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Land:  The Final Frontier
By Tim Reid
o you've decided that you want to move to the country!  You've rejected the idea of buying an old farm and have chosen to build your own place - all  from scratch, make your own mistakes.  Very commendable!

Now, a reality check!  Unless you are independently wealthy, this will be the single most important purchase you ever make.  Starting from scratch is the most challenging of all home ambitions and you had better be eating your wheeties to take it on.

Once you have the land prospects down to a few choices there are items of vital importance to consider.

As a guideline, try to picture the property in all four seasons.  This will give you an idea of what you will be up against as a whole.

The first and most important concern is the property's water.  I cannot stress enough the importance of a good water supply. This concern is followed closely by soil quality.

You should consider whether the property can help pay for its own development.
On the concern of water, if you have a chance to meet your prospective neighbours, ask them how deep their well is.  Responses from two or three of them will give you a good idea of how far you will have to dig or drill your own.  And if you can, ask to taste their water.  If it's hard, or worse, "sulfur," and you expect to drill 300 feet to get it, the land is not worth the price, no matter how "reasonable."  You can, of course, spend a small fortune on water purifiers, but even with these your morning coffee will have the distinct odour of rotten eggs.

You should consider whether the property can help pay for its own development.  Is there timber in your wood lot that you can market?  Do you have deposits of gravel or sand?  These are all commodities that can be sold or bartered for things like hydro hook-ups, road building and well drilling.

If your timber is in good supply you may want to harvest some for the building of your home.  If there is a stone fence line, or a lot of rocks to clear, you will have building materials on site.

These are the things to keep in mind when looking at a piece of land.

Armed with this information you can then dicker on a final price.  You will have already chosen that perfect spot for the house.  The best place for the fish pond.

Then be prepared to start the rest of your life.

Q & A

If you think an education is expensive, try ignorance.
Quote of the week
Author unknown
This week's questions come from Derrick and Shawn.

Dear Tim:

Once in a while I will go into the hen house and one of the hens will squat in front of me and put her wings out a bit.  If I am not careful I will trip over them.  I have wondered about this for a while now.  Why do they do it?

Dear Derrick:

That's an easy one.  Your hen is sexually frustrated.  In short, she wants to get poked!  You, being the closest to a rooster, are chosen to do the job.

Since it's important to keep your girls happy - for maximum egg production - it's not good to have them in this state.  What you can do is grab her comb with two fingers and pull her head back just a bit.  Then, and with your other hand, wiggle her tail feathers.  After 2 seconds of this let her go.  If she gets up, ruffles her feathers and walks away with a smug look, you did a good job!

If she doesn't, get a rooster!

Dear Tim:

I will be getting 350 rainbow trout fingerlings for my spring-fed pond next month. The guy at the feed store says that he can make them grow pound-for-pound with his feed.  Is this possible?

Dear Shawn:

Yes it is, and did he tell you they would be fat and tasteless?  Quality is always better than quantity.

The trick to raising good trout is to keep their food as natural as possible.  This you can do by hanging a bug zapper (with the catch tray off) over the pond.  The trout will have barbecued bugs.

Or, hang an onion bag full of "fresh" soup bones off a pole. This also does the trick but doesn't have as much visual appeal.  Supplemented by night crawlers, these things will ensure your trout tastes like trout.

Tim Reid is Ex- Canadian Navy and lives with his spouse on a small mixed farm in Hastings County.  He may be contacted at or by letter mail at RR2 Gilmour, Ontario, Canada.  KOL 1W0.