Milligan’s Gander Hill Farm Taken Off the Market

I have decided to take our farm off the market. I didn’t want to sell before  we found another farm to replace our current place and the state of Iowa had started the process to make an offer to buy our land. I hadn’t been sleeping all that well, since putting our farm up for sale worrying if I was making the right decision by going into dept to buy a better farm.  After spending countless hours on the internet searching for a new place, I realized the price of good farm ground in the area we want to be has gone up so much that it is more than I had thought and was willing to go into debt for. After seeing last week where there was a farm that sold for 21,000.00 an acre I see why.

Our current farm we paid cash for it and was one of the reasons we bought it because we wouldn’t have to go into dept for it.When I wrote a post about Plan Your Farm one of the 10 steps I suggested for small beginning farmers to be successful was to stay out of dept. When I wrote that I strongly believed what I said and I still do. It goes against my ideals of living self-sustaining where the farm pays for itself.   I don’t want to lead others who read and follow my blog into this pitfall of borrowing if you can help it. Borrowing money cost you money and you end up paying three times or more for a place if you borrow instead of paying cash.

So when I put our place up for sale my thought was if we didn’t find anything we would just not sell our’s. But that thought changed when the state of Iowa had contacted my realtor about buying my land. Our farm butts up against Stephens State Forest that has over 6500 acres of forest and our land would give them an access to the western part of the White Breast unit. I am confident that if we do decide to sell again and find a place we would like to sell ours for, I am sure the states offer will still be there.

  At this time we are keeping our current farm, and our 40 acres may have to be enough for us and we will just make the best farm we can of our land and scale down our plans for the number of cattle I will have on our place.


About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
This entry was posted in Farm Report. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Milligan’s Gander Hill Farm Taken Off the Market

  1. purlygirl2 says:

    Good post. You just need to settle down.


  2. bc says:

    Farm bubble?

    To compare, our limestone-rich farm with two large cities within two hours (Toulouse and Bordeaux) cost 4000€ a hectare, which is about 2.5 acres, although in the last two years it has gone up somewhere around 50%.

    I can’t believe the prices where you are!

    You can always run something more intensive than beef cattle, or go multi-species. You could milk.

    • Thanks Brent, I think the farm market for good crop ground is overheated in the state of Iowa and more then likely there will be a correction at some point. Everyone is investing in farm ground now and it has proved to be a more sound investment then the stock market.

      It sounds like it just isn’t happening here in the states but in Europe as well where you are.

      Your farm is one of the farms I am envious of, I would love to have a place like yours. Following your blog was one of the reasons I wanted a bigger place.

  3. I did a farm-walk last fall on a 40 acre farm in North-Central Missouri. They were grazing 36 head of cattle plus a couple of goats. I’m sure they didn’t take that many through the drought this Summer, but it’s doable in the good years.
    You should really try to get in touch with some of the folks with the Green Hills Farm project in Northern MO. They do a whole series of farm-walks throughout the year. Really good folks who know what they’re doing.
    And also, if you haven’t read or heard much of Greg Judy’s stuff, look him up. He’s a big advocate of “custom grazing” i.e. Leasing pasture from other landowners and grazing your cattle on it.

    • Thanks Andrew, I will check out Green Hills Farm and plan to do one one of their walk throughs. I will also check out Greg Judy’s Stuff, I have not heard of him before. Leasing some land is an option for me. That is something I will explore when we move there.

  4. Langela says:

    Sounds like you made a good decision, Gordon. Just remember too, that you’re not going to be getting younger, so scaling down will happen anyway.

  5. Zephyr Hill says:

    I hope you feel happy about your decision. I understand the excitement of looking for a new farm, but I’m sure there was something about this one that you fell in love with, and I think you’re really wise to stick with it, at least for now and to avoid going into debt. I went back and re-read your post on planning your farm, and I was impressed again with your motivation and determination. That will take you far, and I bet you’ll be surprised what you can do with 40 acres! And as Langela says, scaling down will happen with age, so maybe starting reasonably is a great place to start–less scaling down!

    • Thanks Susan, that is one of the big reasons we are keeping our current place is because we like the views from the building site and where it is located. You are probably right about scaling down with age. I got to be honest, I liked the idea of having more cattle but I wasn’t thrilled about developing a market for them and dealing with customers and all that goes with that. I am going to be more like you and your husband, just growing and raising for mostly for ourselves.

  6. Sandy Krell-Andre says:

    Sounds like a good plan. Who wants to go into retirement with a huge debt? It’s neat that you’re right next to a state forest. I wish you the best, distant cuz.

  7. calvert / glenda pitchford says:

    live simply,love generously,care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to GOD.

  8. Hi Gordon We are Russ and Debi Heron from Red Deer, Alberta joining in on your blog, we too are planning a farming retirement. Both of us have lived on farms (not our own, rented) raised hogs, chickens, cattle and horses. At present I work on an Arabian horse breeding farm. Just can’t get the outdoors out of my blood.
    What drew us to your website was we have been researching various breeds of heritage animals and plants. Have always loved the Highland cattle for their hardiness and now we are learning about Dexters.
    Our plans also include aquaponics, as we feel that we can learn this process of raising food and teach this to people so they can learn to feed themselves and their families. It is not expensive and with a little creativity you can be growing enough food to reduce the grocery bill substantially.
    Well it was nice to blog with your blog group. We will blog again. d:-D

    Kind Regards Russ and Deb

    • Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed my blog. I wish you luck in your retirement and farm. Sounds like you are doing the right things with all the research you are doing. I look forward to hearing from you again with your progress on your farm. I think that is a noble thing you wanting to teach people about aquaponics, I would like to see your aquaponics operation in action once you have it going.

      Best Regards,

  9. Beth says:


  10. Carla Harris says:


    I found your website because I want to find land and build a pole building house. Thank you for this blog and your story is about like mine and I am ready to get into nature and do something that I have always dreamed of. I live in Iowa and wanting to buy land in southern Iowa in 2016/2017. Your land sounds like it would be an area I would definitely be interested in, because I am hoping to find something butting up to DNR land. Please also keep me in mind along with the state. I want land to keep open and pass it on to my kids and grandkids and make it a family land.

    Good luck what you want to do sounds amazing!

  11. Isabella Goll says:

    According to a farmer that has cows he said you can have 5 cows for every 10 acres. This is the safe number to weather difficult times and lower cost in water/food.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s