Travis Toner

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since Jan 01, 2012
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Coming back to Michigan, 5a zone, within a few years to buy land and start our Homestead.
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Recent posts by Travis Toner

My family is finally getting ready to start our farmstead. We are so excited and have found some good plots of land. We are not really from the general area we are looking to settle into, and we have been out of the state for six years.

We're shooting for 45 minutes or less drive to St Helen. (Roscommon, West Branch, north Gladwin, Grayling, Houghton/Higgins). A few (what would be) great properties have been across the street from or on top of various gas wells and pipelines in Gladwin county, which has been disheartening.

We own a newer single wide mobile home that we plan to move to the property. Luckily, there has been a lot of plots with utilities already in place for their campers. We've been trying to find places that are not completely wooded, so we have something to work with right away.

We've been reading and dreaming and planning for about a decade now, we are young (late twenties) with two kids and another on the way. We homeschool and really want to build a lifestyle for the kids that gets them outside, and keeps them learning and connected with our world.

Any nearby permies? Just wanted to share some entheusiasm and maybe get some pointers for this stage in our journey.
5 years ago

Mike Sved wrote:First year of our first ever hugelbed in Zone 1b, northern Ontario.

I always love to see the steeper hugelkultur! Much like Sepp describes in his book.
10 years ago
You are looking to start a community on your current farm? My family and I are caught up in other parts of the world until 2017, so that may be of little help to you. But, we have been unsure where we want to settle down, but if there was the oppertunity for a community, we would consider that option.

We both grew up in Michigan and want to return to the state but have been unsure as to where, we've been mostly thinking NW LP or E UP. All of the "fracking" going on in the northern part of the LP has been driving us away from that area. We looked at one property that was down the road from a gas operation w/o out realizing it at first and the seller was holding onto the mineral rights and already had an attourney to get his share from the oil company that was harvesting gas from underneath his land.

We've spent some time in the Tawas-Au Gres and Oscoda areas (not much, just summer trips and family who lived there), and have thought about the area, but the oppertunity for a farm business just doesn't seem to be there (which is why we wanted to be close to Traverse City, I think there is a good possible market for that there). Being away from commercial farming operations and connected to forest has been and important factor to us for a clean water collection area for a spring that may be on the property.

Where-abouts are you located? How's the farm-entrepenuer possiblities there?
10 years ago
I did a good search on these boards for anyone doing dairy sheep, found some good first hand info, but not too much there. It's something I'm really interested in, but I can't find any really good resources on the web for such. Tiny local library has The Shepherd's Guidebook (1921) by Margaret Bradbury, so I'll check that out this week. It seems that the sheep bred for milk production are sort of rare, and hard to get a hold of in the states? And there's been confiscations of said sheep by the agencies? Such a shame if so. It seems like there is a lot of possibilities with dairy sheep (selling lamb, cheese, maybe wool, keep some of each for the family).

I recently tried sheep's Gouda at the legendary Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, MI which was incredible! One of few places I know you can buy true lacto-fermented krauts and veggies and raw milk cheeses in a deli setting.

I think the hardest part would be getting the right breed, I'd want a cold-hardy good milker (settling in Northern MI). I don't know how hard that would be to get ahold of, let alone import.
10 years ago
Thanks for the share! That guy has some great videos. Working my way through his timber framed cabin right now.
10 years ago
I bought the extra-fine tea infuser Paul recommended. I love the idea, and tossed out my old plastic wreck of an appliance. The coffee tastes great, but I find a sludge of fine grounds at the bottom of my cup! It's fine if I just leave the last 1/5 of the coffee, but I'd rather finish it off. I'm thinking maybe its my grounds? I buy pre-ground, maybe I should start grinding my own for a courser grind?
10 years ago
Rion, thanks for the warm welcome! Yes, moving to the Great Lakes. Originally from Michigan, and moving back to northern Michigan in a few years, but come back to visit and check out land periodically. Music scenes are always the best! Nothing makes a town quite like a music scene, in my opinion.

I won't lie, I looked through your message posts to find out where in the Great Lakes you may be from when you where posting in that other thread.

I struggle to find time for guitar, let alone banjo! Maybe once life slows down a bit for me, I'll venture into that. Keep on pickin' and strummin', my friend!
10 years ago
Bela Fleck - Throw Down Your Heart (YouTube)

Bela Fleck's movie and album, Throw Down Your Heart shows him bringing the banjo back to Africa and records with local artists. Good stuff! I'm a guitar player, mainly nylon. I'd love to get a banjo one day.
10 years ago

John Polk wrote:
I would not be too concerned with the rust on the roof if that water was to be used for irrigation.
Rust is iron oxide. Could actually help the soils.

Thank you for that, certainly would save a lot of money, there's so much square footage on the roofs of all the outbuildings, how could I resist harvesting all that rain? I could have the water tested if I was too concerned.

I would hope that between this and directing seasonal snowmelt and other moving waters into ponds I may have enough to irrigate with. Then again, I worry my emotions are getting in the way. I'm trying to let go and really assess this, and not think of how I could make it all work just because I love the place. For the area though, and it's the area I want to live, there is not much competition.

John Polk wrote:
My biggest question would be "Why did the Amish sell it?"
The Amish purchase a lot of land every year. As their families/community grow, they need more.
They very seldom sell.
I would be very reluctant to buy ex-Amish land without knowing why they sold it.

That is a question I asked myself as well, but perhaps I dismissed it too quickly. It seems to me that there is no longer an Amish presence in the area, I assume this once was and this happened to be one small farm that wasn't bought up. Maybe the guy left the community, kept his land and the rest of them moved to another part of the state where there's a good sized community. I do need to contact the owner and ask him the question, I think.
10 years ago

Judith Browning wrote:Our area has fifty inches of annual rainfall but it was difficult and we could not afford a well or much in the way of rainwater harvestig devices. BUT...if you know the folks in the area have good well water and you can afford to drill...then I wouldn't let that be the deal breaker....especially if it was a functioning farm. What did they do for water?

We can afford the expense of the well, but I think what we need to do is talk to the neighbors about their wells, next door is a pretty new house that I'm sure drilled recently. I considered re-roofing some of the larger roof surfaces of the barns for catchment, as the metal roofing is pretty rusty, yet pristine underneath. I may be able to dam up the lake-effect snow when it melts in the spring, about 74 inches annually.

Judith Browning wrote:What did they do for water?

This illustration shows the opposite angle of the next photo

I don't know what they call this type of well set up but both concrete resivior type blocks have been filled in with dirt.

The property in recent years has been used for hunting, no farming has been done in a number of years. Last deed activity was done in 1994, then in 2007 passed on to the son.
10 years ago