what to do with around 15 acres

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by crwilson, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. crwilson

    crwilson Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    ok people help me figure out what to do with around 15 acres pasture and cleared land... I live in nova scotia canada a zone 5 on the east of canada My goals are to
    1} be completely self suffiecient in 5 years.
    2} have some relaxation time
    3} take most of my satisfaction from the land
    4} be as environmentally friendly as possible

    I also have access to all my firewood needs and building needs "stone and wood" for free thanks to my dad. my land is bordered by a nice brook and i plan on digging a trout pond as well MMMMMMMMm trout...

    Anyways Heres your chance to speak your peace
    Thanks Rick
  2. crwilson

    crwilson Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Oh yeah how many cows ,pigs, chickens and turkeys, can i support on a parcel this size? I want to have oxen to help me with my work, should i use a steer team or heifers to do the work based on the size?


  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    If you are planning on building on this property, find out how easy it is too get water. On our present place, if you drill deep enough you will find water. On our last place, it had to be witched. You need to determine where your well and septic will be so you can plan where your house will be built.

    If you are going to have animals you will need perimeter fencing to start with. Portable electric is fine to divide the fenced in area into smaller areas for rotational pasture, but you will still need some kind of permanent or semipermanent fence for the perimeter.

    You will need to figure out the high and low spots, because in the spring the low spots are going to be too wet for your livestock to stand in. You will also want to position your pond in the lowest or wettest spot. Since we are now coming into spring, you can find out soon the best place for a pond. The high spots are going to be too dry to graze in late summer. How many animals you can have will depend in part on how productive the land is. You will need to supply hay in the winter, count on six months of hay. You will need to supply water all year. I currently haul buckets of water during the winter and use a hose during the summer.

    Do a search on breeds of sheep and cattle. You will want hardy, thrifty breeds, which means probably older breeds. You want animals known for easy birthing and good mothering. You will need a scythe to mow down the determined weeds or the weeds and seeds will end up in the wool.
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    This brings to mind 2 accounts of people who did this in the past.

    The first man worked long enough for other people to have a years worth of tools and (very basic) food. He got the cabin up first, then set up a fenced pasture so his team could not run off any more. (Automobiles were available, but back then teams were more common). He supplemented his diet with fresh game when he had the chance to get away from the urgent matters of getting set up.

    He then spent the rest of the summer cutting grass for hay and wood for the stove. The garden had to wait until the next summer.

    That winter, he spent his time shooting coyotes for their pelts and running a trapline, so that when his money ran out he would have something of value to sell. He continued with the trapline for his income, gardened, fished, and hunted.

    His homestead was successfull. His name was Eric Collier and he lived in Canada. He wrote a book about his experiences, you might be able to get ahold of a used copy at amazon.com.

    I don't know how he did it, but he and his wife got the cabin up in less than a week. From the accounts I have read, it usually takes a couple 3 months to get a cabin up.

    The OTHER account had a lady and her friends getting a cabin up. She started out doing it full time, with the help of her friends on weekends. After a bit she faded and just started working on weekends also. She ALSO successfully got a place up, but it took her several months even with help. I suspect that she would have taken less time if she had had skill before hand, and the toughness to continue working on the cabin full-time.

    For money to support herself, she worked 7 days a week for as long as she could stand it before she started the cabin (which was about 7-8 months). Also, when she no longer worked on her cabin full time she got a job driving the scool bus.

    She was also successful and also wrote a book, but I do not remember the name.

    What these 2 folks had in common was a little money OR supplies set by, a means of earning money for taxes, aspirin, and such, and persistance.

    Good luck!
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    East TN
    Write a book.
  6. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

    Jul 12, 2003
    east ont canada
    read the owl pen lots of good advice .depending on where in ns. bait tourists and blueberries come to mind stock exept for your own use are not generaly profitable enough on this scale. what type of ground ?rocky scree will not produce what good bottem land will.bees are another .
  7. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Feb 24, 2003
    Well if you have a round 15 acres,you won't need Corner Post :rolleyes: :haha: Sorry I couldn't help my self.

    I'm thinking Garden,Small Animals,nothing bigger than Goats.Rabbits,Chickens are great.

    big rockpile
  8. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    From the information given, the choice is pretty easy if I had to consider the possibilities.
    First. Is the brook flowing with clean and oxygenated cold water? Is it a continual flow, or does it dry down seasonally? Once you establish the water quality and rate of flow you'll know whether it's worth haveing a series of flowover ponds to hold trout. Then find out what you need to do to commercially market your trout for food or possibly fingerlings for the fisheries people. This could end up being fairly lucrative if you got it going right....so there is your 5 year self sufficiency plan!

    The gardens.....plan what you can store, and what are your favorite eats.
    Plant accordingly for the supply, and that is like having income when you can make it pay by saving cost buying store bought.

    Building improvements should include root cellar for sure. and greenhouse. Plan for drying of fruits you can pick wild. I suspect you have places to gather blueberries and such. Educate yourself on the edible plants like mushrooms.
    All these things you can store by dehdrating...utilize that greenhouse in late summer for those plans.
    That takes some care of your vegatable food source.

    For animals. Plan good containment coops or pens for poulty. Turkeys will give you excellent meat conversion for the feed you put into them. Also the big birds are versatile as you can get ground meat also from any that you don't want whole. Muscovy ducks wouldn't be a bad idea for meat and eggs. They also hatch their own eggs so you don't need to keep replenishing spring duckling stock by buying them again. If you can keep over winter the heritage breeds of turkey, they can breed also to sustain a population of your own.
    Chickens. Yes, get those for layers and plan on growing a good amount of garden space for their feed sources such as sunflowers, squash, lots of summer greens like chard, etc. In winter plan on setting up a sprouting of seeds rotation to supplement chickens for having nice eggs and save mash or grain costs.

    The main thing to keep you busy is compost, compost, and more compost. That and maybe involve vermiculture in the mix for high quality fertilizer and possiblities for fish bait. Get the red worms going and I bet you can use them for feeding the growing trout in the ponds you'll set up. Redworms also are high protein feed to supplement chickens.

    So, to sum up, I see in the future for this homestead:
    1. aquaculture (trout)
    2. self sufficiency energy (wood lot)
    3. self sufficiency foraging and gardens
    4. poultry protein source from Turkeys, muscovy ducks ('french beef' from the breast meat), eggs, and possibly raise some broilers for the freezer or market
    5. a few goats are a good possibility to get milk for consumption and have enough for adding to animal feed.
    It sounds also like you might have hunting possibilities to supplement wild game...deer maybe?

    You could live environmentally and contentedly with a good deal of effort off your land as long as you have a minimal fund set aside to pay taxes, hydro, and vehicle fuel.

    Have fun with the water. .. :D
  9. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 21, 2004
    a "steer team of hiefers"..............
    Please tell me where I can obtain such an oxymorinic team as this..............lol
  10. dakani

    dakani Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    No actual experience of this myself, but I watched a show just recently which had a segment comparing horses and oxen. Horses could do twice as much work in a day as a team of oxen and had a way smaller turning circle and were more willing to work hard. Might be something to consider, or get experience on prior to purchase.
  11. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

    Mar 20, 2005

    On 15 acres I would think the more important thing would be how cheap they are to run food wise. How long could it take worst case to do what you need on 15 acres, esp assumeing some of it will be pasture and or wood.

    If you had 160 all in grain, then speed would count more.

    But I could be horribly wrong.
  12. Caitedid

    Caitedid The Prairie Plate Supporter

    Jun 1, 2004
    NE Iowa
    I actually worked with horses and oxen this summer, plus we were talking about it in class today, so here's my 2 cents worth. I think horses work faster and smaller, but oxen are easier to keep happy and can handle pulling more weight for a longer time. I know that oxen are easier to keep alive and healthy, and I had less fussing using my boys. My recommendation on the oxen would be to get as young a team as you can afford (time wise), and someone to guide you through training. They'll always work best for the person who trains them, and you want that to be you. Also, have you looked in to raising tilapia? They're an african species of fish, with the best feed conversion rate of any raised animal. They're like 1.25# of grain per 1# of meat. Also, you may be able to rig up hydroponic tomaters or lettuces using waste water from the fishes. Hope this helps. Caite
  13. lacyj

    lacyj Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    Calif, The Mother Lode
    Boy we had to laugh at #2:
    2} have some relaxation time
    When you find that, let us know...