How to Start Your Own 1-Acre, Self-Sufficient Homestead!
Anyone can start their own homestead. If you choose to do so, your operation will be dependent upon acreage. For example, a small backyard would not be able to house large animals. For the purpose of this article we will be working off of a 1 acre plot of land. First, you will need to decide which animals you can manage and commit time to. Then decide what you would like to achieve on your land. It all can seem a bit overwhelming so let’s break it down.
Animals are an important part of having a self sufficient homestead. They are also a lot of work. You should only choose the ones you are able and willing to provide for. One acre could allow for one dairy cow, chickens, rabbits, pigs, or goats. The obvious benefit to a dairy cow or dairy goats would be milk, and the production of cheese and butter. These animals require a little more work then the rest. You would need to be willing to milk your dairy animals and commit a half of your acre for them to graze. Also they would need a small barn to stay in during winter months. A dairy cow will result in more milk than dairy goats, but you will also spend more money on feed. Make sure to keep the manure for fertilizing your garden!
Once you have chosen which dairy option you will be working with you can move on to the other animals. Pigs would allow you to provide meat for your family as well as as extra income with the sale of piglets. They should be kept in a movable house with a permanent pen inside. This provides the necessary shelter they need for part of the year, and gives you the opportunity to move them around your land. They should not be kept inside the grazing area for your dairy animals, so pick an eighth of an acre and call that your pig pen area! In between crop cycles, you should allow your pigs to run on your harvested land to help cultivate. Chickens are a more manageable animal as they will be kept inside their chicken coop. You could create a permanent coop in a moveable fenced area so that they can fertilize the land. This structure is called a chicken tractor, and is best placed near your garden. You can collect eggs for your family and sell the extras!
When it comes to crops, its important to remember that you need provide for your family and your animals. This means that planting fodder crops is just as important as planting fruits and vegetables. It increases your self sufficiency and decreases your feed expenses. A crop rotation is the best option for a limited amount of land. The more land that can be used for gardening, the more you will be able to harvest. Having a small home comes at a low cost and allows you to utilize more of your land for your own benefit!
For more information on maintaining a 1 acre self-sufficient farm, Weed ‘Em & Reap, and Mother Earth News, which inspired this post, find them in our bloggers’ directory.
By Alison LaPaglia
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