Monday, May 12, 2014

Soliciting Your Advice as We Develop a New Homestead

Our at our land last Saturday making plans.
  As we have been planning our new place, making site designs, walking it over and figuring out what would go where I have been starting to understand just how many decisions go into making a place from scratch. We are starting with a lot that is 150 feet by 500 feet with one end on the river and one end on the road. There are lots of trees (huge pines, lovely birches and medium oaks mainly) and a small hill in the middle of the property (meaning the road side is higher and there is a bit of a grade to get down by the river). The whole property is a little less than 2 acres.

Ken and Mara measuring out the house.
  Our goal is to be able to produce just as much of our food on our own place. With 2 acres it isn't probably possible to be self- sufficient (and truly we never could be that - we can do nothing without God's help) but we would like to grow/raise as much as we can. I am definitely interested in learning as much as I can about Permaculture gardening so that we can work with the area we have, leave it beautiful and natural as much as possible but still be able to grow a lot of food.

  I thought it would be fun to check in with all of your today to see what your advice is for someone creating a new homestead. Here are so questions I would love to hear your answers to:

  • What do you like or don't you like about how your homestead is laid out (the mapping, traffic patterns, etc)?
  • What animals to you think are best for efficiently providing food on a small piece of property? (We do already have chickens, 2 ducks and bees - we are thinking about adding rabbits and dreaming about a small milk cow.)
  • What sort of dog do you recommend that is gentle and mild mannered, would not chase poultry but would help keep deer away?
  • What perennial plants would you recommend getting started as soon as possible? (We do live in zone 3 so we have our limits as to what will grow.)
  • Any recommendations for growing the food for animals at all? (With limited space.)
  • Any tips as we build a chicken coop, garden shed, a bee keeping room (in the back of the garage)and an outhouse?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the above questions as well as any other tips that you can think of concerning how to make a well laid out homestead!

I will be linking this to Homestead Barn Hop.


Amy and Mark said...

We live in the city and consider ourselves doing well to mow our small lawn but our whole family loves reading your homesteading adventures! I cannot wait to read as you all build and grow on the new land! We are now looking forward to others advice as well.

Sarah Blanshan said...

So interested to see how this all plays out as we are doing the same thing pretty much! We have 3 acres, all cleared and flat. You are a little more ambitious than me with what you hope to grow, but at this stage in my life with my kids being smaller and working some I don't know how much I can handle. But I hope to have a decent garden, some fruit trees, chickens, and lots of play room. I hope to get my honey and milk from the Corders, though I'm not sure what I'm going to offer them in return!

Carmen N said...

We live on just over 1 acre - but most of it is wooded and on a hillside, we actually have a lot less to work with. Not enough area to have a cow (but a girl can still dream).

I just finished a series of blog posts about chickens if you're interested in reading. Although as of this week I'm rethinking the whole free-ranging bit as there's too much poop on the lawn.

Dog: we have a Basset. He likes to let the chickens know every once in a while who's boss, but they know he's not serious and barely run anymore. Most of the time they leave each other alone (although one hen likes to check out the treats he's eating!) We had a Basset-Springer mix before that and he learned not to chase the chickens as well.

Food: I'm regretting that we didn't start some longer-term food items like our pear trees, blueberry bushes and asparagus much sooner.

Lea said...

HI Abbi,

We currently live in the city but I grew up on a one-acre plot in the country (zone 5)

We had a 1/4 acre garden with raised beds planted in a square foot gardening style - no straight rows, but making the most of the space and lots of upward growth. Each year it produced enough vegetables plus strawberries, rhubarb, and raspberries to feed our family of 3 for 2 years (we almost always gave about half of it away but my parents didn't plant a garden for the last 2 years they were in the house and ate from their freezer and canned instead). I didn't eat a store bought vegetable except lettuce (in the winter) until I went to college! And we ate a LOT of vegetables!

We also had a small apple orchard and peach and pear trees as well as wild asparagus and more (wild) strawberries. My cousin (who lives north of Duluth) has a small orchard with apple, pear, and plum trees as well as raspberries and blueberries.

Over half of our lot growing up was natural woods so you should have plenty of space to grow plenty of food if the plants have sunshine. We didn't have any animals (all our neighbors did so if we wanted to, we could have boarded easily) because we traveled a lot. So I can't comment on that part.

SO excited to see how things turn out for you! Thanks for keeping us out here in cyberspace updated.


Brooke said...

Dogs raised with chickens are usually good with them. You just have to teach them to mind when little.
As perennials, apple trees, raspberries, and asparagus are all simple and great producers. I also like rhubarb a lot!
Make your chicken coop south facing if you can for extra light and heat. Make it predator proof, too. Lots of animals like chicken!

standupongrace said...

Hi Abbi! A couple of thoughts that nobody has yet mentioned in the comments...start your medicinal herb garden as soon as possible! Most of these are perennials, even up here in zone 3/! Echinacea, german chamomile, thyme, etc. are great plants to get started with! Square foot gardening is a great way to go with limited space! You may also want to consider a couple of milk goats for your dairy source. They are easy keepers, and need much less acreage than a cow. We have really enjoyed our goats, and a bonus is you can make goat milk soap!
Blessings on your new beginnings!

Anonymous said...

You said you had trees, so I would suggest paying close attention to where the sun is on the property and for how many hours it's shining in different locations. Also observe how water flows across the property. This will help determine where to plant and where not to plant or have livestock. I would highly suggest putting in frost-free spouts wherever you think you'll need to irrigate or keep animals.

Pigs are a good option for a small homestead if you can manage the feed costs (or have relationships with local restaurants to get their leftovers). Here's a good post on thinking about space for pigs:

Perennial herbs that you like to use in the kitchen is a great place to get started. Fedco trees has lots of good options for perennials in cold climates. There are a good number of apples and pears that will work well for your zone.

Our farm had a barn already on it when we purchased it. We have two growing areas at our place, and if I were to start from scratch, i would have put the barn and tool sheds in the middle, with access to both growing areas.


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