Homesteading info?

emyers(8 SC)November 6, 2009

Recently cleared 5 acres around my house and I want to start moving in the direction towards "self sufficiency".

Was wondering if anyone had any info on good sources of info for creating a "homestead".

Siting, quantities etc of fruit & nut trees, grapes, berries, livestock etc for a family for instance.

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brendasue(6)

One book or source probably won't cover everything in enough detail to succeed, hopefully this will get you started.

Agricultural Extention service could help you with your soil, trees, fruits. Personally I wouldn't rely on them for animal care.

General forums such as this one are a good source for real=world solutions. There is another section dedicated to types of plants, very knowlegeable folks on those forums.

There are several books out about farming on small acreage, I can't recall the names but a google search should bring some up.

I'd start with chickens, & work my way up.
As far as barns go, if you have hills, position your barn at the top of the hill-less hoof issues & much drier. Make you new farm life easy-use a pole barn or free-choice enclosed walk-in barn for general lounging & feeding of livestock, then an area inside your main barn for hay & equipment storage & several stalls "in case"(kidding, sick animal, lock down for any reason). Livestock are not fragile unless they are treated that way-just remember change management methods slowly easing into the various seasons/forages.

Cross-fence your acreage, plan on electric fencing eventually. Decide which livestock you would like, read about their care & disease issues, then purchase from a local knowledgable breeder NOT the auction house.
Join a yahoo group for each species you would like to own/raise & start asking questions. Know what predators are in your area & build your facilities for defense-maybe even a livestock guardian dog would be in order.

Take one project at a time, or you might be overwhelmed. Keep in mind some things take longer, like raising a goat to breeding age or waiting for 3 foot high fruit tree to bear fruit. Plan accordingly.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 6:58PM
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matx(8b)

The book "The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!" gives a nice overview of numbers and sizes of gardens and livestock and such. It's broad and not deep but makes for a good overview for you to pick and choose where you want to start.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 6:23PM
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seramas

It doesn't take much land to grow and raise most of your food. We have 2 gardens (50'x100'), 12'x50' greenhouse, 20 seedless concord grape vines and 53 assorted dwarf fruit trees (will add 47 more next spring). We are currently using less than 1 acres of land for food production. We have 25 ISA Brown layers, raise about 400+ Cornish X meat chickens each year and have added a 45 meat rabbit breeding operation. Next spring will include 50 turkeys into the mix and possibly a couple milk goats. We trade with others for what we don't raise and still have plenty to give to many unemployed friends and strangers and one not so nice neighbor.

Food bill went from $140/2 week to less that $20 a month. It takes work to do this, but when you love what youÂre doing is it really work????

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 11:13AM
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brendasue(6)

Your garden looks great, Seramas. Do you till your walkways or??? They are so weed free I'm jealous. Lost my entire garden to rain/weeds this year-couldn't get in to care for the veggies that did grow, the others rotted. We used 1/2 cardboard & were planning on tilling the other half.
Brendasue

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 8:29PM
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seramas

I use a strap hoe. Every morning would walk up and down each row and cut off the tiny weeds. Only takes 20-30 minutes a day. If you wait until they are 4-6" tall it becomes work. I never till (stirring up the weed seeds) between the rows.

The blade of the hoe is just a thin strap of metal that is sharpened on both sides. You do not cut into the soil; just drag it on top cutting the weeds off at the surface. Eventually the surface has no more seeds shallow enough to sprout. It is not necessary to till between the rows where you walk.

The soil in the rows will stay loose if properly mulched. I mulch with Canadian Peat Moss (CPM) or compost. Around the corn I use CPM mixed 75/25 with fresh chicken poo. I use CPM because it will loosen clay, hold moisture, safe to put tightly around plants, has very few weed seeds and hold the soil temperature at a constant level especially on cool nights or hot days.

A good strap hoe cost $30 to $40 and will last 50+ years. I just bought the one I have now because the old one finally could not be sharpened any more. Grandma bought it in 1956 when I was 5. It had seen many growing seasons.

Now Brendasue, don't be goin' 'round a tellin' everybody miz secret.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 9:56PM
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brendasue(6)

We actually have one of those thingamajigies. Didn't know what it was called. Problem is I only get out to weed every 1-2 weeks, and yes the weeds get 4-6 inches by then!

Oh oh oh the secrets out! I'm gonna tell them to get one of those thingamajiggies with a long handle, I'm sure they'll know what I'm talking about.

I'm still jealous.

Brendasue

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 6:55PM
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prmsdlndfrm

My first farm was 10 acres of woods I cleared by hand, took 3 years. Ill share with you some things I learned the hard way, forget any livestock but pigs, goats and chickens in the begining. The pigs and goats are because the first thing a freshly cleared woodlot wants to do is regrow to woods. The pigs will root up all the buried nuts and tree seeds before they can sprout, the goats will clip of sprouts and briars. Land cleared from woods is acidic, so LIME and LIME some more. Get a soil test , woodlands, especialy second growth woodlands as most all of the land thats wooded now is is pretty much defficient in many nutrients, a soil test and following recomendations will save many heartaches when it comes to establishing grass and planting vegetables. A local nursery can decipher into organics the result of your soil test if you want. After your grass grows wait 2 full seasons, mowing during this time, to establish a sod before adding cows, sheep, or horses or they will destroy your sod. Also, depending on your zone, here in the midwest fescure is the most resiliant sod for a small farm, whose pastures recieve a heavier beating.
hope Ive been a help
josh

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 10:27PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I have to look into that strap hoe thingie. Where does one get one of those? I don't think I have ever seen one.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 7:11AM
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gardengalrn(5KS)

I'm really very envious of that garden and I know the work you must put in to keep it so beautiful. I have an ideal garden spot except that it is completely overrun with bind weed. It will be a few years before it is usable. I have to settle for a smaller garden here beside the house. I too am getting some fruit trees this spring and replacing blueberry bushes that got weed-wacked by the boy who does my lawn...grrrr! Lori

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 6:34PM
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doninalaska

The strap hoe is also called a stirrup hoe (for obvious reasons). Some garden writers recommend cultivating the garden at least every week, whether or not there are weeds showing with the thought that you destroy the germinating weeds. I have never been able to do that, however. You are supposed to put it on a calendar so you don't forget--bed #1 on Monday, bed #2 on Tuesday, etc.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 10:58AM
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mikes100acdreamfarm

We call it a hula hoe where IÂm from. DonÂt ask me why, maybe because itÂs hoop shaped?? IÂve started a new system we like in our garden last year and will be working on it more. Plant the whole acre in wheat and clover in the winter. Turn the goats in at kidding early spring. Let them crop and fertilize. Then strip till just where weÂre planting. The wheat eventually gives out, and the clover takes over adding nitrogen all the time. We just mow the paths when it gets too thick adding the clippings to the growing rows. Hit it with a hula hoe thing-a-magiggi when the weeds are small if I can catch it in between the rest of the 99 acres. ItÂs true once a week is easier. The best part about the clover paths beside the added nitrogen is that I can go out in my garden any time of the season and not sink knee deep in gumbo or come out 6 inches taller then I went in. Hill the potatoes with straw and theyÂre easy to get at any time I want. I think IÂll try newspaper mulch under the vine crops this year. If anything gets away from me on weeding itÂs the vines. And yes Seramas, you have a beautiful garden and homestead anyone would be envious of. What are the orange flags for? Wish the hubby and I were younger to keep up with the 100 ac now that weÂve lost our free labor. Kids are all grown and gone.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 1:42AM
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