Many nine-to-fivers trapped in big cities spend their days imagining a place far away. In their daydreams, they have freedom from the daily grind; they have time to enjoy the great outdoors, from sunrise to sunset; they have peace amongst the amber waves of grain on their very own ranch property. Yet, most such dreamers will never escape the glass and steel skyline for the open country.
There are few more advantageous real estate ventures than ranch land, assuming you take all the necessary precautions to maintaining a profitable property. If you want to see your Western wear dreams come true, here’s what you need to do to make it big with ranch land.
What a Ranch Is
Most city slickers use the terms “farm” and “ranch” interchangeably, but the truth is there is a sizeable distinction between them. A farm is a parcel of land and buildings dedicated to generating food, both plant- and animal-based. Conversely, a ranch contains only livestock of a particular type, and the purpose of the animals might not be for human consumption. Many people consider a ranch to be a style of farm, but in practice, the two properties have quite individual methods of producing value.
Even so, your concept of a ranch is likely even more unique. Traditional, self-preserving ranches are major operations that require full-time upkeep of land and animals over tens of thousands of acres of fields and forests. However, you might as well imagine a smaller plot, perhaps 25 to 60 acres, with a few head of cattle and easy access to civilization. The important thing is to evaluate what you want in your ranch and how to realize it before you go hunting for property.
What Animals Are Useful
If your idea of a ranch comes directly from old Western movies, you probably imagine your property populated by a sizeable herd of longhorns and a few strong stallions, but not all ranchland is suited to cattle and horses. For one thing, a single cow requires at least an acre of grazing land, so not every ranch can support a healthy herd. For another, cattle are such popular ranch animals that the local and national market is absolutely saturated with beef, and you might make more profits with another variety of livestock. For example, the following animals tend to require less space and fewer resources, but most provide at least the same value as cattle:
What Structures Are Vital
It is easy to imagine a ranch as wide-open space, but ranches need buildings just like farms. Aside from the ranch house, the only true necessity is the barn, in which animals seek shelter and food but which provide a number of other uses, too. Historically, barns had several divisions: the tack room, for saddles, bridles, etc.; the feed room, where animal feed is stored; the milkhouse, for the collection and storage of dairy; and more. To save money, though, most ranchers nowadays simply construct different structures. Additionally, more ranchers are turning to non-traditional building materials, preferring custom fabric structures to wood or stone, due to the relatively low expense, quick assembly, and myriad other benefits.
What Additional Resources You Need
One of the most common mistakes of beginner ranchers is their overinvestment in equipment. Eager to have the right tools for the job, some ranchers buy brand-new animal trailers, pickup trucks, tractors, and ATVs, most of which simply add costs without increasing profits. Your equipment needs depend upon the size and scope of your ranch, so you might opt to rent before committing to purchasing any expensive tool. You can also instead opt to buy used equipment to help your bottom line.
What You Gain When You Do It Right
Once your ranch settles into a pattern of profitability, you will undoubtedly start to see the benefits beyond money. Ranches fill the American need for open space and freedom; the ability to live off the land satiates a primal desire for self-sufficiency and connection to the earth. Your ranch can provide you with a thorough and complete sense of peace ? but only if you are willing to set aside a desire for profit and embrace the lifestyle of a true rancher.