 and Oldest was 84. Picture was sent by a shipmate that had just lost his wife to cancer. His comment attached to picture was "what's your excuse" My response was to quit my job, load up the boat and head off shore......Since then I have completed a trip around the world among other personal notes.
I have learned that I need to pace my self -mentally and physically....that my passion is not the same as my kids/wife, but by taking my time - lowering my expectations and just doing it I can accomplish amazing things. Go for it what ever IT is!
Oh by the way I am almost broke now....but somehow that no longer matters .....as I have my health, am enjoying life, something I wouldn't have now if I carried on as I was.

Steve Paskey
01-10-2010, 01:53 PM
I think the reason you only got British based outfits is that "box schemes" does not translate to American English. No such animal.

Steven

There are many such farming operations in the U.S. -- it's just a question of knowing the right words. Here, a "box scheme" is called "community-supported agriculture" ... or "CSA" for short. People buy a "share" in the farm's harvest, and pick it up at a nearby distribution point (or at the farm itself).

George Jung
01-10-2010, 02:38 PM
Interesting thread, from several perspectives. Interesting how many of us, 'Middle age' or riper, are looking for a bit of fun, a change of lifestyle, searching, perhaps (I may be projecting) for something life hasn't provided as of yet - maybe a variation on midlife crisis.

I grew up on a farm, enjoyed it - but didn't 'click' with Dad. I could not have lasted in that relationship, early on. I own the farm now (hobby-sized in todays world), and I've considered many of the thoughts already posted. My farm really isn't amenable to 'going organic', or the specialty crops available - it's smack dab in irrigated Nebraska farmland, dedicated to hybrid corn and soybeans. I'd prefer a less-productive, 'more interesting' piece, but haven't found it yet. Came close to buying a large acreage (1100 acres), complete with rolling bluffs/grassland, a working gravel pit, and a mile of riverfront, with at least four quarters of productive dryland farmground. Has a 100 yo 'pioneer' home, well maintained; and a large barn with cupola and corral. The seller got nixed when her family discovered her intent.. Just as well; this was just before 'the crash'; it would've been a great investment, but I may have had a stroke....

Buying your dream acreage can be a double blessing - good return off the land (or not, if you're doing something 'interesting'), hopefully appreciation in value, and most importantly - favorable tax treatment and reduction of your taxes, if you're still gainfully employed. I'd not wait until you're 'retired' to take such a step.