I am new to homesteading and farmsteading in general. I was hoping I might get some idea of what is generally considered to be a "small", "medium" and "large" acreage of land for a homestead or farmstead in the United States- especially in the midwest (central area)?
Just pulling numbers out of my arse, but I would say:
5 acres and under is small. When a property of this size plotted, it was probably intended to be a spot with a house, maybe some woods, and a good deal of grass. At this size you might have non-chicken livestock, but if you do you probably bring in a fair amount of food for them.
40 acres is medium. A quarter mile long by a quarter mile wide makes for a medium size plot. I would call Crooked Gap farm in Iowa a great example of a medium sized farmstead. You can hear all about their exploits at: http://thebeginningfarmer.com/
100+ acres would be large. At this point cattle makes sense and the broad acre programs of the USDA really come into play.
These are just my numbers. I'm sure someone out there will be able to point to some example of someone grossing $100,000 on a tenth of an acre selling micro-greens/nursery stock/magic beans, so a 5 acre plot must be huge.
I think it also matters how much is under irrigation, esp if in the west (understand the poster said mid-west).
5 acres under irrigation is a whole different homesteading experience than 20 acres of drylands.
Asking a farmer how much water he or she has out here is like asking their bank balance, but it does matter in answering the question.
For us, 8 is starter acreage but for where we live it seems on the smaller size. Within a 20 mile radius there are many people raising anywhere from 10-100 head of cattle and lots more than 8 acres. We hope to eventually be able to buy one of the adjoining properties to leave our kids with a larger property to split.
I think size is relative to what your plans for your homestead/farm are and what methods you plan on using to achieve your goals. For us, we've got 2 goats for our non-chicken livestock. They keep the brush cleared in the woods. With their help, we hope to eventually add in a few sheep and/or alpaca for fiber and a cow or two for milk and meat. Yes, this can be done on small acreage if managed properly. You'll need to practice rotational grazing. We don't have irrigation but we do get an average of 40 inches of rain per year. We've also got lots of trees that will help retain moisture, add biomass, shade the pastures and animals yet still allow enough to grow for our livestock to forage.
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