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Author Topic: Use of field?  (Read 2409 times)

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dadchas

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Use of field?
« on: July 15, 2014, 00:19 »
I recently moved into a house with an adjoining six-acre field (grassland)  This is currently rented by a farmer who uses it for cattle and sheep. Unfortunately, he refuses to maintain his fencing and I have had to put up a stock-proof fence  at my own expense. I can cope with the sheep eating my flowers but worry that eventually the cattle will damage the fence.
This field has now come on the market and I am considering buying it. Any suggestions as to what to do with it (as environmentally-friendly as possible, please). I have very little experience of animal husbandry...! Thank you.


John

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2014, 00:51 »
Unfortunately, he refuses to maintain his fencing and I have had to put up a stock-proof fence  at my own expense. I can cope with the sheep eating my flowers but worry that eventually the cattle will damage the fence.

I could be wrong but I think it's legally his problem to keep his stock under control and he is responsible for damages. On the other hand.. a) he's a farmer & b) you don't want to go to war with a neighbour in the country. Been there!

You don't say where you are or what the land is like - assuming it's good pasture because he keeps cattle on it (that need better land than sheep). A lot depends on you yourself - do you want a business or just to make some good use of the land?

You could use it to grow hay and get a farmer to cut and bale or make haylage.
You could set up an organic poultry enterprise - perhaps geese or turkeys but that's livestock. Incidentally you can get a franchise on free-range chickens. Almost a turn-key operation but you'd need at least 350,000 in available finance!!!
A tree nursery.. Christmas trees
Split into allotments and rent out.
Rent it out to a farmer or go into a joint venture with a farmer who ethically agrees with you.
Llamas or Alpacas
Offer the land for use by an animal rescue with horses needing land

Hope that sparks some ideas for you



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tosca100

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2014, 03:07 »
As John says really. But bear in mind if you go down the stock route and the rest of the fencing is as bad as it was on your border it will cost a pretty penny to fence six acres. If it's not too weedy selling standing hay might be the best route, but it may need weed control (especially against ragwort) and feeding but a contractor would do that. As an ex horse owner I would jump at being able to rent a field like that, but horses are hard on the land and there are some very irresponsible and un-knowledgeable horse owners out there since you can pick up a horse for next to nothing and if it was my land I would avoid them. At least farm animals are worth something and are more likely to be looked after. Maybe.

If it was my land and was in good heart, I would fence off what I want and go the standing hay route, or get a contractor to make hay or haylage and sell it from the field so that people pick it up themselves. That way it is cut twice a year and there is no hassle with people or animals.

dadchas

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2014, 19:03 »
Thank you both for your very helpful replies. I suppose what I want would be some income from the field but minimal work (don't we all?!) as I don't really have the time. This IS a very "horsey" area so I will ask around about what I might earn just renting it out  to horse owners (there ARE responsible ones around here who clearly care for their animals).
Llamas WOULD be nice, though...
Thanks again

Kate and her Ducks

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 21:47 »
As John says there are menu options. Hay is actually a pretty good option and pretty low input and no need for sorting the fencing. Horses and cattle are both very very hard on the land especially if it gets wet in any way. Geese are great grazers and more gentle on the land but more of a seasonal beast if looking at the Christmas market (which can be a good and a bad thing!). Pigs are also pretty hard on land but I have to say I have been surprised at how little damage our three have done to a 0.5 acre field. Stocking density has a lot to do with it.

Making money from 6 acres is hard but we would snap it up given a chance. If you are sure hard work and low returns is your thing then go for it, you can always just leave it to get a contractor in to mow for hay (or leave it completely fallow as a wildlife haven) and gradually reclaim it as you find out what interests you. Farm land has increased it's value throughout the recession.  And land is never a bad investment, remember they're not making it anymore!
Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but always paddling like the dickens underneath.

diospyros

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2014, 07:01 »
Ahem.  As a conservation adviser, I would advise cutting for hay.  The reason is that it's the best way of seeing what your land is like whilst keeping your options open for a future change of plan.  Cut after mid-July to see the best range of wildflowers.  See if you get different sorts in different parts of the field which will give you a clue as to different soil types and conditions.  If you get a lot of thistles, ragwort or docks cut earlier before they flower and set seed, they are covered by the Weeds Act and you are required to stop their spread onto neighbouring farmland.

Planting native woodland is an option I don't think has been suggested.  It's a long term investment, but you could end up with valuable products if you go for things like hazel, sweet chestnut (OK not exactly native), ash, oak, holly.  I think I would look seriously at that unless the hay meadow experiment turns up really nice species rich grassland.  I can see myself pottering around making hurdles in ten years time.  You could get the local community involved too.

Leaving it "fallow" for wildlife is not something we actually ask for in large quantities, more in strips and small patches targetted along rivers.  Things which take advantage of that sort of habitat are fairly common and adpatable, whereas your species rich hay meadows and native woodlands support more specialised rarities.

Also look at the surrounding areas to see what is possible and what linkages you could make for wildlife.

tosca100

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2014, 07:34 »
I agree that fallow is not great, it would be better cut once a year one way or another. But with regards ragwort, please remember that it is deadly to animals who will eat it in hay so making hay with added ragwort is not on. A small amount can kill a horse very quickly. :ohmy:

dadchas

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2014, 23:25 »
Again, thanks to everyone. Seen a local lawyer who advised going for it as it would increase the value of my house having six acres attached. I would LOVE it to be some sort of wildlife haven but not sure if that is feasible or not. I am REALLY new to this and very green - in both senses of the word! - so all your advice and suggestions are much appreciated. Probably should have mentioned that raising animals for slaughter is not an option for me as I'm a veggie...

tosca100

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Re: Use of field?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2014, 05:32 »
I love the idea of a wildlife haven, but even so you will need to manage it if you don't want it to end up a bramble patch which would de-value it. Even a wildlife area would yield good meadow hay. Good luck with your venture, it sounds interesting



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