The following information on evaluating a farm comes from Five Acres and Independence by M. G. Kains. Five Acres and Independence is also available to purchase in print.
Farms cannot be judged by score cards which give percentages or “weights” to desirable and undesirable features; because, for instance, a farm that might score perfect on every item except water supply would be worthless if there were no water or if the water were unfit for human and animal consumption. Hence, assigning weights or percentages might lead to erroneous conclusions. With the subject matter of Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8, especially, in mind, a better method will be to examine all the features of two or more farms and then view the matter in a broad, common sense way, making sure to cover the main points summarized as follows:
Location of farm. Owner. Address. Distance to shipping station, trading center. Condition of highways, in spring, in winter. Distance to schools, churches, nearest neighbors. Is telephone available? R.F.D.? Electric current for lighting and power. Total area of farm. Acres in crops; that can be used for crops; in pasture; in woods; in waste land; in roads, buildings, lots, swamps, lakes, etc.; in stump or brush land. Kinds of timber. Ease or difficulty of getting out timber or wood. Topography as regards economy of cultivation, irrigation, danger from erosion, flooding. Natural fertility as evidence by kind and character of forest and vegetative (even weed) growth. Present fertility as evidenced by growth of crops. Physical condition of the soil, adaptability to legumes, other kinds of crops. Natural drainage. Artificial drainage. Depth of soil. Kind of surface soil. Kind of subsoil. Water supply, source, quantity in dry summer months; winter months; cost of upkeep; supply in pastures. Buildings as suited to kind of farming to be followed. Adaptability to some other type; cost of upkeep; arrangement for economy of work. Desirability of dwelling as a home. Condition of fences, kind as regards cost of upkeep. Farm roads. Shape of fields. Nearness to farmstead. Kind of orchards, condition. Adequacy of trees for home use. Climate, as to growing season, days available for farm work, healthfulness. Neighborhood, character of people, available labor supply. Possibility of increase or decrease of land value. Possibility of selling. Possibility of renting. Desirability of farm as a strictly business investment. Desirability of farm as a home place to retire to. Adaptability of farm to changing economic conditions necessitating change of type; to enlargement of business; to diversification or improved organization of the business; to high yields of crops and desirability of livestock production. Sureness of market for major crops grown. History of farm as regards management of land with respect to keeping up fertility. History of region as to development and speculation in lands as affecting present price. Number of other well developed, successful farms in immediate vicinity. How long have they been farmed? What are some of the operators’ difficulties? How soon can the farm be made a going concern? Are taxes on this farm reasonable? Can the present owner transfer a sound title?