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  1. #1
    Silver Member Gordo 56's Avatar
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    Default Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    This is from my farm blog Milligan's Gander Hill Farm, I know lots of people on this site might be interested in this, so I thought I would share with you all.
    I always wanted to be a farmer but never had the money or the knowledge until now to start farming. I have now bought the land and I have started turning my bare land into a farm and myself into a farmer. This is journal of that journey

    The BeginningPosted on May 28, 2012 by Gordon Milligan
    I thought I knew what I was doing when I bought my land, but I didn't. I bought it because I fell in love with the veiw from the building site. I could see most of the 40 acres from standing on top of the hill and it's perfect view of the big pond with lots of geese and this is were I came up with the name Milligan's Gander Hill Farm? The eastside of my land butts up against 5 thousand acres of Stephens State Forest and I couldn't see another house in any direction I looked. It had the views and solitude I was looking for.
    -175-jpg

    View of pond from building site

    I also bought the land as a investment in 2009 during the economic recession. Farm ground and gold was about the only thing that wasn't losing its value. It also had some income of 2000.00 a year from CRP. The government pays this money for the land owner to plant lots of trees along a watershed like the creek (Brush Creek) that runs along the north boundry line of my property. It help stops eroision. This propety had 1200 little seedlings planted all along both sides and all the property owner had to do was mow around the trees a few times a year so the weeds don't block the sun light of the trees. I was told you only have to mow the first three years and then the trees would be tall enough and they wouldn't need mowing after that. It had already had been three years since the trees had been planted, so with me still living in Chicago I wouldn't have to worry about mowing around the trees.
    -173-jpg

    Brush Creek

    With the CRP payment 2000.00 a year, (which was much more then the banks were paying interest on my money) and with farm ground value always going to keep rising, I thought it was a no lose deal. It didn't turn out to be as good a deal as I hoped.

    Lesson # 1, Walk all of the property before you buy it.

    The first thing I did after closing on my property, Sept. 2009 was go down to the bottom ground to check out the land. It had not been mowed and the weeds and brush were as high as my chest. The previous owner had obviously not mowed and taken care of the trees. I looked around but I couldn't tell where the young trees were planted. some of the weeds looked like they might be trees, but I was not sure. So I called the county forester whose job it was to look after such projects for the FSA (Farm Service Agency) and see if he could help find the trees.

    He agreed to meet me there the following spring when the little trees were to begin leafing out and the weeds wouldn't be that tall yet, to make it easyer to spot them. We walked around and we didn't find one tree that was planted in 2006. I was bummed, this meant for me to keep collecting the 2000.00 a year, I would have to replant. Hiring a contractor to plant your trees and buying new seedlings from the state nursery was going to cost about 2 thousand dollars. This was money I was not planning to spend.

    I was so mad, the seller should have disclosed this. I called the realitor who listed the property and told them of the situation, they gave me the sellers number and I called him and I told him if he would pay half the cost of the replanting I wouldn't take him to court. He agreed and sent me a check for 1,000.

    Next Post planting the trees.

  2. #2
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    How did the crep planting go? Is it something you still need to do? I did a planting and if your looking for suppliers I can get you the links for the people i used for tubes and trees.

  3. #3
    Silver Member Gordo 56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Quote Originally Posted by forgeblast View Post
    How did the crep planting go? Is it something you still need to do? I did a planting and if your looking for suppliers I can get you the links for the people i used for tubes and trees.
    Thanks forgeblast for being the first to reply. I am just now starting to learn how to be a farmer so I am not sure what you mean by crep planting. Can you be more specific.
    Last edited by Gordo 56; 06-17-2012 at 10:09 AM.

  4. #4
    Silver Member Gordo 56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Planting Of the Trees
    Posted on June 5, 2012 by Gordon Milligan

    -tree-tubes-jpg
    When I called the previous owner to talk to him about paying half for the replanting, he told me what happened to the trees. He said he only owned the land for 2 years and the trees were not there when he bought it. The owner before him did to him what he did to me, he did not disclose to him the trees where not there. He found out from that owner, the trees did not survive the first year because the very first winter after the trees were planted the many deer in the area dined on them through out the winter and had eaten most of the tops off (deer are browse eaters, they love young tender twigs and buds from young trees). Then after the onslught of the deer what trees survived was finished off by a flood that spring. The flood did damage two ways, one buy knocking the trees over and piling debris on them and by washing out the pre-emergent herbicide that was put down to keep the weeds at bay. So what the deer and flood didn't kill the weeds did by robbing the little trees of nutrients, water, and sun light. He told me the bottom ground were the trees are planted floods about once a year. He thought it was a waste of money to replant so didn't bother and didn't tell the FSA what happened. So both previous owners had been collecting money from the FSA for taking care of tress that were not there. He said if I had not called the County Forester they would have never checked and I too could have just kept collecting the money. I told him my conscious wouldn't let me do that.

    Lesson # 2: Don't try and save money by not hiring a good real estate Attorney when you buy your farm. Get one who knows about these contracts.

    This was more bad news for me, I find out most of my farm ground floods once a year and on top of that I had already signed the contract with the FSA (Farm Service Agency) that I would continue the contract of taking care of the trees. Once I had done that the previous owner was relived of the responsibility. What this meant if I didn't replant, I would have to pay back all the money to the FSA that they had paid out to the previous owners for the cost of the planting and the payments for taking care of the trees. It was going to be about 9,000.00. I was floored, needles to say I had buyers remorse. The only option I could afford was to replant and hope for the best and come up with a solution to help protect the trees.

    I searched the internet and found my solution. Tree Shelters or some times called tree tubes.
    -167-jpg

    I bought 5ft tubes that go over the little trees and protects it against deer and rabbits and other critters from munching on them. They also protect against mice an voles from girdling your small trees, this is where they eat the bark off your seedling all away around the base during the winter months when food is scarce. The tubes also act like little green houses to help make your trees grow twice as fast. It traps condensation that collects on the inside of the tube that trickles down to the base of the tree and helps keep it watered even during dry spells.
    -165-jpg-166-jpg-170-jpg-171-jpg-174-jpg


    Next Post: Then came the Floods

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Sorry your CRP is our CREP, similar thing.
    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.



    The program is a partnership among producers; tribal, state, and federal governments; and, in some cases, private groups. CREP is an offshoot of the country's largest private-lands environmental improvement program - the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).



    Like CRP, CREP is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). By combining CRP resources with state, tribal, and private programs, CREP provides farmers and ranchers with a sound financial package for conserving and enhancing the natural resources of farms.


    We have 1.5 acres in crep.

  6. #6
    Silver Member Gordo 56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Quote Originally Posted by forgeblast View Post
    Sorry your CRP is our CREP, similar thing.
    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.



    The program is a partnership among producers; tribal, state, and federal governments; and, in some cases, private groups. CREP is an offshoot of the country's largest private-lands environmental improvement program - the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).



    Like CRP, CREP is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). By combining CRP resources with state, tribal, and private programs, CREP provides farmers and ranchers with a sound financial package for conserving and enhancing the natural resources of farms.


    We have 1.5 acres in crep.
    Thanks for clearing that up for me. No, there is nothing else I have to plant. Even though I had a lot of loses from the flooding of the unprotected trees, there are lot of trees seeds that came from further up the creek that was brought to my land from the flooding that have sprouted that keeps my planting of 300 trees per acre or more that the FSA requires. I have 6 acres in CRP
    Last edited by Gordo 56; 06-18-2012 at 09:55 AM.

  7. #7
    Silver Member Gordo 56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Then Came The Floods, Posted on June 12, 2012 by Gordon Milligan


    -deer-eatin-apple-tree-jpg
    Deer eating unprotected tree.


    The first spring following the fall when we planted the trees, we made our 6 hr trip from our home in IL to Iowa to check on the trees to see how they faired during the winter.

    When we pulled up all the tree tubes were looking great. A few were leaning from the strong winter winds, but all were there. None looked like they were damaged from deer and other animals. The trees that were not protected by tree tubes didn't fare so well. Every one of the trees that were not protected by the tree tubes were eaten completely to the ground or the tops were eaten off. The deer, rabbits, and rodents had dinned on the the little trees all winter. A big percent of the unprotected trees were not going to survive the summer. We had anticipated this from the properties past history, and we were glad the tree tubes had worked so well and had been worth the investment. We went back to IL thinking we might get lucky with no flooding this year.

    Then Came the floods
    In the last part of June and the first part of July it started raining in Southern Iowa. They had a two week period were it rained on and off almost every day. The ground was saturated when they had a big storm that dumped 4 inches of rain. It was some of the worst flooding in South Central Iowa ever. I have two creeks on my property. One on the North boundary line and one one the east boundary line. They meet in the North East corner of my land. Where the two creeks come together to make one it creates like a traffic jam when it floods. When this happens the excess water backs on to my land and floods the bottom section where the trees are planted. It acts like a big bath tub and slowly drains back after only a few hours after the rain stops.

    -iowa-flooding12-081110-384x512-jpg
    Flooding in Iowa

    Then a few days later another 3 inch rain flooded the area again. My land flooded twice in 3 days. A friend of mine who lives by there called me and told me about the flooding and said it was the worst he had seen in his 10 years of living around there. He said it even closed down hwy 65. He tried to go by my property but a small section of gravel road was washed out in front of my land, it didn't look good. We would have to wait until after it dries out to see what damage it had done to my trees.

    Next post: The Flooding Aftermath

  8. #8
    Platinum Member tractorshopper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Good thread. Enjoying this.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    Interesting reading. Keep the info coming.
    Kubota B7500, 302 FEL, 60" MMM. John Deere 5325 4wd, 542 FEL.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

    September our area was also hit hard by flooding.
    The tubes do their job, I have had minimal deer damage due to the tubes. When we had all that rain that caused the flooding some of my tubes became elevated and the voles ended up hitting 3 of my 6' pin oaks. The others are still doing well.
    What type of mix of trees/shrubs do you have?

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