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Any advice for a beginner?

 
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Hello Everyone,
I guess this is my introduction? I'm a 20 year old female based out of Idaho and for the past year I have been hardset on a change in lifestyle. I am already tired of the rat race and living in the city, so I have been on the search for properties within a small budget, and close enough to town that my boyfriend and I would be able to work and pay the bills.
I count myself extremely lucky, and while discussing some properties up towards salmon, my mother asked why I wasn't just putting down roots at her husband's cabin on the Yankee fork. I was confused because I was unaware that we owned any property. Apparently, we have 120 acres with a small cabin on it and otherwise untouched land, and I'm set to inherit about 30 acres assuming my siblings claim their portion of the land. I feel beyond blessed, and am very excited to embark on the journey towards becoming self sufficient.
I am waiting a year (stuck in a lease until September of 21) but plan to go up and start mapping out the property. Does anyone have advice/ideas? I imagine I would only start working 7-10 acres max as I plan to garden/have a small herd of goats and alpacas. I would also like chickens but with the hard winter's climate it does make me nervous.
Any tips, tricks, or wisdom you would like to pass on? It would all be very appreciated!
Thank you in advance! 😁
 
garden master
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Hi Cara, welcome to Permies!

I think you're on the right track wanting to go and start mapping the property. Since you're early in this process and won't be there for a little while, I suggest going as often as you can for a complete year, in the rain, the sun, all sorts of weather and just observe. Where does the rain go? Does it pond in certain areas? Is there a creek or brook or river that crests its banks and floods certain areas? Maybe a seasonal spring will reveal itself. Look to see where the sun rises and sets, and if there are open areas, how much get's shaded by shadows as the sun moves across the sky. The springtime when trees bud out and blossom is generally the easiest time to identify what kind of trees and shrubs are on the land, especially the ones that produce food like nut trees, fruit trees and wild berries. Perhaps there are some sugar maples in the woods waiting to be tapped for homemade syrup. Maybe there are patches in the woods that produce edible mushrooms and other edible ground cover that will reveal themselves after winter releases its grip.

My other advice for a beginner, is books. There's all sorts of cool books on homesteading, permaculture, gardening, soil improvement, foraging, and the list goes on. Permies has a book review grid to help give you some ideas for reading material and it's here: https://permies.com/w/book-reviews
 
Cara Wright
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Hello James,
Thank you for your advice! Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the drive too often as it is located about 4.5 hours from where I live. On the bright side, my stepfather spent a good two years living there so I will be able to learn quite a bit from him.
I will definitely look into different books on the topic. I never considered maple syrup, but that would be a dream come true.
 
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People tend to start something and then GO BIG. Particularly with animals. Why have 2 chickens when you can buy 20. Then people get into trouble because 20 chickens cost a lot more and the eggs they're getting are overwhelming, etc. So start small and restrict yourself. We have 10 pigs now and last night I was debating how many I want to carry forward into the winter and actually feed. Gotta be real with yourself and limit the crazy overload.
 
Cara Wright
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Ive read through quite a few posts about that and it's definitely something I'll keep in mind. I'm thinking a couple of goats and a few chickens to start off so that I can get an idea of what the reality is when it comes to taking care of animals. I want alpacas and maybe a pig or two for the future, but definitely don't want to bite off more than I can chew. Coming from a city and never having to really look after animals or dispatch them for meat means that it will be a big adjustment.
 
gardener
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Eight or ten chickens are not much harder to care for than a couple, and will keep two or three people in eggs full time once they are laying. A rooster can be annoying, but our experience is that they really work to protect their hens... and if you can get one or two to set on eggs, you have a self-perpetuating flock.
 
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Lots of reading is good. I also recommend the Permies book review grid. Videos can be helpful too.

If you have an idea of what perennial plants you might want to grow, and will grow well there it can save a lot of money to grow things from seeds and cuttings in advance.

If there's staple annual food crops you'd like to grow and you have some backyard space, you could also start with a small packet of seeds and grow them into a large amount of seeds to plant once you're there.

I started with goats and chickens while I was renting a house, it makes moving house a bit more complicated, but I learned a lot during this time, and was glad to have animal care skills developed before I got here. If you know anyone nearby with animals, you might be able to learn from them.

Preserving and other kitchen homestead skills can be learned anywhere too. I was also glad to have these skills, and my preserving/fermenting supplies before I moved to my homestead.
 
Cara Wright
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I wish I could keep a few animals but aside form a dog and a cat, apartment living makes that nearly impossible. I am hoping to cultivate a few crops on my porch to produce food/seeds. Working in my preserving skills is a great idea and luckily something that will be easy to learn from the older generations in my family. (A small brag but we currently have 5 generations of women on my mom's side.)  
I have also worked at learning other little skills such as soapmaking, crocheting/knitting, and hope to work on my sewing skills.
There is currently a fully renovated cabin down the road from the property I plan to move onto so I will be staying there for the first year or so. I am hoping to build a wofati style house on the larger property once I get settled and have time to plan/work. But it will be interesting to see how it all works out. I could do with the additional insulation in an area that can reach 30 below in the winter's.
 
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