Securing your smallholding or farm

Securing your smallholding or farm

Farming and agriculture West Country Life

As with anything, there are some risks to having a smallholding or farm. Thefts frequently cause big problems, and it could even threaten your dream of running a smallholding or farm.

Whilst we can’t convince thieves that they shouldn’t steal, we can give you some advice on protecting your piece of countryside. Animals and equipment are the most commonly targeted, so protecting them could make a huge difference in a thief’s success.

Animals

Livestock is valuable, and thieves know that. There has been an increase in livestock theft across the country in recent years, so keeping those gates and fences secure is even more important. We also recommend that you tag your animals, or use a permanent labelling system such as tattooing. Alongside this, you should also keep an accurate log of all your livestock, as well as up to date photos. If your animals do get stolen, you’ll then have plenty of records to identify them, and thieves will find it harder to do anything with tagged animals.

You could also partner louder, aggressive animals with more passive animals in order to deter thieves. Llamas are notoriously aggressive, and the noise of guinea fowl would send anyone running.

Equipment

Your farm or smallholding is probably littered with expensive equipment which you can’t afford to have disappear. Thieves know this too, so it’s important to keep your tools, quad bikes, tractors, and everything else safely locked away.

Using robust locks can really help, just make sure you haven’t ‘hidden’ the key somewhere obvious (those fake rocks don’t work, and the thief will definitely look under that flower pot). If you can, install a keypad entry system to any outbuildings that you store expensive tools and items in. If you have an item such as a quad bike or tractor, make sure that you haven’t left the ignition key in, instead keep it in a secure place.

Another tip is to use etching or UV marking on your tools and equipment. Once marked, thieves will have trouble selling them on and they’ll be easily identifiable as yours. You should also keep a record of your equipment, including model, serial number, and proof of purchase.

General

There are also a few general things you can do on your smallholding or farm to deter anyone from breaking in and taking off with a goat and a tractor. Security lighting is a simple yet effective way to scare off possible thieves, and metal bars across windows on outbuildings will take away their chance to squeeze in.

Blocking off any unused access is also important, and put up signs on used entrances stating that your animals and equipment are closely monitored and security tagged. You should also take out specialist smallholding insurance, this may prove cost effective when compared to the replacement value of any stolen goods.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

5 things you should be doing on your smallholding in October

5 things you should be doing on your smallholding in October

Farming and agriculture

Having a smallholding is 24/7, 365-days a year job, and so there’s always something to be done no matter what time of the year it is. If you’re thinking of making the big move, or are about to embark on the exciting journey of having your own smallholding, you may be wondering what you would be doing right now.

In reality you might be sat on the sofa in your pyjamas, or sat at a desk looking at spreadsheets, but for now we’ll imagine that you’re out on your smallholding. You’ve got your wellies on, your hands are covered in mud, and there’s a big smile on your face as you carry out your October jobs…

Picking the last vegetables

Your smallholding is home to some delicious fresh vegetables, but unfortunately we’re now coming towards the end of the harvest so it’s time to get those final spuds, beans, and courgettes picked and brought inside. You can store these vegetables and pop them into your winter stew, perfect for when the colder weather sets in.

Bringing delicate plants inside

Your herbs and other delicate plants have been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, but soon the frost will set in and they will really suffer. Now is the ideal time to bring in those plants that won’t survive the cold. The inside warmth will keep the plants happy, healthy, and thriving.

Start planting

You may have just finished picking those broad beans and peas, and now is the time to put some seeds back in the ground! Planting vegetables such as onions, spinach, peas, and broad beans in October means that you will have lovely produce ready in the spring. Vegetables take time to grow, so getting them in now is necessary.

Check your outbuildings

October isn’t too bad for weather, but we all know that strong winds, heavy rain, and even some ice and snow will soon fall upon your smallholding. The winter months is the most likely time for damage; broken fences and fallen roof tiles are just some of the problems you may face. Give every fence panel and post a thorough check, and get on a ladder and take a look at the roof of your outbuilding.

Start moving livestock

Your animals have probably had a great summer outside, but from October onwards you should start moving your animals indoors. As the ground gets wetter, and the temperature drops it’s vital to keep livestock warm and dry. You’ll also need to start getting in plenty of bedding and food to keep them going over winter. Oh, and be prepared for lots of mucking out!

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

What matters more, the land or the property?

What matters more, the land or the property?

Buying property with land West Country Properties

If buying a house isn’t hard enough, buying a smallholding or farm can be even more daunting when it comes to knowing what you want.

You’ll no doubt have already pictured the type of property you’d like to live in and the land that comes with it, but which is more important?

Here’s a few key points to help you decide…

Land

Keeping livestock? Growing produce? No matter what it is you’re going to be doing on your smallholding if high quality land is needed to make it a success then this should be at the very top of your priority list.

This is particularly important if the land is going to be your main source of income going forward. Many families and couples will move to the South West and maintain other sources of income in a trade in which they’re already operating. If this isn’t you then the last thing you want is to be uprooting later down the line due to poor ground conditions having ended up in what you wanted to be the forever-home with the wrong land.

Remember, in many places across the Westcountry, you’ll have to pay a premium for land; make sure you work out how much you need to make your venture a reality. Just like buying a house, you don’t want to end up lumbered with a five bedroom property when there’s only two of you!

Space

Seeking a better life for your family in the countryside? Perhaps you’re hoping to start your own family later down the line? Having said that the land you buy is important, we also understand that no matter what your circumstances, you’re wanting to call this home, not just now but in the future. Weigh up where you’d like to be further down the line and address this in the amount of space you move into.

Property

From large, five-bedroom detached farmhouses to smaller three-bedroom bungalows, smallholdings can come in all shapes and sizes.

Ultimately the type of property will depend on your budget, the purpose of the farm/smallholding and the amount of space you need. If you’re hoping to buy a smallholding to run alongside your day job, then the likelihood is the property will be more important than the land. Equally, if the land is a priority then your focus may be less so on the property.

So where do your priorities lay? Have you discussed them?

Price

The price you pay for a property will also be affected by the location. For example, a four-bedroom house with 32 acres of pastureland near Dartmoor will set you back in the region of half a million, whilst a four-bedroom property with 10 acres of land and sea views in Cornwall will leave you with little change out of £1million.

Decide what is more important to you, both in the short and long term, before signing on the dotted line.

The best of both worlds

More land, smaller property? Larger property, less land? Why compromise, when you could have both?

Here at West Country Dream we can find your perfect property with our Land and Property Search service. For more information, call Helen on 07816 514667 or complete our enquiry form here.

Right to roam on a smallholding or farm

Right to roam on a smallholding or farm

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

With more than 6,000 miles worth of public footpaths stretching across Devon and Cornwall, if you’re looking at buying a smallholding or farm you’ll need to be aware of any rights to roam on your land and what it means for you.

We take a look at all you need to know about public access on your smallholding or farm……

What are public rights of way?

Public rights of way legally permit anyone to access land via designated paths.

The two main types of paths that could affect you as a landowner are:

1. Public footpaths: only open to walkers.
2. Public bridleways: open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists.

How are they outlined?

Public footpaths can be marked differently depending on the whereabouts of the farm or smallholding.

The most common form is a white or yellow arrow with a green background pointing in the direction of the path. It will also state clearly whether it’s a footpath or bridleway.

These signs are at all footpath junctions and are maintained by the local Highway authority.

If routes are difficult to follow, waymarks may also be used. These arrows may differ in colour under the system recommended by Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales.

Who is responsible?

The majority of footpaths and bridleways in England and Wales are maintained by the local authority and its Highways department. If your smallholding or farm has a public route you will also be responsible for some elements, which we explain below.

Your responsibilities

Although much of the responsibility lies with the local authority, as a landowner there are some areas you will be accountable for.

These include:

Keeping routes clear — All footpaths must be free from obstructions such as padlocked gates, fences, hedges, and wire mesh. Remember paths can be open to both walkers and horse-riders so ensure vegetation does not impinge on the routes.

Field-edge paths — Any cultivation must be at least 1.5 metres away from a field edge path and 3 metres for a field edge bridleway.

Cross-field paths — Although the Government advises not cultivating land with cross-field paths, it does allow it, providing the path surface is restored 14 days after crop cultivation or within 24 hours for subsequent cultivation. Visit the Government website for full details https://www.gov.uk/guidance/public-rights-of-way-landowner-responsibilities

Stiles/gates — Must be maintained if they’re on your land. Some of this cost can be claimed back from the local authority.

Crop sraying — Use approved pesticides if spraying crops in a field that has a public right of way.

Additional signage

If paths need to be marked clearer, the Government permits you to install additional waymarks (which can help to avoid people accidentally wondering through all of your land). Signs should also be put up to warn the public of any potential dangers such as slurry pits or animals.

NB: Signs that are misleading to the public can be removed by local authorities.

Livestock in fields with footpaths

If you’re considering buying a smallholding or farm bear in mind the law states certain types of dairy bulls over 10 months old are forbidden from fields with public rights of way.

All other types of breed are allowed as long as they are accompanied by cows or heifers.

Walkers’ rights to roam

Farmers and smallholders are protected by certain laws, which apply to walkers and their dogs.

If walking through a field with cattle, dogs must be kept on a lead that is no longer than 2 metres, at all times. This also applies from March 1 and July 31 to protect ground-nesting birds.

Does the farm/smallholding have any public rights of way?

Avoid any surprise visits from the public by checking if there are rights to roam on the land before purchasing a smallholding or farm. This is something we can do for you when searching for your ideal property.

You can also check this with your local authority, which will have a map showing the routes.

Rights of way in Devon can be found here: http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/environmentplanning/public_rights_of_way.htm

Click here to see the rights of way in Cornwall: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/countryside/public-rights-of-way/public-rights-of-way-interactive-mapping/

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Considering buying a smallholding or farm? Whether you’re already searching, or about to start looking for your West Country Dream, you’ll need to be fully clued up on the type of mortgages available to you.

We take a look at some key points to bear in mind when seeking your perfect West Country property.

Is there an agricultural tie?

If you’re looking for a farm or smallholding, be aware that it may have an agricultural tie, which can limit the number of lenders available to you.

Agricultural ties, also referred to as Agricultural Restrictions, are sometimes applied to agricultural properties that have been built on a farm/smallholding where development would not usually be allowed.

This means it will have conditions that have to be met in order to live or buy that property. The most common rule is that the house ‘must be occupied by someone who is, or was previously employed, in the locality in agriculture’.

As a result, there tend to be fewer lenders who are willing to mortgage properties that have agricultural ties.

However, properties with ties tend to be much cheaper than those without, so if you don’t have a connection to agriculture you can apply to remove it or rent it out to someone who does!

Farm / commercial mortgage

Many mainstream mortgage lenders will often ask how much land is with the property. If it’s over a certain amount of acreage, you may need to find a specialist mortgage advisor.

A smallholding is usually defined as between two and 20 acres, with anything over this size classed as a farm. If you’re looking for a smallholding with minimal acreage for hobby farming, you could still be entitled to a commercial mortgage.

Using a lender that specialises in agriculture can be advantageous because they will have more knowledge of the industry. Make sure you shop around and talk to a variety of lenders to find a mortgage most suited to you.

Have a business plan

Planning to start up your own farm? Whether you want to keep a flock of sheep or a dairy herd, ensure you have a thorough business plan.

A business plan not only helps you to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve from your farm and how you will attain it, it is also essential to securing a mortgage.

Lenders often require evidence as reassurance you will be able to make the mortgage payments so what better way of showing them than by having a detailed business plan!

Do your research

Whether you’re buying a smallholding to keep a handful of sheep or starting up a dairy farm, do your research to find the most suitable mortgage lender.

The extra time invested initially could save you thousands later down the line.

Searching for a smallholding or farm?

We can help find your perfect property in the West Country, simply give us a call via our contact page or take a look at our land and property services.

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Planning a ‘mooove’ to the West Country and looking to keep cattle on a smallholding or farm? If so, we’ve highlighted five key things you should bear in mind when it comes to buying land suitable for cattle…

Purpose

Whether you intend to keep cattle for showing success or supplying milk to the dairy industry, knowing why you want to keep cattle forms the basis of any decision surrounding the purchase of land.

The purpose will help you to establish how much land you need, how many sheds and if you require extra space to cater for future growth. For example, do you vision producing and selling your own dairy or meat products?

If the answer’s yes, then you’ll need to take into account additional space for equipment, such as a creamery, and a suitable location that has good public access for when it comes to selling your products.

Size of farm

Planning to keep a few bullocks to maintain grass, or a medium-sized herd for milk production? Knowing how many cows you want (and need to give you revenue) is essential to determining the number of acres and sheds you’ll need and the price you’ll pay.

Looking to start off with a smallholding? An 18-acre farm with five-bed bungalow and outbuildings in the heart of the Tamar Valley, an Area of Natural Beauty bordering Devon and Cornwall, will cost just under £500,000 (click here to see property); great value if you’re looking for space for your family and a few cows!

Meanwhile, if you’re aiming to set up a large-scale dairy or beef farm, a five-bed house with 100+ acres will be into seven figures.

NB: Bear in mind the rule-of-thumb, which states around 1.5 to 2 acres is needed to feed two cows!

Type of acreage

No matter if your farm or smallholding is 50 acres or 100 acres, you’ll want the best pasture for your cattle to graze on or for crops to grow their winter food on.

The type of land you buy will affect the output and quality of your cattle; you’ll be pleased to know the soil types across the South West are suited to the vast majority of cattle breeds.

If you want more information about soil types, check out the Soilscapes viewer as supported by Defra: http://www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/

Housing

Keeping cattle is a full-time commitment, so when it comes to buying a farm or smallholding you’ll want somewhere you can keep stock all year around.

Fortunately, the South West’s mild climate means cattle can be grazed outside for the large majority of the year, but you’ll need housing for those winter months, especially if you plan to keep dairy cows.

A smallholding with sheds will be hugely beneficial, but have no fear if there aren’t any because there are other options. For example, is there space available and the possibility to gain planning permission for the housing of livestock? This is another route many farmers take to cater for their cows.

The future

What does the future hold for you? Already thinking about owning a large dairy herd, growing your own crops and installing revolutionary equipment to cater for a bigger output? Whether you’re looking for a smallholding or farm, always consider your next steps to save you having to uproot and restart your dream elsewhere.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

New year, new start in the West Country?

New year, new start in the West Country?

Buying property with land West Country Life West Country Properties

Whether you’re considering buying a farm or a smallholding, a common question that frequently crops up is ‘when is the best time to invest’?

With a new year, often comes a new start and here at West Country Dream we’ve been taking a look at why 2016 is the best time to invest in property in Devon and Cornwall.

Stamp duty tax on second homes

Looking at buying a smallholding or farm in the South West, but don’t want to part from your beloved home in the city?

Time is of the essence if you want to buy a second home or buy-to-let property without paying additional Stamp Duty taxes.

Last November the Government announced a new 3% surcharge will apply to each stamp duty band on any additional properties costing more than £40,000. The new rate comes into effect from April and will impact all second home or buy-to-let properties.

Therefore, if you’re considering buying a farm or smallholding this year, as the adage goes; there’s no time like the present, so buy now to save yourself thousands of pounds on extra taxes!

Take a look at the table below for a full break down on the tax rate increase:

Property value

Standard rate

Second home rate (April 2016)

Up to £125,000

0%

3%

£125 – £250,000

2%

5%

£250,000 – £925,000

5%

8%

£925,000 to £1.5m

10%

13%

Over £1.5m

12%

15%

Land prices

Over the years more and more people have realised the benefits of owning a farm or smallholding. From leading a healthier lifestyle to being your own boss, the hike in farm purchases has been reflected in the price of land, which has been climbing since 2005.

In particular, farmland has increased dramatically over the last five years, with figures showing a 52.8% surge in the price per acre from 2010 to 2015! The increase has been good news for people who own land, doubling or in some cases tripling the value of their farms, but it has meant higher prices for those looking to buy.

However, there are signs that prices will begin to stabilise over the next year, making it a prime time to buy that perfect property in the West Country!

Swap that city house for a smallholding in the country

Always dreamed of a fresh start in the country, where your children can play outdoors freely in the security of your own large garden? If the answer is yes, now’s the time to swap that city house for a safe-haven in the West Country.

If there’s one region where prices are guaranteed to increase, it’s London, and if you’re raising a family in the city, the chances are they will struggle to get on the property ladder. Extend your search to the South West and you increase the selection of properties available for the same amount in the city.

For a three bedroom terraced property on the outskirts of London priced at £600,000, you can buy a six bedroom detached property with five acres of land, outbuildings and stunning views in the heart of West Devon.

Looking for a view of the sea? A four-bedroom house on the seafront at Rock in Cornwall will easily set you back in excess of £2 million, but expand your search to just 13 miles up the coast to Tintagel and you could snap up a six bedroom house with outbuildings for less than £500,000!

We can help you find your West Country Dream!

Wanting to take that leap from city life to live a more laid-back lifestyle in the countryside or start-up a smallholding?

Now is the time to sit down and consider where you want to live, what type of property you want, what you want it for and more importantly, how much do you have to spend?

Having difficulty finding time to plan? Let West Country Dream do it for you. Get in touch with West Country Dream on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Hotspots for property investment in Devon 2015/2016

Hotspots for property investment in Devon 2015/2016

Buying property with land West Country Life West Country Properties

With Devon officially the best place to live in England [Country Life Magazine] and its population set to rise by two million over the course of the next 10 years, more people than ever are escaping the hustle and bustle of the city for a life in the country.

But with so many great places in Devon, the big question is where should you settle? We’ve taken a look at five popular places for people wanting to relocate to Devon with their family.

Dartmoor and southern Devon

Searching for a secluded smallholding that can still boast easy access to civilisation? Look no further than the rugged and rolling hills of Dartmoor. The national park is at the heart of Devon and boasts some of the most spectacular views and walks in the county.

Quaint towns like Chagford and Moretonhampstead on the northern edge of the park have direct access to the A30 whilst if you look further South, the market town of Buckfastleigh sits beside the A30.

The English Riviera, Torbay

Wanting to escape city life for a farm or smallholding by the sea? The English Riviera includes the coastal towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

With beautiful bays and long stretches of sand it’s a popular place with tourists, but patches of land and smallholdings for sale are often popping up in the surrounding villages.

Education plays a huge part of any move with children, so you’ll also be pleased to know the area boasts a strong education system, with nine secondary schools in Torbay and good road and rail links to the university cities of Plymouth and Exeter.

Tamar Valley, West Devon

Not sure whether to plump for Devon or Cornwall? Why not settle somewhere near the border? The Tamar Valley offers the best of both sides, stretching across 24 parishes from Bodmin Moor to Dartmoor along the Devon/Cornwall border.

The valley is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so no clues why people love this part of Devon! No matter how tucked away you are, farms and smallholdings have great access to main trunk roads and larger towns such as Tavistock and Plymouth; ‘Britain’s Ocean City’ is only a short drive away.

Barnstaple, North Devon

Further north is the market town of Barnstaple, a stones throw from some of the region’s finest beaches. You’ll also find Exmoor National Park just a 30-minute journey to the east; giving you plenty of options for things to do with the family!

Alongside the tourist hotspots, farming is a main contributor to the North Devon economy, with smallholdings and farms for sale in many of the surrounding villages.

Okehampton, West Devon

Always wanted to exchange that city home for a place where your children can roam safely outdoors? Known as the ‘walking centre of Devon’, Okehampton is popular with outdoor enthusiasts and also boasts cycle trails and bridleways. It’s even got its own castle!

Planning to commute to work everyday? The town adjoins the A30, providing direct access to the city of Exeter, which is a convenient 30-minute journey by car, as are most other places from Okehampton!

If you’re looking at moving to Devon, whether to find the perfect family home or to buy property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream at www.westcountrydream.com