Starting a homestead

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mainewoodsman, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. mainewoodsman

    mainewoodsman Member

    Apr 7, 2013
    Hello I am in the military. I am saving money to buy land. I was wondering how big a piece would be sufficient enough to start a homestead. With a garden and orchard big enough to support a family. With a field for goats to graze and maybe a place to grow feed for the winter. This has been a dream of mine for a while and I have been saving. If someone can give there perspective on how much would be perfect I would appreciate it.
  2. 7thswan

    7thswan Well-Known Member Supporter

    Nov 18, 2008
    1 acre can give you plenty of room for gardens and F. trees. Adding goats , depending on how many, depends on many factors, to grow your own hay.Best of luck,consider putting your location up in the upper right corner of your posts. God Bless You for Your Service to this Great Country.

  3. mickie8

    mickie8 Member

    Mar 31, 2013
    Pacific Northwest
    Good luck in your search! We just recently purchased our future homestead land and I can tell you that our ideal changed quite a bit while we were searching. I was hoping for at least 5 acres to give me a 1 acre lot for goats, some room for chickens, an orchard and garden and a feeling of space. We ended up with only 2 acres but we are surrounded by unused land that gives a feeling of us having more. I think the 2 acres will be sufficient, it would be nice to have more but is it really necessary? Not that our story will be right for you, I only mean to express that I think it depends on the lot, the location and the fertility of the soil. If you find a place remote enough to suit your ideas of being self sufficient and enough space to grow some food - it's enough. Whether, that's 100 acres or 2, depends on the acres. Good luck in your search! That's the fun part!
  4. boerboy

    boerboy Beginner Part-time Farmer

    Oct 7, 2012
    Gaston, OR
    Reading your requirements I think you need 4 plus acres. If you don't need to grow your own hay then even two acres can be great. Also there are methods for intensive suiting small acreage. So keep your size range wide. Sometimes having 4 acres close to town could be beneficial than 10 acres far away if you are working and family needs bit of town life too. Also if grow organic being close to town means more prospect to sell eggs and veggie etc.

    So you could try to be flexible.

    We bought 5 acres last year. Have a baby at home so going very slow but enjoying it. We have goats and chicken and 10 trees. Planning more trees turkeys and a dream pasture for free range....
  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    A couple things will make a difference in the ground you will need. One is how much of you place it wooded? That is not a bad thing if you want to save money.. The price of electric oil or gas to heat with could cost more than you might make on the rest of the property. Raising your own feed cuts the expenses a great deal. The big draw back with that is getting a small field of hay made. People with the equipment needed to do it hardly ever want to mess with a little patch of hay..
    The price of feed at farm stores adds up to more that the value of the animals you are feeding it to. Raising animals for your own use is what you need ground for.. A field of lush grass will cut your feed bill considerably.. An acre of field corn can be done without a lot of special tools. It will save you a bunch on feed for animals that require grain,, especialy through the winter.
    Back to your question.. I'd recomend 3 acres of woods, 2 acres for things you plant including fruit trees. 1 or 2 acres for pasture. Finding a place with the space you would like to have for each use would be unlikley. Less trees wouldn't be fatal.. Many people get free wood from neighbors who have something they want taken away.
    The kind oof ground you get makes a huge difference in how much you will need.. If your neighbors have nice looking farm crops on their ground, you stand a good chance of getting some good ground. Keep one thing in mind.. Cheaper land is that way for a good reason. . A zone with a decent length o0f growing season will make growing things much easier.
    One acre is enough ground to work your butt off if you plant it all. Everyone wants more acres, but you can do a lot on a small patch.
  6. simi-steading

    simi-steading Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 27, 2012
    West By God Virginnie
    As much as you can find and afford... No matter how much you buy, eventually you'll wish you had more..
    Callieslamb, hippygirl and wilsonsdnb like this.
  7. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    SW Michigan
    We had a city lot on Country Club Lane. I was in heaven in my gardens there. Surely nothing could ever be better. Then we moved to a 1 1/2 acre lot in the country and THAT was truly heaven. 4 years ago, we bought 7 acres and I drool over the 20 acres next to me. Just buy as much as you can afford, you'll find a way to use it or just enjoy looking at it and calling it yours.

    It's expensive to harvest your own grain or hay crops. That didn't stop us from doing it, but it won't ever pay for itself for us. We don't do it to save money, but to be able to do it ourselves. Our used equipment cost us the same as about 12 years worth of hay - and we raise jersey steers to butcher. They eat a lot more than goats do.
  8. geo in mi

    geo in mi Well-Known Member Supporter

    Nov 14, 2008

    Do you find the meat cuts from a Jersey steer to be okay as a substitute for a "beef steer" such as an Angus or other type? Texture, taste, marbling, etc.? I think there are people like me who just won't really care for goat milk or meat......Therefore the acreage requirements would come into consideration.

  9. BigHenTinyBrain

    BigHenTinyBrain Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2013
    If your name is any indication, you're looking in Maine? Well then, you'll know that almost ny acreage you look t is going to be wooded. You'll want little un-wooded acreage, t least n acre, for the garden and orchard. Hard to clear out Maine woods nd rocks well enough to garden! Goats will be fine in a wooded pasture, and in fact will help you turn it into an unwooded pasture pretty effectively.
    Plan to buy hay from a neighbor. It saves a lot of time and hassle (all these people always suggesting you need such and such to grow your own hay- what equipment are they planning on you buying JUST FOR HAY! and trust me, haying by hand is time consuming). Much cheaper to get good hay from someone nearby who lready has a rake, baler, etc.
    Since it's Maine- you'll find plenty of huge lots for cheap. Look for something with some existing field, and a grade that is reasonable. Hard to get wood off of a steep grade, nd 100+ cres is wasted if you can only reach it during the dry or frozen months!
  10. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7 Supporter

    Jul 2, 2002
    The size depends on the soil and weather conditions, i.e. what you can do on that land. (As some have mentioned, it is wise to get some with a lot of quality trees for use to heat your home later.) It is also wise to make sure the land has water on it or under it that can be tapped for well water to use in your home and to care for your animals and vegetations. Also, if the land you are looking at has a lot of rocks on/in it, creating a garden, a pasture and especially an orchard will be problematic. (Fruit/nut trees have a long tap root and, if those roots hit a hardpan, those trees will eventually die and all those years of work will be for naught.)

    The best thing to do is research! Talk with locals and agricultural agents that know the area you're considering. Find out what has been grown successfully there and what minerals are deficient (like selenium and copper). Some of these deficits can be fixed by additives; some deficits mean you will need to purchase supplements for your animals...I'm speaking mainly of goats because that is what I raise. Also if there is a high iron content, that is not good to have. Another IMPORTANT thing to know is can the land you're interested in "perk", i.e. can a disposal system be created successfully in it?

    Now as for size, you need to consider the size of your family and how much work all are willing to do to create/maintain the type of homestead you're all wanting.

    Now, let me tell you what has worked for me. There were initially 3 of us with only 2 able to work and only one doing 85% of the work. Now there are only 2 of us with still only 1 doing most of the work. Still, because of the way I initially set this homestead up, I am able to maintain it.

    We purchased 6 acres (one tract of land) that bordered an ever-flowing, spring-fed creek, has water standing under one acre where a pond could be excavated if I ever get enough money to get it done and the water flow (rain water run off) was slow enough not to carry the soil off before I could get a cover crop on it to prevent that. The land is "sandy-loam" with red clay about 1-2 feet under top soil. It was solid forestry when we purchased it! (It was NOT a flood zone. It WAS agriculturally zoned. It was NOT isolated, yet was not right up close to neighbors either.)

    We left about 1/4th an acre up near the state road before we started fencing. We set our trailer back into the middle of the acreage just in case the county every wanted to widen the state road. We left about half of these 6 acres for pasture because I wanted to grow our own hay for the small (3 does & 1 buck) I wanted to keep (meat & milk). (We planted endophyte free grass seed.) This small herd has provided ALL the red meat we have needed, as well as all the wonderful milk we use for a variety of things. We left about an acre for a large vegetable garden and fruit orchard; and started sewing "cover" crops on it to be tilled in and build the sandy loam up. (This size garden is more than enough to provide ALL our vegetable/fruit needs.)

    We fenced the entire 6 acres, divided it down the middle with the fenced garden/orchard and let large Nubian goats and about 30 assorted fowl free-range.

    Thus, this 6 acres is plenty (actually more than enough) to keep us pretty wise for sure.

    As for as working the pastures and garden, we have used a DR Field & Brush Mower (same one since 1995) to keep any unwanted brush mowed and to mow the pastures for packing in the loft as winter hay for the goats. (We did not need a tractor.) We use an 8 hP Troybilt tiller for all garden usage; and it too has been working well since 1995. We built a large (about 30' x 50') barn for the goats, milking area and hay storage (plus a nice work room). We built a large (32' x 32') shed we subdivided into 4 sections (chicken house, tool shed, wood shed and slaughter pen). Both these are adjacent to the garden for convenience. We built a garden shed near there as well and a buck house in the back of the pasture. Our trailer is a single wide 12 x 65 three bedroom with 1-1/2 bath.

    Even though our monetary income is near poverty, we created this entire homestead in such a way so as to owe no one anything; and this means we can survive off 6 acres very well.

    Hope this helps.
    dolmen likes this.
  11. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

    Oct 22, 2005
    Forests of maine
    We bought two parcels. One is 40 acres with 1/4 mile of river frontage, the second is 105 acres with no water frontage.

    I grew-up farming in Central California so I am accustomed to droughts. Maine is great in terms of never having water shortages :)

    I suggest anywhere from 10 acres to 100.

    Are you looking in the Unorganized Townships? Or the urban areas?

    Maine is also wonderful for having MOFGA. We have a growing sub-culture here of off-grid sustainable farming. Every year there are more Farmer's Markets opening. As more urbanites start to focus on local sources of food.

    I see food-producers who only have 4 acres of land, and are able to support their families from intensive gardening. If you did 10+ acres then you can easily include livestock.

  12. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

    Apr 26, 2009
    where are you looking to buy? There is a lovely piece of land with a large house, attached garage, outbuildings and a lot of land just down the road from me that has just been reduced to about $130,000 in North Central Michigan..if you are interested let me know, there is open and wooded areas on this property. Also lots of other land at really great prices up here, and one beautiful home with pole barn and acerage for around $200,000
  13. Big Dave

    Big Dave Well-Known Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Central Arkansas
    WELCOME. Sorry I was late to the show here.