Homesteading on completely wooded land?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cbcansurvive, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. cbcansurvive

    cbcansurvive Well-Known Member

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    In my neverending quest to find a place to settle and begin homesteading I've found some "candidate" pieces of land that are large and inexpensive enough. However, they are almost all completely wooded as opposed to other similarly sized properties of mixed woods and pasture or cropland. A heavily wooded property is attractive to us for the following reasons:

    -Privacy
    -Deer Hunting (In our area I've found that the deer will leave the meadows, etc...and head for deep cover a few days into the firearm season)
    -Heating Fuel
    -Woodland assessment
    -Logging the access road/homesite will give us a jump on firewood
    -Minimal landscaping and mowing (God's landscaping is just fine with me ;) )

    The state offers woodland assessment which requires no sales of timber products or firewood-just that the landowner have a woodland management plan drawn up, filed with the state, and renewed every 3 years. Since we're looking at properties between 10 and 15 acres we shouldn't have a problem generating enough heating fuel from the trees we cull every year along with blowdowns. This isn't even counting the many cords we will undoubtedly have to cut in order access the site and build.

    However, this will mean that cleared space will be limited. I'd be interested in hearing from folks about homesteading activities that can be done on heavily wooded land. Our goal is really subsistence from our own land, but I suppose if we found ourselves "good" at something maybe we would try our hands at turning it into a business, but I don't see that really coming into play until we retire. Here are some things that I figure would be good for forest land:

    -Beekeeping
    -Firewood harvesting/sales
    -Chickens and turkeys?

    What else?
     
  2. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    well you can grow most garden crops fine if you open up an area to the sun for your house..and drainfield..we have most of our gardens in an area around our drainfield and house with some other garden just south of our woods..but about 50 to 70 percent of garden crops grow fine with some shade.

    however.

    if you are planning on raising feed for animals you are likely to have to have more cleared land..you probably will find that it is easier filling your freezer with deer and turkey than raising a lot of animals on your wooded plot however you could run some chickens and other fowl and maybe a goat for dairy or two but myself i would just stick with wildlife and the chickens, turkey and maybe guinea hens or if you have water ducks or geese
     

  3. Txrider

    Txrider Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The only issue I would see is if you wanted to clear a large pasture at some point it would be a lot of work... or expense...

    But the wooded land may be cheaper than pasture land, and you have the option. Easier to turn woods into pasture, than pasture into good woods.
     
  4. strawhouse

    strawhouse Well-Known Member

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    We're on a wooded lot. The middle of the bush. We've cleard enough land for a large veggie garden. But we don't plan on clearing land to grow grain crops. We will always have to buy our flour etc, and animal feed. But we only have 4 goats, and are just getting a few chickens. It's not too much. We can sugar, and keep bees. And of course, lots o firewood. (Too much, actually)
    However..... I have been getting back in to a survivalist mindset again..... maybe I should re-think the grain thing.
    We chose bush over cleared land, it just suited us more. The protection from wind in the winter is nice. The wildlife is amazing. Though I just admire it, not shoot it!! :)
     
  5. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    We have 35 acres here, but only perhaps an acre and a half or so right around the house is cleared. I can raise all the poultry I want in here, and as I can afford it will also have goats and probably highland and/or dexter cattle. The plan is to fence off areas in smallish sections and turn the goats out first to clear all the underbrush. They will also eat the bark off the trees all the way around after they run out of other things to chew on, which makes it pretty easy to justify taking out the trees after a while. At that point I will move the goats to the next lot, modify the fencing on the first for pigs to work the ground and start working out the stumps as we go along. I don't really want to clear all the property, but we heat with wood and I think this will be a long process that should keep us in free heat in the winter, some milk and meat, and eventually I will have more space cleared to grow other crops that my smallish raised bed garden won't accomodate now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  6. cbcansurvive

    cbcansurvive Well-Known Member

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    When we clear the site for the house between where the, house, well, and septic will need to go we figure we'll end up clearing maybe two acres total. That should give us plenty of room for the garden.

    Nahh...we'll let the chickens/turkeys pick through the compost pile and supplement that with some storebought feed.

    The whole month of January is unlimited does, so with my own land I could easily fill the freezer for the year.

    Of course it will depend on where we end up, but if we come into a decent amount of sugar maples I would definitely want to try my hand at sugaring. How much do you produce from how many trees? From what I've read I've seen that 30 or so trees will produce about 10 gallons per year. That would be more than enough for us.
     
  7. PulpFaction

    PulpFaction Well-Known Member

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    I also wanted to add that from the woods, I can forage a HUGE amount of food for both myself and my animals. My rabbits dine very well on this stuff, and will for about half the year. Next year I may also put in a bee hive. There are so many wild flowers and wild roses and berries in the woods, I think they would do well. For my part, we got quite a few berries, rose hips and wild mushrooms out of there.

    Good old growth forest is VERY productive for these things, but younger forest with a dense undergrowth won't be so useful, though it would be easier to clear. Just something to keep in mind when looking at land.
     
  8. Mel-

    Mel- Well-Known Member

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    I was reading an article this summer on the internet that said to figure 4-5k per acre to convert from woodland to pasture. If I remember right this was some state publication and the article was geared toward large farmers.
     
  9. cbcansurvive

    cbcansurvive Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that's if you hire a crew to come in and clear the land in a matter of days or weeks. If I were to convert an acre or so to pasture (and likely won't) I figure I'd do it the way PulpFaction described-little by little.
     
  10. halfpint

    halfpint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have 8 acres with about 2 acres cleared for the house, garden, fruit trees and yard. The chickens forage in the woods more than they do the yard. We have been cutting back a little more each year since the trees get taller and shade more of the cleared area. We may cut a little more next year to put in more fruit trees. We get enough hardwood from 8 acres to heat in the south, but I'm not sure it would be enough in a colder climate. If our property were mostly pines we wouldn't be able to get wood from our land.
    Dawn
     
  11. Phalynx

    Phalynx Well-Known Member

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    I would want about 20 acres square, completed cleared in the middle with 200' perimeter of heavy woods inside my property line. I had completely clear and it was boring. I now how completely wooded and it is a lot of work to get it where you want it and so that you could use it. An area in the middle about 300' square would be perfect. If you are wooded around your house, you have to worry about storms, fire, and heavy winds knocking trees onto your house.
     
  12. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    If you decide to clear some of the land later, you may be able to sell the timber and not only get it cleared, but get paid to have it cleared.
     
  13. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

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    Where are you at? In some places wooded tracts have such poor soil that it is not worth much for anything else (rocks and hilly). In some places it is good for crops. In my Area most of the timber sights are so hilly and covered with rocks that if you clear it out you will have nothing but a place that you can hang on to.
     
  14. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

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    Its been my experience that wooded land is wooded for a reason..... poorly drained or shallow soils, excessive rocks or other issues that make it too much bother to try to reclaim and turn into productive farmland. In a homesteading situation however you may be able to find those smaller areas on the land that are more forgiving or conducive to crop production. Good luck in your endeavors.
     
  15. ChristyACB

    ChristyACB Well-Known Member

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    Hey CB - Just some stuff to consider if you like.

    -Many MANY people have your idea in mind and the wooded land is cheaper usually. But you'll notice that so many of those parcels, bought with such hope, come right back on the market. After purchase when you get out there you'll often find that wooded locations have stayed that way for a good reason. Soil problems, drainage problems, etc.
    -Where are you looking at because it makes a huge difference in what you can expect. In the Southeast a cleared part may need constant attention to prevent crazy vines and creepers from filling the void. You also might be getting mostly pines which won't help for your heating. So where and what it contains is huge.
    -If the parcel is being sold as recreational, it is usually for a reason. Often due to lack of decent access, not percing, bad for wells or some other problem. Consider those only with the most care.

    I'm with you, as are many others. The search for land is a tightrope of cost vs usefulness vs a vision in our mind. Not at all easy.
     
  16. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Go on and come up with a Fire Fighting plan. We are in fully wooded area, only the house and gardens are clear. After several woods fires nearby and hearing of the poor performance of the local Fire Dept, we decided to clear around our house and Cabins. We also had a woods fire on our property and we had to put the fire out ourselves while two members of the Fire Dept stood by and watched - only using a small hose from one truck and hoses only one area. My children were only ages 5, 11 and 14 at the time. The Fire Dept men stood there and watched while my children had to haul household type water hoses through the deep woods and down to the area of the fire which was spreading into the woods.

    The men said "let it burn till the Forestry" people arrived but they also admitted they had not called it in. The fire was put out only after a neighbor arrived with a tractor and shoved as much of the burning ground cover into the road and he shoved dirt over part of the flames. Other neighbors helped my children with the water hoses and one found my screaming 5 year old in the woods and took him to the house for me.

    Sorry - I did not mean to go off on a tangent about our traumatic experience - my point is to think now about Fire Fighting and how you will protect yourself and your property. You cannot rely on the Fire Dept people.

    What we did is to install 2 large Cisterns for water. 2400 gallons. We also have an additional 2000 gallon in above ground tanks filled with rain water. We have a gas powered water pump that we keep in a wagon (so it can be wheeled where we need it).

    Build a "burn pile" area for burning your debris and brush, limbs, leaves as you clear and for longer term burning. Ours was built near a spring where it is wetter naturally. We have a friend with tractor come make a dirt Berm around it and the gravel driveway is on the other side. When we need to burn, we wet the entire woods around the pile and wet the dirt berm and road.

    Stay safe and enjoy the woods. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  17. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Here is the deal... Where is more important than the rest.

    I see in earlier posts you were looking to eastern PA. If your talking the Pocono's. Fertility of Forested land can best be graded by the size of the standing timber. Most of the time in this area the mature forest is made up of trees in the 60-80 ft in hight range. This would be "average". If they are getting to 100 or so ft. You should have a nice sheltered parcel with deep soil. If they struggle to get more than 50 ft. It's on a wind swept ridge or the soil is very thin.

    If the stand looks young. Look at the type of trees. White Birch, Pin Oak, white pine. Means shallow soil. Soft Maple, red or white oak, and nut type. means deep soil. Cherry, Ash, hard maple will do ok in both. But grow taller in deeper. Tho, this can vary some.

    That's my 2 cents.
    Good luck.
     
  18. geo in mi

    geo in mi Well-Known Member Supporter

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  19. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    some people swear by raising cattle in the woods too, there are some places in Europe where the cattle browse the woods like deer, they let them loose into the woods and brand them, and then go and round them up when they want to butcher them..not milk cows.
     
  20. Txrider

    Txrider Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yup that's the case with mine. I bought a piece of what was once the edge of a large pastureland parcel cleared back in the 1940's, about a 1/3 of my property is woods, old live oak and cedar mainly, that has never been cleared.

    Reason being there's a 6-8 foot deep draw running through the woods the length of my property down that side..

    Fine with me, I want the woods to stay anyway, and it also gives me a great place to make an acre pond with a pretty deep bottom at the downhill end with what should be plenty of watershed to keep it full.

    But yeah in most areas at least here if it's still wooded it's usually because it has drainage or other issues.