Originally Posted by mainewoodsman
Hello I am in the military. I am saving money to buy land. I was wondering how big a piece would be sufficient enough to start a homestead. With a garden and orchard big enough to support a family. With a field for goats to graze and maybe a place to grow feed for the winter. This has been a dream of mine for a while and I have been saving. If someone can give there perspective on how much would be perfect I would appreciate it.
The size depends on the soil and weather conditions, i.e. what you can do on that land. (As some have mentioned, it is wise to get some with a lot of quality trees for use to heat your home later.) It is also wise to make sure the land has water on it or under it that can be tapped for well water to use in your home and to care for your animals and vegetations. Also, if the land you are looking at has a lot of rocks on/in it, creating a garden, a pasture and especially an orchard will be problematic. (Fruit/nut trees have a long tap root and, if those roots hit a hardpan, those trees will eventually die and all those years of work will be for naught.)
The best thing to do is research! Talk with locals and agricultural agents that know the area you're considering. Find out what has been grown successfully there and what minerals are deficient (like selenium and copper). Some of these deficits can be fixed by additives; some deficits mean you will need to purchase supplements for your animals...I'm speaking mainly of goats because that is what I raise. Also if there is a high iron content, that is not good to have. Another IMPORTANT thing to know is can the land you're interested in "perk", i.e. can a disposal system be created successfully in it?
Now as for size, you need to consider the size of your family and how much work all are willing to do to create/maintain the type of homestead you're all wanting.
Now, let me tell you what has worked for me. There were initially 3 of us with only 2 able to work and only one doing 85% of the work. Now there are only 2 of us with still only 1 doing most of the work. Still, because of the way I initially set this homestead up, I am able to maintain it.
We purchased 6 acres (one tract of land) that bordered an ever-flowing, spring-fed creek, has water standing under one acre where a pond could be excavated if I ever get enough money to get it done and the water flow (rain water run off) was slow enough not to carry the soil off before
I could get a cover crop on it to prevent that. The land is "sandy-loam" with red clay about 1-2 feet under top soil. It was solid forestry when we purchased it! (It was NOT a flood zone. It WAS agriculturally zoned. It was NOT isolated, yet was not right up close to neighbors either.)
We left about 1/4th an acre up near the state road before we started fencing. We set our trailer back into the middle of the acreage just in case the county every wanted to widen the state road. We left about half of these 6 acres for pasture because I wanted to grow our own hay for the small (3 does & 1 buck) I wanted to keep (meat & milk). (We planted endophyte free grass seed.) This small herd has provided ALL the red meat we have needed, as well as all the wonderful milk we use for a variety of things. We left about an acre for a large vegetable garden and fruit orchard; and started sewing "cover" crops on it to be tilled in and build the sandy loam up. (This size garden is more than enough to provide ALL our vegetable/fruit needs.)
We fenced the entire 6 acres, divided it down the middle with the fenced garden/orchard and let large Nubian goats and about 30 assorted fowl free-range
Thus, this 6 acres is plenty
(actually more than enough) to keep us pretty self-sufficient...food wise for sure.
As for as working the pastures and garden, we have used a DR Field & Brush Mower (same one since 1995) to keep any unwanted brush mowed and to mow the pastures for packing in the loft as winter hay for the goats. (We did not need a tractor.) We use an 8 hP Troybilt tiller for all garden usage; and it too has been working well since 1995. We built a large (about 30' x 50') barn for the goats, milking area and hay storage (plus a nice work room). We built a large (32' x 32') shed we subdivided into 4 sections (chicken house, tool shed, wood shed and slaughter pen). Both these are adjacent to the garden for convenience. We built a garden shed near there as well and a buck house in the back of the pasture. Our trailer is a single wide 12 x 65 three bedroom with 1-1/2 bath.
Even though our monetary income is near poverty, we created this entire homestead in such a way so as to owe no one anything; and this means we can survive off 6 acres very well.
Hope this helps.