Greetings from "The Farm"

Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
Just joined up here last night to get some advice on a stove for our "new" (we've been here about a year now) place. We had been looking for a very long time for the right combination of house, property, surroundings, etc...and finally found it right in the middle of 250 acres of preserved farmland. Our neighbor to the north is a working 120 acre family hay farm. The neighbor to the south has about 110 acres which is a mixture of forest, overgrown orchards, and about 40 tilled acres that the neighbor on the north side farms. What is now our house began its life as a barn on the property of the farm to the south before it was converted to a house about 120 years ago and subdivided off. We sit about a 1/4 mile off of the county road on a gravel lane. Our property, though only 2 acres, was a working farm itself up until about 50 years ago. The family that owned it had two large chicken houses and sold eggs all over the northern half of the state. The previous owner bought it from them in 1976, raised three great kids, some chickens, sheep, goats, and other assorted critters. Now its our turn-we have two little girls and one on the way, due in April.

Coming down the lane (hay farm to the left):

jvdciFS.jpg

The barn:



The house to the left-the road goes for another 1/4 mile down to my neighbor's place:



The back field:



Old sheep pen-there is a 16' x 32' block foundation adjacent to the pen that once housed their barn. It became dilapidated and was torn down but the foundation is in good shape and I plan to put a 10' x 16' chicken coop on it in the spring and figure out what to do with the other 22' later.



The pond:



The fireplace:



It's a work in progress-so far we've put in new wood floors throughout, converted all of the lighting to LED, painted a bunch, and most significantly besides the floors, put in a whole new kitchen. I did all of the prep for the floors (leveling, laying new subfloor where needed, undercutting door jambs, etc...) but contracted the installation and finish work. The kitchen I did soup to nuts. Kitchen before:



Kitchen after:





From a wood heating standpoint, one of the best things about the property is that we are loaded with locust and walnut! Unfortunately a lot of it is covered in poison ivy vines, especially what is growing in the hedgerows, but eventually we'll be employing goats to clear the hedgerows so that we can do some selective cutting. Looking forward to being a part of the community here.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,542
Philadelphia
Beautiful place, you got there! Looking forward to see what you do with it.
 

sportbikerider78

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2014
2,487
Syracuse, NY
Looking good. When I think of NJ, my mind does not wander to 250 acre farmhouses...but it will from no on. :)

The plight of loving country living is finding a house that does not need a total renovation, that also has nice property. A nice house, with some nice land, is SO rare!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,542
Philadelphia
Looking good. When I think of NJ, my mind does not wander to 250 acre farmhouses...but it will from no on. :)

The plight of loving country living is finding a house that does not need a total renovation, that also has nice property. A nice house, with some nice land, is SO rare!
It is called “the garden state”. Plenty of rural space in NJ, once you get a few miles out from Philly or NYC.

Nice house on nice land isn’t so rare, around here, but they don’t come cheap.
 
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sportbikerider78

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2014
2,487
Syracuse, NY
It is called “the garden state”. Plenty of rural space in NJ, once you get a few miles out from Philly or NYC.

Nice house on nice land isn’t so rare, around here, but they don’t come cheap.
Oh yeah? No sh*t!! :)

I'm well aware of that. In all my travels, I've never been to the garden part of it. Just the, mostly really gross, Eastern part.
 
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Z33

Burning Hunk
Apr 14, 2014
219
Atlanta, Georgia
I hope the old tile floors in the kitchen were demoed under containment.

Those are most likely 9x9 asbestos tiles.

House looks great!

I look forward to being able to leave the big city one day and get a spread out in the woods.
 

Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
I'm well aware of that. In all my travels, I've never been to the garden part of it. Just the, mostly really gross, Eastern part.
Population density is interesting to look at in NJ:

FkliPu8.jpg

The redder the area the higher the density, up to in excess of 5000 people per square mile !!! As you can see, the areas of high population density cut a swath across NJ as Ashful indicated, between the New York and Philly metro areas, which is also the route of the major thoroughfares (U.S. Route 1, NJ Turnpike/I-95, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor Line, etc...) of the state. The locations of these routes are no coincidence, most of the terrain in this area is flat and for the most part well drained, and much of it was very good farmland though its all built out now. Take a look at this map of Washington's retreat across New Jersey after the Continental Army had been defeated in Manhattan in the fall of 1776:

FbJ1vGI.jpg

See any similarities? In any event, though the central part of the state has been developed and redeveloped over and again since the 17th Century (both Trenton and Newark were established in the the late 1600s) the Northwestern and Southeastern parts of the state remain fairly rural.

Looking good. When I think of NJ, my mind does not wander to 250 acre farmhouses...but it will from no on. :)
We actually only own 2 acres, but the two farms that surround us (both 100+ acres) are permanently preserved, meaning that the state negotiated a purchase of development rights with the owner and a deed restriction has been placed on the property which will prohibits development in perpetuity. We really lucked out with this house in that sense-its good to know that one day when our grandchildren come to visit us they will walk the same woods that their mothers (our daughters) did growing up rather than hear stories from grandpa about how he used to hunt deer out in back of the pond before they put those houses in :p

Anyway, been busy over the weekend...spent a lot of time in the old sheep pen, working on a design, and clearing brush:



The plan is to construct a 10' x 16' coop which will fit perfectly on the on the old foundation. Off of the front of the coop I'll build an enclosed run 20' long by 10' wide by 6' high. Basically I'm thinking three levels of security, the coop being the "vault" with a concrete block foundation, wire cloth windows, and secure doors. The run would be "semi guarded with wire fencing all around (including topside for hawk protection and floor protection for diggers), and the remainder of the 32' x 32' pen not taken up by the run would be "free range."

GJJfN4A.jpg

thVnkNx.jpg

I hope the old tile floors in the kitchen were demoed under containment. Those are most likely 9x9 asbestos tiles.
We chose to encapsulate instead. They are now covered by 3/8" plywood which was nailed and glued down. Then more glue was trowled on over the plywood and the 3/4" Southern Yellow Pine flooring was nailed down.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,542
Philadelphia
We actually only own 2 acres, but the two farms that surround us (both 100+ acres) are permanently preserved, meaning that the state negotiated a purchase of development rights with the owner and a deed restriction has been placed on the property which will prohibits development in perpetuity.
I’m involved in a few of these, and most of them are not “perpetual”, as one might assume. The details vary by program, but most can be brought out of preservation, if the financial incentive is substantial enough. In many cases, a developer would simply have to pay the initial lump sum paid for the development rights, plus the difference in back taxes (not the full property tax, but just the tax break that was given) back to the jurisdiction (county, state, or fed) that provided the program.

The dollar amounts here can be too substantial for an individual or farm, but they’re not going to stop a new Best Buy or Walmart from going on that lot, if the zoning permits it. In the case of a 100 acre lot, bringing it out of preservation might only cost an additional 20% on that purchase price. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen, but it’s usually not an enormous barrier. It’s usually just enough to make a developer think they’d do better buying the un-protected land next door, before this one.

The run would be "semi guarded with wire fencing all around (including topside for hawk protection and floor protection for diggers), and the remainder of the 32' x 32' pen not taken up by the run would be "free range."
Are you familiar with the technique of just running the fencing under grade, away from the outside of the run? This is generally much easier and more secure than gridding the floor of the run. Basic theory is that, if you run that fencing out 2 feet from the run, even if it is just 3 inches below grade, anything digging will hit that and give up. Predators are generally not smart enough to back up three feet from the run, and try digging again, they want to dig as short a tunnel as they can.
 
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Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
I’m involved in a few of these, my family having owned most of the farm land in our corner of SE PA, two generations back. I am still involved with financial management of one 84 acre property, built in the 1740’s, and currently owned by an uncle.

Most of them are not “perpetual”, as one might assume. The details vary by program, but most can be brought out of preservation, if the financial incentive is substantial enough. In the case of the property I mention above, a developer would simply have to pay the initial lump sum paid for the development rights, plus the difference in back taxes (not the full property tax, but just the tax break that was given) back to the jurisdiction (county, state, or fed) that provided the program.

The dollar amounts here can be too substantial for an individual or farm, but they’re not going to stop a new Best Buy or Walmart from going on that lot, if the zoning permits it. In the case of a 100 acre lot, bringing it out of preservation might only cost an additional 20% on that purchase price.
Correct-in our case there is so much preserved farmland in the area along with the fact that minimum lot sizes have increased so much (5+ acres) that it would take an enormously concentrated and coordinated effort among developers and municipalities to reverse what's already been done. Plus there are already enough commercial corridors within a reasonable distance that aren't even completely built out yet. If you're familiar with the area we are about (as the crow flies) 1.5 miles west of NJ Route 31 and 3.5 miles north of I-78. As isolated as we are back here there are still two Wal-Marts and two Shop-Rites, a Lowes and a Home Depot all within a 10 mile radius. There's still plenty of land along the highways to build on as well, but given the density they'd run out of customers quickly. There's also the Highlands Act to contend with which was passed in 2007 with the intention of protecting water quality since much of Northeastern Jersey's water comes from our reservoirs. I have very mixed feelings about Highlands, but with regard to our property, the combination of farmland preservation tax penalties and Highlands Act regulations make future development nearly impossible.

Are you familiar with the technique of just running the fencing under grade, away from the outside of the run? This is generally much easier and more secure than gridding the floor of the run. Basic theory is that, if you run that fencing out 2 feet from the run, even if it is just 3 inches below grade, anything digging will hit that and give up. Predators are generally not smart enough to back up three feet from the run, and try digging again, they want to dig as short a tunnel as they can.
I've heard that referred to as an "apron." I may even do both because I have an enormous amount of old wire fencing laying around that I saved. The previous owner really liked his landscaping to the point that he encircled it with welded wire fence and small t-posts to keep the deer out. I'm not so much of an ornamental gardener and I hated the way all of that fencing looked so I removed it, deer be damned. Honestly even through the winter they didn't bother anything all that much, but I think the fact that we have a dog (previous owner had not had a dog for many years) that regularly roams the property has a lot to do with it. They don't really seem to come past the back fence because they know he's around.
 

AlbergSteve

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2017
805
Vancouver Island
The plan is to construct a 10' x 16' coop which will fit perfectly on the on the old foundation. Off of the front of the coop I'll build an enclosed run 20' long by 10' wide by 6' high. Basically I'm thinking three levels of security, the coop being the "vault" with a concrete block foundation, wire cloth windows, and secure doors. The run would be "semi guarded with wire fencing all around (including topside for hawk protection and floor protection for diggers), and the remainder of the 32' x 32' pen not taken up by the run would be "free range."
Great plan for the coop, we did the same at our last place. If we had an attack from predators, we would lock them up in the secure run until the offending predator(usually mink) was caught.

Chickens want to scratch, I wouldn't mesh the floor of the run. We buried 1/2'' hardware cloth 6'' then a 16'' apron.
 

Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
For some reason it's not letting me pull the quote, but with regard to the floor that's what I meant-I'll scrape 6-8" of topsoil off with the tractor bucket lay down the wire with landscape staples, and then cover it back over. We have no shortage of coyote, fox, raccoon, etc...around here. The pen is only about 15 yards off of the back porch so persistent predators will be easily picked off by a .410 or .22 when necessary.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,542
Philadelphia
...deer be damned. Honestly even through the winter they didn't bother anything all that much, but I think the fact that we have a dog (previous owner had not had a dog for many years) that regularly roams the property has a lot to do with it. They don't really seem to come past the back fence because they know he's around.
The dog probably helps, but also keep in mind that deer take several years to change their patterns. We had a lot of deer here prior to a new home construction that commenced on a neighboring lot in 2012-2013. Then we had very few deer for about four years, after the months of continuous construction and changing landscape scared them off, and forced them to change their grazing patterns. They just started filling back in generously last year, and this is the first year where I’d say we’re back close to the pre-2012 level of activity.

We also have two small dogs, that bark at every damn squirrel in sight. But they and the deer tend to ignore each other. One of my dogs looks somewhat like a scaled-down deer (pinscher), and neither of the dogs are the smartest I’ve ever owned, I suspect they look at the deer as peers. I’ve actually caught the dogs and deer standing within 30 feet of each other, with the deer eating mulberries, and the dogs sniffing deer poop.
 

AlbergSteve

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2017
805
Vancouver Island
For some reason it's not letting me pull the quote, but with regard to the floor that's what I meant-I'll scrape 6-8" of topsoil off with the tractor bucket lay down the wire with landscape staples, and then cover it back over. We have no shortage of coyote, fox, raccoon, etc...around here. The pen is only about 15 yards off of the back porch so persistent predators will be easily picked off by a .410 or .22 when necessary.
I'd go 8'' at least. Our birds dig holes for dust bathing so deep you can just see their heads above ground level!
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,542
Philadelphia
I'd go 8'' at least. Our birds dig holes for dust bathing so deep you can just see their heads above ground level!
I’d skip it altogether. With a good perimeter, I don’t see much advantage in gridding out the entire floor. Seems like it’s just going to be a tetanus headache for some poor soul, a decade or three from now.
 
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PaulOinMA

Feeling the Heat
Oct 20, 2018
494
MA
Very nice! What town are you in? I moved to Flemington after grad school, then out to Kingwood Township by Frenchtown. Really liked living in Hunterdon county, 1986 - 2003.

NJ has a lot of very nice areas once you get away from the very heavily populated northeast. Kingwood's population was 107 people per square mile. The town I'm in here in MA is 1,800. Kingwood doesn't even have a police department. State police coverage. The barracks moved from Flemington to Kingwood while I lied there.

NJ really was the Garden State. Produce was grown to feed NYC. Years ago, before highways, it was the only way to bring perishable produce to NYC.

A former colleague at CL in the 1990s resurrected a 10-acre apple and peach orchard (with some Christmas trees) with a friend. He brought in some white peaches and I has a bag of them on the seat beside me on the way home. He said that they were very juicy. I reached over, grabbed one, and bit into it. Ruined my tie. :)
 

PaulOinMA

Feeling the Heat
Oct 20, 2018
494
MA
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Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
Very nice! What town are you in? I moved to Flemington after grad school, then out to Kingwood Township by Frenchtown. Really liked living in Hunterdon county, 1986 - 2003.

NJ has a lot of very nice areas once you get away from the very heavily populated northeast. Kingwood's population was 107 people per square mile. The town I'm in here in MA is 1,800. Kingwood doesn't even have a police department. State police coverage. The barracks moved from Flemington to Kingwood while I lied there.
We are in Bethlehem Township which is 192 per sq/mi, population just shy of 3,900. We still have State Police coverage today. Kingwood, Frenchtown, Stockton, and the whole river valley is a great area too. We considered moving there at one time after having lived in High Bridge for ten years, but we love Bethlehem Township-there aren't a lot of places like it left in NJ, but we're confident, as I alluded to in previous posts, that with the combination of farmland preservation and smart planning and zoning that it won't be changing anytime soon. The 1970s and 80s were a time of drastic change in Hunterdon County when towns like Raritan and Readington Townships were transformed from sleepy farming communities to endless suburban sprawl seemingly overnight.

Just chanced upon a FB page for Hunters' Rest, a long-gone bar on 31 just south of Clinton. Great place. Used to go there a lot 30 years ago.https://www.facebook.com/groups/I-worked-or-drank-at-the-Hunters-Rest-Lebanon-NJ-743595879033745/
Where exactly was it? Finnagels (on 31 in Clinton) would have been around back then, so south of that?
 

PaulOinMA

Feeling the Heat
Oct 20, 2018
494
MA
Just checked Google maps. It's now Chive & Thyme: http://www.chiveandthyme.com/.

My wife came home once and said that she thought she just saw Jayson Williams in ShopRite. I said, "you sure you're not confusing him with all the other 6' 10" black guys in Hunterdon?" :)
 

Swamp_Yankee

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
59
Hunterdon County, NJ
Six Day Firearm (more commonly known as "Buck Week") prep-back into the swampy thicket at the edge of my neighbor's field. There's a small brook that forms the boundary between our properties that the deer follow. Part of it splits off and feeds our pond-the water source is a good draw.
For the first time in my life I'm hunting my own land and as such can build a permanent stand (think treehouse) wherever I want, but I'm not willing to commit just yet. I'm using my old climbing stand which can easily be moved from tree to tree based on conditions and/or deer movement:



The view from 20' up:



I didn't do any hunting at all last year as we were still too busy with any number of projects, but I'm looking forward to many years of harvesting deer from this property. No more getting up at 3:00 a.m. to drive an hour, hike in a mile, and be in the tree by 5:00 a.m. Now if I can roll out of bed at 4:30 and walk 150 yards off of the back porch, plus if nothing's moving and its freezing I can walk 150 yards back and have a hot cup of coffee waiting for me. Even better will be filling the freezer with venison that grew up right here-drinking the water, eating the grass, and running wild through the woods and fields.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,133
Northern NH
A bit of a thread drift on land preservation. There are ways to "perpetually protect" land from development that even Walmart cant break. Nothing is truly perpetual as any protections are dependent that the government remains (anyone remember Yugoslavia?). State government can also seize land or rights by eminent domain although many states have some protections that eminent domain can only be used for public good and can not be for private benefit. Some states dont have these protections and its a good reason to move. Finally the federal government can also use eminent domain that trumps even state easements.

With those exceptions the best way to ensure that adjacent land will not be developed is to have federal status as a National Park, National Monument or National Wildlife refuge. National Forests are one step lower in that multiple use can include such things as mining unless the land is designated a Federal Wilderness. These are about as perpetual as you can get and there is a lot of national organizations that will get involved if the federal government tries to break their own rules. On very rare occasions the fed can do land swaps but they require congressional permission. The next best thing is where the development rights have been deeded to a third party land trust. In this method the owner sells the development rights to another entity, generally a state or federal agency. A third party is designated the manager and there is usually a perpetual endowment created when the transfer is made that goes to the managing group. The land trust uses the revenue from the endowment to monitor the land and ensure that the owner does not violate the deeded restrictions.

There are some methods used that dont have very good long term protections. Many states have "current use" laws where a landowner can voluntarily agree to keep their land out development or in agricultural use on a year by year basis in order to get a tax break. Its technically protected but the owner can usually pull out of the deal by paying a penalty related to the amount of taxes they saved.

Planning and zoning restrictions are only as good as the local legislative body and even then there is usually a variance policy to allow variances. A major economic development will usually be enough for the rules to get changed. An example would be Amazon,s headquarters, I expect state and local politicians would fall all over themselves to get the rules changed.

Another weak protection that some folks use is a deed restriction that is not actively managed by a third party. I think a lot of folks believe that this is strong protection but generally the only party that can enforce the protections is the party that sold them or specific named successors. Once they pass away or lose interest, if the current owner wants to ignore the restriction there is no party that can enforce the restrictions. I went through this with land I was considering purchasing, the owner wanted to put perpetual restrictions on the use of the land without going the land trust route as he didnt want to pay the cost (its not cheap to set up). I checked with several folks I know in land trusts as well as the lawyer that I hired and they all had the same advice that there was no legal deed restriction that would survive long term. The important thing folks dont understand about deed restriction that in most states, the only entity that can enforce them is the person who sold them. The adjoining property owners or the community in general do not have the rights to enforce the restrictions so they eventually cease to be enforceable despite being on in the chain of title.

Real estate agents are sellers agents and any buyer depending on a agent to disclose the exact preservation status of the adjacent properties is asking to be disappointed. Many folks dont want to spend the money up front to do the research but including a clause in the purchase and sale offer that the preservation status of adjoining properties must be confirmed is some protection. In hot real estate market this option is usually not available so the buyer needs to do their research. Many towns will have some records on land under preservation status as it impacts their taxes and many property cards that are public records will indicate preservation status so pulling the adjacent property cards is another method.
 
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TillLindemann

New Member
Jan 22, 2020
3
Vienne
Hmm, I looked at first photo for a long time and it seems to me that it resembles a small barn or workshops. I was just building workshops and we started most of the buildings this way. But it's possible that I'm just wrong. By the way, I was not able to finish the construction of my workshops :))
The fact is that I built it in order to make wooden beams that I and my father then sold to construction companies, but in the end it turned out that we could not build such a large workshop. In the end, we found a very popular company in Australia that builds high quality steel buildings. In just three months they built a very cool and large workshop and it was a very reliable construction! Just imagine 3 months ... It's just not possible!
By the way the desing of house is incredible!