Bootstrap @ Nightfall Farm – Building a Farm from Scratch

The differences between working on an established farm and starting your own were evident this month. Rather than learning the ropes and falling into developed routines, we’re recreating some systems that have worked on other farms. We’re solving problems unique to our farm. We’re spending a lot of time cobbling together equipment and systems. And often, that costs money. The animal groups we are raising this year afford us the luxury of not... Read More

Bootstrap @ Wild Ridge Farm – Making the Right Choices on Farm Equipment

If the farmer paused briefly from his ceaseless toil, taking up pen and paper to list the various equipment he relies on continually in his daily labor, an afternoon would surely be lost and the farmer would retire to bed with cramps in his writing hand. Roller tables, harvest crates, wash tubs, pruners, hand hoes, soil knives, drip tape, row cover, lay flat hose, pitch forks, spades, backpack sprayers—hundreds of simple tools and supplies cluttering... Read More

Bootstrap @ Lemonade Springs Farm – Making Decisions on Equipment

The question of equipment and capital, it seems to me, is really a question of what decisions you make about your daily work and your financial equilibrium and why you make them. Questions we ask regarding both tools used and money spent (both whose and how much) are those of means and ends- what will the application of a particular sort of funding or a tool mean to the possible success or failure of the farm, how much labor will be eased because... Read More

Bootstrap @ Forager Farm – On Equipment and Capital

Unlike many other young farmers, we had access to land even before we made a concrete decision on whether to grow vegetables or not. We were fortunate enough to have family and friends willing to rent us a slice of land. Ultimately, we decided to rent land from some of our friends. This option allowed us access to some equipment as well as a place to live. Renting versus buying, whether land or equipment, allows us to get a feel for what works and... Read More

Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – Investing in Equipment

Much to my surprise, my first investment when landing on this farm in the spring was stainless steel. Since I highly valued keeping the milk from my herd on the farm, I threw down for the high-dollar equipment that the previous owner (and fabulous cheesemaker) Sam Hendren had installed and used in his hay day (cheese day). I bought Sam’s previous set-up: 300-gallon bulk tank, milk pails and cans, 200-gallon vat pasteurizer (also the cheese vat),... Read More

Bootstrap @ Blue Sage Farm – On Capital and Equipment

One of the most difficult things I had to do to get the dairy up and running was finding capital.  “You want to milk what??!!” was the standard response from bankers.  Even with a full business plan and financial statements along with a $160,000 grant from USDA, I had to finance the dairy with a home equity loan.  It was frustrating but totally understandable.  I hate being in debt but if I hadn’t borrowed so much money, I might have quit... Read More

Bootstrap @ Chaseholm Farm – The Equipment Needed for the Job

As with my cows (in large part) I stepped into a nearly complete farm infrastructure on my first day. Around here that is how most people start. It seems only recently have I noticed micro dairies doing innovative parlor designs (my favorite, a hoop house coving two shipping containers for milk house and milk parlor) I guess my point is that I stepped into a lucky arrangement and I can’t really imagine starting entirely from scratch at my scale,... Read More

Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Equipment and Capital

This past month has been a big one for decision-making at The Golden Yoke. Unlike the other Bootstrap farmers, we are not currently milking any cows, do not have any facilities, and do not have any real equipment to speak of. And having just finished grad school, we do not have much cash on hand to put into these things. The next issue we have been tackling is that I (Laura) received a Fulbright and will be gone for most of 2014, the year we are planning... Read More

Bootstrap @ Hartwood Farm – the New, the Old, and the Ugly (Equipment)

Equipment at Hartwood Farm: The New, the Old, and the Ugly With enough rain falling that the fields are too wet to work for the first time all year, we found ourselves in a reflective season’s ending sort of mood after Matt drove our tractor down to the shop for hydraulics repair. While we are waiting for the (hopefully not too) bad news, we’ve (read: Matt has) been struck by a strong case of equipment envy watching all the sweet combines hauling... Read More