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Self-sustained homestead on 12.5 acres?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Here are other things i am dealing with.

Fruit/nut trees- they need protection. Not just from cows, but from deer and sheep. Cows need bulletproof fencing around the trees. If its a remesh fence around the tree they will push it in to get to the taller ungrazed grass. A 100%commitment to mulch/remove the grass in the ring will minimize it. I lost a pecan tree to this.

Deer will girdle the young trees. But they dont have the force of a cow to move the fence. By girdling,  they will scrape the trunk with the antlers. You lose the bark you lose the tree.  They will also eat the leaves. A ring of remesh just placed around the tree is usually enough to protect them. With a cow they have to be secured to posts.

This past winter i planted 4 apple trees. In the 2 days it took to fence them something broke 2 of them in half. I think they chewed through it. Diameter was similar to a pencil. it was the same result as having pruned it down so no loss. Just interesting.

Water is needed at least the first 2 years. Mulching helps a lot, but our hot dry summers equal watering. About the third year they should last on their own. If you want big fruit, thin them. Mulch is often chop/drop. Take the tall grass in the fence ring and cut or pull it and place it down as a mulch. Ad dome manure on top once in a while. No external inputs needed at all. The fence ring can be cedar sticks.

Some trees can be rooted from twigs. Figs may be in that category. That would allow a continued addition over the years without bringing new trees in. Planting peach pits, etc can happen once your base set of bought trees are producing. You can add dramatically with no inputs once the base is establishef.
 
wayne fajkus
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Perrenials are a big one. And usually you can expand from the established base.

Blackberries. You get a good  harvest. They will send up suckers that can be left to grow or moved to a new location. A couple of plants can give you a lot of plants.

Asparagus is interesting and needs more love. This will be the first thing harvested each year. Once established you can dig up and separate. But plant enough crowns to get a meals worth over a couple of days. One plant is a novelty. You'll cut the spear and eat it. 20 plants and your collecting a bundle/meal.

Both of those start really producing year 3. But its a one and done. No sourcing seeds annually like annuals.

Wolfberry is something i tried this year. What impressed me was the amount of harvest in the first year. No 3 year wait. Dry the berries, they are like a raisin mixed with pumpkin pie seasoning. They are considered a superfood.

Mustang grapes can supply all your alcohol needs. You'll probably have these native.  Animals LOVE their leaves but can only reach so high. Only downfall is you have to go up higher to harvest the grapes. Actually any fruit will make wine. 5 gallons of fruit gets you 5 gallons of wine. Only other item needed is sugar (or honey for self sufficiency). The yeast is on their skins. I make 5-7 gallons a year. I could collect enough for 40 gallons if i wanted.
 
pollinator
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I second this idea of keeping the pasture plants+ducks+chicken+fish semi-wild and more for pest management/wildlife and not for human consumption.
The fruit/nut/berry plants and fish pond, honey hive, vegetable garden, chicken/etc that is meant to be eaten by humans should be kept inside double fenced 2.5 acres area by the house. This area is smaller and easier to protect/fence/observe/water/maintain, esp as we age in place.
 
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S Bengi wrote:1 sheep = 1/4 of a cow (250lbs)
So dad and mom sheep+babies = 1/2 of a cow (500lbs)

1 pig = 1/4 of a cow (250lbs)
So two pigs + babies = 1/2 of a cow (500lbs)

Momma cow (1000lbs) + baby(65lbs) = 1.065 cow.

So at this point we need enough pasture for '2 cows' (2000lbs)

Zone 8 Texas have 3 out of 12 months of 'winter" so we are going to need an additional 30% of 'pasture for a hay field.

So enough pasture for 2.6 cows.

According to the Texan government it takes 3acres to feed each cow on tame pastureland.
https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/habitats/post_oak/habitat_management/cow/

So 3acres X 2.6 = 7.8 acres
Less that 10 acres ..... Awesome

In the equation above we uses 2cow unit.
But as the baby calf turns into a yearling it will go up to 2.55 cow unit
(1000lbs momma cow + 600lbs yearling calf = 0.95 + 0.6= 1.55 cow unit)
So 2.55 cow unit * 1.33(winter hay) * 3acres/cow = 9.9 acres
We are still looking fine

Tame Pasture is still semi-wild, if you really put in the work you can bring the number to 1acres of super improved pasture per cow during the growing season (3/4 of the year) You will need another 30% for the winter.



Thank you so much.

The unfortunate part for Me is I don't know if there is 10 acres of usable pasture.  Looking at the photo, and Google map measurement, id have about 7 to 8 acres of space for pasture and hay with the way the trees and the road/asphalt are on the land.  

In essence, I would need to improve the quality of pasture significantly, and be very strict on population control, for it to fit .  I'm not a fan of having no room for error either.  I might be able to be ok here with no hay field, and just purchase winter hay while living and learning here until I can afford a bigger acreage? I could practice the stockpile and the winter pasture here at least?

There is another place with 23 acres and probably close to 20 of that pasture able,  with a house that doesn't need remodel and has a nice barn already, and it's a little more outside the city, but it costs about twice as much :(
 
wayne fajkus
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Irrigation can make a huge difference in regrowth of pastures. Having a well would be a tie breaker on 2 similar parcels.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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Have you thought about the Dexter breed of cow esp as your training cow.
They are only 500lbs vs the 1000lbs for other cows.
They don't mind the Texas heat,
And most importantly you still get 2gallons (butterfat 4%, protein 3.5%) of A2 milk that you love.
12gallon of probiotic milk kefir whey (alkaline drink or fermentation starter or plant fertigation) and 14lbs of cheese per week.

At only 500lbs you would need half the amount of pasture.
And after you kill and process the cow, it can actually fit in your chest freezer.
Live weight = 500lbs
Hanging weight = 60% = 300lbs
Cut weight = 50% = 150lbs
(Lots of dog food 350lbs)

You can also go for smaller breed for the rest of the herd species too.

I would recommend taking the 12.5 acre lot.
Use alot of water and inputs to develop your pasture.
Then after 24months finally add sheep, then a year later pigs.
Finally adding dwarf cow to the mix.
I think that it is very doable.

Plus the 24month will give you time to also get your fencing and food forest up and running before you have to deal with the time, and money sink known as a herd.
 
master steward
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I'm going to put my moderator hat on really quick before I put my "Mama" hat back on and get back to taking care of my kids. We've had some reports about this thread, and while recent posts have been great, I thought I should put out this reminder to keep us on track:

Please, everyone, remember to be nice. The OP's question is the EXACT sort of question that brought me to learning about permaculture. I think it's a valid quesiton, a good thought-eperiment, and there's a lot to learn by discssing it. Please, let's NOT turn it into bashing others, or their ideas.

Keep your suggestions helpful

Thank you!


*Puts back on "Mama" hat to take kids outside to rake leaves for compost and mulch *
 
pollinator
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Randy,

welcome! Fun times. I'm going to come at it from a little different angle. I agree with much said on here. I think much of this is shadow boxing, Texas could mean swamp or desert, and the productivity potential is hugely variable.

What is your time commitment/availability? This is a big one, we are all talking about some heavy intervention. If you have modest time like many of us plan so you are not overextended. It has taken me years to do what I foolishly thought would take me one year. And I'm not close.

Once you get a handle on that, then it will dictate your velocity.

If you can devote a fair amount of time, you can do things that rapidly accelerate the productivity of the property. Consider hiring an expert in your are for a plan. If I had lots of time to devote, I would actually get animals on the place pretty quick. You will have to feed them for the first year or two, shade them, and move them just like they were rotationally grazing, but this should kick start the growth of the soil microbes and plants. This is based on Greg Judy, who is in Missouri. Lots of videos out there, and he is big time, but the principle should translate. During that time get your shade planted/protected. I see some productivity numbers for the east coast, but most states have an optimum shade distance/percentage for ground level growth in a silvopasture setting. This takes into account that the limiting factor in most growth is not sunlight, but water retention and ground temperatures that are too hot for plant metabolism. Using deciduous trees dampens the oscillation in temps, retains humidity, and allows for more biomass at the ground level. This takes time to understand. Additionally it is important for animals, they don't like intense sun either.  I highly suspect silvopasture distance between rows at optimum can be found through your state extension. I found mine for my location. This is a very laborious undertaking because you are doing it all at once.

If you have less time and realize it will take longer, then the shade becomes the priority. That can mean tall plants in midsummer, but the soil in the south bakes and loses it's life very easily, and you have to restart every year. If you break the cycle of mowing and baking, it will start the repair process. Let the soil life start to return. If you have more time, work on kick-starting it with compost tea and water retention (which is variable based on your soil/climate etc). Check out -if you haven't- the epic soil thread, which pretty much is the basis of self-sufficiency. Wood chips, fungal teas, lots of ways to start the build. They all take time but they pay off. Add animals in as they start to make sense in your new situation. Then figure out if a pond or a sandpoint well might be doable. Forge ahead one piece at a time. The advantage is that this is organic, and you will pick up cues of what to do next. Lots of bugs? Chicken time. Lots of grass all of a sudden? Cows or sheep looking smarter. Little punk trees and brambles? Goats are a fine idea. It will start to self-organize.

Anyhow, that's free advise worth what you pay for it.
 
pollinator
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I'm a big one for experimenting, then learning from my failures. So my number piece of advice is......try it. Personally I think you'll make it just fine. My number two is....start small then expand. Doing this, I've learned a lot along the way.

I wish I could grow the fruits you mentioned, but since I couldn't, I gave tropical fruits a try. After 15 years, we now have an abundance of fruits. But it took time. The only thing I'd change when it comes to my orchard is to plant my slow maturing crops sooner. I should have planted the nut and fruit trees on my first year so that I didn't have to wait so far into the program for them to mature. That's something to think about.

Same applies to livestock. If it takes two to three years for a calf to get to the point of giving milk, then I would buy the calf before I'd worry about building say, a rabbitry or fish pond. Those could be built while the calf is growing up. .......... just the way things would work better for me to attain my independent goal.

You mentioned a property with more land. I'd be very tempted to go with more acreage. Why? It is more room that could absorb my mistakes better. The smaller the farm, the less room for error or natural disasters. The extra land gives more flexibility to expand not only into hay making, but a decent woodlot, grain growing, or adding a farm hand or two who gets the use of an acre in exchange for a certain amount of labor. My own farm is 20 acres, which is really enough for my location. But I often wish I had purchased the 40 acres down the road instead.
 
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In addition to the information above,  consider getting your windbreak trees in place at the very beginning.  They will have a huge effect on watering conditions and growth of your other plants.

For the sake of clarity,  the Texas site that S Bengi mentioned earlier says that for one cow unit (momma and baby), 8 to 15 acres of native grass or 3 to 6 acres of tame pasture (Bermuda grass). If i were doing the math for my own site, i would estimate 10 acres to be on the safe side,  and 15 acres for worst case scenario.  Without  natural water on site, i would try to create a large scale water catchment system using the house and barn roofs.
 
Su Ba
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Rain catchment.....if it's legal where you are, I'd surely go for it. It's a big step toward self sustainability. I do rain catchment and have come to appreciate it. I can store 24,000 gallons, which isn't enough on a dry year for my particular homestead, but it surely helps. On wet years, I have plenty in reserve. I like the independence. I like being able to irrigate without using electricity or gasoline, by making a gravity feed system.
 
S Bengi
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Trace Oswald wrote:In addition to the information above,  consider getting your windbreak trees in place at the very beginning.  They will have a huge effect on watering conditions and growth of your other plants.

For the sake of clarity,  the Texas site that S Bengi mentioned earlier says that for one cow unit (momma and baby), 8 to 15 acres of native grass or 3 to 6 acres of tame pasture (Bermuda grass). If i were doing the math for my own site, i would estimate 10 acres to be on the safe side,  and 15 acres for worst case scenario.  Without  natural water on site, i would try to create a large scale water catchment system using the house and barn roofs.



Based on the picture of the plot of land that the OP uploaded, over 50acres is needed for just 1 cow.
So I 100% expect the OP to irrigate his land. And to not even consider cows until 60months, after he has built up his pasture with sheep and tilling the cover crop under.
Due to the fact that so much fossil water is going to have to be pumped up to grow grass, we might as well plant and water densely (1acre of pasture per cow) so as to minimize water lost. The biggest goal here will be to maximize the productivity of the soil and pasture, then we can do the cow and finally we can worry about homemade kefir cheese vs homemade blue cheese, (FYI: I am cheering for the kefir cheese)

The avg US 'farmer' who irrigates, does 808,000gallons per acre per year aka 15,500 gallon/acre per week. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/irfurrow.html

With a 1,000acre+ tame pastureland (seeded rangeland) the gov gives a 3acres per cow.
https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/habitats/post_oak/habitat_management/cow/
For actual improved pasture in zone 8a MS, the federal government is listing 1.5acres per cow.
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1097070.pdf
So with a super tiny 10acre, intensely managed, fully watered, permaculture pasture with a single harvest (no nuts/crab apples), the actual number is 1acre per cow, 3acres per cow actually has a 3X safety cushion.

The pasture is going to need alot of protection.
Windbreak, lower water needs, and cut erosion
Waterbreak, swales to let the rain soak in and to stop erosion
Herbivore-break (deer eating all that wonderful pasture and kale that was suppose to be for tomorrow)
Carnivore-break (coyote are a killer, so dogs and fencing and gun are needed)
Insect-break (chicken,ladybug,etc and others will help)
Herd Parasite, 30-day rotational grazing to break life-cycle
 
Trace Oswald
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S Bengi wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:In addition to the information above,  consider getting your windbreak trees in place at the very beginning.  They will have a huge effect on watering conditions and growth of your other plants.

For the sake of clarity,  the Texas site that S Bengi mentioned earlier says that for one cow unit (momma and baby), 8 to 15 acres of native grass or 3 to 6 acres of tame pasture (Bermuda grass). If i were doing the math for my own site, i would estimate 10 acres to be on the safe side,  and 15 acres for worst case scenario.  Without  natural water on site, i would try to create a large scale water catchment system using the house and barn roofs.



Based on the picture of the plot of land that the OP uploaded, over 50acres is needed for just 1 cow.
So I 100% expect the OP to irrigate his land. And to not even consider cows until 60months.
After he has built up his pasture with sheep and tilling the cover crop under.
Due to the fact that so much fossil water is going to have to be pumped up to grow grass, we might as well plant and water densely (1acre of pasture per cow) so as to minimize water lost. The biggest goal here will be to maximize the productivity of the soil and pasture, then we can do the cow and finally we can worry about homemade kefir cheese vs homemade blue cheese, (FYI: I am cheering for the kefir cheese)


The pasture is going to need alot of protection.
Windbreak, lower water needs, and cut erosion
Waterbreak, swales to let the rain soak in and to stop erosion
Herbivore-break (deer eating all that wonderful pasture and kale that was suppose to be for tomorrow)
Carnivore-break (coyote are a killer, so dogs and fencing and gun are needed)
Insect-break (chicken,ladybug,etc and others will help)
Herd Parasite, 30-day rotational grazing to break life-cycle
Etc, etc



Agreed. I meant I would plan for 10 acres per cow after improvement.  If it were my land, i would improve a large enough spot for a big garden,  plant my wind break trees,  get a few chickens first and expand from there.  In fact,  that is exactly what i did on my own property.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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S Bengi wrote:I second this idea of keeping the pasture plants+ducks+chicken+fish semi-wild and more for pest management/wildlife and not for human consumption.
The fruit/nut/berry plants and fish pond, honey hive, vegetable garden, chicken/etc that is meant to be eaten by humans should be kept inside double fenced 2.5 acres area by the house. This area is smaller and easier to protect/fence/observe/water/maintain, esp as we age in place.



Depending on the amount of ducks, I'd keep them by the house, too. They are very prone to predation, and they are not prone to destroying gardens like chickens are. Perhaps muscovies are a bit more destructive than mallards, but my ducks free range around the whole 2 acres around my house with my garden/food forest/etc and they eat all the slugs, lots of bugs, and spiders. They eat young succulent plants, but leave perennials alone, and don't tear up mulch like chickens do. A 1-2 foot waddle fence is usually more than sufficient to keep them out of gardens, as they cannot fly. You can encourage them to spend their time in certain areas by putting water there. They generally don't go in raised beds if the beds are raised at least a foot.

And, as long as you have a good drake-to-female-duck ratio, your ducks can be housed with your chickens. Then you don't have to spend as much time/resources building housing. They can eat the same feed as chickens, too.
 
Randy Coffman
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I'm hoping to get a chance to get onto the land with a realtor in the near future and take some pictures so I can provide actual up to date pictures for reference on its current pasture state. Maybe those will help figure out what the starting point is.

Believe me, I want that 23ish acre place, but the cost is too great I think. I want our home to be a blessing,  not a curse.

Thank you again to all the information everyone is sharing. I can't keep up with it all right now, but I will go back and reread many of them when I have more time and back in town.  

Ps: maybe I will settle for dexters, but those AMD are my wish. Can't always have what you want, though.
 
wayne fajkus
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I had to trim some branches to hang turkeys for butchering. The sheep loved the treat.
20181117_103206-640x480.jpg
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Randy Coffman
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The pictures attached are from the listing.  Maybe this will help some.
bb984b597012fa385edff5b5dc049dd4l-m0xd-w480_h480_q80.jpg
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wayne fajkus
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Are there animals grazing currently? Its amazing how you can see straight through it at ground level.  If not, they must have been super fanatical about trimming trees and under brush.
 
Trace Oswald
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It's a beautiful place.  Any idea how high the water table is?
 
Randy Coffman
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wayne fajkus wrote:Are there animals grazing currently? Its amazing how you can see straight through it at ground level.  If not, they must have been super fanatical about trimming trees and under brush.



I did not see any animals when I went by, but I will probably find out for sure if I can get onto the land.

Sheep breed -American black belly - "ewes are often in the 75 to 95 pound range while rams rarely get over 140 pounds " they are a meat breed, heat tolerant, and ok with rough pasture.

So if I did a dexter cow and American black belly sheep, that should cut down on the pasture required?

Someone mentioned time commitment.   I would hope I could get the whole farm up and going somewhere between 5 and 10 years from the start. If it takes less than that, great, and I will progress as fast as safe, but I'm ok with it taking that long.

I'm really hoping the permaculture designer I hire will have some great ideas for improving and sustaining.

Trace, I have no idea about the water table. Is there a way for me to find out? It may be on the Edwards aquifer but I have no idea.
 
pollinator
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Randy Coffman wrote:I

Believe me, I want that 23ish acre place, but the cost is too great I think. I want our home to be a blessing,  not a curse.
.



Good thing about the smaller place and lower cost in my opinion is that it gives you flexibility: if you decide after a few years that you want to change direction, you still have some capital left for the new idea.

In my previous post I said 12.5 acres is enough for your ideas but I must add that I don't really know much about Texas pastures and how much irrigation they need. I was assuming that with managed grazing and other permaculture techniques you could increase the organic matter content of the pastures to the point that they wouldn't need much irrigation but I could be wrong.

I think Su Ba had a good point in that a larger acreage allows you to make more mistakes and that is especially true with animal-based operations.

Whatever the size of the farm I think it's a good idea to let your knowledge, experience and interests drive the operation, not the landbase itself. I'm saying this because I often find myself thinking I "have to" do something with this and this area, what could it be. I remind myself to be patient and keep observing, studying and learning and experimenting, the answer will come naturally when the time is right.

I don't know about your area, how much is the house costing you and how much is the acreage? In my country rural land is actually quite cheap, it's the house that's the expensive part. So, if you want more land, would it be an option to get a place without a house (maybe just some old farm buildings) and build a small house there?
 
S Bengi
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American Blackbelly Sheep and Dexter are perfect for the pasture you will need alot less pasture. And as the years go by and the pasture improves you can upgrade to what you want but these are wonderful starter breeds.

The real goal now is to rapidly improve your soil.
The 1st step would be how are you going to irrigate: Flood or Sprinkler
Next would be to drop in swales, this will help on flat land too.
Soil Testing and adding needed minerals (lime, rockdust, etc)
Finding a way to get as much carbon on the soil.
Best case scenario would be 8inches+ of woodchip to the point where you have no grass for 18months.
I would till the carbon in, both chop and drop and cheap straw that has spoiled, sawdust and woodchip.
I know people say that burying your woodchip is bad short term but it is better for the long term, just add some minerals .
Can you post the amount of rainfall this zip code gets per year? The avg american farmer irrigates add 30'' or water per year.
So if you follow that trend you will be able to grow the best possible pasture.
Inoculation, and fertigation are a must.
When it comes to the best pasture seed mix, you are going to have to talk to some local farmers but here is a good start.
http://agrilife.org/ccag/files/2015/09/Forages-for-Cattle-in-South-Texas_JLF_BCSC_2014.pdf
I can probably tell you which species to include but the specific cultivars is going to be the hard part.
Similarly the apple cultivar that does well in Maine, will not do so well in Florida. Even if they both produce 50lbs.
At this point it is time to pick the sheep, likewise cultivar selection (pest resistance, dwarf, foraging habit, birthing habit, heat/winter, etc)
 
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As it appears you are mostly wanting high butterfat rather than milk volume. Why not forget the cow thing and go with a dairy breed of sheep. This would make it more plausible to keep a ram and easier to adjust animal units as needed.
Also agree that mixing ducks and fish is just asking for disaster. Muscovy ducks do not require a pond and 1 male 2 females will give you way more offspring than you will consume. They hatch their own and require very little above foraging.
 
Trace Oswald
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There are maps for water tables but the easiest way may be to just ask the current owner.  A pond on that property would be great.

I would caution again against getting any large animals until you are pretty well established on the land.  In my mind,  it's much better to get your water works in, a catchment system for rain if you decide to go that route,  get your windbreak and food forest trees in, a garden area established,  and some chickens for the eggs and manure.  Get up to speed on that first before getting large animals.  They add a lot of responsibility and work,  and you owe it to living things to treat them well.  Obviously,  if you have experience raising animals,  the situation is different.

I don't remember seeing dogs mentioned,  but i would definitely consider a good live stock guard dog.
 
Nina Jay
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Trace Oswald wrote:

I would caution again against getting any large animals until you are pretty well established on the land.

Get up to speed on that first before getting large animals.  They add a lot of responsibility and work,  and you owe it to living things to treat them well.  Obviously,  if you have experience raising animals,  the situation is different.  .




I think you have some excellent points Trace! I would very much like to continue this discussion about the benefits and pitfalls of different homesteading systems and what the best starting point is in each of them.

Could we start a new thread for that discussion?

This is such a great thread and many of us have so many experiences to share that it's hard to refrain from spilling them all out

Nevertheless I suggest we try and focus on answering what the OP asks and refrain from cautioning etc.  I think it would keep this discussion nicer and less overwhelming for the OP. For my own part, apologies to the OP for my rambling.
 
Randy Coffman
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Average rainfall is 38 inches where the land is at. Where it is, the rain comes in bunches with long dry spells usually.  For example, where I currently live, we had almost no rain this summer but when September and October  came you might have thought you were in Washington state for the amount of days and inches of rain. My grass that survived it all perked up though, ha!

A cow is good because we like cow milk and we like beef, as well as pasture management would be good to have the combo of sheep and cow, if we can fit them.

I've raised and trained(dog) different domesticated animals, but no livestock.. never lived anywhere that would let me. I love animals,  which is why it's a big deal for me.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Randy,

Thanks for the pictures. Based on the San Antonio stuff on here it looks like you are east of SA, doesn't look like hill country or south of SA. I have spent quite a bit of time there. Very nice area to grow some cool stuff.

First, the realtor pictures are trying to sell you the property, you need to see the state of the pasture, but it sure doesn't look terrible! The pictures look to me like they are probably late fall, based on the oak leaf density. The spacing on the oaks looks fantastic. They will help you out, those are great assets. If you are going to change out the trees for something you want that you intend to be differently productive, do it in chunks and you will be fine. Those trees need no protection, and are shading well, they are super. Wish I had that setup. Note the grass growing pretty close to the trunks, that seems like they have had grazers on there. A legume census would be a plus (I don't see mesquite in there, where is the nitrogen coming from?)

Those are native trees, with what looks like long bermuda under it, that is a pretty good starting point. Pigs and turkeys can turn those acorns into meat. There are several sheep that will work. I would see if you can get some adapted mutts locally, because the resistance to barber pole worm is important with rhyzome grasses. I would look at St Croix and several other breeds. I'm getting a mix of whatever works here (which seems to favor Katahdins). Predation is a big issue, and if you have an LGD you need a full-time herd for them to manage (maybe they can move but I think that is an advanced skill). I'm not that familiar with the cow breed situation, but I can tell you we have 10 acres in a very productive ecosystem and cows didn't make sense. We may time-share some so we can have a bigger mob, just not all year. Be creative.

In terms of getting a designer, based on your time frame, if you are starting slow, you will know more about your location than a designer would pretty fast. Your self-assessment of skill sets needs to be honest, and your energy/time availability. Your knowledge can expand, so you can be an expert observer of your little area. There is so much on here that you can learn. I had a design done, and when I started implementing, it made less sense than the organic one forming. I'm also in a flattish area, if you need to install large water management then expert assessment is a major plus.  I would see if you can make contact with someone locally to see what has succeeded and failed for them. Build your network as fast as possible. I trade skills and tools and plants and everything. Major benefit from a network, we are all better off. And its free or cheap.

I would not be scared of only 13 acres, done right you will have a hard time managing that size. Check out the
Alan Savory work along with the
Greg Judy.
 
Randy Coffman
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I am pretty good about following directions/instructions for things.  I want my first things to do on there to be what kind of "permanent " changes to the land I should do, including things like earthwork and tree planting.  

I really like all the oak trees there, so if from those pictures and hopefully my owns pics when I get a chance it's decided I can just keep them, I will. I just won't let them stop me.

Getting a lgd will be an option.  Not sure what breed since great pyrenees would probably hate life in the Texas summer.

 
Su Ba
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Randy, I don't know how close your neighbors will be, but keep in mind that a LGD does most of its protection via barking. The excessive barking at night may not go over well with a close neighbor. I'm in a rural area where most folks have 20 acres or more, and that nighttime barking has caused some friction among the neighbors. As a result, those of us who had LGDs replaced them with other breeds once the old dogs died off. One neighbor replaced theirs with pit bull mixes. Another got terrier mixes. When our Shepherd/Pyrenees passed, we got a labradoodle instead. He gives the protection and alert without all the excess repetitive barking. ..... Just something to consider when thinking of getting a LGD on small average.
 
S Bengi
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Given your 8b zone. I think that you can pretty much grow, every single fruit and nut tree that you can find at any nursery.
https://onegreenworld.com/product-category/fruiting-trees-shrubs/
https://www.starkbros.com/

Which fruits trees and nut trees would you like to get.
I see the allure of semi-dwarf,
but I like dwarfs because they are easier to harvest and I can fit alot in a tiny space. And with more plants and species and cultivars the longer my harvest season and the greater diversity I have the less likely it is for me to have total failure.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Supposedly dwarfs are less-long-living and more prone to stress than larger trees. For that reason, I have some standards and some dwarf/semi-dwarf. If the dwarfs don't make it, hopefully the standards will!    
 
Tj Jefferson
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Getting a lgd will be an option.  Not sure what breed since great pyrenees would probably hate life in the Texas summer.



There are other breeds, and they find shade. Bigger answer:

Again, and this is the most overlooked part of homesteading, is learn from others. I would find someone, anyone, locally to start looking at the lessons learned. This runs counter to most people's idea of independence and self-sufficiency, but the truth is you will accomplish much more and will fewer false starts if you are not starting at zero. There are homesteading groups on facebook, beekeeping clubs, mushroom groups, 4H, etc. All these will have a subset of neohomesteaders. All the questions about what to do in your locale are best answered by people locally.

Trust me on this, someone near you will have LGDs. They will have done some research. They will know if they are necessary (I think in Hawaii the predator pressure is quite different for instance), and may know how to square the "good neighbor" issues, which are important. Then you can maybe get some dogs from someone else that add to your local genetics. Both of you benefit. Same with the bull scenario. Most real homesteaders will see this as a way of increasing their resources and yours at the same time. Hobby gentlefolk will see this as competition. Play the long game. Islands are prone to major disruption, archipelagos and mountain valleys are more resilient.

Then build out from there. There will be like minded people near you, and they will be more helpful than us faceless hordes online. Meatspace is real life. Work on your network. Tomorrow is my day off and I'm learning how to weld on some equipment I need to repair. I am using a friends' equipment. I don't need to own it. I gave them a deer and they are using my manure spreader this last month. They hauled my skid steer when I bought it, and will be able to use it. My other buddy is helping me with the repair. He will use the skid steer building out a road this winter, and I have use of his tractor. I use his processing equipment for the deer I gave the other people. We are all better off. I love this aspect, the trust and the comeraderie. That being said I won't loan stuff out to just anyone, and I don't ask unless there is a base of trust.

This beats the heck out of going it alone.
 
Randy Coffman
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so with the shift to a Dexter cow for dairy (and having a calf to heifer/steer for temporary time frames), and having American blackbelly sheep (permanent 2 females and 1 male?) which would be like 300ish more pounds and then temporary babies, they should have enough space, especially if I just buy hay for the winter months so I don't have to grow any in the beginning (maybe once I have super improved soil I can do it myself).  It looks like there's about 7 acres in the block of pasture on the land (maybe more if I move plans around).

so if that's true, then do the American guinea hogs go near the home? I would like to pasture them as well, and also give them food scraps/extra produce/milk.  Clearly I can't have them hamming it up (oh the puns!) on my pasture that's for the cow/sheep if they're rooting it up and ruining it for the cow/sheep rotation. So am I out of luck there? could they fit into the food forest area in a silvopasture style? Or does it not matter because there is enough pasture to let them go hog wild and not harm the cow/sheep operation?  I would be doing rotational grazing for them as well, unless I want them to do some tilling labor for me somewhere or compost aeration.

 
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Is there a self-sufficiency plan for paying for all of this?  Will you have a home business, or work outside the home?

Without a plan for income to pay expenses, it's going to be difficult to build up such a large and complex operation.  You mention times of crisis and dire straits; the most likely crises any of us will face in life are loss of job and serious illness.  It's important to include those as part of a holistic plan for one's life, in my opinion and experience. It's very difficult to anticipate just what The Fates (or the Great God Murphy) hold in store.

 
Randy Coffman
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Is there a self-sufficiency plan for paying for all of this?  Will you have a home business, or work outside the home?

Without a plan for income to pay expenses, it's going to be difficult to build up such a large and complex operation.  You mention times of crisis and dire straits; the most likely crises any of us will face in life are loss of job and serious illness.  It's important to include those as part of a holistic plan for one's life, in my opinion and experience. It's very difficult to anticipate just what The Fates (or the Great God Murphy) hold in store.



I'll be commuting to work at the start.  Another reason we're looking at this area is because it's close enough to not impact that time.  Working toward getting into a "work from home"/Telework/remote position.   Unless we somehow end up "making money" doing this and more than I would make with my employment, I'll be keeping a job.  The good news is that I don't work many days, just long shifts.  So we'll probably split the chores by my working days, and my days off will be for projects.  I currently work with some guys already doing the same thing I am wanting to do.


....or I can just win the next mega-millions/powerball jackpot lottery (This is a joke......please don't take this seriously.) . Though in all seriousness, if we somehow obtained some large windfall, we are already committed to taking on the journey for this lifestyle since we feel it's worth more to us and our kids than any amount of money.  That's why we're willing to invest into this idea.


Someone asked about Fruit we want to grow- while we're open to growing anything that will work, we'd like to be able to grow the following fruit/vegetables/herbs (and will do whatever companions that would be good for these to work) if possible either out on the land or in the greenhouse/hoophouse:
Apples, bananas, avocados, strawberries, peaches, pears, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, onions, potato, blueberries, garlic, red/green bellpeppers, cucumbers (for pickles!), pumpkins, lemons, black walnut, and I'm sure there's others I can't think of right now.   This is not an exhaustive list, but I would say that using those as the core of what we want to grow would be correct.

I'm guessing if something can't grow out on the land on its own, it would probably need to go in the greenhouse, and at that point a dwarf version of that tree would work best. Otherwise, barring some logical reasoning for having dwarf instead of full size, I'd say outside trees would be the full size variety.
 
Trace Oswald
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There are other threads here on permies about this, but I would make absolutely sure your wife is on-board and fully committed to this idea.  Cows need to be milked twice a day, and they aren't concerned that this is one of your 14-hour work days.  It can be hard to take care of the animals early in the morning before work, and especially after a very long day when all you want to do is take your shoes off, eat your dinner, and spend some time talking to the family.  I have to get up a full hour earlier than I would have to in order to take care of my animals, and I have to spend time every day immediately after work with other animal-related chores.  At first it's a novelty and the whole family will probably join in, but that wears off pretty quickly and it becomes work.  I love having animals, but there are definitely days when I wish I didn't have the responsibilities and could just eat dinner and veg in front of the TV like some people get to do.
 
Su Ba
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Trace, wow did you bring up a good point!!! There is no vacation from milking. Not even if you're sick. Years ago when I had several dairy goats, I still remember being sick with a stomach ailment and milking the girls. I'd lean my head against their bodies while I milked them out right onto the ground. I was too sick to care about collecting the milk. And I up-chucked between goats so I could go ahead and get the next one done. This experience made me decide that dairying wasn't for me.
 
S Bengi
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I second what trace is saying.

Moving the family from one coast to the other side of the country will be very stressful and could cause stuff to implode. The same goes for "homesteading" it will be a big change and it might be more that you were in and esp more than the misses signed up for. You are going to have to put in extra work on that side too. You might have to put in all the money to make this work, all of the labor to produce and then all of the labor to preserve it and then all of the labor to cook it and maybe at that point nobody will not eat any because by then they have developed a medical condition or they just say life is too short, I am going to live it and enjoy it. And even if you say that you don't mind doing all of those things, she might get upset that you spend more time with heifer that you do with her or even the grandkids, and even in the rain you go outside and talk to the stupid tree and you spent thousands on apples  but you can't even spend a few dollars to go do xyz. It wasn't so bad when money just disappeared and nobody went anywhere. But now that you have hundreds of fruits trees as reminders that money is getting spent for your "hobby", which she totally don't mind you having a hobby, where is the equality when does she get to have her $10,000 hobby. And even if none of this happens, and you have lots of help and support. Maybe burnout will set-in, and someone will just say enough is enough, that could even be you maybe you will give up on growing radish because it is just too much.

But hopefully you will not have any of those problems that "BOB" had because you guys are on the same page, and all of this was talked about, expectations were set and regular checkin happened, and celebration, buy-in and lots of space activation happened. But enough of the nay-saying.

This is one of the reasons why I prefer dwarf fruit trees even though I will have to replace them every 30yrs vs every 80years. And I might have to mulch more. I like the fact that I or anyone else can harvest it easier. And that with more plants I can have more cultivars with a longer harvest season and so less food that I have to preserve. I like being able to harvest 900lbs of apples from July to November vs only 2 weeks in September. They are also usually don't need pruning and such work, and you start harvesting earlier. And if you encourage root growth (deep watering, not amending the hole, mulching top dressing, inoculation, etc) then they normally don't need babying (staking/pesticides/etc).

But if I was going to go with full size, I would plant seeds, 5 in each hole. Then cull the weaker ones to just 1 per hole. Then graft it after a while. But in reality I prefer to spend $4,000 and just get 3yrs old dwarf bare root, that gives a few fruits the very 1st summer.

the hog can pasture with the sheep and cow, without destroying the pasture. You just have to move them daily aka have 30 sub-pasture. And you should get the sheep 1st and then only get 1 pig so that it adopts a sheep way of life then you can get the other hogs and that one will teach the other hogs.

And yes if you get the Dexter and American BlackBelly Sheep your acreage will be more than good enough.

If you want to start doing cow+pigs+sheep the month you move onsite vs 2+ years later. Then yes they will have to be feedlot/barn raised. And worse case you can just kill and eat them if it gets to be too much. You could even hire someone to do all the work too. And there are lots of cool inventions, self-feeding gadget and such too, so you can always throw money at the problem too. There is no one answer.
 
Randy Coffman
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This whole idea is only being explored because we are both 100% committed.  We even talked about how if at any point we want to stop, then we will sell and eat whatever is left, then stop. Investment loss or not.

We plan to calf share and milk once a day. We aren't vacation people.  I don't have the desire to sit around and do nothing after work anymore. I did that in my 20's when I was single.  We have a good time when we work together.

Some further google earthing shows I could get 8ish acres for pasture,  and that leaves a half circle around the back and along the bottom with 2ish acres. It just won't have much room for a good block of raised beds. Maybe that won't matter.

The 8 acres can be made into 32 paddocks.  Then move them every day.

I may start with sheep only first to see how they Do on the land as it is. 1 male 2 female.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I found the soil survey very helpful.  It tells what the historical climax vegetation was and what one might expect as yield from pastures, as well as qualities of the soil itself:  https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/surveylist/soils/survey/state/?stateId=TX
 
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