How big is a homestead?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mommalee, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Mommalee

    Mommalee Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious, how much land would you be looking for if you were a family of 5? Right now, we don't know much about homesteading as we still feel like city slickers even after 2 years in the country. But when we have our "own" place, we want to slowly begin to become more self-sufficient, growing more and more of our own food, but I honestly have no idea how much space this would take. It seems like it would be a lot. I know how much it costs to BUY that much food and how many carloads I bring home each month! Anyway, if you were us, what would you be looking for?
     
  2. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    It depends on if you want to keep critters, what KIND of critters, and raise your own grain, I think.

    I ALSO have a family of 5, and only $20-$30 of the grocery bill is due to fruits and veggies. The rest is meat, milk, and grain products.

    I believe that one acre would do us for grain, and 1 acre would do us for fruits and veggies, and chickens and rabbits don't take up much room. But, you might enjoy milk, beef, lamb, and so forth and they DO need room!

    AND, as soon as you start talking chickens and such, you need more grain unless you buy all of their feed.

    So, how much land you need depends on what you want to raise.

    The one acre we have at our house provides us with honey, eggs, christmas trees, and some of our fruits and veggies.

    After thinking about it, I have decided that I am very fond of citrus and bananas, not to mention winter time salads. I am not trying to raise all of our own fruits and veggies. I enjoy our berries, pears, corn and such and I buy the tropicals and out of season produce when I wish them.
     

  3. Mommalee

    Mommalee Well-Known Member

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    I guess in my abstract dreaming I'm thinking of grain and definitely dairy. We could live without beef as long as we had poultry. You say and acre for grain for the family, then how much for the birds? Guess that depends how many birds, lol.

    You make GOOD points about varieties of fruits and veggies. I do love the tropical fruits and would probably still buy them no matter what I was producing for myself. There are lots of luxuries that I would never give up voluntarily.

    What's really on my mind a lot is not that I want to grow and make everything for myself, but what would I need on hand to do that if I had to? Since we can no longer trust our own government to keep us safe, we're suddenly realizing how many skills we lack that we might be needing in a state of emergency. I don't think each family will be totally on their own, rather we'll be depending on each other much more than we do now. I just want to have something to offer, not to wind up always being the one in need.
     
  4. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Two books that will help answer your question in detail, as well as offer inspiration and ideas are
    The Self Sufficient Life and how to Live it By John Seymour
    and
    Country Life by Paul Heiney

    Each has a description of homesteads of increasing size and what you can expect to accomplish on them. The diagrams of suggested layouts really get you thinking on the right track. How to do rotations, etc...
    Their idea of a large homestead is around 10 - 12 acres. They consider that quite a lot of land to manage. Of course, your talking about almost every inch in use. I don't think any of their samples included much of a woodlot for firewood in a cold climate.
     
  5. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are a lot of variables in the answer to that question. Depending on what you want to raise and grow and where abouts in the country you want to live. For example here in western wa. we have a very mild and wet climate, drop anything and it will take root. Pastures are lush so less land is needed for animals. On the other side of the state, where we also have land, its drier and the temps. are more extreme. You need a lot more land per animal for grazing. If you stick to small animals you can do very well with a small space.We have a small orchard, berries,raised veg. beds, 3 hives, chickens and rabbits in a space not much bigger than a couple of city lots. We put all that in one area so we could afford to fence it to keep deer out of the veg. and stray dogs and coyotes away from the animals. We also have woods which are important for heating and we have pasture. In total about 5 acres.Before our kids were grown there were 5 of us too, we grew and raised more than enough for us on this land.
     
  6. TxCloverAngel

    TxCloverAngel Happiness is Homemade

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    I agree!! I LOVE this book! My sister got if for me 2 years ago for Christmas... I STILL call her at least once a week and say THANK YOU!

    We are a family of 7 and have 5 acres... large garden, fruit trees nut trees, 40ish chickens, 3 pigs (for freezer), 2 pygmy goats. and have more goats on the way. At the moment, we are only using 1/2 of our prop... when more dairy goats come we will expand to the back half.. and throw out a cow. I think we have enough, but not if we needed to grow our own grains for feed.

    Of course I'd LOVE to have more... for more critters, more fruit trees, and to be further "out" but we LOVE our 5 acres :) and never plan to leave
     
  7. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Muscovy ducks have excellent meat that is dark and beef-like. They don't require ponds and are happy on not a large land parcel. The bonus is excellent eggs and the ducks hatch their own if you want more produced.
    You can grow a lot of your own food for the poultry flock on about 1/2 acre including greens and storing grains like field peas, sunflower, and maybe buckwheat. For family grains, I should think an acre at minimum. It's labor intensive to manually produce grain, but not impossible.
    For dairy, you'de want to consider goats for a small area.
    2 to 3 acres would be compact, efficient, and productive doing something that includes the above.