The first step for us was to eliminate places we definitely would not want to farm. We actually thought about several foreign countries, but eventually ruled them out and chose to stick it out in the good ole US of A (despite the seemingly insane regulatory environment). For us, deciding to stay in the US was primarily based on the desire to at least be in the same country as our family. Language barriers, our love for the USA and other factors played a role, but family was the most important.
Next we were able to eliminate several regions within the US. Firstly, we love the sun, the stars and the moon. Yes, I know that living in NYC we’re surrounded by skyscrapers and so much light pollution that neither the sun nor the stars/moon are typically visible, but we moved here for jobs, not the view. I can hardly contain myself when I think of living somewhere where I can see the sunset and the sky at night. Secondly, and along those same lines, we’re not huge fans of overcast days and long, hard winters. That pretty much eliminated the Northeast, Northwest and a lot in between. Seems simple, but this part took months! The end result was basically bisecting the US map horizontally. If you look at a state map you can roughly follow a line across the top of Arizona, over Oklahoma and Arkansas, all the way to North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean. We’d love to be south of that line or within a couple hundred miles north.
Within those states of choice we originally thought the Southwest region would be perfect. It’s near at least one of our families and it’s a beautiful place to live.
So, we spent a few weeks researching the Southwest and found that there are some very serious water issues facing the entire region. Given that our goal is to establish a farm that will persist for generations, we had to take this into serious consideration. Some of our contemplated farm enterprises (dairy/cheese, and grassfed beef) can be highly water intensive. Cows in the Southwest have been known to consume up to 30 gallons of water per day! Plus, if you want to maintain a decent acres/cow ratio you’ll likely need around three acre-feet of water per year on the pasture. Rain ain’t gonna cut it and that means you need alternative access to water.
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