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Old 08-09-2011, 10:02 AM
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Default 1 acre homestead



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My Mother Earth News arrived yesterday. One article caught my attention titled "Start A Self-Sufficient 1 Acre Homestead. The title is a bit misleading since it talks about buying in hay to feed your cow, but overall a decent read.

Several years ago I purchased a book named "One Acre and Security". That was a very good book and I would highly reccomend ity if anybody is into that. It teaches how to keep a family of 4 on 1 acre.... even gets into making money... such as raisinng herbs or worm farming.

These titles are of particulr interest to me since I own 3/4 acre and am trying t purchase another half acre that is adjacent to mine. I will likely skip the dairy cow and would be more interested in making that 1/2 acre an orchard and keep my poultry in it, but wouldnt mind raising some summer lambs each year.

Also, should we see SHTF, I would want plenty of potatoes. You can raise enough CALORIES on 1/4 acre of potatoes for 4-5 people and even more with apples. if SHTF then We dont need to worry about vacations so raising cows and or goats would be back in my plans.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience/suggestions with such a small scale? The wife and I have talked about moving in a few years to several acres of land... mostly wooded and would love to homestead.
Old 08-09-2011, 11:06 AM
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Bring in some manure. That is my best advice this year. One acre is much smaller than you might think. Maybe it could be done, but it would be very hard.

Get a couple milk goats. We keep ours on 1/3 of an acre and it's dicey but if SHTF I'm sure neighbors would be willing to let them forage in exchange for some fresh milk or cheese.

Chickens are wonderful but make sure you build a secure pen or they will be eaten.

Plant your orchard NOW. Most of mine is 3 years old and none have fruit except the 5 year old winesap.

Start beekeeping. If you have a small acreage you could try one hive and see where it gets you. If you are worried about neighbors, camouflage it with some old junk. My bees are about 100 yard from my neighbor and they are only a nuisance when they swarm. Otherwise no one would even know about them.

Good luck with your purchase, even a little bit of land can make a big difference.
Old 08-09-2011, 11:29 AM
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As Gypsymoonfarm was saying, Protect your livestock. I would add protect your fruits and vegies too.

I've read several articles lately that complain about the high rate of theft in city garden lots. They say the economy is so bad, that the efforts of the gardeners are being stolen out from under their shovels.

Having an acre to grow food on is a good amount to start with. But you will need a way to heat/cook in your home if the shtf. Your acreage will not do that.

Keep with the small homestead animals. You should be able to grow food for chickens, geese, rabbits and goats with a pastorial grazing.

The reason I say geese is that they have a high fat content in their bodies for use around the homestead. They are good egg, meat and bug/weed killers. Let the geese forage in the garden after the plants have grown a bit and are no longer young and tender. The last reason that geese are a good animal for a small homestead, is they make great guard animals. The make enough noise to wake the dead and will attack any threat that enters their domain.

If you want to graze your goats in the fruit orchard, you need to put a barrier around the lower trunks to keep the goats from striping the bark. You will be able to follow the goats with chicken and rabbit tracktors.

Having a worm bed will add food for the chickens and compost for the gardens. You will also be able to go fishing and maybe down the road raise fish in a tank on your property and feed them with an expanded worm farm.

Everything that you do on your property has to be as self-sufficient as possible. If you can't raise/make it yourself, you have to be able to provide that product through a second party. Is there a second party you would trust with providing this/these items. If so, you need to contact and talk with this/these people and see if they are willing to and if they have the capability of providing what you and your farm will need in the event of a shtf.

There is so much involved with becoming a self-sufficient homestead. There is a lot of work, trial and error and many rewards in the homestead lifestyle.

God bless and keep on prepping.
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Old 08-09-2011, 03:02 PM
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Yes, I tried homesteading on one acre for ten years. Just take my word on this one. I don't care WHAT the guy in the book said. That is not enough land to graze stock on. You don't actually have a full acre to work with. The house you live in will take up some of that ground. So will a driveway to get into the property. And a well house. Etc.

I would not try it, again, with less than 5 acres.
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:25 PM
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I have some what poked a stick at this topic before, and what I have come to realize is that its not going to happen on my 1/4 acre small town lot. www.Battlegroundwashington.com.

So, what can a persan do then? I will say how I see it is this. Find out what is your comparative advantage, what is it that you do the best at in terms of gardening. For me right now its string beans, bluebarrys, raspberrys, and tomatoes just to name a few. The key hear is to grow more than you need so you can trade or sell the surpluss for what you can not grow, or make.

Plant trees for the wood stove, some that are fast growing, and some slow growing. Think short term, and long term. Save your plant pots, I always try and get baby plants, and put them in the pots for latter use, or trade. This is including trees. Plant your trees if possable to hide your garden, and critters.

Live stock, I say keep it small, and keep them horny. Unlike your teenage kids, you can eat, or sell off your live stocks babys.
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:45 PM
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Take TMEN with a grain of salt (or several). I read it all the time, keep back issues, et cetera et cetera.

I don't know what they used to be, but nowadays they have a nasty habit of sugarcoating things and being notoriously optimistic.

My favorite is the Dervaes Family. I think what they are doing is great, real cool, admire their ability to be mostly self-reliant on a 1/10th acre lot...

...but TMEN, in their "They are doing it and so can you!" cheerleading frenzy, consistently forgets to mention that they are doing it in SoCal, with a 12-month growing season, and they buy all kinds of stuff.

I'm not saying it's a bad mag. Good guide for first steps. I still use it. Just... Don't smilingly believe everything they tell you. Keep your brain engaged while reading.

ETA: I like to think I'm as environmental as the next guy, all this self-reliance stuff got started for me as an effort to be more sustainable (realized I'm gonna have to do it myself as I'm never going to be able to afford to buy all our groceries at the local natural foods co-op), yatta-yatta-yatta. But they take it to a degree that gets, mmmmmm, irritating. Wish they'd start a separate magazine for all the 100-mpg car articles and political rants and stick to teaching self-reliance and personal sustainability.
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Old 08-09-2011, 10:16 PM
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I agree with Lady Fenix... minimum five acres.
For a time I had only five acres and was able to layout enough area for livestock, grain field, orchard, veggie patch and pond. Over 1/4 acre was for a compost heap!
The idea is completely doable, with lots and lots of continued effort.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:12 PM
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In the article in Mother Earth News the author IIRC states in the opening "If I had land" or something to that effect. In short he hasn't done what he is writing about, we have.

The soil, if it isn't good you ain't growing squat. Soil doesn't become fertile because you planted a seed in it. It takes work, lot's or work.

Water. We are going thru a pretty bad drought right now. We don't have a well and without our water supply district we would be sunk. We are actively working on a rain water harvesting system, but even with it and short of having close to a thousand gallons a person / family is in trouble.

Water for the garden, animals (our horses alone are drinking close to 100 gallons every other day, chickens 1 gallon a day), garden (no idea how much water), I hope y'all get the idea.

I don't mean to discourage anyone from homesteading, but it is a lot of work. Throw in temps running from 106 - 112 and it makes it that much harder to do, plus a full time job, and all of the other maintenance and upkeep required around the place, well, we stay busy.

Do I love what we do? Absolutely! It's just not all roses.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicktide View Post
My Mother Earth News arrived yesterday. One article caught my attention titled "Start A Self-Sufficient 1 Acre Homestead. The title is a bit misleading since it talks about buying in hay to feed your cow, but overall a decent read.

Several years ago I purchased a book named "One Acre and Security". That was a very good book and I would highly reccomend ity if anybody is into that. It teaches how to keep a family of 4 on 1 acre.... even gets into making money... such as raisinng herbs or worm farming.

These titles are of particulr interest to me since I own 3/4 acre and am trying t purchase another half acre that is adjacent to mine. I will likely skip the dairy cow and would be more interested in making that 1/2 acre an orchard and keep my poultry in it, but wouldnt mind raising some summer lambs each year.

Also, should we see SHTF, I would want plenty of potatoes. You can raise enough CALORIES on 1/4 acre of potatoes for 4-5 people and even more with apples. if SHTF then We dont need to worry about vacations so raising cows and or goats would be back in my plans.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience/suggestions with such a small scale? The wife and I have talked about moving in a few years to several acres of land... mostly wooded and would love to homestead.
Ugh. This again.
I'm going to assume that you know this, and just phrased the sentence awkwardly, but for those who don't:
THE HUMAN BODY NEEDS PROTEIN, FATS AND CARBOHYDRATES.
Potatoes will only supply carbs. You can't live on carbs alone.

Alrighty - that said, I think you can do it on an acre, but it will be very difficult. You'll have to have systems in place that must be kept in perfect balance.

Some ideas:
Pond -grow duckweed and feed it to your fish. Tilapia breed like crazy.
Amaranth - about 3,000 lb per acre in a good season.
Millet - very easy to grow, very high yield.
Chickens - will eat your insects and about any scraps you throw at them.
Kudzu - grows at an alarming rate, high in protein and you can feed it to....
Rabbits - A few hutches and the right nutrition will provide continuous meat or
Goats - also love kudzu and anything else - good for milk as well.

In short, you'll be using every square inch of space, have to stay on top of everything and make sure nothing goes out of whack.

Last advice -
Make sure you have a good source of water.

GOOD LUCK!
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:45 PM
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I haven't read this whole thread so I don't know if if this has already been suggested, but a good book I have about building small homesteads (less than 1 acre) is The Backyard Homestead, by Carleen Madigan.

First, its not going to answer every question you will ever have but theres nothing like it out there for the basics of farm life. Everything I have tried so far was spot-on.

For a SHTF book, there's better stuff out there. But like I said, if you dont know a milking goat from a meat goat, never raised a Thanksgiving turkey or harvested maple syrup then this is a great book for you.

EDIT: A claim from the back cover "From 1/4 an acre you can harvest 1,400 eggs, 50 lbs of wheat, 60 lbs of fruit, 2000lbs of vegatables, 280lbs of pork, 75lbs of nuts" So basically you can possibly feed a small family 3 on 1/4 of an acre.
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:19 AM
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So much depends on climate, soils, water, etc. that I would not want to try to be totally self-sufficient on only one acre. 10-30 acres would be so much better.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:17 AM
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Thanks everyone. This brought up some thoughts. As it is now I raise chickens (raised cornish crosses this year - very tasty, and I keep a small flock of layers), pair of ducks and a pair of geese... at leats I hope they are a pair. I have 2 pech trees that are duing well, a young cherry, several wild cherry trees, and a plum tree. my apple tree died.

Water is why we want to move eventually. I want a fisdhing pond. As of now, I have an above ground pool for short term water... it woudl need filtered and sterilized but it's 14k gallons ready to go. The water table is very shallow here. 4 feet at places is what the surveyers tell us.

I know that apples and potatoes dont provide a complete diet... just plenty of caloroies. My great Grandfather (son of a German immigrant) made his money during/just after the great depression. He grew potatoes so when everyone else was working (if they were lucky) just to buy food, he had potatoes every day. He supplemented his diet with eggs since every street corner had someone selling eggs fairly cheap. He saved his money and bought a fairly large orchard for pennies on the dollar. When the economy recovered, he was pretty much set and retired as a wealthy man.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:50 AM
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The part around my house is 1.33 acres not big enough to do anything meaningful.

I have some more property but have not put a well in over there yet, I want to build on it and set it up off grid so I can bail on my mortgage since I hate my mortgage company and the electric co-op out here.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:50 AM
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I think it can be done. You will need to be focused. A greenhouse could greatly increase your production. Look into aquaponics. Read "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin.
Have each thing you raise compliment the others. You would probably need irrigation if you have dry spells for any length of time. A mix of plants and animals would be most efficient.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
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The part around my house is 1.33 acres not big enough to do anything meaningful.

I have some more property but have not put a well in over there yet, I want to build on it and set it up off grid so I can bail on my mortgage since I hate my mortgage company and the electric co-op out here.
I wouldnt say nothing meaningful on 1.33 acres. In Nicaragua (I visited last summer on a mission trip) everyone that has 10 square feet has a banana tree and some squash or something. Anyone that has 50 square feet of land has chickens, maybe corn... this is how these people live... or atleast make ends meet. Little old ladies come by selling plantain chips and some grape like things. Im one that feels every bit helps plus it is a learning expeience, even if you cant realy homestead, having some is better than nothing.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicktide View Post

I know that apples and potatoes dont provide a complete diet... just plenty of caloroies. My great Grandfather (son of a German immigrant) made his money during/just after the great depression. He grew potatoes so when everyone else was working (if they were lucky) just to buy food, he had potatoes every day. He supplemented his diet with eggs since every street corner had someone selling eggs fairly cheap. He saved his money and bought a fairly large orchard for pennies on the dollar. When the economy recovered, he was pretty much set and retired as a wealthy man.
Awesome and inspiring story. Just made my day.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:09 AM
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Just remember that not even 'Little House on the Prairie' was totally self-sufficient. Even they purchased food/medicine items at the local Store.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:11 PM
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Please keep in mind that "Mother Earth News" and other such magazines are geared to people that have the money to put into a project like this. Take a look at what they have.

They are building chicken tractors, garden fencing, rain water collection systems, digging ponds and putting in talapia fish, buying a used tracktor and adding a root celler to the homestead and .......it goes on and on. You have to have $ to do things like this.

I like to look at magazines like "Country Side", "Backwoods Home" and "Grit" magazines. These are more in line with the current poor economy that most of us are feeling. Reading these magazines mean that you will be putting in a lot more muscle of your own to get it done.

Don't plan on moving onto a piece of land and having a successfull homestead up and running over night. It takes time, patience, diligence and a lot of muscle.

God bless and keep on prepping.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramona M. Faunce View Post
Please keep in mind that "Mother Earth News" and other such magazines are geared to people that have the money to put into a project like this. Take a look at what they have.

They are building chicken tractors, garden fencing, rain water collection systems, digging ponds and putting in talapia fish, buying a used tracktor and adding a root celler to the homestead and .......it goes on and on. You have to have $ to do things like this.
Ain't that the truth.
That magazine cracks me up.

People living off the grid, spending 30k to do it - not for any pressing need or future survival, but to reduce their carbon footprint

Or how about all the ads in the back for $200 PVC composting bins.
Or the $2000 composting toilets
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramona M. Faunce View Post
I like to look at magazines like "Country Side", "Backwoods Home" and "Grit" magazines. These are more in line with the current poor economy that most of us are feeling. Reading these magazines mean that you will be putting in a lot more muscle of your own to get it done.
Thanks for the suggestions! I've been looking for valuable information like this. When my husband was recently in the hospital, my sister-in-law brought me a copy of The New Pioneer magazine to read and I haven't been able to find any current issues ANYWHERE. And knowing MoEaNews isn't very pratical, I will def check these suggestions out.
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