Teaching a class on what all one could raise on 1 acre

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jaybird, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. Jaybird

    Jaybird Member

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    Could use some advice from other homesteaders for a class I'm teaching next week. If you had one acre of useable land, good soil and water, what all could you raise on it?

    I'm talking about sustaining a family of approximately 6 people, as much as possible, on 1 acre.

    So far I've come up with (from personal experience): 1-3 pigs, 1 beef cow or 6 meat goats, 1-3 dairy goats, chickens, 1/3 acre vegetable garden, small orchard of trees, hives of bees.

    These give us meat, milk, eggs, butter, cheese, ice cream, fruits, vegetables, soap and honey. I have to buy Doritos and Pepsi :)...wish I were a purist, but I'm too weak.

    Granted we have to buy hay and grain to support our pasture and for the dairy does and pigs.

    What experience do any of you have with small homesteading?

    Thanks!

    Jaybird
     
  2. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I dont use the technique myself, but did read about John Jeavons and his double digging group sometime back. He has it worked out how much ground his techniques require to totally meet the dietary requirements of a human in the least area. Of course its a vegetarian diet. Interesting though. Would vary according to climate I would think. http://essenes.net/Light Writings.htm

    Full Potential - Carbon and Calorie Mini-Farming
    "Over the past 25 years, Biointensive mini-farming has spread to 109 countries worldwide, where it is serving people with all varieties of soils, climates and cultures in nutrition intervention - allowing people to grow their own vitamins and minerals where normally they would experience shortages. That is exciting news! But what is even more exciting is that they can tap into the full potential of Biointensive sustainable mini-farming. Not only can Biointensive mini-farming produced essentially all of the vitamins and minerals that one person needs annually in one or two beds (100 to 200 square feet, or 9.3 to 18.6 square meters) of carefully selected vegetables, but Biointensive can, in fact, produce delicious complete nutritional diets in a fraction of the area needed by conventional chemical or organic mechanized farming techniques. For example, approximately 10,000 square feet are needed with such practices to produce an average complete vegetarian diet containing no animal products (22,000 to 43,000 square feet for an average American animal based diet), but only about 2,000 square feet are needed to produce the same diet with Biointensive mini-farming. That can go a long way toward feeding increasing and hungry populations as the world works to decrease population growth to sustainable rates."
     

  3. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I am going to assume you buy the grain for the people as well......
    No biggie, grain is cheap.

    You are more knowledgeble in the subject than I, but I DID see something of interest at my MIL's.

    She had a rabbit hutch on stilts, under a large avocado tree. Under the rabbit hutch, she made compost. She had 2-3 does and a buck, and a separate raised pen for the bunnies to fatten in. If she tried to fatten them with the Momma rabbits, her breeders got too fat.
     
  4. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    That's a question that makes you think! ARen't most subsistence farms in China about an acre?

    Anyway, I think pound for pound, myselr I would stay with chickens and other poultry for meat and eggs, and if I knew how to raise them, would keep goats for milk. I would not try to raise cattle on such a small area. We raised a pen of four steers in the barn in back of our house and the summer before they went to the butcher's, the flies in here were just horrendous! Our family joke was "Company's coming, let's put up fresh fly paper!" The steers generated a lot of manure to go out via tractor and manure spreader. They also required a lot of feed and bedding to be hauled in. So, for me, cattle would not be in the mix.

    As far as vegetables ... gosh, I don't know -- I think we could raise enough of "something" to be self-sufficient, but would it be palatable?

    On one acre there would be room for some beehives and fruit trees, vines and etc., I'd think.

    Good question!
    Ann
     
  5. Fla Gal

    Fla Gal Bunny Poo Monger Supporter

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    This may not be the type information you're looking for but it might come in handy in the future. It's a book titled "Gardening For Maximum Nutrition" written by Jerry Minnich. ISBN: 0-87857-475-1

    "Are you overlooking an important function of your garden? Are you taking full advantage of the nutritional contributions it has to offer? If you're like most gardeners, you're only getting half the nutritional value out of the garden if you were gardening for maximum nutrition."

    "Gardening for Maximum Nutrition will show you a new way to look at your garden. It can be much more that just a source of good things to eat."
     
  6. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you can get hold of a copy of John Seymours book.'The Guide to Self Sufficiency' There is a whole section on the one acre farm.Covers just about everything.
     
  7. I agree , the beef would be out but i would keep a pig, not a breeding pair but just a feeder in the spring to fatten for the fall and winter. A hog needs little space and will eat anything from garden scraps and bad fruit from the orchard to possibly free produce from the grocery store that has gone bad.
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    if you are wanting to support the family as much as possible, avoiding having to buy hay and lots of feed would be important. if self-sufficiency is the goal, so you gain anything by trading a grocery bill for a feed bill?

    no cow. takes too much to feed them, especially over winter. chickens are good, rabbits seems ok, other poultry for variety, maybe just enough goat to meet the dairy needs of the family. i don't do goats so i don't know much about them. pig might be pushing it. i'd shoot to have animals that can eat garden waste or pasture only or other easily grown proteins...worms and such.

    honestly, if i had to survive on one acre, meat would probably become much more rare in my diet. it just takes too much to sustain the animals.

    jena
     
  9. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    Hi, We only have 1 acre and we have 4 dairy goats, 2 meat pigs (just got 2 weeks ago and will only have them for 3 months or so), 25 laying hens, 25 meat birds (only keeping them for 8 weeks), 4 turkeys (will keep them for as long as it takes to butcher), 4 ducks (2 almost ready to butcher), 13 full time rabbits with babies to sell and eat, 2 dogs, 2 cats. We have a garden about 75 x 50 feet. We garden in all the flower beds with strawberries and extras like herbs. We already had 2 old apple trees on the proberty and have added, 2 more and a crap apple, and a peach. This year, we will be addeing more fruit trees and some type of berries too (but we havent decided, we are researching still). We sell goats milk, cheese, eggs, rabbits for pets and meat, soap, and extra veggies (if we have them). We try to cut down on the animals during the winter and do all the meat animals a little at a time during the summer:example: we try to get 2 more new baby ducks after we butcher 2 ducks. We also try to do a few extra of everything like ducks, turkeys and such and trade them for things we need, like hay. We try to sell everything we can to help with the feed bill. the feed is a lot, but we have a special "fund" and when we sell something, we put it all in the "jar". We even sell rabbit droppings to people for their garden. We are no way self sufficent yet, but in just a few years, we do hope to be close. We do work for ourself and we like to barder for as much as i possibly can. We got one of our dairy goats (nubian) for a carpet cleaning job that my husband traded. We try to find new and interesting ways to get the "goods". We go to some of the local produce producers during their busy times and see if they need any help...and do a 50/50 split with them. We just picked 16 gallons of strawberries and kept 8 for free because we picked 8 for the farm. We also bought fresh picked sour cherries in bulk and resold 1/2 of them in small pint amounts and paid for all of them cherries and made 5 extra bucks. I learn something new every year but it is very hard work to "not work" for a living. One thing that we dont do yet...is hunt and fish as much as we should. You can really obtain quite a bit of meat by hunting and fishing for just a small yearly fee...and it can add up to quite a bit of your meat for the year. We do put the word out to people who hunt and get to much for their own freezer that we would be happy to take any and we always get at least one deer a year that someone else hunted and brought home. We just have to clean it and cut it and put it up.

    If we had a choice, we would probally have more land but i personally believe that 1 acre can produce quite a bit of goods especially if it is planned and worked out.

    Belinda
     
  10. Jaybird

    Jaybird Member

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    Wow, some great ideas! Our family's goal is to raise as much of what we consume as possible with what acreage is available--and that is what I hope to teach others in this class.

    If you raise it, you know what pesticides, hormones or antibiotics were or better yet, were not added. Produce is still kicking with vitamins straight out of the garden or off the tree. And frankly it tastes better than anemic grocery store produce and meats!

    We try to dry and bottle a lot. We do freeze large amounts of meat and pray the power doesn't go out. A generator handy would ease that worry. In our area we try to support our neighbor farmers by buying local potatos and grain or locally milled flour if possible. I try to buy products from other homesteaders as well.

    There is nothing better than sitting down to a dinner in the middle of summer of roast pork, chicken or chevon(goat), steamed zucchini/crookneck/onion, fresh salad, milk, butter and know you raised it ALL. That is my goal. To have as many of those kinds of meals as possible to offer my family.

    Oh! Another idea we did last year was to co-op into larger livestock (pigs, beef)with other families. We raised pigs with three other families on a property not far from us with everyone bringing feed and splitting the cost of what feed was purchased. We got 180lbs of processed meat off one pig at a total cost of about $1.30/lb. Beat the heck out of the grocery store costs and tastes better too.

    My husbands family DID raise 90%+ of what they consumed when he was a kid. That was with 6 kids in the family and 2 1/2 acres available. They had goats, huge garden, vines, berries, trees: pecan, english walnut, 2 apple, 2 peach, nectarine, asian pear, chickens, a beef every year which they grazed on 1 acre and cut their own hay from 1/2 acre which took it through to butcher time. It is possible to do with some work.

    I'm not an extremist, but the national food supply can go bad and we'll be okay....except for my Pepsi ;) .
     
  11. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I haven't searched through the forum, so forgive me if this is redundant, but, it kinda creeps me out how so much of our food chain is concentrated in the hands of a few mega corporations. Maybe that's stating the obvious and you all have written pages about it! But, anyway ... another reason to keep working in the ol' Victory garden!

    Ann
     
  12. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have more than 1 acre but I still have a few suggestions....

    Goats are a great choice...meat milk on brush and grass, hay and grain. Garden trimmings, stale bread...We have 4 milking right now and kids are leaving to new homes this week so we got a veal calf. I chose the calf over pigs because I'm not big on electric fencing due to farm setup. Plus the calf can use the stall that mom&kids were separated into.
    I will raise pork soon enough.
    Chickens, rabbits are good too and on my list of things to do!

    I ran across some old Mother Earth News archived online look under Issue #2 and the "have more plan".

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/index.php?page=archindex


    Eliot Coleman's book about gardening all year is also great for longer growing season.

    I think having useful tools is also important...pressure canner, mason jars, dehydrator.

    We are trying Sonic Bloom this year on at least one of the gardens...if we ever get to plant.... :waa: Its been wet and cold too long!

    Finding others that might be able to grow things that you cant and trading is a good deal too!
     
  13. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

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    Mrs_stuart,

    Your story is quite inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.

    Michael
     
  14. Ed in S. AL

    Ed in S. AL Well-Known Member

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    I found the book "The Have More Plan" to be very helpful in setting up my small place. Lots of good tips and ideas. It was based on a 2 acre homestead. You can find the entire book online at the Mother Earth News Archives. Here's the link. Just scroll down to Issue #2.

    Mother Earth News Archives.
     
  15. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Michael, that is kind of you to say...

    Belinda
     
  16. Raising small livestock over the summer sounds like a good idea. We have sheep, donkeys, chickens and ducks. If you used intensive gardening I think you could pasture animals as well as have a garden. Last summer, in drought, our six small sheep got all their food from grazing around our house, I'm guessing not more than 1/2 acre of actual lawn. If you were only raising sheep to slaughter in the fall,you'd never need to buy hay or grain. If you also had a garden in the one acre, you could let the sheep weed it for you before planting and again after harvest. They will fertilize at the same time. Sheep manure isn't hot, so it doesn't have to be composted. Add to that chickens/ducks/geese/turkeys to free range and you have two legged weeders, just don't let them in the garden until the vegetable plants are big enough to be unpalatable. They eat all the bugs they can. You'd probably want to kill the poultry, but it wouldn't be a problem to slaughter them at the right age, eight to twelve weeks, and do two or even three groups throughout the summer and into the fall. Keeping a few chickens (Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rock, say) and some Khaki Campbells for eggs, and you will need grain to feed them over the winter and supplement in the summer, but you could grow it yourself- corn, amaranth, oats. The chickens need a henhouse (and nest boxes for the egg layers), but our Khaki Campbells shun such modern conveniences. They all need shelter in the winter, but unless it is very windy, they prefer to stay outside in the daylight. Because of this, they need a much smaller shelter than you would think.

    Poultry manure is hot and will kill the grass, but if they free range this isn't a problem.

    You will need a tree or a line of bushes so that the animals can get out of the sun. Cherry is out, but apple or pear, or whatever would grow well in that particular soil. You will need a water source, both to water the garden when needed, and to water the animals. They drink a lot of water in the summer.

    The problem I see with my plan, is that you will need to move the sheep every couple of days and keep them off of each section for about three weeks to give the pasture time to rejuvenate, and to allow the parasites in their manure to die off. If you use Managed Intensive Grazing, you can keep internal parasites at a minimum without using wormers, and the sheep will eat all of the pasture plants, not just the ones they like. It can be done on small acreage, as we proved last summer. We used portable electric fencing.

    Wish I could take your class!
     
  17. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    A friend of mine and I were kicking this subject around the other day. He's originally from India, and said that some subsistence farms were no more than small strips alongside a public road. And acre is enough for a family to subsist on, and raise some cash crops.

    Most of the farming he described seemed based upon the raised bed, square foot type stuff. On larger farms, say 5 acres, you start to see row cropping. Since every farmer does not own a tractor, a good bit of custom work is done, either for money, or more often labor exchange.

    In the case being discussed here, I'm thinking the only animals that would fit well would be some chickens, and either a few rabbbits, or a pig. I can't say about goats, as I've never raised them. There's certainly not enough room for a cow, and still have enough land to either grow feed, or to provide adequate pasture.

    All IMO, of course.
     
  18. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    Earlier today, the postman delivered a book I had ordered. It's called "Living On An Acre - A Practical Guide to the Self-Reliant Life". It was put out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, published 2003.

    I haven't read it yet but it sounds like it would be perfect for you...
     
  19. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

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    for a large family?
    I would have a boar and sow and raise 4 for butcher in the fall.
    sell any others from the litter
    100 chickens a year - layers and meat
    big animals are out on one acre (imo)
    beef- maybe go partners with another family on a homegrown angus when you need it

    I would grow as much garden as you can handle.
    extra corn, squashes, punkins, tomatoes and cukes
    all the excess that you don't can or freeze will feed your chickens and pigs in the late summer and fall. corn to fatten the hogs

    butcher most of the chickens and turkeys or ducks in the fall so you don't have to carry them through the winter.

    barter some of your pork for beef

    just my thoughts
     
  20. chris 77

    chris 77 Member

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    barbarake, how doe i get books like the one u mentioned from the usda