What can I do with 20 acres of woods?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Matt Black, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black Out back

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Northeast Missouri
    I moved to this place last August and I love it. Now I am trying to think of ways to get a little more out of it. I have 20 acres of mostly Oak trees with a few hickories of various types thrown in. The timber was logged about 20 years ago according to our neighbor. I can touch hands around all but the few largest ones.
    There is very little open ground, probably 2-3 acres or less total. It's hard to tell because it's in small, irregular chunks. Most of it is yard, planted in grass with alot of clover mixed in. I haven't had the soil tested yet but it seems to be a rocky clay.
    I am planning on starting a few chickens next year, maybe some Guineas as well. We have a small garden that we plan on enlarging next year.
    What I am wondering is, is there any larger livestock that will fit this kind of place? I thought of goats, but don't they destroy timber? The same with swine?
    The livestock would be mostly for family meat, so I'm not looking for a whole lot of anything.

    [​IMG]

    Any suggestions?
    M
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,489
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Any livestock will cause damage to the trees when grazed in the woods. Hogs are the worst, cows do their own, not sure about goats. They also help though, by clearing out the underbrush and "planting" new trees as they walk over the fallen seeds/nuts.

    This doesn't mean that you can't graze it though. The idea is to practice careful management to minimize the damage to the trees. I graze my woods, but not on a continuous basis. They get to use those paddocks about 3 times a year, just to clean it up.

    Contact your state forester for ideas on how to do that.

    Jena
     

  3. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

    Messages:
    14,951
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
    Hey Matt, is that a sewer line in the front yard?
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    14,705
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Kansas
    Bee hives?

    If the trees are too close together in spots, you could thin them out and sell a little firewood. Or, you could cut the dead trees for firewood.

    Rabbits? They should do well in summer in cages in the shade of the trees. I don't know how severe your winters are, though.

    A couple of sheep?
     
  5. Matt Black

    Matt Black Out back

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Northeast Missouri
    That's the old cistern. It was in use until just before we bought the place. The previous owners just filled it from the yard spigot after county water was run. When we moved in we had them connect the county water to the house. I would like to use it to gather rainwater, but it sits uphill from the house.
    M
     
  6. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    N.Ar
    any type of livestock needs grass to feed, even goats, so this 100% wooded wont work , if you thin the trees, and open it up a bit, not too much , i understand wanting to retain pricacy, but cut out, say , 1/3 then fence it, it would be ok for goats, once you seed it with grass, otherwise, you can fence and put any hoofed animal in there, but you would have to feed them hay, almost exclusively, and they still would chew on trees and undergrowth , even with plenty of hay .... with that many trees, plan on havin at least 2 dozen guineas, for tick control
    for me, 3 acres of open land , well, that gives you 1 acre for the house, 1 acre for the garden , and one acre for animals, i would have to open up more, assuming to move to the country you want to be more self reliant ...i guess, i cant see anything to it , but sacrificing some of your timber for the self suficency raising a beef and a couple of milk goats would provide
     
  7. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,463
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    On my 20 acres,which is just like yours.I have a 40X100 foot Garden,Small Orchard,I did have 30 head of Goats,a Butcher Calf,Rabbits,2 Butcher Hogs,all kinds of Poultry.

    The Goats ate most the underbrush,I kept moving them around,plus I helped opening up the Timber by cutting Firewood.Started getting Grass thats when I figured I could put a Calf in there.Didn't feed no hay to the Goats or Calf durring the Summer.

    Kept the Hogs in a Small Pen.

    Fed some Grain to everything year round.

    big rockpile
     
  8. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,373
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    I think maybe people are avoiding the obvious for some reason. Why don't you just clear a few acres for a pasture?
     
  9. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,264
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    Whiskey Flats(Ft. Worth) , Tx
    ..............The best way to "clear your under growth is with goats . But , two points.....(1) You MUST have atleast a 4 foot , outer perimeter fence to keep them in and dogs out. You , should also , build a fence around your home to keep them away from your wife's favorite plants or you'll be in DEEP Stuff. Goats , will eat, ...EVERYTHING.....as high as they can reach while standing on their BACK legs . They probably will leave the tree bark alone and just consume the leaves on the low hanging limbs .....fordy... :eek: :)
     
  10. Matt Black

    Matt Black Out back

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Northeast Missouri
    I'm not sure that my ground would make good pasture even if I did clear a few acres. It's rocky and sloped with deep ravines. There are a couple of places where I might be able to get close to an acre of flat ground.

    So far I think pigs are a viable option. Big Rockpile: how did you fence your goats when you moved them around?

    Thanks for all the suggestions,
    Dave
     
  11. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    951
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Pretty house! Basically we have 15 acres and are actually using about four of them for pasture and garden. The rest is woods. Basically they are a good wild life habitat and we just enjoy them....especially in the winter months.
     
  12. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,463
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    Matt I had all my acreags cross fenced,I had 5 different lots to move them in.Goats will change it big time if you open your timber up where enough light can get in you will have more grass.

    Don't put Hogs on all of it,they will root every rock to the top.Then you will be big rockpile 2 :haha: No i'm serious I wouldn't put a bunch of Hogs on it.

    big rockpile
     
  13. Matt Black

    Matt Black Out back

    Messages:
    164
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Northeast Missouri
    HA! I don't think we need 2 Big Rockpiles!

    By Hogs I mean 2 or 3 in a pen.
    M
     
  14. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,463
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    :D Oh ok.Not on this place but another we had 40 Sows one time.I like raising 2 or 3 for butcher.

    Now on our 20 acres all I'm doing is making it presentable for Wild Critters,mainly Deer and Turkey.

    big rockpile
     
  15. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,978
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    If you get the right kind of goats and sheep they will have no problem manuevering around the place. Get the more primitive breeds. Look for small, easy lambing, good mothering, and general good health. If you don't want to have to deal with breeding and delivery, just buy weaned lambs and run them until it's time to feed hay, and butcher. They will clear out the underbrush and allow sun to shine where the trees aren't producing too much shade. I imagine that your trees are big enough that the goats won't be able to do much damage. They'll eat off the lower branches, but this will just open up the understory more. The clover will spread over time, as will grasses and other plants. Cows and equines prefer grass, so you may want to add one or two in the future.

    Look for poisonous plants. Animals usually avoid them, but cherry is death.
     
  16. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,143
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2002
    Jena is giving you some good advice. Contact your Extension agent and see if you can get a forester to come out and give you advice. In Ohio it is free of charge but it may take a while for them to get out for a visit as there is quite a bit of demand (hey, it's free!).

    Mike
     
  17. William

    William Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    May 26, 2003
    Location:
    Mexico
    Pretty place. What state is it in?
     
  18. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    In the piney woods of the great state of Texas.
    There's a house in that picture??? Dude, what year is that Jeep?? Nice!

    Where are you? NO LOCATION LISTED!!! (sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine)
     
  19. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    179
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Location:
    Upstate SC
    I'm in a somewhat similar situation except I have 8.5 acres of woods. The only cleared area is over the septic leach field and a small garden.

    I plan on having chickens and guineas. You might want to consider a pig or two - I understand that if you put a ring in their nose, it really cuts down on the rooting. Also, rabbits in pens under the trees would do well if your climate is moderate. I've considered beehives - they might work for you.

    Personally, I don't plan on clearing off any land. I have lots of wild turkeys and deer around and I'd like to keep them.
     
  20. I've got 17 acres and it's the reverse of the situation you have. This is mountain pasture kept pasture at a premium. The last farmer worked this land with a very level head and lost his life after years of keeping this land open. I'm letting the land reclaim itself.
    I'm not about to get a tractor up here. I know my boundry of learning curve.
    The goats are a good idea. They don't just clear land. They can give milk, cheese and soap. And they eat horizontally and vertically. Get ready for this winter and cut timber selectively. Softwoods to get your fire going. Hardwoods to keep the fire going.
    I know this is a treasure you've finally gotten.
    This is where you are really going to be tested self-sustaining-wise.
    You've got to make some hard educated decisions.
    I like your Jeep also. Got one just like it. A family passing down the gifts.
    Just give yourself time to really understand how that land of yours lives at all times of day.
    You are going to find some special places on that land that speaks to you.
    My best to you. Night to you and yours..