BHM Forum      
Subscribe to Backwoods Home Magazine print or Kindle editions
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418

Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
Follow Us!



 
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

Features
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Newsletter
 Letters
 Humor
 Free Stuff
 Recipes
 Print Classifieds

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Subscriptions
 Kindle Subscriptions
 ePublications
 Anthologies
 Books
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

Advertise
 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 James Kash
 Where We Live
 Behind The Scenes
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions
 Bramblestitches

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Meet The Staff
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Privacy Policy

Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Feedback
 Links
 Radio Show





  
 

BHM's Homesteading & Self-Reliance Forum
Posting requires Registration and the use of Cookies-enabled browser.

   

Go Back   BHM Forum > Homesteading > Homesteading

Homesteading Talk or ask questions about homesteading in general, your homestead, or any other related topic.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-13-2012, 02:32 PM
LeatherneckPA's Avatar
LeatherneckPA LeatherneckPA is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Williamsport, PA
Posts: 542
Default What could you do with ONE acre?

It is a common misconception among those just starting out that they need lots of land to homestead and/or practice self-sufficiency. Several years ago there was a fascinating discussion on the Simple Living Network titled "What would you do with only one acre". It had probably gotten up to about 9 or 10 pages when I saw it. I could have sworn that I saved a word.doc copy of the thread but I can't find it anywhere. I'd like to start a similar thread here with the intent of sharing it with my DD and SIL. They are just now coming to realization that they aren't ever going to own a 500 acre horse ranch in MT. I'd like them to get a picture of what can be accomplished on just a one acre homestead.

I plan to record the production of our tiny little 200 sq ft raised bed garden this summer. When we add this to our 30 hens and their eggs it's a nice little start for a 1/4 acre. I want to add another 200 sq ft or so in the front yard ("grow it, don't mow it") and maybe put in four or five dwarf fruit trees in the hen yard.

Thanks for the help.
__________________
Iron Mike - Semper Fidelis
Jack of all trades, master of none
Reply With Quote

  #2  
Old 04-13-2012, 02:48 PM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Cleveland OH / Palestine WV
Posts: 1,242
Default

I suspect you could grow enough food for your family on an acre, but that's only part of the self-sufficiency equation.

Unless you have a gas well, you need a source of energy. Can you grow enough timber on the same acre to heat a home long term?

This might be less of an issue in the southern states.

A lot of it depends on how you define "self-sufficient".

Look forward to a hopefully interesting thread.
__________________
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Marxism: The ultimate illusory fantasy.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-13-2012, 03:42 PM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 492
Default

To be honest with you, I would think that with one acre of land, you would be spending the rest of your life wishing you had more. :-)

All joking aside, I have heard of some people doing a lot with an acre, but it comes far shy of being self-suffecient. Of all the people that claimed this, my Grandparents were the only ones I know of that actually came close to it, but it took far more than an 43,000 square feet.

They had sheep for commercial wool and meat
They had pigs for their own meat
They had a few beef cows for their own meat and commercial sales
They had two dairy cows for milk, cheese and butter (the latter which they sold)
They had broilers as their main commodity (75,000 birds)
They had a greenhouse that they starter plants and sold the excess
They had an half-acre garden for their own use
They consumed 25 cords of wood per year
They trucked/harvested wood commercially in the winter
My Grandmother did crafts and sold them
They sold gravel out of their gravel pit
They made their own alcohol from their apple orchard (and sold some :-) )

To do all this, it took 180 acres of fields, 20 of which was pasture only, while another 300 acres was in woodlot, and about 5 acres in gravel pit.

In my opinion, with the cost of property taxes, and the price of health insurance, it would be nearly impossible to replicate what they did in order to be completely self-suffecient today. :-(
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-13-2012, 03:59 PM
kfander Male kfander is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Millinocket & St. Agatha, Maine
Posts: 1,947
Default

I read something about a project that was done in, I think it was, California. The opening theory was that a family with two children could sustain themselves on one acre of land. It's been awhile since I read it but, as I remember it, they tried it for a period of years before concluding that, while they may be able to stay alive on what they could grow or raise on one acre, the standard of living was poor. For practical purposes, they concluded that it could not reasonably be done.

Many people will look at what you might be able to raise and grow on the land, adding the pluses, based on their use in human consumption, but forgetting that, if you are going to raise chickens or other livestock, these animals are going to have to be fed, as well. Then there are regional limitations on what can be grown or raised in a specific area. While those in California, or in some of the Southern states, might have a large number of crops that can be raised on their land, along with a longer growing season, that would be difficult to do on, let's say, my property in northern Maine.
__________________
That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it unless someone yells at me or something.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-13-2012, 04:22 PM
LeatherneckPA's Avatar
LeatherneckPA LeatherneckPA is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Williamsport, PA
Posts: 542
Default

Folks, we're being far too literal here. I am fully aware that self-sufficiency on only one acre is impossible. But I also know there are success stories out there from some of you who have made fantastic accomplishments on very small parcels which have contributed significantly to your quality of life. Those are the stories I am interested in hearing.

I guess what I'm saying is, we're a lot more interested in hearing HOW you DID it than we are in why you don't believe it can be done.
__________________
Iron Mike - Semper Fidelis
Jack of all trades, master of none
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-13-2012, 05:48 PM
AzLoneRider's Avatar
AzLoneRider Male AzLoneRider is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Southern Arizona
Posts: 876
Default

Mike
There is a lot that can be done on one acre. For example on our 1 acre I have the following:

Of course our modest house, and at the back door room for covered parking for 4 cars.
A small shop where I work wood, keep car parts and tools for working on vehicles. We also keep a lot of hardware for home repair in there.

We have two goats with room for more if we want. example: A buck on the other side of the property.
Currently we have 16 chickens and if I want to add more I will build a bigger coop.
We have a 25X50 ft no till garden. We also have a container garden that houses all the herbs and other plants for both food and medicinal purposes.
We will add additional gardens as needed. I could see the need to add a dedicate area for squash and melons.
We are currently considering adding fish farming to our homestead, this will mean we will need to put together some sort of aqua culture.
We are also going to add 2 horses in the near future.

This means we're going to have a pretty tight fit on the acre we have. That's a lot!! Not to mention all the projects we're doing like rain water catchment, solar cooking, campfire cooking. An archery area so we can practice shooting our bow. A roping area so Jake can practice roping. We want to move to a bigger piece of land eventually, however, there's still a lot that can be done on one acre of land.
__________________
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -Samuel Adams
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-13-2012, 07:49 PM
kammisue kammisue is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 273
Default

On one acre we have:

Our house
2 sheds
Large goat pen with 3 shelters - 11 goats
A hen house with 15 hens
30+ free roaming roosters (they do meander off the acre)
5 smaller pens housing chicks and rabbits (well the rabbits got out this morning but new ones will be picked up on Monday)
2 german shepherds
5 cats
A little dog
32X16 raised bed garden
A shetland pony (she keeps the grass cut)

Our field of corn and peas is not on the acre and the 3 big horses aren't on the acre BUT!! if it were necessary the horses could go in the goat pen and we could plant the peas and corn and not have so much beautiful green grass for the pony to eat
__________________
[FONT=Courier New][SIZE=3][COLOR=blue][B][I][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. I John 2:23[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[B][I][FONT=Courier New][SIZE=3][COLOR=purple]Y Gwir erbyn y Byd[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/B]
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-14-2012, 12:40 PM
MichaelK Male MichaelK is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sierra foothills
Posts: 507
Default

The problem I have with this post is that it gives the un-informed the impression that all they'll have to do is buy one acre, develop it, and then they'll be able to weather whatever economic/political/environmental crises that are out there. That just ain't gonna happen.

Part of the problem is that the question is fundamentally a mute point simply because you most likely CAN NOT buy one single acre to accomplish what homesteaders want to accomplish.

That's simply because of the economics of land use and how money is earned from the land. Typically, as you start at a city center, land use is at a commercial premium, and is sold by the square foot, not the acre. As you go further and further out from the city center, your ability to make money off of does down further and further.

Let's say down town a business occupying a 25'X50' commercial space grosses 500,000 dollars of income per year. That means every square foot of that property on average makes about 400$ each year.

Now, lets go out 30 miles to some cattle grazing land (my case). Neighbors can lease my property for grazing, and the going rate for that is about 3$ per cow per month. Assuming I have about 15 animals on the property from May till November (they're relocated to lower elevations for winter grazing) I'd be making about 4-5$ per acre. Just 1/100th it's downtown earning potential. The economics of land use basically forbid the sale of small properties because they can not be economically viable.

I get sad when I see people saying they want to buy one acre in the middle of nowhere so they can put up a little cabin and start a garden. It never happens because out in the middle of nowhere the selling of a 1 acre parcel never happens. Most county managers understand this and rules for selling properties are codified into the zoning regulations. In my county, out in the middle of nowhere you CAN NOT develop any property smaller than 20 acres.

Now, if you want to ask the question: "On my 20 acre property what can I intensively develop on 1 of those acres?", you've got a reasonable base for discussion.
__________________
I'm an O negative, Aries, ISTJ, Rat.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-14-2012, 01:08 PM
AzLoneRider's Avatar
AzLoneRider Male AzLoneRider is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Southern Arizona
Posts: 876
Default

I don't want to speak for Mike, however, it looks like the nay-sayers have taken over this thread and instead of looking at the possibilities in learning, practicing and movement towards self sufficiency, they just want to poo poo the effort and discourage both Mike and his DD and SIL.

Not everyone can afford 20 acres in the hinterboonies. They have to start somewhere with the resources they have. We originally moved to this acre with the intent of just having an acre of land, no garden, no animals, just us... The suburb mindset. Once we started focusing on homesteading, self-sufficiency and survival we started looking at what we could do with what we have until such a time that we can find a bigger area and pay for it.

The original question wasn't 'What can't be done on an acre?' the question was 'What can you do with one acre?'

Can we look at the glass half full like the original post asked?
__________________
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -Samuel Adams
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-14-2012, 01:39 PM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Cleveland OH / Palestine WV
Posts: 1,242
Default

I think you're mistaking hard-learned realism for nay-saying and poo-poing.

All of us want to maximize our land and be as self-sufficient as possible - that's why we're here.

We have 30 acres, and I'd just as soon let 29 of them grow wild than invest the time, money, blood and sweat developing them if it isn't necessary.

But there are also plenty who are new to homesteading visiting this site. This would be a great thread for them to show them what can be done, but we owe it to them to give them the straight story. People make decisions based on what they read here - it's probably the best source of homesteading advice on the web.

We've all seen homesteaders that have started out wide-eyed and enthused only to fail a few years later because they didn't know what they were really getting into.

I sure want to hear the stories of those who are packing a bunch into a single acre, but I also want to know if they and/or their spouse are working full-time. Where are they getting their water? Where are they getting their power? Where are they getting the fuel to heat their house? How often are they grocery shopping and what are they getting? How much income (if any) are they deriving from their property? How are they defining self-sufficiency and in what areas?

Self-sufficiency is a continuum. For some it's just not having to go to the grocery store, except for maybe coffee and sugar, with power from the local utility, gas from the local utility, and working full-time. Others are completely off-grid, don't work outside their property, and get all their needs from their land, crops and livestock.
__________________
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Marxism: The ultimate illusory fantasy.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-14-2012, 02:08 PM
aprilconnett Female aprilconnett is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Posts: 338
Default

I am incredulous at the comments on this thread!!! This is where I come not only to learn, but to be encouraged! People here have given me ideas on how to "homestead" in my trailer park (back when I was allowed to do anything); yet, now I see claims that ONE ENTIRE ACRE is worthless as far as self-sufficiency is concerned? WOW! Just wow!


Of course, I have NEVER actually had an entire acre to do anything with, so this is all mere conjecture at this point:

Almost certainly, I could grow enough organic veggies and probably fruits to feed us. That includes canning and freezing enough for the winter. It seems that there would be room for chickens; maybe not several dozen, but enough to at least provide fresh eggs daily, and "put up" any extras. There might even be enough room left for a couple of dairy goats? Remember, I am just guessing at what could be accomplished . . .

april
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-14-2012, 03:09 PM
krapgame's Avatar
krapgame krapgame is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Right here
Posts: 1,067
Default

Self-sufficiency is a very relative term. In the absolute, to be self-sufficient one would need to actually mine the iron ore, refine it into steel, then somehow shape it to produce the replacement shovel head that they need to work their garden. Anyone who isn't making all their finished goods from basic raw materials (tools, fuel, energy, fertilizer, etc.) in that fashion isn't fully self-sufficient, and any belief to the contrary is simply self delusion regardless of how many acres they have in production.

What I think most of us mean when we speak of self sufficiency usually starts with food production and eventually grows to include water, possibly energy in the form of solar, and may eventually encompass some fashion of self employment to pay taxes or purchase the things they simply cannot produce themselves. My impression of the OP is that was the frame of reference from which the question was asked.

From what I've learned, both in study and in practice, 1 acre of reasonably good ground is fully capable of providing all the caloric requirements and most of the general nutritional requirements of a family of 4. Some locations won't support this because of poor ground conditions, short growing seasons, etc. I will also caution that to coax 1 acre into producing for for 4 people for an extended number of seasons is a very delicate balancing act. Everything must be used efficiently all the time and there is minimal margin for mistakes. Also, one bad year of weather can completely derail the train.

In my experience, 1 acre, properly managed, is capable of supporting a small assortment of nuts, fruits and berries almost indefinitely, a good sized garden, a small flock of fowl for meat and eggs as well as 1-2 head of small livestock (goats, sheep, pigs) for meat. IMO, it's not big enough to support maintaining a breeding pair and their offspring.

As has been discussed in several other threads here, to have enough caloric production for a family of 4, you have to have either meat or grains, preferably both. There simply isn't enough calories in apples, carrots, spinach, etc. to provide the fuel needed to do the work required to keep up with the physical requirements of maintaining an acre like this.

So, rather than striving for "self sufficiency" we have chosen to pursue the goal of reducing our necessity for outside inputs as much as possible, and I think that's really what most people mean when they speak of self sufficiency. One acre, properly managed, can definitely go a LONG way to decreasing the amount of outside inputs required to maintain a living.

If one acre was all that I had available, I'd absolutely do something with it. Patience, who posts here, has done amazing things with his one acre and he has detailed much of that over the years on here. The bottom line, one acre won't make you "self sufficient," but it definitely can make your quality of diet much better and much more affordable and in turn free up monetary resources to be used for other things. If everyone were to do this, I believe that hiccups in the food delivery system, aka local supermarkets, would barely be noticed in most places.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-14-2012, 03:44 PM
LeatherneckPA's Avatar
LeatherneckPA LeatherneckPA is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Williamsport, PA
Posts: 542
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AzLoneRider View Post
I don't want to speak for Mike, however, it looks like the nay-sayers have taken over this thread and instead of looking at the possibilities in learning, practicing and movement towards self sufficiency, they just want to poo poo the effort and discourage both Mike and his DD and SIL. Not everyone can afford 20 acres in the hinterboonies. They have to start somewhere with the resources they have.

Can we look at the glass half full like the original post asked?
AzLoneRider hits the nail precisely on the head. This was SUPPOSED to be an inspirational look at "what you could do", not the opposite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilconnett View Post
I am incredulous at the comments on this thread!!! WOW! Just wow! Almost certainly, I could grow enough organic veggies and probably fruits to feed us. That includes canning and freezing enough for the winter. It seems that there would be room for chickens; maybe not several dozen, but enough to at least provide fresh eggs daily, and "put up" any extras. There might even be enough room left for a couple of dairy goats?
april, I am not incredulous. One of the reasons I have posted so little over the last two years is because of the self-proclaimed experts who shoot down any person or idea which is not directly in line with THEIR opinion. I see things haven't gotten any better with time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krapgame View Post
Self-sufficiency is a very relative term. ... What I think most of us mean when we speak of self sufficiency usually starts with food production and eventually grows to include water, possibly energy in the form of solar, and may eventually encompass some fashion of self employment to pay taxes or purchase the things they simply cannot produce themselves. My impression of the OP is that was the frame of reference from which the question was asked. ... In my experience, 1 acre, properly managed, is capable of supporting a small assortment of nuts, fruits and berries almost indefinitely, a good sized garden, a small flock of fowl for meat and eggs as well as 1-2 head of small livestock (goats, sheep, pigs) for meat. IMO, it's not big enough to support maintaining a breeding pair and their offspring. ... So, rather than striving for "self sufficiency" we have chosen to pursue the goal of reducing our necessity for outside inputs as much as possible, and I think that's really what most people mean when they speak of self sufficiency. One acre, properly managed, can definitely go a LONG way to decreasing the amount of outside inputs required to maintain a living.
krapgame, I appreciate your insightful interpretation. You are pretty much on target with what I was asking. Reducing outside input was the goal I had in mind. Or at least showing them ways they can stretch what little money they have without feeling impoverished.
__________________
Iron Mike - Semper Fidelis
Jack of all trades, master of none
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-14-2012, 08:29 PM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 492
Default

There is one aspect of this however that has not been taken into account...livestock waste. I cringe when I hear people talk about how many animals they have on say an acre of ground. While it is cool to hear that people are doing a lot with 43000 square feet, what about the manure those animals produce? I bring this up because a lot of people do not think of this.

The rule of thumb is, if you have to bring in feed because not enough grass grows on your land during the grazing months, then the animals are probably producing more manure then what the soil can handle. Typically a livestock animal poos out 85% of what it consumes so if you buy a lot of hay during the grazing months, then it could be a problem. It depends on the soil of course, and the terrain and such, but it is something to consider.

Its not a big deal if there are provisions for getting rid of the manure quickly, but stock piling it for any length of time has its own problems. Just sitting there in a pile, it will leach out with each rain storm, under under its own accord.

I guess the biggest example of this is my neighbor. Like me, she has sheep, but her 20-30 flock is grazing on only an acre of ground. The soil cannot absorb that much manure and her land is just above a fairly large stream. While I am sure she does not realize it, her sheep are polluting her land, and the stream below her as well. That is NOT good.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-14-2012, 08:56 PM
kammisue kammisue is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 273
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plowpoint View Post
There is one aspect of this however that has not been taken into account...livestock waste. I cringe when I hear people talk about how many animals they have on say an acre of ground. While it is cool to hear that people are doing a lot with 43000 square feet, what about the manure those animals produce? I bring this up because a lot of people do not think of this.

The rule of thumb is, if you have to bring in feed because not enough grass grows on your land during the grazing months, then the animals are probably producing more manure then what the soil can handle. Typically a livestock animal poos out 85% of what it consumes so if you buy a lot of hay during the grazing months, then it could be a problem. It depends on the soil of course, and the terrain and such, but it is something to consider.

Its not a big deal if there are provisions for getting rid of the manure quickly, but stock piling it for any length of time has its own problems. Just sitting there in a pile, it will leach out with each rain storm, under under its own accord.

I guess the biggest example of this is my neighbor. Like me, she has sheep, but her 20-30 flock is grazing on only an acre of ground. The soil cannot absorb that much manure and her land is just above a fairly large stream. While I am sure she does not realize it, her sheep are polluting her land, and the stream below her as well. That is NOT good.
EXCELLENT point!!!

I have a lot of animals on an acre... I rake out my goat pen almost daily.. clean out my hen house once a week .. Twice a day go out and scoop any poo Princess the pony has left in the yard.. all this goes into the compost pile that seem to NEVER grow because folks in the community know it is there and stop by often for a truck load or with a few container to fill up... This is a blessing.. Don't know what I'd do if it wasn't leaving the property almost as fast as it comes

Maybe sell it?? There is someone on my local craigslist that sells bags of goat pellets for $5 a bag
__________________
[FONT=Courier New][SIZE=3][COLOR=blue][B][I][SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. I John 2:23[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[B][I][FONT=Courier New][SIZE=3][COLOR=purple]Y Gwir erbyn y Byd[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/B]
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 04-14-2012, 10:14 PM
BackwoodsBuff BackwoodsBuff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 10
Default

I would compost or make manure tea to water and fertilize plants with. I clean my poultry house once in the Spring and once in the Fall. I add bedding throughout the year though. Then I compost it and put it on the garden.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-14-2012, 11:25 PM
krapgame's Avatar
krapgame krapgame is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Right here
Posts: 1,067
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plowpoint View Post
There is one aspect of this however that has not been taken into account...livestock waste.
In my opinion, and please note that this is only opinion, I don't believe that it's really that big of a deal in the context of what has been posted here so far. My reasons for this position: 1) a small plot just won't support that many animals unless you have some kind of high density confinement lot and then there are all kinds of regulations for waste containment. Not saying that they are always followed or enforced, but there are regulations. 2) for every acre today that keeps a few animals there are tens of acres that used to keep animals which no longer do. How many old farmsteads have either been subdivided or have converted to strictly grain production that used to keep 2 or more cow/calf pairs per acre over 100 or more acres? If subdivided into 1 acre plots and 2 out of those 100 plots kept 2 cows apiece, the totality of the waste produced wouldn't nearly approach what was once produced on the 100 acres when it was in production. And 3) unless there is something undesirable introduced into the food chain, animal waste should be little more than redistribution of nutrients. If the animals are only grazing on the grass or other feed that grows on the space they graze, they are adding nothing that wasn't already there. Yes, they are changing the state of it into something that is a little more quickly bio-reactive with the environment than was the grass, but they haven't added anything to what was already there. Yes, if outside feed is provided to them then that is added to the equation, but that's not what I'm discussing here.

I realize that there are sensitive scenarios that could be more affected by any waste runoff, but those are comparatively few and far between. Part of stewardship is the responsibility of understanding the mechanics of how all the elements interact and using that understanding to properly manage those interactions to mitigate any undesirable side affects, both to the land one is steward of as well as to any land that may be affected as a result of the actions that take place on the land you manage. Again, my reasoning only applies to the scenario where animals are fed exclusively by the land on which they live. If there are outside feed inputs, that changes the balance and my reasoning no longer applies. But that's not the context of the OP, as that wouldn't fall into the category of self sufficiency.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-15-2012, 02:55 PM
Plowpoint Male Plowpoint is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 492
Default

Exactly...

I was not really referring to the original poster at all, but to some of the others that were loading up their acre with lots of animals. Yes you can HOUSE your animals on a single acre, BUT their manure must be addressed...and then there is the issue of over-crowding which induces stress, which has its own moral issues...but I won't get into that! :-)

My point was not to say manure issues make housing animals on small acreages impossible, but to point out that it is something needs to be addressed before you do so. Kudos to Kammisue for doing just that!! The method created to deal with the problem keeps the homestead's soil and water clean, and gives to the community for those that need it...and I am all about giving back to the community!!

And here is the crazy thing about animals and manure, even on my farm, for 150 days out of the year, due to Maine's harsh climate, I have excess animals on a small plot of land. If I did not have a plan to deal with the manure I would be polluting my own soil and water as well, so I am no better than anyone else. But what the difference is between my neighbor and myself is, I know what is occurring and have checks and balances to head it off. A heavy use area, a manure pad, sheep pens with concrete floors and some land distant from the barn to help disperse that manure, all designed by professionals using soil and manure testing to ensure I'm within tolerance.

Now I say all this with one caveat...I have lots of sheep so that is why I have so many checks and balances. A small homestead does not need all those things, but they should still have a plan to store, and get rid of the excess manure properly. I am not sure though that it is something people readily think of.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-15-2012, 05:41 PM
Dame Dame is offline
Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Northern Plains, Canada
Posts: 533
Default

A one acre homestead gives people with primarily urban lifestyles and urban employment income somewhere to transition without overwhelming themselves. Zoning bylaws also prevent the subdivision of land outside a relatively easy commute to the urban job.

The jump from the urban high rise condo to a truly self-sufficient homestead with a large land base is just huge and not recommended for most. With one acre to manage, and the controls of local regulation and services, more people are more likely to acquire the skills, storage and tools they will be needing to make a successful transition.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-15-2012, 11:12 PM
bookwormom bookwormom is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 5,497
Default

One acre is better than no acre and you can do a lot. I am sure the OP was not talking about being totally self sufficient.
Keep some small lifestock, two goats maybe, a few rabbits, a few chickens, a couple of beehives. Espalier fruit trees along the fenceline, trellised grapevines on a southfacing wall. do squarefoot gardening and have all the vegetables you need and can use. Have a patch of strawberries and raspberries. they are such a luxury item if you have to buy them. I have a row of them along the chickenfence. We just planted four blueberry bushes. I have two rhubarb plants. If I add up all my productive area it may be less than an acre, I wind up cutting a lot of grass in between. I don't see how manure could be a problem. Have a compost station and put everything in it that will rot. I never have enough compost. You can grow thornless black berries on a porch post. My SIL has only one, old plant that is big and produces fantastic. Check out this link for real inspiration,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4AcmaGbldU

this family actually sells produce. And they do not even have an acre. I think they are a real inspiration. I don't think anyone is seriously expecting to have firewood from one acre. We used to rent a place that was a bit more than an acre and had old fruit trees, We had all the fruit and vegetables we could use, we kept a few sheep and I sheared them and had the wool made into thick comforters that we still have. We had to buy winter hay. and we had to buy chicken feed. After the kids moved out I only kept three chickens and that was plenty for us two and they almost lived on leftovers . I now have way too many chickens, and two hens are setting. Do a lot in small ways and plant only as much as you can use. I know I set out too many head lettuce plants, who is supposed to eat them all if they do well. Use trellises to save on space.
And may you get rain when you need it.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -2. The time now is 01:12 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 1996 to Present. Backwoods Home Magazine, Inc.