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HT Wannabe
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Cindy and I have planned to start small and grow into something we are comfortable with. To that end we started a backyard flock this year, and we will add a freezer flock next summer as well. Once we are on our land we planned to start with a few goats for a year, then add pigs the next year, and maybe cows the year after that. The idea is we will be able to stop and reverse ourselves at anytime that we feel it's too much without losing a wheelbarrow full of money in the process.

Several of the parcels we are considering buying are woodlands that have recently been timbered. In north-central PA that means they went in and took out virtually anything with marketable value and left all the brush and scrub behind. Then they sell the land for about 1/10th of the cost of land where we presently live. I am wondering if the following plan of action is a viable way to create a working homestead by reclaiming this stripped land.

Obviously, first I need to have someplace to camp/live on the property. Not a problem. I can build most anything. Actually, having the chickens running free and running goats on the property would seem to take care of most of the brush and shrub problems. Then I planned to bring in the pigs the next year to root and till the same area. By selectively cutting the remaining trees I believe that I can create an almost park-like setting in which to raise my animals. They'd have ready access to shade, but not so much as to create bogs of wastes under the trees.

After a year to allow seeded grasses to take hold in the recently pig-erated areas I should be able to start slowly introducing cattle. And each year I reclaim more land into the rotation until the entire property is productive.

What do you think?
 

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Itsounds quite doable to me.
 

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That pretty much how a lot/most of the people/homesteaders got started.

My ancestors, (fathers side) came from the "Old Country" in the early 1900's and settled the cut over land left behind by the lumber companies, in northern Wisconsin.
They sorta got "taken" as the land was pretty poor for farming, so had to do a lot of different things to get by.
But it was land they could afford, and got by.

I guess I would check into the soil type, water, growing zones, etc. to see what your land would support.
You can grow or raise most anything, but the question is, "At what cost?"

The "Dust Bowl" is sorta of another example of great plans not working out so well.
Do your home work, and if it looks good to you, go for it..............
 

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Hi Mike
The first question I would ask is the land above or below the glaciation line? That being, is the ground actually soil, or is it piles of glacial rock? Then there is the aspect and slope of the land and the general characteristics of your soil? What kind of prices are you actually talking about? If you are comparing the cost of raw land to to residential areas, even 1/10 the price is still a rip-off!

Basicly, your idea is to convert the land from mowed forest into animal pasture. Sounds like it's do-able, but expect it to take a lot longer than a year to get grass established for cattle. More like 5-10 I would say. The remaining cull trees can be cut down and goats will help take care of the brush, but it will be a while before there's enough grass for cattle. I guess about 10 years, based on what I get done on my own property.

I would suggest first going all out and reclaiming 1 acre to start your garden in. Stumps will have to be bulldozed out, and the surface graded. Weeding will be a nightmare for the first few years as the remaining brush tries to resprout. You can pen your animals in the future garden area first and let them do some of the work, but you'll have to redistribute them as they consume whatever feed is available to them. You are going to have to build a lot of fencing to keep animals where you want them so you get the level of brush control that you want. Eventually for your mature homestead you'll want several paddocks anyway, so individual areas are rested while others are intensly grazed. Expect to move them for paddock to paddock for a couple of years to get the level of control that you want, and still provide feed for your animals.

Another thing to consider is replanting some of the area back to trees. They can be timber trees, but I would only plant things that produce something edible. Trees like blight-resistant chestnut, walnut, maple, and regular orchard trees like apples, pears, cherries, ect. An orchard the size of an acre would supply all the fruits and nuts your family can be expected to consume.
Wish you well,
Michael
 
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