Land development plan for self sustainment.

teddy12b

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I've been on just shy of 5 acres for 9 years now. One day one, this land was a harvested corn field with soil that modern farming methods has beaten the life out of. The spring following our purchase I started plants trees following a food forest concept. All the trees I've planted to date either produce food or fruit for humans or wildlife with just a handful of exceptions. In this time I've planted over 500 trees with the majority being bare root as they're considerably cheaper to buy that way. For the most part these plants have received no special treatment and only the hardy have survived. Last night, I found some acorns for the first time on a sawtooth oak I'd planted all those years ago. So aside from adding some fruit trees here to there to replace ones that have died off or a tree that got killed by a buck rub, I'm pretyt much done planting trees.

There's probably just a little less than 2 acres worth that up to this point I've just been mowing. With all the shortages I'm expecting to see in 2022 I want to turn this into a mini farm. The soil is a sandy loam, and I have a small shed beside our chicken coop and run. I'm going to let some of this section grow wild into taller grasses this year to give a safe haven for pheasants that we plan to raise and release next year. I dabbled with that this year and so far I still see them running around and staying alive and I plan to help them out a bit more next year. There's a small garden/landscape pond that I put in this year that just a few feet deep and is roughly 20x20. Basically it's a wildlife water source.

All that gets me to where I am now and what I can do moving forward to produce more of our own food. Keep in mind, I'm trying to keep everything as maintenance free and simple as possible. I'm not quitting my job and becoming a you tube homesteader. I'm trying to produce more of our own chow with as minimal of effort as I can make it following the work smart not hard principle. I don't have a tiller, tractor or anything like that. I've got a strong back and some good shovels and wheel barrow. I'm not opposed to getting that stuff, but I'd prefer to rent it for a day or not own it.

One of the things I plan to grow in abundance next year is squash. For some reason we can't seem to screw that up and when we make a small effort at it we get a ton. I told the kids they could setup a veggie stand and sell extras for $1 each and they could grow thousands if they wanted. I exaggerated a little bit, but wanted to get the point across. I've never tried to grow food on the scale that I'm thinking about for next year, and I'm in the process of reading and absorbing all the information I can on it. With that in mind, do any of you have any suggestions?
 

Magyars

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Add other types of vine plants..... watermelon, pumpkins, acorn and spaghetti squash.. strawberries are easy......
I dump coffee grounds, and chicken, goat "leftovers" when I muck the stalls and coop...all into my hayfields......sometimes I let it compost for a few months sometimes not.....never burned the fields yet.
My wild black berries produce enough for us to make a yearly supply of jelly....it's the best!
 

jkholmes

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I have to say, chicken "compost" (droppings mixed with straw) has worked wonders for me. I do mix in a few kitchen leftovers, leaves occasionally, and some wood chips / sawdust. So far that has made most of my gardens pretty much explode. My soil here is pretty much clay.
 

teddy12b

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I've been using one of the gardens as a dumping ground for chicken waste. The idea of long vining plants sounds great to be, but I've done a good job of keeping the grasses down around them while they're growing and before you know it the vines are overtaken by weeds. I thought about a big cheap tarp, poke holes where I want plants, and then cover it with mulch. In my field, I've got more wild strawberries then I could ever count, and I've yet to see a strawberry from any of them. I was thinking about dumping the chicken waste on those spots and see how that plays out next year.
 

cburnworth

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plant 20-30 asparagus & you will never run out of it. Look into goats if you can have them( however you will need to secure the pen, they are as bad as pigs when it comes to destroying stuff). Meat rabbits( multiple litters a year and can get quite huge also) & meat birds( cornish cross - 8 weeks and they are ready to process). Nice cold storage root cellar for all your vegetables. Also look into making a green house if you don't already have one for year round crops. And since you mentioned 20x20 pond you need to start stocking it with fish that you can harvest year round.
 

teddy12b

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I tend not to think about asparagus because I can't stand it. My family likes it so I suppose I should just face the music and start planting some of that.

I've been looking into the meat rabbits. I have zero experience with them other than them being a target of opportunity as a kid. It's in the que of the list of books. As far as additional birds go, I wouldn't mind trying my hand at some more birds and will likely add some more egg layers to the flock in the spring.

My wife and I have taken a hard look at green houses and it's something she definitely wants to do. Only issue is that the only one she saw that she likes was right around $10,000 and that's not going to make sense if the real purpose is to produce food affordably and not just try to add some cute little house on the prairie toy stuff in the yard.

The pond does have some fish in it now. When I initially filled it with water I went to a bait shop and got a half dozen of every bait fish they had. Currently, the only survivors from that initial batch are the gold fish and some suckers. The gold fish have already started to multiply to where now I wouldn't have a way to count how many are in their now, and the suckers are still going as well. In the spring I'd like to add some more fish, but the blue heron has taken notice of all these fish and likes to stop by for a visit. Frogs invaded and the pond was full of tadpoles for a while too. The water has brought life to the property and I want to keep that going.
 

cosermann

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Is your goal to be self-sufficient on 5 acres, or just kind of have a little something to supplement?
 

teddy12b

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Is your goal to be self-sufficient on 5 acres, or just kind of have a little something to supplement?
I want to be self sufficient "enough" and more so than I am now. I don't expect that I'll ever be completely living off my own land, but I'd like to grow the land into something more than it is and if that supplements our lives more then I'm all for it.
 

wcd

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plant 20-30 asparagus & you will never run out of it. Look into goats if you can have them( however you will need to secure the pen, they are as bad as pigs when it comes to destroying stuff). Meat rabbits( multiple litters a year and can get quite huge also) & meat birds( cornish cross - 8 weeks and they are ready to process). Nice cold storage root cellar for all your vegetables. Also look into making a green house if you don't already have one for year round crops. And since you mentioned 20x20 pond you need to start stocking it with fish that you can harvest year round.
Just curious which breed of goats you found to be destructive?

But back to the original question. We have found adding bedding from barn and natural byproducts to the garden has done wonders. We also mulch with nasty hay every year along with wood chips ( we have a chipper that shreds branches that in turn get turned into livestock Bedding)

Our soil was largely Southern Clay and rocks. We have had very good production with all the vegetables and fruits we have planted.
 

Tactically Fat

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meat rabbits.
I believe that rabbits are the least expensive protein to raise (by weight)

If you keep on with goats, you may very well be able to find individuals who'll buy them for meat, too. Plenty of cultures eat plenty of goat. Granted - those folks may not be where you are...

Also sheep. A few sheep / lambs are also relatively easy protein. Again - there are plenty of cultures that eat plenty of sheep / lamb.
 

wcd

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I believe that rabbits are the least expensive protein to raise (by weight)

If you keep on with goats, you may very well be able to find individuals who'll buy them for meat, too. Plenty of cultures eat plenty of goat. Granted - those folks may not be where you are...

Also sheep. A few sheep / lambs are also relatively easy protein. Again - there are plenty of cultures that eat plenty of sheep / lamb.
You would be surprised what goat meat is going for, especially at certain times of the year.
 

jmarriott

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Your garden should be the key.
That will unlock what you can do with the rest.

I would invest in a Troy built rear tine tiller and some garden fabric (saves lots of weeding) soil prep even for a fit individual is costly in time that could be invested in say water harvesting and containment.

A fighter who knows how to garden is an asset. A gardener who knows how to fight is a better asset. A fighter who only knows fighting is a liability.
 

teddy12b

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Has anyone kept any livestock in a "tractor" format where you keep them penned up and then move the structure every week or so depending on the number of animals and size of enclosure. It keeps coming up in books I'm reading and I'm trying to find the ratio. For example, if I have 1 goat/sheep/whatever in a 8'x20' pen it can stay in one spot for one week and the other 8'x20'pen full of chickens would be moved right up behind it. I'm trying to plan out multiple enclosures to move all the critters once a week or some other fairly consistent schedule so it's all timed about right to move grass, and fertilize soil.
 

cburnworth

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As far as chickens go, look @ tunnels(portable & lightweight). I have my chickens in an enclosure & then I let them run the yard for most of the day( I am in the city & a fenced in yard.) Also you will def need to make the tractors more substantial then the store bought ones. The constant moving will destroy them, i would also recommend using a tractor to pull them around. and of course depending on your predator situation I would def use 1x1 square hardware mesh to secure the bottom & sides of the tractor.
 

wcd

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Has anyone kept any livestock in a "tractor" format where you keep them penned up and then move the structure every week or so depending on the number of animals and size of enclosure. It keeps coming up in books I'm reading and I'm trying to find the ratio. For example, if I have 1 goat/sheep/whatever in a 8'x20' pen it can stay in one spot for one week and the other 8'x20'pen full of chickens would be moved right up behind it. I'm trying to plan out multiple enclosures to move all the critters once a week or some other fairly consistent schedule so it's all timed about right to move grass, and fertilize soil.
With regards to chickens you can keep them in a confined area with out issue. something like a TSC dog kennel with some type of roof to keep them in. It could be moved fairly easily.

If you are looking to utilize this method for keeping goats, i would suggest rotational grazing, for herd health and disease, and parasite resistance. If I recall reading a UT study they were recommending no more than 10 goats per acre, and that was with year round vegetation growth. Another thing to be aware of is that goats and sheep are very difficult to keep in the same area. For instance Goats require copper in their mineral supplements and copper is hazardous to sheep.

Contrary to popular beliefs there is quite a bit of effort required to raise goats. Parasite control is paramount and can not be achieved in small spaces.

As an aside there is an excellent book out there I think it is titled the backyard homestead and it details what can be done with regards to micro farming and food production on a subdivision size lot.
 

cg21

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No need to waste your time mowing if self sufficiency is your goal…… the animals even the chickens will turn that grass into “free” protein. Could even plant it in clover to attract wildlife and pollinators.
 

teddy12b

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With regards to chickens you can keep them in a confined area with out issue. something like a TSC dog kennel with some type of roof to keep them in. It could be moved fairly easily.

I currently have them in a coop inside one of these:
So far I've been really happy with it other than needing to use higher quality zip ties. It's actually much sturdier than I was expecting. This works great for my chickens, but I think I'd need something better for any kind of larger critter.
 

dprimm

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Where are you located?

I plan to tractor my meat rabbits next year. Same for the chickens. I can help you w that.

Don’t till the garden. No till it. Compost and wood chips. Especially since you have animal waste already.
 

wcd

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Where are you located?

I plan to tractor my meat rabbits next year. Same for the chickens. I can help you w that.

Don’t till the garden. No till it. Compost and wood chips. Especially since you have animal waste already.
No till is the way to go. Long term gain far outweigh the short term benefit of tilling.
 
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