If you're looking into buying a parcel of land to have your own ranch or farm, northern Arizona is an excellent option. Northern Arizona is a beautiful region home to abundant species of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Nature lovers who want to escape the daily grind and build their dream homes in the countryside are flocking to this area because of its gorgeous landscapes and agreeable climate. Here are 5 big reasons why you too should call Northern Arizona home for your ranch or farm.
1. Mild Climate
When most people think of Arizona, desert comes to mind. Although much of Arizona is indeed arid, the northern third of Arizona is a plateau at a significantly higher altitude than the lower desert. As such, summers are cooler and winters are colder. However, the temperature is never extreme and the area boasts a consistently mild, pleasant climate year-round. You can escape the heat of southern Arizona by relaxing in the cool mountain climate of northern Arizona.
Northern Arizona boasts affordable properties. You can find high quality land at reasonable rates, making it an ideal location to purchase a parcel of land for your ranch or farm. The acreage you can find in Northern Arizona is perfect for a ranch or for building your dream home.
As the population in Arizona grows, an increasing number of residents in urban areas are looking to untouched mountain areas like northern Arizona to build their homes. Northern Arizona is largely undeveloped and thus makes an excellent location for ranching and farming. At your ranch or farm in northern Arizona, you will be far removed from the stresses of life in the city.
4. Well Preserved
Northern Arizona boasts a vast amount of undeveloped landscape that remains unspoiled by urbanization. The area is well preserved, making it ideal for agriculture and ranching. There are several wilderness areas that were created in order to protect local wildlife. Boasting amazing natural attractions including the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, northern Arizona is a lovely place to call home.
5. Few Natural Predators
One of the biggest worries of ranchers and farmers are natural predators that pose a threat to one's stock or crops. In northern Arizona, you don't need to be concerned about natural predators putting your livestock or crops in danger because few exist in the region. As such, the area is ideal for farming and ranching.
Many people nowadays see the potential of raising cattle and have sought out numerous books, guides, and instructional materials on how to raise cattle effectively for profit. If you're one of these cattle farmers or cattle enthusiasts who is planning on setting up his or her own cattle farm, it is important that you have a very clear objective as to what type of cattle you're going to raise, how much are you willing spend/invest, what your available resources are and how you can cultivate them, and the like. Before anything else though, it is important to know what kind of cattle you will be raising before learning how to actually raise the animals. Are you planning on breeding and selling beef cattle, dairy cattle, or grass-fed cattle?
For this article, learning how to raise cattle and cattle handling, particularly grass-fed cattle, is going to be the focus of the article for several reasons. First, raising grass-fed cattle has many benefits on the part of the farmer, one of which is that it is cost effective and the cows are normally easy to handle since the staple food is the grass around them. If you have a ranch that is filled with good greenery, this type of cattle will surely do you well. On the part of the consumers, grass-fed cattle produces some of the best meat since they don't have any growth hormones in them, the cows are normally stress-free, and gather many nutrients from the food they eat. So if you are well-equipped and have learned how to raise cattle then you will surely benefit from your herd. To start off, here are some tips on how to raise cattle:
Before learning how to raise cattle, make sure to look and select cattle breeds that thrive on grass. Once you have your starter herd, always make sure to provide fresh grass and legumes for lots of nutrients. If you think it necessary, you can supplement the cattle's food with plant proteins. Remember that cows normally need 11% protein in their diet. During the late summer season, you can add starch protein since plant proteins drop during this time. Cows can become ill once in a while, so when this happens, provide antibiotics that are of a low level to avoid any health problems for your cows. When feeding your herd/s, rotate pastures in order for the cattle to constantly eat fresh grass. You can also send out chickens (if you have) while the cows are grazing to help fertilize the area.
What is the cost of raising cattle? It shouldn't be too expensive, right? All you have to do is buy the cow, put it in a field, and watch it graze. Right? Wrong! Many people have thought of trying to raise their own cows for meat or milk, but not many have considered the actual cost of raising cattle. Below is a rundown of all the costs involved in raising a cow.
The first cost to be considered is the actual cost of the cow. The price depends on the breed of the cow, as well as secondary factors such as its age and size. You also have to consider the current cost of feeding it and how long you have to wait until it can be bred.
The cost of raising cattle also depends on the cost of providing shelter for them. Money can be spent on building expensive sheds or barns. Alternatively, a simple windbreak can suffice. Consider that thousands of cattle are raised successfully with little or no housing. Many cows spend their whole lives out in the open but, to be on the safe side and to protect the health of your cows, it would be wise to build or rent for them a place that will shelter them from rain and wind. The structure has to provide shade, be draft-free, and be spacious enough for all its occupants. The cost of raising cattle also includes the cost of putting up sturdy fences to keep the cows from straying and to protect them from thieves and other animals.
A normal cow will consume about 12 gallons of water every day. This fact should be taken into account when tallying up the total cost of raising cattle. Tank heaters will be necessary during the colder months - this, too, should be accounted for.
The life of the cattle and the quality of meat they produce will rely on the pasture they graze on. According to some farmers, cows thrive on pasture that is a mixture of alfalfa, brome, and timothy. This provides more grazing than straight bluegrass. Remember that it takes around 20 acres of grass to pasture one head of cattle.
5. Hay and ground feed
The cost of feeding a cow will make up a significant portion of the total cost of raising cattle. For a cow to produce good beef, it needs to consume about half to Â¾ of a ton of hay. Remember that alfalfa is the best kind of hay for cattle and is the standard by which all other kinds of hay are judged. It is also the most expensive. As for ground feed, corn is the best feed there is and you will need about a thousand pounds of it for every cow you have.
6. Veterinary and other costs
Apart from the cost of buying a cow, sheltering it, watering it, and feeding it, you also have to take into consideration a number of other expenses. There's the cost of labor, the cost of transporting cattle, the cost of breeding a cow, and so on. These are only some of the costs that you have to keep in mind if you are curious about the total cost of raising cattle.
Market gardening is a great business, but you need to start with the right information. If you are a beginning market grower, or thinking about becoming one, follow this advice to maximize your market gardening results.
Successful Market Gardening Tip 1: Grow natural. Demand for organic produce is increasing by as much as 20% annually. And fresh local organic produce commands a premium price with your customers. So don't compete with everybody else at the bottom of the market; go after the top. Grow better vegetables, get a better paycheck!
Successful Market Gardening Tip 2: Grow for your end customer. Avoid middlemen and wholesalers and go right to your end customer. You will make and keep more money by dealing directly with consumers. And as a bonus, you will get to know them, find out their likes and dislikes, and perhaps find out other things you might provide them. This is a great way to add a sideline business to your market garden.
Successful Market Gardening Tip 3: Grow a large variety of crops. If you grow enough different crops, you are less threatened if one particular crop fails to produce. For example if you grow 30 varieties of vegetables and 3 don't thrive, you are still operating at 90% capacity. Growing a large variety of crops also 'stretches out' your season, as different vegetables mature at different times. While the mix will change as the season progresses, aim to have a dozen or so different vegetables ready for sale all the time.
Successful Market Gardening Tip 4: Don't grow unless you know you can sell it. For example, while you may love Eggplant Parmesan, make sure enough of your target market will buy eggplant before you plant an acre of it. Observe whats selling at your local farmers market, and grow (mostly) the same things. It's OK to experiment ponce in a while with an unusual crop, but be prepared to eat the results!
Successful Market Gardening Tip 5: Remember, market gardening is just as much about the marketing as the gardening. This is the most important tip of the 5. If you don't believe great marketing is just as important as growing great vegetables, consider this: you might grow the healthiest, tastiest, most beautiful vegetables imaginable, but . . . if nobody knows you got 'em, nobody can buy 'em!
Marketing is how you let people know about the great vegetables you have for them. And if you are growing really great vegetables, you should be proud to tell them! To be really successful as a market gardener, the marketing has to come first. In other words, you need to know how, where and to whom you will sell it before you grow it.
Follow these 5 tips to to 'grow' a successful market gardening business of your own.
If you are a gardener, there's a great way generate some additional income; start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) market garden! This article will explain the how to start making money from your garden with a CSA.
The Community Supported Agriculture model
If you have heard of CSA, you are probably aware that it is a special form of market gardening. Here's what makes it special: rather than selling produce at a farm stand, or the local farmer's market, the CSA gardener grows food for a select group of people - the members of the CSA. This group of people has pledged to support the CSA by paying for a season's worth of vegetables, thus providing the gardener with a guaranteed cash flow.
Members often pay in advance for the season, allowing the gardener to get started without spending a lot of her own money for seed and supplies. And just as importantly, the gardener can plan in advance what to grow and how much to grow to satisfy the members.
How to start your own CSA
Like any business, you should follow a plan to start your CSA. Here's a structured process to follow to launch your own Community Supported Agriculture market garden.
Step 1: Evaluate your assets
Make an assessment of the your tools, equipment, available land and other resources you will need for your market garden. This will help you decide how ambitious your start-up year should be.
Step 2: Evaluate your market
Businesses need customers. You will need a pool of prospective customers within an easy commute to your location, say an hour or less. I would suggest a nearby town of at least a couple thousand people would be the minimum market size to consider.
Step 3: Set targets
Considering your assets, your skills, and the potential size of your market, set a target for your first year. This should be based on the number of families you think you can provide fresh food to each week. You also have to set a sales target, based on the price you charge per member share. Remember: you need to make a profit to stay in business, don't underprice your shares. A little research on the Web will tell you what other CSA'a charge.
Step 4: Get the word out
Tell your friends, family, neighbours, church members, scout troop, EVERYBODY, about your plans for your garden. This will accomplish two things; it will let you know if there is any interest in a CSA in your area, and will probably get you some customers.
Step 5: Market, Market, Market
If you didn't hit your target with friends and family, you will have to get the word out to other people. I suggest a mailout flyer as the most effective way to do that. You can make one up on your computer, and get it photocopied at your local print shop for pennies a copy. You can deliver them yourself, or through your local post office.
Step 6: Confirm your numbers
Once you have enough customers, run your numbers again; evaluate your projected income against expected costs i.e. seed, supplies, labour (including your own). If it looks good, i.e. you can make a profit, you are ready for
Step 7: Get growing! Congratulations, you are a market gardener!
Congratulations, you have lots of hungry customers signed up for your market garden . Now you need a market garden plan to figure out how to grow the veggies to satisfy those customers.
Planning for a market garden is a little different than planning your home garden. Here are the six steps you must follow to develop a good market garden plan.
Step 1 - Decide when you will start and finish selling your veggies.
This is usually determined by the length of your growing season. If you are in an area that experiences frost, most of your deliveries will occur between your last frost date in the spring and the first frost date in the fall.
For example, at my farm near Ottawa these dates are usually around May 10 and September 28. So we have about a 20-week growing season, on average. We sell veggies between early June and Mid-October, most years, which gives us about 20 weeks of sales as well.
Step 2 - Determine when to start your crops
To figure this out, you work backwards from your last spring frost date and your first fall frost date to determine when you should start plants to have some available all season. Take into account the date we want to start sales, the optimum age of transplants, and the 'days to maturity' (usually given in the seed catalogues) for each plant to determine your planting schedule.
For example, we know that broccoli transplants do best at about 5 weeks of age. We know that broccoli is pretty hardy, and can stand some frost if it is protected by row cover or a hoop house. And we want broccoli to be available as soon as possible in the season. We put that together with the 'days to maturity' figure (55 days for the variety we grow) and we have the following garden plan for broccoli:
1. start broccoli seed in greenhouse 56 days (8 weeks) before last frost
2. transplant out in field (under row cover) at 35 days; this is 21 days before last frost
3. we know days to maturity (from transplant) for broccoli is 55 day, for the variety we grow
4. plan to pick the first broccoli about 90 days (35 + 55) from the time we started the seed.
Repeat this analysis for each crop you plan to to grow to tell you when you need to start plants for your market garden.
Step 3 - Determine how much of each vegetable you expect to sell.
You can check on the Internet or visit farmers markets to determine what the most popular vegetables are in your area. For example, you may decide that tomatoes, snap beans, cabbage and broccoli are what you think you can sell.
If you decide you can sell 10 heads of cabbage each week, you need to be able to harvest (at least) 10 heads of cabbage each week, for the length of your season. We figure this out well before the season so we can determine how much space we need in our greenhouse and in our garden.
Step 4 - Determine how many plants you need to start
To end up with a yield of 10 cabbages each week, you must start more than 10 cabbage seeds. Not every seed will germinate, and not every transplant will survive. So include a 'safety factor' when determining how many plants to start. Here on my farm, we usually start about 25% more cabbage transplants than we think we need. So to end up with 10 cabbages, start 12 or 13 seeds.
Step 5 - Determine how much space will each crop take
So, if you have figured out how much of each crop you are growing, you then calculate how much space each crop will take. Using the example of cabbage from above, if each cabbage takes about 2 square feet to grow, then allow 2 square feet x 12 or 13 transplants (allow for all seeds you start, even though some might not grow) resulting in 24-26 square feet of garden bed needed for each planting of cabbage.
Step 6 - Figure out how big your market garden needs to be
Once you know how much space each planting for each vegetable will take, you can determine the total garden area required.
To continue the example from above, if you have a 20-week sales period, and you want to sell 10 cabbages each week, you need to allow space to grow about 220-230 cabbages (allowing for all transplants, even if some might not grow). So if 2 square feet are required for each cabbage, you will need 440 - 460 square feet for this crop.
Repeat this process for each crop you plan to grow to determine the size of your market garden.
Whew! Sounds complicated, but this is the process we follow for each crop to build our market garden plan. Hint: if you are technically inclined, a spreadsheet can help you figure it all out.