Homesteading, prepping or just working the farm because that’s what you know?

Homesteading has seen a revival since the economic downturn of 2006. We all saw many families lose their jobs, their homes and all they had in the bank. The recession/depression of this time period sufficiently scared a lot of folks into wanting to get back to the land and learn self-sufficiency so that a future economic disaster isn’t as likely to affect their family.

Our family moved to Ithaca from S. Utah in 2010 for our own reasons. We loved the fact that this area is so supportive of local farming endeavors. We were able to buy some land and are slowly turning it into a productive farm. The land is being planted into productive plants that will hopefully in the coming years will provide us with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer, and give us enough to put up for the winter.

Upstate New York is very fortunate to have areas with great soil for agriculture, a great growing climate and plenty of good water. It has also been very refreshing to find so many people that have been living on their farm since it was homesteaded years ago. Farming is just a way of life for many. My parents left the farm when they were married and my whole life I have just wanted to get back to one.

My real estate career in S. Utah was focused on helping buyers and sellers with raw parcels of land, water rights and unique parcels that were close to the border of Zion National Park. Upstate New York is very unique in its population layout. There are plenty of areas that support the farmer and the newer homesteader.

My goal is to begin a dialog on homesteading in New York and various considerations to keep in mind when purchasing your property for that new life.

Please feel free to contact me about homesteading!

— Marcia Pierce-Rasmussen 607-882-3186, or at marcia@nylandquest.com

 

 

Maple Sugaring on a Small Scale

Maple sugaring on a small scale — a sweet cure for cabin fever!

Over the past decade I have done some small scale maple sugaring. Growing up watching my father maple sugaring and helping him I guess it rubbed off on me. When I tell my friends what I’m up to I typically get a response like “that’s a lot of work” or “it takes too long and I can just go to the store and buy some.” Well, my response is that it is very rewarding and is a sweet cure for cabin fever. There’s nothing like walking in the woods and collecting those full sap buckets and smelling that sweet sap boiling down over a fire. I always involve my kids in the process to teach them about maple sugaring and enjoy family time together. Yes, there is no doubt it can be hard work, but it can be a relief from a long hard winter that doesn’t seem to end when it should.

Over the years I have learned that preparation can go a long way in being successful and creating as little back breaking work as possible. You don’t need a lot of maple trees to begin with and there are at least four species of maple trees that produce sap that can be tapped. When I talk to people who haven’t maple sugared before there is a misconception that I hear that you can only tap maple sugar trees. This is not true at all. Tree species identification is best done in the summer and fall when the leaves are still on the trees. Plan ahead if you can and identify and mark the trees you are going to tap and kudos to you if you get this done.

There have been a few years when I had a new property and I hadn’t identified the maples I was going to tap on the property ahead of time. No, I didn’t tap any oaks!! But I did tap a few maples that seemed slow to produce. Maples can be identified by their branches and there bark. Maples have opposite branches and with sugar maples the bark is deeply grooved and easily identified. Maple species other than sugar maple can be challenging to identify in the spring by the bark and branches and this is best done when there are leaves on the tree. Depending on what your expectations are you could have as few as four buckets and boil down enough sap in one run to get a half gallon of syrup if your buckets are all full. Keep in mind that typically the ratio is 40/1, that’s 40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. So without a commercial evaporator to boil the sap down this proves to be the biggest and most time consuming part of maple syrup production.

Your equipment depends on your budget and your resources. I have seen some people use old food grade buckets and plastic taps with tubing. I still use the old galvanized buckets and metal taps because that is what I have and I got a good deal on them used years ago. If you’re starting from scratch the least expensive option in my opinion is using food grade buckets and plastic taps with tubing. Typically the plastic taps use a 5/16 inch drill and a standard drill bit will work fine. There is no need to buy a wood boring bit unless you are using an old hand crank drill.

In my experience the biggest challenges with small scale maple sugaring are boiling the sap down and collecting the sap. Sap collection in winters with deep snow can be difficult and back breaking at times but I have found a few ways to help that I can share. First off if you have trees that are near a driveway or roadway and can be accessed easily without tromping through deep snow then use those trees! I found that using a 35 gallon sprayer tank strapped on an ATV rack is the easiest way to collect sap when the snow isn’t too deep. The sprayer tank is useful because it has a large top that buckets can be dumped into and a ball valve on the bottom of the tank that can be used to drain the sap directly into your boiling pan or another bucket for handling. Another option is to use a ice fishing sled and strap large food grade buckets on it and tow it behind a snow machine or drag it tree to tree by hand. I recently built a sled to haul our sap in the deep snow using panels off an old dryer and fabricated a frame to hold a sprayer tank.

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Boiling down the sap can be in done many ways from using a turkey fryer burner and pot or pan on top of a wood stove. I have found that the least expensive vessel to use is a deep stainless steel restaurant warming pan.

20150311_175400   Typically these pans can be found at restaurant supply stores and have a decent surface area to boil the sap down quickly. Other options could be using a turkey frying pot or large stainless steel pots. If your budget permits then a commercial wood fired evaporator is best way to go and the most economical to operate. I would use caution when boiling down the sap inside a kitchen because it produces a lot of steam so make sure that you have good ventilation and open a window to remove some of the moisture. It’s always best to boil down outside if you can and finish boiling inside. Too much moisture inside can cause problems like pealing wall paper…yikes!! Another tip is to time your boil down rate so that you can make use of your time doing something else when you are boiling down the sap. Using a hotel pan I can typically boil down an 11/2 inches an hour. Keep watchfull eyes on your boil temperature using a good digital thermometer and when your boil temp is at 215 you are very near the finishing point. As sap boils down and the sugar increases the boiling point increases as well. Everyone has an opinion on this and the most popular one is that it is finished at 218 degrees. I say bah humbug! I keep boiling until at least 220 because I want super thick syrup. Watch it close and check it often, it can burn and boil over quickly. It’s best to use a smaller pot to do your finish boiling in. Thick syrup makes a great baste for a maple basted ham that is slap your grandma good!!

If I haven’t confused you enough with this information there is a really good website that has more detatiled technical information that is very useful. Here is the link:  www.tapmytrees.com

Hopefully you’ll find this information useful. I’m always looking for feedback hearing experiences other people have had. Feel free to email me anytime.  brian@nylandquest.com

Happy maple sugaring!

—- Brian Jackson

 

 

Finger Lakes Trail

Get to know the Finger Lakes Trail!

Anyone who knows upstate New York, knows that there is no shortage of outdoor activities to take part in.  There are the obvious attractions like Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, the Finger Lakes, the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, and of course, Niagara Falls.  But as you get to know a given area of the state, you begin to see how much there is to see and do in the great outdoors.  Just one of these great overlooked treasures of New York is the Finger Lakes Trail system.  You may have driven by the green signs along the road depicting a hiker and wondered briefly, what that was.  If you go to the Finger Lakes Trail Association website you can get all the details.

However, here is short description taken from their website:

“The Finger Lakes Trail system, over 950 miles in length, runs from the Pennsylvania-New York border in Allegany State Park to the Long Path in the Catskill Forest Preserve, with branch trails to Niagara Falls, the Genesee River valley, the Great Eastern Trail south of Corning, the central Finger Lakes, and the Syracuse region. From the PA border to the northeast end of the Onondaga Branch, the Finger Lakes Trail is also the North Country National Scenic Trail. This system is built and maintained almost entirely by volunteers. Covering some of the most scenic land in New York, we welcome you to hike it, and volunteer to keep it beautiful.”

The great thing about the FLT is that you can hike a stretch wherever you see a marked trailhead, anywhere in the state.

So next time you’re driving around upstate New York and you see one of those signs, pull over and go for hike, you won’t be disappointed!

— Frank Myka

 

 

If Not Now, When is a Good Time to Buy Land?

If not now…..when?

This may now become my credo after three land purchases I’ve made. It all began with a passion for hunting years ago when landowners seldom said “no” when asked for permission to hunt. As time passed the answers became “well…..uh….sorry but.” Then it was just plain “NOPE, and don’t come back!”

Not to be discouraged my focus became public lands which abound in Central NY. My goodness I made GREAT use of the State Land in my area. I still do!

But, when days pass by and few animals were seen my mind wandered to owning my own land. I could create better habitat for the wildlife putting in food plots and improving other nutritional forage. Maybe it was the idea of being a steward of the land.

At any rate owning land as an investment plus the benefit of finding the right property to compliment my hobbies has been a rewarding endeavor in ways I never dreamed. As I type this my mind is wandering to the excitement of placing trail cameras then collecting the pictures of life in the woods when there’s nobody there but the animals. They captured many, many fascinating videos & images.

Oh, and by the way….there can be financial gains realized. In many cases through leasing land to a farm, timber management and general appreciation land owners can recoup their investment or off-set taxes. Property can satisfy those of you that wish to invest in a commodity. Unlike investing in property with structures, tenants & ongoing maintenance, land doesn’t ask much of your time or money post-sale. For me, that’s an Investment Property!

My first land purchase was in 2006. Then, again in 2007 & 2009. These were 25 ac, 15 ac & 40 ac. I enjoy what has become a ritual of creating trails & food plots. Building a comfortable observation tower, ground blinds, tree stands and camp sites. My family, friends (and pets) have enjoyed it immensely. Bonfires in summer, fishing in the pond, hunting in the autumn and ever the eye on planning where my forever home will be “placed.”

The passion that has developed, the respect & responsibility has come to define a different part of me. Now I can invite & share these experiences with others. The pride and fulfillment when a friend is able to experience what I discovered for myself & to see the lightbulb go on……awesome.

The only regret I have is “why did I wait until in my 40’s?” I’ve heard many say “I’m going to”, “I should” or “someday.” Well my friends……someday never comes.

If not now, when?

— Matt Klink

 

Hops in New York

Beer!  Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you a little story about Hops in New York.  Did you know that historically, Otsego, Madison, Schoharie and Montgomery counties were the epicenter of hop growing in the United States and that the best hops were thought to come from Otsego County?  Family farms all over the area were growing hops and some were becoming rich doing so.  Special barns were built to dry and store the hops before being transported to market.  I currently have a client who has an historic farm near Cooperstown and the remains of the old hop barn are still standing.  Hop growing in New York would peak in the middle of the 19th century and due to series of events, a blight and competition from mechanized farms out west, the hop industry all but disappeared by the early part of the 20th century.

Jump forward to the present and the rise of craft beers and the microbrewery movement, combine that with the desire by consumers to purchase more locally grown products and suddenly hop growing has reemerged in New York.  In 2011, New York State amended the “Farm Brewery Law,” which gave farmers the right to brew beer so long as 20% of the hops came from New York as well as 20% of the other ingredients.  This has led to a flourishing craftbeer industry in New York and from my own experience, I’ve seen 3 new breweries open up in Binghamton in just the last 2 years.  As I drive through Otsego County in particular, I’m constantly reminded of this trend, as I see more and more stands of hops being grown.  I even had a client buy some acreage in Cortland County who has already planted a large area of it with hops.  It’s great to see abandoned farmland being brought back into production!

So if you’re considering buying land and wondering about all the possible uses, I say, think beer and tap into hop growing!

— Frank Myka

 

 

Thinking about Buying a Home?

Are you starting to think about buying a home? Are you overwhelmed and intimidated by the process and all of the different financing options? Then set your bookmarks to this series Home Sweet Home: The Smart Buyers Guide. We’re breaking down the steps to get you into your new house and out of that rental!

In Part 1: Break it Down, we discuss how to prepare. What do you need to consider before jumping right into house hunting?

I know it’s frustrating, writing that check every month for walls that you can’t even put a nail into without wondering how much it’s going to cost you at the end of your lease. Or having the peace of mind knowing that you are stable and secure in that humble abode for the indefinite future, without having to succumb to the whims of the person that actually owns it. But actually moving forward with buying something of your own can be very intimidating. There are so many things to consider, so many financing options, and how do you know who you can trust to truly help you make the best decision for the largest purchase of your life?

We’ll get to some of that other nitty, gritty later, but for now let’s talk about getting yourself ready.

Ever heard that saying Fail to plan, plan to fail? As much as it pains me to say it, it’s true. There have been so many times where we can look back and see that if only we had set a little more time aside to prepare, we might not have the remorse we do now. But that’s good because it teaches us and helps us grow. So, go ahead and whip out your little calculator, gather up your bills and bank statements, and get cozy. You’ve got some work to do.

Budget: What can you realistically afford?

Do you know what that $129,900 house is going to really cost you on a monthly basis? Sure you can hop on over to bankrate.com and rustle up a nice looking little mortgage payment by plugging in some numbers, but that’s only one part of the picture. Depending on the mortgage product, interest rates, credit score, insurance, down payment, PMI, etc., that number could grow to be a lot bigger than you anticipated. So you’ve gotta get real. Most people look at that little sliver of a mortgage payment at the beginning and work in the other factors later with a lot of disappointments along the way. But not you! No. You’re a financially smart cookie. You’re starting with reality and working your way around to find the right house that fits you emotionally and financially! So, let’s get to it!!

Write down all of your expenses for a given month, including: food, gas, insurance, entertainment, etc. How much actually goes out each month? Don’t forget to add in savings, retirement, and the like. Now subtract that from your monthly income. This is your surplus budget from which you can draw your housing budget.

How does that look compared to your current rental payment? This is when you will want to tweak those numbers to either tighten your belt in other areas of expenses so that you can make that number bigger, or when you can adjust your visions to something in a little bit of a higher budget. This all depends on what your goals and ideas are.

Credit History: What are you able to afford?

When you know how much your budget actually is, then you will want to start looking at your credit history to see what types of services and rates are going to be available to you, and what their costs might be. Interest rates can inflate a payment beyond what you can afford pretty quickly, so you will want to make sure that you aware of your credit reporting history so that you can take care of any clean ups now and ensure a better bargaining position with the banks.

Run your credit report with score from all major credit reporting agencies. Each of those agencies have different rating formulae that they work off of to come up with a score, so each one will have a different number. This is extremely helpful when shopping for loans because you can inquire from the bank which agency they use and then you will know what products you might be able to fit into.

More importantly, though, you want to see your entire credit history. Comb through it to spot any errors or unauthorized activity. Ideally, you should do this once a year, but sometimes, we can’t. So now is the time! Make sure that any debts listed are actually yours and that all balances and history are correct. If there is anything that is incorrect, take care of it now so that you have time to get everything cleared up and corrected before having it run by the banks.

Now, if your score and report aren’t favorable, this is when you need to roll up your sleeves and dig in to clean it up and make it shine!

Pay down your debts.  This helps to lower your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is also a deciding factor in a bank’s decision to approve your loan. DTI is a number in percentage form that is the result of dividing your monthly obligations by your monthly gross (pre-tax) income. You can have good credit and a good score, but if you’re overextended with a high or even borderline DTI, you run the risk of being denied. They’re not going to loan you money when you’re squeezing by every month. Nope. Not gonna happen. So take some time to pay down your balances. Make a plan to pay an extra $20 or $50 dollars a month to bring those balances down…. Whatever it takes. You want to have a DTI under 35%.

Clear off old or incorrect accounts.  Each type of account has an age limit, so check to see that any older, negative accounts should really be included. If not, contact the creditor to have them remove it. Incorrect or unauthorized accounts also need to be handled at this time. There will be some hoops to jump through and documentation to provide, but it is necessary to make sure that your report is true and correct and that you get the best possible products available to you to ensure you aren’t wasting away all those pennies you work so hard for.

Once you have a neat and tidy budget, and a bright and shiny correct credit report, it’s time to start shopping! You can now confidently walk into a bank, prepared and knowledgeable about what you can afford, what you want to afford, and what is available to you. This gives you confidence and negotiating power. So, it’s time to get pre-qualified!

— Lee Anne Chevalier

 

 

Black Creek Hunting Club is For Sale!

Black Creek Conservation Club, located in Madison County, NY less than 5 miles South of Oneida Lake and 20 minutes from Syracuse Hancock International Airport.  This is a Once in a Lifetime opportunity for sportsman looking for a full service hunting preserve.  Years of dedication, engineering/permitting and quality wildlife management has transformed this 750 acres into world class hunting grounds along with top of the line lodging.

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Unparalleled privacy and protected, the acreage consists of mixed woodlands, hidden fields (food plots), interior roads and approximately 4 miles of 8 foot high metal fence enclosing 3 sides for free range.  Approximately 150 acres is fully enclosed with high fence supporting 400 class bull elk and trophy whitetail, 31 strategically placed tree stands throughout the property.

If you have dreamed of owning your own private hunting preserve or aspire to guide clients on amazing dream hunts, with the ability to bring in all types of exotic wild game, this is the place for you.  With the special permits in place and to be conveyed to the new owner, you can hunt anything form monster whitetail bucks, elk, bison, red stag or any other exotic big game; the choices are truly endless.

Click here to watch the VIDEO

World Fishing & Outdoor Expo in Suffern NY

 Join us at the 38th Annual World Fishing & Outdoor Expo in Suffern, NY

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This is the Northeast’s premier fishing, hunting and travel event!

March 5-8, 2015
Rockland Community College
Suffern, NY

The show that just keeps getting better – nearly 2 million consumers  have made their way though the doors of the Rockland Community College to see what’s arguably one of the top shows in the country.

Whether your passion is freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing or hunting, you’ll find it all here within easy reach of most of the tri-state area  March 5-8, 2015.  Book trips to destinations from around the globe, compare and buy boats, see the latest hunting and fishing gear and then buy it from local independent retailers, learn from nationally recognized celebrities and local experts, buy newly released and hard to find products to get the upper hand on your buddies …….. its all here!

Kayaks, Boats, Fishing, Hunting, Travel, State Fish and Game, Taxidermy, Celebrities and so much more continues to make Suffern, NY the place to feed your late winter outdoor desires.  Escape the nasty winter weather and visit with your favorite exhibitors and sporting peers while getting ready for the fast approaching warmer temperatures and summertime outdoor activities at the 38th Annual World Fishing & Outdoor Expo in Suffern, NY.

For more information, visit the Expo’s website World Fishing & Outdoor Expo.

— Melissa Stephenson

 

Wintergreen Forest Edibles

One part of my job that I particularly enjoy is walking new properties and discovering things that some people might overlook.  I look at the different types of trees, land features such as ponds, creeks, and types of soils.  I keep in mind that each property is unique and can offer a variety of different uses.  Some of my customers are searching for land to grow wild ginseng and other unique plants and trees that require certain soil and climate conditions.

I’ve recently discovered wintergreen in some upland deciduous forests.  I’m curious to hear from other people what some of the uses are that they have discovered.  I realize that it is edible, however it isn’t necessarily a food source for humans but more of a flavoring for teas and extracts.  Also, I’m curious if anyone uses the berries, and when the berries are most prevalent.

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Here is a link for more information about wintergreen:

Please e-mail me, brian@nylandquest.com, if you would like to share any of your experiences with forest edibles.

— Brian Jackson

 

Credit Reports

Credit reporting is essential for successful financing, especially big ticket items like homes and vacation properties.  Good credit is key to financing any and all real estate.

Everyone who has a Social Security number is entitled to a free credit report each year.

Go to:  annualcreditreport.com

You are entitled to a free copy of all three credit reports annually.  The three nationwide credit reporting companies are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  You can order a credit report every 4 months by using each company.  But, do not contact these three credit reporting companies individually because they will charge a fee.  Make sure you go to ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM to order your credit report.

Credit reports do not include your credit score but obtaining the report does not affect your credit score.

For more information about consumer finance protection, visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website by clicking here.

— Melissa Stephenson

 

Land Loans

Not all land is the same nor are all banks the same.  Today, more than ever, bank financing is available for unimproved land.  It’s true that some banks will not finance land as it’s against their charter or long standing policy.  But, several lenders have identified land as another opportunity to lend money.

It’s our experience that some commercial banks such as M&T will finance a house with 5-10 acres, but if you’re seeking to buy a larger parcel, they will request that you finance the remaining acreage with another lender or plan on paying cash.

Locally (Ithaca area), our experience of land financing has been best with Community Bank, Farm Credit East, and most recently Cornell Federal Credit Union.  Also, it’s my understanding that Tompkins Trust Company is not offering land loans.  Some of these lenders require certain credit scores and different closing costs so it’s best to inquire with each lender for their best rates and terms.

The good news is that land loans are available, so visit our website nylandquest.com to find land so you can enjoy the great outdoors!

Give me a call at 607-280-5770 to make an appointment today.  Thank you, Carl Snyder

 

New York Sportsman’s Expo in Syracuse

Join us at The Great New York Sportsman’s Expo in Syracuse!

January 23-25, 2015

NY State Fair Ground, Syracuse, NY

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Over 40 new exhibitors added to the 2015 lineup!

Exhibits will showcase the latest in products, travel, real estate, and entertainment for hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts.  The New York Sportsman’s Expo is Syracuse’s and Central New York’s Premier Sportsman’s Expo!

For more information, visit their website:  New York Sportsman’s Expo

 

Welcome to New York Land Quest’s Redesigned Website

Raise the curtain for our new NY Land Quest News blog

Hello and welcome to the new NY Land Quest News blog. Here’s where you’ll find the latest & greatest news on everything about NY Land Quest – from new properties for sale to information on upcoming events.

Plus, we’ll keep you up-to-date on happenings in certain areas throughout the seasons.  Along the way, we’ll try to make this blog a touch more interesting to read than your refrigerator’s user manual.

So bookmark this blog, email to a friend/colleague, or add our RSS feed.  And of course, we’d love getting your feedback on our listings and this blog — and what you want to see discussed in the future.

Until next time friends…

NYLQ News blogger