homestead plan

All posts tagged homestead plan

By Carmella Tyrell – SurvivoPedia

I don’t know about you, but I would love to own about 25 acres of land in the middle of nowhere and live solely on what I develop from the land itself.

The sad fact is, most of people caught in a crisis will either live in bands of scavengers or wind up dead.

Even those fortunate enough to live on a homestead or in a dedicated survival group are apt to find themselves being attacked by anyone desperate enough to try and steal from them.

If you can afford to purchase land and live off grid, it offers a better standard of living and added peace and comfort in a time when just about everything else is falling apart. If you intend to succeed at moving off grid, there are 10 mistakes you must avoid at all cost.

Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: 11 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Moving Off-Grid

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'Living Fences': The Way Smart Homesteaders Get Extra Food, Fodder & Fuel

Image source: Pixabay.com

By Jessica W Off The Grid News

A quick drive through the countryside provides a glimpse at perfect fields, some still outlined with old growth trees. While the sight is common, more and more of these fence rows are being uprooted for modern fencing and big agricultural endeavors.

Living fences, made up of many types of trees, bushes and vines, have been utilized for centuries as an effective way to separate livestock, protect gardens and orchards and designate borders and public spaces. Although seemingly outdated, these fences are very efficient and provide many additional benefits.

Though not a quick solution to your fencing needs today, investing time and effort into growing and maintaining a living fence is rewarding for many homesteaders. Living fences, also known as hedgerows, involve a dense grouping of trees, shrubs and other plant life that form a barrier between areas on the homestead. These living fences take a few years to establish, but they can be sustained for hundreds of years with proper planning and ongoing maintenance.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: ‘Living Fences’: The Way Smart Homesteaders Get Extra Food, Fodder & Fuel

SurvivalHomesteadSitePlan

By  – The Prepper Journal

A great deal can go into site planning for your survival homestead, even when the infrastructure is already in place and funds don’t exist to renovate lines or move buildings. Where we place things can increase or decrease our defensive abilities, success in growing, and how likely we are to see something – which can be good or bad. It can also hugely impact the efficiency of a site, whether it’s a small suburban or urban lot or a large rural retreat. While more space creates more options, planning for efficiency has major merits for any size site. When things are more efficient, they require less work to maintain. Whether that work is manual or powered, using less time, labor and resources frees up our abilities elsewhere, allowing us to do more.

Site Planning Factors for your survival homestead

The three most important factors in site planning for efficiency are arguably access, sun, and water. They are equally important, although when aspects like defense and drought resilience come into play one or another may take more precedence. There are variable levels of importance within factors as well. For example, access for ease and convenience might drop to the bottom of a list, but access for maintenance should stay near the top.

Continue reading at The Prepper Journal: Site Planning for Your Survival Homestead

6 Reasons To Start Homesteading This Year (No. 3 Could Save America -- If Everyone Did It)

Image source: Flickr

By Susan Patterson Off The Grid News

Are you thinking of starting a homestead? Does the thought of growing food, tending animals and living independently sound attractive to you? If so, then you are not alone, as each year thousands of Americans discover the joy of the self-sufficient life.

But if you are on the fence, here are six reasons why you may want to get going on your homesteading plans:

1. You want to provide food for your family.

Many people who start a homestead do so because they are sick of being reliant on their local grocery store for food. Food prices are skyrocketing, quality is diminishing, and you never know exactly where your food is coming from. When you start your homestead, you will raise the majority of your own food, ensuring it is healthy and nutritious. Also, once your homestead is up and running, you can build a stockpile of healthy food for times of need.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: 6 Reasons To Start Homesteading This Year (No. 3 Could Save America — If Everyone Did It)

Here’s What You BETTER Know Before You Build Your First Pond

Image source: Pixabay.com

By Savannah H. Off The Grid News

Warm weather has arrived, and along with the sunny weather often comes a to-do list of projects. If you have been looking for a project to work on this year, why not build a pond?

We will get to the “how-to” in a moment, but first let’s explore the many benefits of a pond. Beauty, after all, isn’t the only benefit of a pond.

1. They benefit the local wildlife

Various species of wildlife benefit from ponds, even a small one. Ponds attract beneficial insects, serve as a water source for different animals, and can act as a haven for various amphibians and small reptiles. Birds love to have a clean source of bathing water, especially if you have a tempting waterfall feature.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News: Ponds 101: What You BETTER Know Before You Start Digging

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

By  JD Lara Off The Grid News

Without a doubt, the main things people think of when considering buying rural land for an off-grid property are size, location and cost.

But there are several other steps and factors you’ll need to consider to ascertain if the area is viable for living in and farming, especially in the long term. Going through these guidelines will help you make a better assessment, and spare you from potential problems ahead — especially if you’ve been a city-slicker all your life and are only now transitioning into country living. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it may include items you may not have thought of.

Continue reading at Off The Grid News; 9 Things You Gotta’ Consider Before Buying Any Off-Grid Land

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Lots of preppers are convinced that they’re going to “live off the land” should the world as we know it come tumbling down around our ears. Seed banks are stockpiled, books are purchased, and people are confident that they’ll be able to outlive everyone else based on the sweat of their inexperienced brows. But no matter how hard working you are, farming takes time. Time for learning, time for mistakes, and time for your plans to come to fruition. A prepper homestead is something that must be built over a period of time – it’s absolutely not a plug-and-play solution, regardless of the extent of survival seed packets you have carefully stashed away. Farming for survival is not a good plan if you have never done it before.

If a prepper homestead is your survival plan, let me give you some advice: STORE. FOOD.

You are going to have to have something to get you through that first year when your farm doesn’t produce diddly squat.

As anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows, my family is prone to new adventures. We’ve moved from a large city to a cabin in the North Woods, where I discovered I knew nothing about building fires and living in the wilderness. We drove across the continent to move from Ontario, Canada, to the West Coast, where I had to rebuild my preps from the ground up, since US Customs would not allow us to bring our food supplies across.

This year’s adventure is food production. My daughter and I recently moved to a small farm, eager to polish up a new skill set and build that idealized prepper homestead that many of us dream about.

After only a few months here, I feel it’s my duty to announce that while raising your own food is a noble goal, it’s not as easy as people seem to think. Heck, even though I expected some setbacks, it is way harder and more time-consuming than I expected.

Of course, shortcuts do exist to help you circumvent all of these issues. If you have lots of money, you can shorten the amount of time it takes for your farm to be productive. The shortcuts all seem to cost a lot more money than the hard-work-method, and if you’re getting into self-reliance on a dime, they may not be practical or affordable. The other issue is, you may not even know the issue exists until it smacks you in the face and you’re chasing a goat down the road, frantically waving your arms to warn approaching pickup trucks to slow down so they don’t mow down your livestock. (Ask me how I know this.)

The real truth is, raising your own food takes time. It isn’t something you undertake after the SHTF. If a self-reliant homestead is your survival strategy, you need to start now.

The garden

Unless you’re Jack, the possessor of magic beans that grow to prolific heights overnight, you’re going to get awfully hungry waiting for your garden to feed you. The first year a garden is grown in a new place, you learn about all sorts of foibles of your location, things you’d never know unless you have taken the effort to create your own salad bar.

Some folks get lucky and end up with a lush green jungle from the very first season, but for most of us…well, let’s just say that my daughter and I would struggle to live for a week on the calories produced by this year’s garden.

We have had all of the plagues this year that condemned us to gardening failure. First, we moved late in the season, but I had nurtured my veggies in buckets, so I assumed I’d transplant them and they’d magically grow.

Alas, on the first night, they fattened up the local deer. If I shot a deer that got fed by my vegetable plants, would that count towards the success of my gardening efforts? Because that would substantially up the caloric bounty.

So, I re-fenced, got a big dog, and replanted. Then, like something out of a sci-fi movie, freaking GOPHERS yanked the plants down by the roots and made them vanish. All that remained was a fluttering leaf here and there.

I dug out my raised beds, laid hardware cloth at the bottom, and refilled them. Then I replanted again. By this time, it was late July and we had a heatwave. Many of the new plants didn’t survive the blazing 110 degree days, despite shade and plentiful water. Some of the ones that did survive got peed on by the dog I got to protect them from the deer, and immediately withered from being drenched in urine.

Did I mention hornworms? They decimated several of my tomatoes and peppers overnight! I watered in the evening and things looked great. The next morning, half of my plants looked as though they’d been scalped. Out of a sense of vengeance, I threw those hornworms in the chicken run to be pecked, tortured, and eaten alive. Take that, you evil little jerks.

I am still picking tomatoes and peppers from the plants I saved, but that’s all we got this year. Thankfully, we’re big fans of salsa and marinara, but we don’t have enough to live off. In four months on my little prepper homestead, I’ve basically produced a large salad.

This is all part of the game, though. Next year will be better because I’ve put into place what I’ve learned. I’ve gotten a deer-proof fence, I’ve gopher-proofed my raised beds, I figured out how to keep my dog out of the lower beds, and placed barriers at the corners after he peed on my favorite tomato plant. Once I’ve harvested the last tomato, I’ve got a cover crop ready to go into the beds to enrich the soil and feed my chickens this winter. And to greater express my determination, I’ve enrolled in a master gardener’s course through my county extension office.

I will grow food next year. But if we had to live off of this year’s harvest, we’d be screwed.

Shortcuts:

As I mentioned above, shortcuts are expensive and all of these may not be realistic or fall within your budget.

  • Start out protecting your garden from all possible foragers by building a deer-proof, gopher-proof area before you ever plant a seed.
  • Test your soil and amend it with stuff from the nursery to provide the perfect growing medium for your veggies. (Add these kits to your stockpile so that you can test your soil regularly throughout the season.)
    Take a class from locals, geared towards your environment.
  • Install a drip irrigation system.
  • Pay a master gardener to help you get your garden established.
  • The best (and most expensive) shortcut? Move to a place with existing fruit trees, established gardens, and permaculture fixtures.

The eggs

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In farming, it’s the chicken. The chickens come well, well, before the eggs. Like, at least 6 months before.

I have 13 chickens of varying ages, and nary an egg in site. My oldest three hens will be laying soon, but there’s a lot more to backyard egg production than throwing some feed into a henhouse or opening the door to let your birds free range and telling them to be sure and deposit their eggs neatly in the bins provided to them.

First, many people start with little baby chicks. Not only are they flippin’ adorable, but they’re way cheaper than adult birds. You get to know exactly what they’ve eaten for their entire lives, which means you know whether they’ve been consuming antibiotics or hormones, and can alter their diets to fit your personal food philosophies.

But chicks are fragile. Out of my first batch of 8, five died.  FIVE. More than 50%. I felt like a unwilling serial killer of baby animals. Since my subsequent batches have flourished with the exact same care, I suspect there was some illness from the feed store where I purchased them. Baby chicks need special food, an environment that is safe from predators, and a heat source so that they can maintain the right body temperature. Of course, you have to be careful with the heat lamp or you can set your coop on fire, something that very nearly happened to me, but mercifully, we caught it just in time.

When they get big enough, you have to teach them where the water is and put them in a safe place where they won’t be eaten by predators. We have a large covered run that keeps them protected while allowing them fresh air and some freedom. Keep in mind that when it’s too cold or too hot, your chickens won’t lay eggs, so hens of laying eggs are actually no guarantee of fresh eggs on a daily basis.

Shortcuts

  • Have a predator-proof coop built for you by someone who has raised chickens.  You’ll need a floor that nothing can dig under, good door latches, a sturdy top, shade, nesting boxes, and roosts.
  • Install an automatic waterer that refills when it gets too low.
  • Buy full-grown, already laying chickens.

The milk

Everyone thinks of cows when they think of milk. A calm, productive dairy cow is a wonderful thing. However, this is not an instant kind of thing either. If you get a calf, you should know that cows should not be bred before 15 months, and may not reach maturity until they are 22 months of age. Cow gestation is 9 months, like humans. So you’re looking at about two and a half years or more before you can get so much as a drop of milk from a cow. Their poop is enormous, smelly, and draws flies, which is a problem if you don’t have a lot of land for them to roam on. Cows are also quite expensive to purchase and eat way more than goats, so for the homesteader on a budget, goats are a better option.

Goats come with their own set of difficulties.If you go and get a couple of female baby goats with the intention of bottle feeding them to make them friendly, that’s awesome. You will succeed in having the sweetest goats around, and they’ll follow you around the homestead like a dog. What they won’t do is give you milk for at least a year and a half. 18 months of feeding for them, caring for them, shoveling their poop, and cleaning their stalls.

You should not breed a goat until she’s a year old. Then, if the breeding takes, you have 5 months of waiting for babies. Then, you have a couple of  weeks where she’s producing colostrum for her kids, which you should never, ever take. Finally, you have milk. FINALLY. And it’s delicious. But that first glass is the most long-awaited glass of milk you will ever sip.

Goats are cute but can be a total pain in the rear. If you give them a cardboard box full of veggie scraps, they’ll eat the box.  They will climb on your vehicle and dent it with their little hooves of destruction. If you fence them in, they will get through, around, or over your fence. No matter how many acres you give them to romp on, whatever is on the opposite side of the fence is what they must have. Our 10 month old goat discovered that she fits through our gate and we had to chase her down the road that leads to our farm the other day. In pajamas, since it was morning and we weren’t dressed yet. Today’s project is running hardware cloth through the bars on the gate and hoping that keeps her in. There’s a project every day with goats. Here’s some GREAT information on housing your goats that I wish I’d seen at the beginning.

Shortcuts

  • Fence your grazing area with goat-proof fencing. Once you’ve had goats, you will know that they can jump over, climb through, open the gate, or knock down just about anything you put up.
  • Buy cows or goats that are already producing milk.  You’ll need more than one mama animal because a) goats and cows are herd animals and b) you can give one mama a break while they other is producing.
  • Plant hay.  If you have enough space you can greatly reduce your food bill this way.

The meat

Meat is also far from instant. The closest thing to instant meat is going to be rabbits. Cute, fluffy rabbits.  They breed quickly and prolifically and are mature by the age of  8-12 weeks, at which time they can be butchered for food. Below, you can see the ages at which these animals can be butchered for meat:

  • Chickens 16-20 weeks
  • Ducks 24-28 weeks
  • Turkeys 24-28 weeks
  • Rabbits 8 weeks
  • Lambs 10-15 months
  • Goats 12 months
  • Pigs 8-10 months
  • Cows 18-24 months

Of course, this is the age of maturity in the best of all possible worlds. The world that contains premium feed, the ability to pick it up from the feed store, a controlled environment safe from predators. If your animals are free-ranging, they’re going to grow more slowly and be leaner since they’re working for their food. If you have selected heritage breeds, they grow more slowly still than the hybrids that are bred specifically for a speedy maturity. As you can see, this isn’t an instant gratification kind of thing.  Add a SHTF long-term disaster to the mix, and you’re looking at quite some time before you can harvest meat.

It gets even trickier when you want to develop a breeding program on your farm in order to raise your meat. Then, you must add in the time for the mother animal to become mature, waiting for the right time to breed her, and then waiting for the gestation period to be over. Literally, we’re talking about years before you have meat production for many species.

Then there’s the butchering. Are you going to be able to slaughter the animal you saw born, raised from a little baby, and perhaps gave a clever name to?  Lots of people are fine with this, but many others will find that it’s much harder than they expected. Humanely dispatching an animal takes experience and the right tools. Cleaning and butchering the animal is also not something you can dive right into. If you’re lucky, you have some farmer friends who will help you the first time or two.

Shortcuts

  • Buy animals that are just past the fragile stage and raise them to maturity
  • Stock up on a whole full of pellet food and hay for your livestock
  • Have your property professionally fenced.
  • Buy a property that is fenced and contains housing for various types of livestock
  • Get to know local farmers and learn all you can from them. They can help you prevent expensive mistakes.

Reality check: You’re probably going to fail

So, you might read this article and think I’m telling you that a prepper homestead is an unrealistic survival plan. That’s not it at all.

What I’m telling you is that a prepper homestead has to be created well before a disaster strikes. You have to figure out:

  • How you’ll care for your crops and animals.
  • How you’ll nourish them.
  • How you’ll protect them.
  • How you’ll water them.
  • How you’ll harvest the food.
  • How you’ll fail to do one or all of these things correctly at some point.

You have to learn many of these things from experience. My experience can’t teach you because my setting is entirely different. You may have different predators, a different climate, differently physical challenges – every single family’s circumstances will be unique. The only way to predict the problems and overcome them is to experience them in the first place. And trust me, it’s way better to experience failure when the feed store and the hardware store are only a short drive away.

While it’s incredibly important to take every step you can towards self-reliance, it is equally vital to have a backup plan. Have these things to fall back on:

Share your own homesteading lessons

Most of us learn our homesteading lessons through failure. Something we thought would work, did not. Are you raising your own food? What did you learn the hard way? Please share your experiences from your prepper homestead in the comments below.

This article first appeared at The Organic Prepper: Here’s Why a Prepper Homestead May Not be a Good Plan for Survival

About the author:

Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.