Homestead in theory

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by For the Fun, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. For the Fun

    For the Fun Guest

    Just for fun....
    Lets say we create a homestead and each of you can bring in your own ideas to make this little place tic-toc like a clock.

    To start.... a modest one level home of 1800 square feet. 4 bedrooms/1bath on 5 acres of rocky soil in New England where the winters are substantial and growing season is short. You are connected to the power grid but outbuildings are not. The land is comprised of 2 acre lawn a small,tiny pond, small bog(1acre), mixed woods 75% hardwood 25% soft.

    Money is limited....say $35,000 year for family of 5, one parent working.
    Strong backs and good work ethics are plentiful. $500 mortgage, no car payments, no credit card debt, no student loans.

    What animals do you keep? What do you grow in a 20x30 garden? How/what would you do to make seasonal money? What do you do to the house to make it low maintenance? Heat with wood without completely clearing land?

    Bring on the ideas!
  2. I guess I would want to know just what your "outbuildings" consists of. Do you have adequate housing for the stock you would need? Room enough? 5 acres doesn't sound adequate to support any numbers of large stock at all, not even pasturage for milk cow. Do you have secure quarters for keeping poultry/waterfowl safe at night and suitable foraging acreage for them during the day, or would they have to be penned up 24/7? How about good perimeter fencing? This is important for many reasons.

    As for the house....what is your storage capacity for orchard or potato type produce etc......canned goods? Canning equipment? Basement? I don't think you have enough room for an orchard but maybe just a very few trees of varying fruits? Some which will need pollinators of a different strain. I am a fan of square-foot gardening and utilizing the "used" bedding from the ducks to put on it.

    I could be wrong here but I believe you are severely limited by space. However, that doesn't mean you can't use a scaled down operation for partial self-sufficiency. Like a good different produce in bulk for canning etc. Keep a very limited number of miniature stock and some good producing poultry/waterfowl strains.

    In your shoes I would start with your local County Extension Service..find out what the newest, hardiest types of veggies are for last and this year and those with fast maturing habits for your area. Ask about what are the biggest enemies there to a garden and prepare in advance.

    Good luck.......LQ

  3. Sorry, forgot to suggest joining your local Grange. Don't see that mentioned much but it is a great supporter of the farmer, rancher and homesteader. You can learn a whole lot from many people who have "been there and done that" not to mention make a lot of friends of like-minded people. Some of these people will have heavy equipment which you will need down the road. Tractors etc.

    They will also have good ideas about what magazines will be the most likely help for you.

    I for one am curious about what you are going to do...I hope you keep the forum up-dated.

  4. For the Fun

    For the Fun Guest

    We have a small barn we built ourselves 16x16 with attached 16x12 baker. Woodshed 12x20 split up for wood rotation (4bays) Another small 8x8barn for seperating goats(5preg does) along with woodshed bays as they are empty in Spring 1/2acre fenced pasture. 5 apple trees that are mature and neglected and buggy. The pasture is in need of refurbishing/rotation.

    House does not have a basement but a crawl space that is fairly clean, I suppose it could be used for cold storage as access is fairly easy. I do have ample pantry space and canning utensils including pressure canner. Is gas range worth switching to? We have electric.

    We dont have any issues with neighbors about the animals. We havent gotten chickens yet but they are on my short list of must haves. I am a little worried about starting chicks (warmth, dog and cat).

    We need to put up metal roofing on the house because we are tired of shovelling. Big expense!
  5. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

    May 10, 2002
  6. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    illinois but i have a homestead building in missou
    This sounds a bit like where I grew up except we only had 3.5 acres, about 1 acre of it clear for garden and no pond. We had a small one stall garage with an attached chicken house and a one stall stable tacked on and a cow shed in back Dad worked construction, Mom staid home and there were 5 kids and my maternal grandparents were there almost on a daily basis, particularly in the summer. We kept a lot of chickens for meat and eggs and we had a pony, which grazed on about 1/2 acre of scrub pasture. Our garden was bigger than yours and grandpa grew lots of veggies and we canned all summer. Corn, beans. tomatoes ,peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, winter and summer squash, melons various greens, onions radishes and potatoes. We also had grapes, strawberries, dwarf apples, pears and plums near the house. rhubarb and raspberries too. We were lucky to live near a huge blueberry patch and the old farmer that owned it let all us kids pick to our hearts content rather than see them go to waste. Those bushes were huge and there must have been near an acre of them. We also raised a small steer twice pasturing him on what grass we had and the summer before we butchered him, he was sent to spend the summer on my uncles dairy farm to fatten on his pasture. Uncle got a share of the beef so perhaps you can work out a deal with a neighbor who has some pasture. We had a similar deal with another neighbor for a pig. He had an old pig stye but was too old to mess with them. We used his pig pen in exchange for some fresh pork. We lived pretty good on that 3.5 acres.
  7. For the Fun

    For the Fun Guest

    I'm not sure that ducks or geese would make it. Our dog is free range bird dog. Also not big on goose(meat) sister raises them.
    I'm sure we would like chickens....what about rabbits?
    Possibly considering a veal calf and or a pig or two. Hoping to keep pigs in pen made of cedar posts and remesh buried 6" in ground. Should we put a board near the bottom until they are bigger? Hope to fatten with goat milk soaked whole corn, old bread and scraps. My children are home for the summer and a good source of cheap labor!

    We too have a favorite free spot for blueberries and raspberries....we share it with the bears mostly!
  8. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

    Dec 9, 2002
    You would be amazed what you can do on small acrage! I have two and a half acres and what I have now[ just starting our second year]is a eight hundred gallon water tank under shed roof with one side draining into tank [almost full] the other side goes to feed two wild roses. Next to shed by roses in portable chicken coop [ can be draged to different spots] with four laying hens, there pen is next to under old satilite dish so hawks cant get them and I let them out a couple hour a day. In our shed I shut up a wall half way and one side houses two rabbits[ four cages so could add meat rabbits if I wanted, and our two goats, could hold two full size milking does with babys or three dwarf milking goats with babys. on the other side is storage for up to twelve bales of hay. Door leads out to goat run and if I wanted to I could add another run at end of first run to rotate goats.Front yard has four , soon to be five raised beds which are five feet wide and twenty feet long each. Also have a eight foot wide by eighteen foot long herb bed and eight foot wide by eighteen foot wide blueberry patch which I will be adding three bush cherrys to this spring. also have a three tiered strawberry area in front also. Iam training grapes up the fence around the garden, there is four different typs of seedless grapes growing on fence, and am growing ten raspberry plants next to garden fence. Along another fence is six boysenberry plants and six blackberry plants. On side of hill I am growing jurusilum articokes which Iam letting naturalize. Down below on slope is a 1 acre orchard which has ten different fruit trees[ so far gophers and I are still fighting over them] two of which are dwarfs. We also are growing two wine grapes and hope to add hops along carport. In front is horse pasture [ about a acre] and if we didnt have the horses i would rotate sheep between that area and the orchard. so you see you can do alot with a small place!
  9. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2003
    NE Ohio
    You might consider raised garden beds if you have really rocky soil. Some people here seem to hate it, and others love it. We've always had good luck with it. We have a similar property: 5 acres, 2 in woods, small pond, smaller house. We raise our layers in a chicken tractor. It provides them with plenty of fresh grass. Of couse in New England they might need something a little warmer in winter. Our muscovies are great bug eaters. They fly well enough that the border collie hasn't gotten more than a mouth full of tail feathers! If you grow a little garden, think about what you like to eat the most, what preserves easily, and what you can't buy inexpensively at local stands. We heat exclusively with wood cut from our own woodlot, and from the woodlots of neighbors who allow us to take their dead trees. We only cut dead wood, and we've always had enough for Ohio winters (Not as bad as New England, but bad just the same!). Have you ever read the book Maine Farm by Stanley Joseph and Lynn Karlin? It's a great read for those who love homesteading and New England. Don't forget to get some perrenial crops in, like strawberries, and horseradish. I'll bet you can do a lot with a place like yours! Good luck!
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    East TN
    You're asking a very abstract question that only you can answer. We have absolutely no idea of your situation. Who works in the family? What hours do they work and how far? How old vehicles are and what demands are put on them?
    The best advice I can give is, don't be afraid to try anything, and don't be afraid or ashamed of your failures. Keep your priorities straight!
  11. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    Ok, I'm going to assume that since you have electricity, you also have access to a rural water system. If you don't, water would be my first priority.

    How much timber is on the property, and what size is it?

    I've seen several houses po-boyed down here, and the one thing they all have in common is sweat and access to cheap, but decent material. The reason I asked about the timber is whether there is enough to cut your house out of it.

    I would assume in New England you are looking at 2x6 walls (and if I was cutting my own stuff I'd use full, not nominal), and at least a roof of 5 on 12 to 6 on 12, along with a basement. Custom cutting costs about 150/thousand down in these woods, don't know what it is up there. If you have access to wood, many bandsaw mills can cut a nice ship-lap siding, or you could elect to use board&batten, batten&board, or even wood shingles (especially if you love to use a fro and a mallet. ;) ) Many small mills down here will cut on "halves", or you can always work part-time for a sawyer, and take your wages out in lumber (kinda cuts Uncle Sam outta the loop, not that I would do that). I knew a guy that built his house entirely from scavenged trees - if a storm pushed one down, or if one had to be cut - he'd cut the tree down, take the logs off and pile up the leftover mess, charging nothing.

    Trade out your labor if you can. Maybe there is something you can do for one of the skilled trades, that will help get your house wired, or plumbed, for a nickel or two less.

    Interior finish work can get expensive, so try to plan it well. Use your own 1x wood for the inside walls, or hang your own sheetrock. Make your own moulding. Buy middle of the line appliances. Buy returned paint at the borg - and mix all the whites together, blues together, etc. Consider your flooring, and what your flooring budget is, well ahead of time.

    Oh, one more suggestion - a small bathroom takes up but little space, about 8x5. With 5 folks, it's worth its' weight in gold after a tamale pie and habanero meal. :haha: .

    I'd start small in the livestock department - probably chickens. Add a pig or two, as you can. Sounds like you don't have room for cows, so perhaps a goat, or two (a good goat gives a surprising amount of milk).

    If your soil is not good, I believe I'd go the raised bed route. My father-in-law has always had good luck with the square foot stuff.

    Just a few suggestions, I'm sure others will have much better ones.
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    A couple of fruit trees and a couple of beehives to make them bear well.

    Honey bears to put the honey in can be bought for 35 cents each at bee supply stores. With honey selling at $3 a pound you could easily earn enough to pay for the mite treatments and such that the bees will need. Just put a "honey for sale" sign up at the road.
  13. Hypothetically, I live in New England on a similar spread. In theory, it is probably too small to really “Homestead” but you can have a good life on such a parcel and use the land to make some income. You need to start thinking like a Yankee and learn to capitalize on what have. Sort of adapt your life style to the land available. There are many ways to go about it but the first thing I would do is to get everybody working outside of the homestead, preferably for a decent company that will pay health benefits. Use the extra income (even if it is part time) to get your place set up the way you want it to be. Skip animals for now until you get “setup” to deal with them.
    If your land is wet think about converting the wet areas into ponds. You can raise both fish and or ducks in marshy land without too much trouble. You could also raise minnows, crayfish, worms and leaches to sell to bait shops for fishing (if you live in a fishing type area). Don’t like fish, then think about proper drainage to get the areas dry enough for growing something. Best things to grow in NE are things like lettuce and bitter greens. Do an amazon type search for Eliot Coleman. This author grows fancy lettuce and greens year round in Maine. These fancy greens fetch good money, grow very quickly and you don’t need a lot of land but you will need a greenhouse (coldhouse) to extend your growing season.
    Don’t bother to try and cut firewood off you land for heat. You simply don’t have enough land. Instead think about purchasing an outdoor wood boiler. Get a big boiler that can burn big wood. The boiler can heat the house, the outbuildings, the coldhouse and the pond if you want it to. You can get fuel for it by asking local tree companies for unwanted pine and large butts. They will be more than happy to haul you all you can burn. You could also feed it using the scraps from the portable lumber mill you were thinking about setting up on your property or from your part time tree service business.
    Use your wood lot (especially if it is wet) for growing cash crop mushrooms. You would need to find out what grows well in your area but I think all you need are some logs and some starter plugs. Fancy mushrooms fetch excellent money at local markets and with local restaurants.
    Ideal are plentiful but most require a little “seed” money. Do some research, gather some ideas, save some money and go for it. Good Luck
  14. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    $35,ooo yearly..... I sure wouldn't be looking for more opportunities to make money.
    I'd take 10 grand of that and put in a mega methane plant and pay off the mortgage with the rest. Until those two things were taken care of, I wouldn't sleep.

  15. Belle

    Belle Active Member

    Aug 11, 2003
    Sounds like this one is already built, so how self-sufficient do you want to be? You need another bathroom and it could include a mud/workroom setup for rough cleaning your produce. Too much lawn, not enough garden for a good variety, including strawberries, etc. Your bog can produce cranberries? Can you raise fish that far north? Fruit trees can be scattered for both landscape and food and so can your herbs in your flowerbeds. Square foot gardening in raised beds would be perfect for your land, and canned/frozen is my idea of food for the gods. My aunt made her own tomato juice and it was to die for. Dried and canned fruit--yumm!

    Money has to replace feed because you can't grow enough, but chickens and rabbits are space efficient and garden-related. If you really want to raise your own meat and want milk, your weather and outbuildings dictate a miniature cow with calf possibility--but hay is much cheaper if you buy all you need in the summer and store it (outbuilding space again). Fresh milk also means fresh butter, cheese, cream....but it is a lot of trouble and I would put it second or third year development. I like goatmeat but it doesn't replace beef and rabbit also has its own flavor. Do you hunt and fish and like the taste of game? Harvest wouldn't be dependent on your own land area, just the local WMAs and lakes.

    Seasonal money is whatever you have extra--veggies, eggs, bunnies, jelly, dried fruit, jerky. Then there is the skill of your hands: carved walking sticks, traditional dreamcatchers made from your own sinew and tree branches and feathers, windchimes, yard decorations, tanned skins (not my thing), quilts and other hand sewing, handmade furniture--they can sit in yours for a demo--like porch swings, benches, and you need to like what you do 'cuz if it catches on you'll be doing it alot.... If you are a handyman type, I like to hire the honeydos I can't do myself from the paper rather than get a big company from the yellow pages, and you could schedule around your job.

    Low Maintenance Housing?!? No advice, I'm from a warm part of the country, except the usual stuff like storm windows or double pane glass, etc. Wood heat, same answer.