Hops Farm in the Works

Finally, some forward progress on the Farm!  It’s been a long, fruitless year of land-hunting since I moved back.  A couple weeks ago, I found out that our Farmers Market manager had just been offered a job that he couldn’t refuse, and he was looking for someone to take over his hops farm.  He was well into negotiations for selling his hops to a local microbrewery next fall and didn’t want to back out of the deal just because he got a new job in another region.  We discussed it and settled on conditions.

Unfortunately, the landlord had different plans.  It took about a week, but we were able to negotiate with the landlord and convince him to let us rent the place.  Our tentative move-in date is January 1st.

The property currently has two developed hops fields, a small house (still about three times larger than our trailer), and a third field that was being developed for hops, but wouldn’t have been planted until next spring and is currently cover-cropped with winter rye.  There are a number of fixer-upper vehicles on the property; it’s unclear to me yet whether or not the landlord will let me move them (I won’t be removing them from the property, but I would like to move them into a single row along the fence), so I made two possible maps, one working around the vehicles and one with the vehicles moved.

If we can move the vehicles, I’m hoping to put a pond in.  The property slopes south to the main road, which would allow me to do some gravity-feed watering.

The upper-most portion is used each year in June for a small festival, including a brew-fest.  I’m planning to plant it to a mix clover, alfalfa, and orchard or Timothy grass: this provides a nicer platform for the festival and lets me pasture-raise livestock (pending approval of the landlord, of course).  This space will be grazed in rotation after the festival is over.  This is in addition to the two rotational fields.

I’m hoping to have a small cow with a calf (maybe a Jersey), a half dozen or dozen laying hens and a dozen chicks for the freezer, and a couple of small-breed hogs (perhaps a potbellied variety) with a litter; this would be in addition to my current meat-mutt rabbits.  I don’t expect to add all of these next year, probably just the chickens, but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s looking forward to the spring!

Left: Working around the vehicles on the property.
Right: Moving the vehicles to the edge of the property.
Yellow: Existing hops fields.
Dark green: Planned crop rotation fields.
Bright green: Summer mixed-crop hay pasture.
Cyan: Pond.

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