|WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
* Farmland must be tended. If you do not plan to work the land
yourself, you will likely need to rent it to a farmer. The income
from renting out farmland is very low - usually in the range of
$25 - 75 per acre, per year.
* Woodland lots can make beautiful building sites, but make sure
you have a good source of clean water and the ability to install
a septic system at a reasonable cost. Most people will also want
to have hydro available on the property. It is possible to go "off
the grid" and run your own solar-powered options, but the initial investment can
Note: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. It is best to gather information from several sources before making a decision to purchase rural property, and this website does not purport to discuss all the issues that might arise. This information is provided on a "use at your own risk" basis and the author assumes no liability for subsequent use of the information provided here.
FARMS AND ACREAGE
By far the largest amount of land available in rural areas
is in the form of farms, acreage, woodland, and rural residential
In the early 1900's it was
still possible to make a living and raise a family on
a 50 acre farm. Earning a good income from farming now requres
a very large capital investment, and most viable farms
operate on many hundreds of acres that are either owned
or rented. While it is still possible to use a smaller farm
to earn a supplemental income, and to use smaller acreages
for market garden operations, very few of the "back-to-the-landers",
who left the cities in the 1970's to farm a few acres in
the country, are still earning a living off the land.
RENTING OUT YOUR FIELDS
If you decide to purchase farm land, you have a choice
to make. You can choose to work it yourself if you are
able to buy the equipment to do so, or you will need to
rent the land to a farmer to be used as part of a regular farming
the land to revert to a wild state is not an option you
First of all, farmland is a valuable
resource and it needs to be used properly to feed both
our nation and those in other countries. Secondly, if
you leave the land untended, it will not revert to a
wild state on its own in any reasonable period of time.
It will simply be overgrown with noxious non-native plants
like Scotch Thistle, which will ruin your land and spread
their seeds to your neighbours' properties. Ownership
of farmland is a trust, and it brings responsibilities.
When it comes to renting your land, you will need to know who you are working with.
People who have lived in the country for a long time have well-established reputations, and it's a good idea to talk to your neighbours about who might be a good farmer to rent your land to. One key consideration will be finding someone who has a reputation for maintaining the land in good condition for coming generations.
In my own case, for example, there was a time when circumstances made it impossible to guarantee that we would be staying on the same piece of property for another year. The land had been producing corn for 3 years and was becoming depleted, so it really needed to be sown to alfalfa and used to produce hay for a period of 3 or 4 years. This is an expensive operation and there is no way that a farmer can get a return on the investment of sowing the land in the first, or perhaps even the second year. At this particular time we weren't sure if we were going to stay or move, and we could provide no guarantees to the farmer about future rentals of the land. In spite of this, the farmer went ahead and sowed the seed anyway. A risky proposition for him financially, but in his words, "It needed to be done". He was, and is, a good guardian of the soil.
Relationships in which your values come into conflict with someone renting your land are to be avoided. For example, will the farming be done "organically"? If not, how will your exposure to chemical sprays be handled. If you do decide to go "organic" how will you feel about the smell involved in having manure spread on your fields each year? (The smell lasts for three or four days.) These are all things you need to discuss in advance with the person who will be renting your land.
One additional note: Make sure the farmer renting your land has insurance for working on your property. Farm accidents do happen and you do not want to be in a position where costs will be claimed against your own homeowner's policy. Your own insurance company may insist on having the farmer produce a document showing evidence of this type of coverage.
You should also check to make sure the person renting your land is a registered farmer if you want to claim a lower tax rate for the agricultural portion of your land.
WOODLAND AND RURAL RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES
Most of the land in country areas that is not farmland has remained in a natural state because it was unsuitable for farming. That doesn't mean that it is not perfectly suitable for building a home, and some of these properties are very scenic.
As with all other rural properties you will want to make sure that your have a reliable source of good water, and a safe means of disposing of waste, before you purchase or build a home on a bush lot.
BIG IS AN ACRE?
The acre is an old unit of measurement from the Imperial system, and it was originally considered to be the amount of land that a yoke of oxen could plow in one day. Since that would depend to some degree on how good your oxen were, the unit was standardized as being 10 square chains, which was 160 square rods, and since a rod was 5.5 yards, that would make it 4840 square yards or 43,560 square feet. An acre was also 1/640th of a square mile.
Despite the complexity of its origins, the acre continues to be the unit most commonly used in rural areas, even though Canada has officially converted to the Metric system.
For a rough idea of the size of an acre, an American football field, complete with end zones, would be about 1.32 acres. You could fit
6 generously-sized subdivision lots, at 50' x 145' each,
on one acre.
In this aerial photograph, the
shaded area is about
1 acre in size.
The Canadian government sells its property
in hectares, which are 10,000 square meters. One hectare
is equal to
Here are some other metric conversion factors you may find handy.
|To convert from:
|Feet to Metres
|Meters to Feet
|Sq. Feet to Sq. Metres
|Sq. Metres to Sq. Feet
|Acres to Hectares
|Hectares to Acres
A BIT OF HISTORY
Many of our older farms still have their original hedgerows.
These are long fences of stone that were created when
the early settlers removed the rock from the fields in
order to prepare them for cultivation. Some of these rocks,
including those in the picture below (taken on our property)
are well over a ton
in weight, and they sit in silent tribute
to the work of our ancestors and their teams of draft horses.
Hedgerow, Centre Hastings, Ontario
Hedgerows are of value to the environment in that they
allow space for the wild growth of native plants, and
shelter for numerous animals. Unfortunately, hedgerows
and the small fields they outline are also a real
inconvenience to modern agriculture, so many hedgerows have been removed to create larger fields.
When you own your country property, you will need to
weigh these issues yourself. There is a value in progress,
but there is also a value in protecting our heritage.