I'm hoping to glean from everyone's experience here!
We aren't too new to the attitude of self-sufficiency. We have homeschooled for 14 years, I garden and sew profusely, and I WILL conquer breadmaking someday! We have a basement bedroom full of canning jars and food storage. This year is the first year we have let the neighbors see our attitude up close and personal: we got our first 8 hens this summer and have been passing out cartons of eggs left right and center to bribe them to tolerate the cackling. Silly hens!
We are giving up paying banks ridiculous amounts of money for artificial, tacky homes too close to neighbors that can't take 6 active boys running around the street. We have our home up for sale, though we may just break even on it, and will be living with friends while we save up for our land. We have spent the summer investigating slipform masonry, cob building in the British style, sheep versus goats for brush browsing/mowing, minimum acreage for beefcattle, and vertical gardening. I'm thinking minimum acreage per boy should be about 1, so 6 acres plus cattle means about 20, right?
So, what I am looking for here is:
Real acreage estimates. If I want to keep about 3 beef cows on hand at all times, how much acreage do I need if I want to raise my own hay? Is it cheaper to raise your own than to buy it? 8 layer chickens seems to be about right for us, though I will need to add 20-40 broilers; is there a way to grow my own food for them too and how much land will I need to do that? I am not a fan of the bagged pellets I've been having to get for them.
Farmland to rent for now. I am hoping to find some kind of farmland to rent, in trade for our (novice) farm help for a season or two. We may even be able to simply rent an unoccupied farm, if hubs can find a job in the area.
Experience stories of living off-grid/farming in northern Idaho and western Montana in the Missoula area. We like the looks of the land in those areas; Utah is just too sagebrushy and dry, and I worry about a lack of water or extreme heat if we go truly offgrid here. I understand cob needs care to protect it from snow, so our thought was to do the first floor in slipform and the upper floor in cob or strawbale. Heating such a home would be something; my thought was a masonry heater, but can you do one that heats two stories? Or is it better to do one downstairs and then depend on the cob to hold it in for the second floor?
Tips for buying our land. I plan to make sure the water rights actually belong to the property we buy (a friend bought land and then discovered the water rights were for a property miles away, and went without water for 2 years). We want to pay cash or mostly cash (70%) and get a sure title and patent, etc. when it's paid for. The land parcels I have been looking at are the kind with wells already, developed springs or decent water tables for drilling a well. Should the well already exist, we plan to switch it to a solarpump if it hasn't one already. I am looking at land with no CC&R's. Is there anything else I should be aware of?
I hope you can give me some starting pointers! thanks in advance!
~If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, "Well, this isn't too bad. I don't have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed," but most of us would say something more along the lines of "Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!" ~Lemony Snicket
Personally I prefer to get my meat from something other than cattle because they require a lot of resources.
Poultry is my easiest choice. Small acreage required, can forage and eat lots of kitchen scraps. Spanish Black turkeys have provided me with more meat than we could handle – set their own eggs and raised their own babies.
Goat is my next choice for meat, they are great browsers preferring scrub brush and other things besides grass or hay. Often having twins and, if handled properly, have enough milk for babies and a little surplus for cheese/cooking. Small animals but require good (electric) fences.
I had more meat from these animals than my husband and I could eat and on three acres still only used about one and a half acres to provide for them and also grow more food crops/plants/trees.
I have, and will again, buy property in what the mainstream calls a ‘bad neighborhood’. Property is cheap and my neighbors are great. It is low income/blue collar and, in my experience the kind of person I want to live next door to. And the price is right.