Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What can you do on how little?

Hmmm...loaded question, I know.

What do I mean -- little land? little food? little money?

All of the above, I guess.

Say you have 2 acres of land, good zoning (meaning you can have animals and do what you wish). On this 2 acre patch you are wanting to set up homesteading. Maybe raise a beef cow or two, have a couple of hogs for processing, certainly chickens and maybe even a handful of rabbits.

You want room for the children and for family entertaining, of course. And there are 7 children in the mix. do you do it? Can you do it? Will it work?

Here's my thoughts...and they are not overly complete by any chime in and give me ideas and share your experience!

Well, 2 acres isn't alot, but I do think it can be done. It all depends on how much you really want it to work. Chickens and rabbits are easy to start with and easiest for housing. Back north I'd build according to winter needs...something we can enclose for more indoor spacing during really cold, snowy, nasty weather. Rabbits are just as easy -- and let's not forget, prolific breeders -- so maybe just adding a room onto the end of the chicken coop to run a couple rows of cages.

Cows and pigs are moving into different territory. We have hogs. Pain in the rump roasts but oh-so delicious afterward. Not sure I'd care to have any more in the future, though. I am not convinced they are truly worth the aggravation yet. Still, pigs and cows can pasture together easily enough, but space? There isn't really alot with 2 acres, so we aren't necessarily looking at keeping them on pasture, so feed over winter...maybe raise them to butcher off before winter each year? Could be do-able, but really...I rather think the variety of animals on such a small space just isn't going to be easily achieved.

Garden and fruit space? Plenty of it, I think. My focus would be an awesome garden with more than enough food to go around, and lining that with fruit trees and bramble fruits. Then I'd look to those chickens and rabbits for our main food source. Maybe barter off some fresh chickens and rabbits for the occasional splurge of beef for dinner.

I just don't see the larger animals on the small space being cost effective. There won't be enough space to adequately rotate pasture areas and allow for regrowth. Dry-lots are doable, but not very animal friendly, and definitely not cost effective.

My personal thought (ya' knew I'd have at least one, right??). It ain't happening. Not such grand scale plans on such small scale land. It's a great size for a beginner homesteader, certainly, but I think it's setting the cart before the horse to plan on diving in head-first on this scale. Maybe I'm totally wrong (yes, it's been known to happen once or twice before...) but I think something on that scale will pretty much turn one off of homesteading. It's just too much, too fast.

What would I do, newbie from the city let's say, I've just bought my 2 acres and I'm getting itchy feet for homesteading? Garden and fruits, chickens and rabbits. Forget the cow and pigs for now. Plug every available penny into the 'land fund' kitty and pray for another few acres adjoining to open up. Or, start honing my skills now and save for that greener pasture down yonder road in a few years. I'd be learning all I could about canning, drying and preserving everything from that awesome garden and homestead orchard. I'd be changing my lifestyle to accommodate more chicken and rabbit, less burger and chops. I'd be starting on that homestead path of make if from scratch.
Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do
Or do without

That would become the family creed. Everything homemade from scratch, natural and moving in large strides toward self-sufficiency and complete God-reliance.

Then, one day, when I was no longer that newbie from the city with big plans I'd venture off to my real, true, forever patch of God's Green Earth. Fully armed with my homesteading skills and prepared to learn more raising the family beef cow and the mini herd of piggies (hmmm...would a group of pigs be a herd?). Maybe at that point I'd be ready to even raise some of my own grains for feed, too, or a bit of hay for winter storage.

What do you think?


Think Pretty Thoughts said...

Very good thoughts! We are definitly at a place where the "Use it up..." motto has taken the forefront, but then we actually *enjoy* living that way and are much happier that way so it's no sacrifice. As much as we really, really want to move out of our small town and into the boonies, it just doesn't look like the Lord is thinking that way for us. So for the first time since moving here over four years ago, we are looking at the place with different eyes thinking we may just be here for a good while. It's a mental shift. Can't ever have the chickens I soooo want. Silly neighbors...gah. Our dirt is *awful* but seems to support trees just fine - so perhaps I'll start researching fruit trees and plant a few of those. ~ That could be fun.

Hugs and hope the move is going along smoothly!


Mrs Dewey Smith said...

Are you sure you can't have chickens? I would check zoning and ignore irritable neighbors who aren't chicken-minded ;o)
You could raise chickens in little more than a dog kennel set up. Rabbits, as well. Very easy and very little space required really.

We have got to get together!

Linda said...

I just love how you write 'God reliance', as opposed to all of them people who write 'self reliance' .. that made me smile big time!

greetings from the netherlands!

alba-ny said...

If I didn't know you already have goats I'd suggest goats because they are able to provide a good (more easily digestable too) milk on less than a cow. Great for the lawn mowing too! lol.

In any case I admire what I have read of you doing so far. (I am reading back from the most recent and only started yesterday.)

Oh, another thought is that, yes, you can raise a calf bought for little, say 15$ for a "half breed" or maybe 30$ for a holstein or something. It is more of a two year wait htough, I think. My parents are dairy farmers, and we always have a steer for our own meat too. That is a great thing, and we can even sell quarters of it a dollar a pound to good friends.

Again, I wanted ot say I am enjoying your blog, and feel it is influencing me... a great thing of course :)

Anonymous said...

I have read quite a few books on being self- sufficient. Your 2 acres idea is very good. And it is true to start of small and work towards something bigger as your skills increase. My husband and I are looking for about 5 acres which would do us plenty. We want to be God- reliant on everything we do. Your info is very wise. Thanks Debylin


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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