Is it a trend or is it a sign of things to come? Families across the country are becoming more and more interested in learning to become more self-sufficient. Self-sufficient living, survivalist, preppers. Call them what you may, but the need for lands that support a lifestyle without dependence on others is growing. I read recently:
“I’ve seen estimates that more than 4 million American families are now beginning to prepare for a major disaster,” said Marjory Wildcraft, a survivalist expert and author of the new book, “7 Shortcuts to Finding the Perfect Survival Retreat”
Finding that perfect self-sufficient/survival farm or homestead can be a very challenging adventure. You are trying to find a place that is safe. One that has good soil, water, and the natural resources that will provide you with the things you need once your supplies run out. You want an area with like-minded people. And you want a place that is enjoyable to live, where your family will want to be, even if hard times weren’t coming. To top it all off, you may feel you are under the pressure of the ticking time-bomb clock. We just don’t know how long this house of cards will stay up. It has defied gravity for many years now, but we all know this house of cards is going to fall – and probably soon. When it goes down, it will crash hard. There will be a lot of misery among the unprepared. You probably won’t get a second chance to relocate again. So you really need to make the right decision.
So what should you look for? How much land do I need in order to properly care for my family? What resources will I need? So many questions! Let’s just look at a few of the requirements.
If you went totally vegetarian, you would need a little less than half an acre per person to provide all of the necessary calories. That means a family of 4 needs almost 2 acres of farm-able land! The majority of this land will go to fruits, berries, and veggies. You’ll get the most nutrients in terms of vitamins and minerals from these. To decrease the amount of land you’ll need, consider companion planting. Some organic farmers will plant sunflowers, and then plant peas that will grow up the long stalks. The same goes with corn, squash, and pole beans. Squash will grow low to the ground, pole beans will take the intermediate area, and corn up high. So, here is your starting point.
You’ll also need some land for livestock. You’ll probably want hogs, goats, rabbits and chickens. All of these animals can be raised in relatively small amounts of space, and provide important protein. You’ll need a good 200 square feet for 3 hogs, more if they have piglets. You can get away with less for each of the other animals. And then there’s the larger animals. If you want cattle and a few mules or horses considerably more land will be needed. You must then consider hay fields, grazing areas, grain and hay storage facilities and a good water supply. The number of cows per acre could vary widely, depending on soil type, forage type, rainfall/year and more. In Texas or Oklahoma, it may be two acres per cow. But in Georgia or Tennessee it may be two cows per acre. Check with the local area agricultural groups to find out what is best in the area that you plan to live.
Your most needed product will of course be water. You must have a plentiful water supply on the property–preferably spring fed or an artesian well. (Pumped well water would be an inferior second choice.) Check the quality of the water. See if the actual source is truly located on your land. Plan a storage area for your water supply.
Here are some other items to consider when looking for the right property:
· Good exposure for gardening and sun-produced energy.
· Temperate climate that offers a good growing season.
· Plentiful game and the opportunity to hunt it. Is there a wooded area on the property.
· Like-minded neighbors.
· Not on a flood plain.
· Southern exposure.
· “Panoramic views.” This usually means a hilltop location with defendable terrain.
· A low crime area with a healthy local economy.
· Remote area that is not near population centers and is not in the path of real estate developers.
In conclusion, how much land it takes to homestead varies with the visions of the homesteader and the nature of the terrain one wishes to inhabit. Even small acreages of 2 – 4 acres can sustain a small family if managed well. Larger homesteads in the range of 25 – 50 acres can provide a greater degree of self-sufficiency by setting aside much of the land as a woodlot, and providing room for orchards, ponds, poultry and livestock. Do your research on the property. Purchase what you can afford, but don’t wait too long to purchase. Talk with other like-minded friends about purchasing a tract of land together. Talk with a real estate agent that knows what you’re talking about when you say ‘I want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.”
Here’s a good place to start looking: Large Land Tracts In East Tennessee