How much land would you need?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cybercat, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. cybercat

    cybercat prowler of the internet

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    Hi all,

    DH and I are looking to buy some land to grow our own food. He is from farm stock grew up farming here in PA. I am from small garden and breeding animals for sale in the city/ rural. We have been looking for property but I am wondering how much would it really take to do what we want.

    Ok now since DH comes from a big farm he thinks that the least we can do is 30 acreas. His methods are geared to big land he was not trained for smaller pieces. The old family farm was 300 acreas now houses. He also is used to farming here in PA and does not understand Southern farming.

    I grew up in FL on over 1/2 acrea of land. We garden alot inside and out. When I got my own place 1 1/2 acreas I garden and bred dogs. Now I know gardening is different than big farming. We never used a tractor at all. But I do know how to make the most out of a small piece of land.

    Now here is what we are planning on having: atleast 2 cows one for milk one for meat at most 3, 2 pigs for meat and breeding, chickens for eggs(not sure yet how many not more than 5 I think), possible a couple of ducks and land enough for a vegtable garden, herb garden and corn/hay field for food in the winter for the animals. Area that we are looking into is around TN. Animals will be pastured most of the year.

    What is the least you think we can get away with in acreas? I know alot depends on the property itself and we won't have all this at once either. What we are planning is final goal. We are still planning on cost for many things and if we buy bare land or with a house. I am just wondering if we can do this with less than 30 acreas. I know it is possible without the cattle but with them is it possible?

    I have money stocked away and if the right place come up I would like to be able to get it. If we can do it on smaller than 30 acreas that means we will be buying sooner. Thanks for any help you can give here.

    Tamara
     
  2. FolioMark

    FolioMark In Remembrance

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    Plenty of people make do on 5 acres in this world and a lot get by with less. When i was a kid, my folks raised five kids on 3.5 acres. We had a huge garden which supplied most of our veggie needs through the year. We kept as many as 75 chickens, a pony and a steer for beef on that ground, although the steer did go and spend part of the summer at my uncles larger farm to fatten on his larger pasture and to keep the milk cows company. We also had fruit trees and grapes and berry bushes, strawberries and rhubarb. And all this was in New England with rocky soil and a relatively short growing season. I suspect 5 acres in the south with decent soil would do you pretty well if you managed it right. Unless you have a use for a lot of milk, I would consider goats instead of a milk cow. Another acre of wood lot if you needed wood for heating and maybe another acre of good grass if you wanted to keep more stock might be nice, but I would say 8-10 acres would be an embaras de richesse. You might want to look at a book called The Self Sufficient Life and how to live it by John Seymour DK publishing ISBN` 0789493322
    Its written by an englishman and discusses what can be done on 1) urban garden
    2)1 acre 3)5 acres Its wonderfully illustrated even has plans for farmsteads of each size and how to divy them up. Its a wonderful book and Im sure you would find it useful. There are actually several slightly different versions of the book, but you can find it at most good bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Borders. Your library might even have it. Its well worth the purchase price and easier to carry around than Carla Emerys Encyclopedia. good luck. :)
     

  3. thelowefarm

    thelowefarm Member

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    I think the issue is whether you're producing just for yourself or to sell. We're only using 4.5 of our 56 acres and we have sheep, chickens, milk cow, beef calves, pigs, donkey, dogs, cats, kids and a garden going great. We find it cheaper and easier to focus on our animals and pasture and leave the haying to someone else. We buy our winter hay for much cheaper than having to buy, maintain, and store all the tractor and equipment and seed and fertilizer, etc. to grow it.

    We might change our mind in the future, but coming from a row crop background, we find it much more enjoyable to focus on animals than crops and are able to get along with one small, two-wheel drive tractor, an old mower, a pickup truck and trailer, and a wheel barrow for equipment. It all fits under one small carport and if oil prices keep going up or something breaks down, we're not in dire straights. We can buy and store hay up to two years ahead of need to help off set market fluctuations.

    We're producing for ourselves and our extended family to buy from us as well as some egg and lamb sales. We're going to be expanding to make more business sales, but just to provide for ourselves we don't need much more.
     
  4. hollym

    hollym Well-Known Member

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    There is a wonderful book called "Five Acres and Independence" have you ever read it? The 'Have More Plan' was really cool too, although it was very dated. It was printed in some of the first Mother Earth News copies. I think that they had two acres and wished they had two more to pasture their cows and grow more hay.

    It's my opinion that five can be enough, but 30 is a really nice buffer!

    hollym
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    You've pretty well covered answering your own question here.
    If you can afford less land and really want to do it sooner, I'm sure 10 to 20 acres will be enough. Sounds like DH would have experience to bring pastures up to condition. Even if you were left with an acre to garden, that's a lot.
    If you can wait and want 30+ acres, that's also a grand idea.
    Good Luck.
     
  6. cybercat

    cybercat prowler of the internet

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    Thanks all,

    I guess my main question is about having the cows and feeding them. He is set in having growing pasture for the winter. He wants to plant and harvest this himself. We are both Big into rotaion crops. From what I read it takes 3.5 acreas to raise a 1 cow with calf on pasture. Since we want milk cow (he does not like goats milk) and a beef cow I am looking at how much pasture to feed them. We have settled on a jersey or jersey cross which from what I have been gathering does not do too well on pasture alone. I think I might ask this in the cow section. I am coming to the conclusion that 10 to 20 would do fine.

    Thanks all
     
  7. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Here in NC you must have not less than 10 acres (not including the homesite) in order to qualify as a farm. From that 10 acres one must also gross not less than $1000 per year. On the upside, by qualifying, you get all the bennies of a farmer. 1 percent tax on farm purchases, land use deferral on property, right to build your own home without being a contractor, no inspections on farm buildings and you get to expense most of your purchased items on you tax return. This will permit you to acquire machinery, build fences and buildings which you will depreciate, etc. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you verify through your county tax office what requirements are necessary to qualify as a farm/farmer and then purchase enough land to meet that requirement. Additionally, I will add that regardless of any land purchase that I have ever made and regardless of what I paid per acre if I held the land the value soon exceeds the original purchase price. Even if you sell in the future, which would you rather have, appreciation on a little land or appreciation on a lot of land? :)
     
  8. cabe

    cabe Well-Known Member

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    Agmantoo, what a great answer!I learned some very helpful things from reading your reply, what are you like an AG. Extension agent or something?Thanks a bunch. Marty.
     
  9. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I am a tree farmer that has tried a lot of other ventures. Some good and some not so good! Have I ever told you how badly a lot of hog manure stinks? :D
     
  10. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Buy as much as you can possibly afford.

    I've got 165 m/l and wish I had 10 times that much.
     
  11. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Okay, it is my turn to open my mouth on this subject.

    Cattle--one milk cow and one beef steer or heifer or bull. Nope, I don't see it. I think you will want the milk cow, her calf that is growing to the size to begin grassing feeding to buthering size, and the larger beef that is in the grass fattening process. To keep a calf in the right stages for moving to being grass fed I think you will need three (total cattle that is). In western Kansas we figured 8 acres of pasture per cow/calf pair, where I currently live in south central Kansas we figure on 5 acres. You may get by with 3.5 acres in your clime, but in a dry year I would't want to depend on it, plus with the added animal I mentioned you would need extra.

    In western Kansas we had to supplement pasture grass for about 180 days a year. The grass starts drying down and losing nutrition in August which requires supplemental feed be started by October, and then lasts until the grass starts greening up in the spring, i.e. March to April.

    Three head of cattle requiring feed for 180 days---how much acreage will be required to grow the feed?

    I always grained my brood cows a little each day to keep them in proper health for a good pregnancy and delivery. Also for milk production once the calf was on the ground. How much acreage will you require for grain production for three head? I assume you would feed all three even if all don't need it.

    Grain or other for three head of hogs will take how much acreage?

    While gardening can be intense and very productive per 1,000 square feet, I'd much rather pick tomatoes from plants spaced five feet apart than have the branch of one poking me in the butt while I pick from its neighbor. Putting drops of mineral oil on forming ears of corn to keep ear worms at bay is a lot easier with 36" row spacing than 30" row spacing. Small and compact is more efficient, but comfort takes precedence in my books. I also like the idea of cultivating an entire garden row in seconds with a small tractor mounted cultivator rather than spending a couple of hours with a hoe. Also planting an entire row in a minute or so rather than breaking my back for 15 minutes or so. Plenty of garden area means that you CAN use mechanical means to save time if you wish. It doesn't mean that you have to, but at least you have the choice.

    From one farm boy to you, I think your husband is on the right track. Better to error on the side of extra room than to wish for more and be disgusted that you can't do something for lack of space.

    Just my opinion and I know I do waste land use, but land is still cheap in my part of the world. For that matter, I'll bet all of us here waste land space compared to those in foreign lands. Over populated, nope, just under utilized land.
     
  12. backwoods

    backwoods Well-Known Member

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    Sent you a PM
     
  13. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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  14. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    A couple of dexters might be less expensive than a larger place. They are pricy, yes, but so is land.
     
  15. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    My 83 yo FIL, who grew up homesteading, says that you need 4 acres per animal if you want to feed the animal on your land and not have to buy feed.

    At our place in the Dallas area, we had one acre and were allowed to have up to 2 horses or 1 cow per ordinances. Several neighbors had horses, but had to buy feed and hay as there wasn't enough grass to feed them.

    I would think that 15 acres would be plenty for what you are wanting to do and allow you to feed the animals off the land.
     
  16. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

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    Tolstoy had a little story.

    The short version

    Fellow was offered all the land he could walk across in a day. He started walking but then noticed new features he wanted so he kept making detours. The day was nearing its close and he was worried he wouldn't have enough time to walk back to the start point to enclose an area. As it happened he pushed to hard and died. They buried him in a plot 6 feet long. Thus the answer to how much land you need is 6 feet ;)

    Who said Russian lit dosen't have its funny points.