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Feasibility of Feeding a Family of 5 on 2 Acres  RSS feed

 
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I would love to hear anyone or everyone's thoughts and experiences about using a two acre rural property to raise food to feed a family of five with little or no cost. My family is just about to buy such a place, and it has long been my dream to feed ourselves as self sufficiently as possible. This homestead will be in a northern great lakes type of climate, so bananas won't be on the menu. No offense to vegans or vegetarians, but this family is a meat loving family. So, an all garden-plot yard wouldn't be ideal for use here. However, a vegetable garden would be a huge part of a self sufficient diet. Perhaps a greenhouse is in order?

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, eggs, poultry, honey, and dairy products could all be wonderful components to a healthy, home raised food supply, especially when combined with various methods of food storage such as, canning, root cellaring, smoking, drying, freezing, cooking, and refrigerating. Time and effort is not a difficult investment for us to make. Can time and effort, properly invested, be used to substitute for the money that is often spent to provide food for a family?

Letting chickens forage for food around the property in a tractor, or better yet in movable paddocks, seems very promising to lower costs. But, buying expensive feeds, medicines, or vet bills for animals like goats would seem to really cut into any savings that home produced goat dairy might provide. This bothers me, because homemade goat cheese, milk, and meat would be awesome. Chickens, goats, and rabbits all seem to have good potential for a return on the time, effort, and money invested. But, can their food products really cost less to raise than to buy at the market?

Perhaps a few items could be sold, and the proceeds used to buy animal feed and such. But, this rural spot is off the beaten path and putting a sign out by the road declaring "fresh eggs for sale" or "fresh corn" might not generate much business. I expect there must be some costs involved as there isn't enough room on the property to grow all the animal's feed, along with the family's vegetables, or all the hay for the animals, along with room for them to run. So, some out-of-pocket costs may be necessary. However, if these costs are too high, maybe its just as well to buy groceries at the supermarket?

The goal is to use time, effort, and two acres to feed the family in lieu of using money at the grocery store. Is this realistic, or even possible?

Thank you for any insight anyone may be able to share toward achieving this goal!

Thanks,
Will
 
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Location: rainier OR
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you'd be shocked how little feed and and meds for goats cost
I spend less on half a dozen nigerian dwarfs than I do on my housepets (1 black lab 1 cat)  by far the big expense with small stock like goats comes in one shot up front to get fenc and shelter built.

on the larger goal of course its achievable. caveats:
1)at least one person is going to have to treat raising/preserving food and maintaining the land as a full time job. at least at first Permaculture design may be able to reduce this workload after several years.
2) your diet will have to undergo major changes most everything we are used to eating right now is driven by large plot tractor farming
3)expect to do some foraging afeild from your place for high value items mushrooms and berries come to mind, hunting is also a good way to gather nutrients from your neighbors land.
4)start reading now get the Permaculture desingners manual, ghais garden, and buy the dvd archive from Mother Earth News
 
pollinator
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Historically, well-developed methods, and a culture adapted to the place, often made it possible to support that number on even less space.
 
steward
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certainly doable.  shouldn't even be terribly difficult.  that isn't to say that there won't be a fair amount of work involved.

eating critters:

I'm with brice Moss on goats.  fencing is probably your biggest expense.  avoiding the expensive feed you mentioned will likely also help you avoid the expensive vet bills you're worried about.  if they've got access to a good variety of fresh plants to eat, buying feed isn't necessary.  if you plan to dairy, you'll probably want to be growing some high quality forage for them, but I still don't think buying or feeding grain is necessary if maximum production isn't your goal.

when you're choosing critters you'll raise to eat, keep in mind how well they convert their food to your food and what it is they eat.  generally, smaller animals do better.  quail convert food very efficiently, and they'll eat insects and seeds instead of your vegetables, so you don't have to separate the two.  they also reach eating and laying size very quickly.  goats are nice because they thrive on such a wide variety of plant food that other critters won't touch.  that's likely why goats are so widely consumed (outside of North America).  you won't be keeping them in your garden, though.  chickens are popular and well-known, but they just aren't that great in my opinion.  other options are easier, more versatile, and more useful.

apart from food, you'll also want to keep in mind other uses for critters.  pigs, for instance, can build ponds for you, turn over dirt, clear blackberries and brush, eat weed seeds and roots, and feed you.  two acres might seem a little small to keep pigs, but you don't have to keep them: buy or trade for small-ish pigs when you need them for a job, such as clearing out a patch of corn/squash/beans after you've harvested it, then eat the pigs once the job is done.

consider fish, frogs, and other aquatic critters for food.  ponds are very productive of both plants and animals that can feed you.  if your property doesn't have a pond, put some serious thought into building one or more.  critters and plants can also be raised in tanks, but there will be a lot more management involved in that option.


plant food: trees are more productive that vegetables.  perennials are more productive than annuals.  weeds are frequently more nutritious than domestic plants.  I'm of the opinion that plant food is usually better for humans than animal food, and a better use of limited space, but you'll have more than enough room on two acres to grow both.

don't count on growing all your own food within the first year.  if you start in the right season, you could probably do it, but I don't think you would have much fun.  supposing you've already got some experience and you put the time in, I would bet that you could get there at the end of two years.


consider other needs that you can meet on your two acres.  food is a big expense, and the most obvious one to cut out if you do it yourself, but there are many others, too.  related to that: be sure about the choice to move to a rural area.  cities have plenty to offer permaculturists.

I have more to say, but I'm being told that my computer usage is a bit extravagant this evening, so I'll leave it there. 
 
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Two acres is not enough land to raise full-size goats on. (Maybe one or two dwarf goats if you are really determined.) My father has 12 goats on about 10 acres and that is nowhere near enough land. The first few years he only had half a dozen goats and the goats had plenty to eat and were healthy, but after eating the brush they start eating and killing the trees. Now the land is "tamed" (over-grazed) and the goats are heavily medicated with antibiotics to keep them alive. He has always had to buy supplemental grain and hay for them, even back when he only had six. You can buy a lot of milk and cheese for the same money you will spend on feed.

Goats have a lot of personality, and are fun to raise, but that makes them more difficult to eat than cows or pigs.

Goats make poor permaculture animals, in my opinion. They destroy forests. If they get loose, they will destroy your garden. (This makes them useful for clearing brush.)

Be sure and check out the new portable electric fencing solutions that are available now. There is a version suitable for both chickens and goats.

I would start with chickens (or some other poultry) and rabbits on such a small piece of land.
 
                            
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC
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I think it depends on your definition of food self-sufficiency (which you did outline pretty clearly in your original post--kudos!).

I'm reading (finally!) Eliot Coleman's _New Organic Grower_, where he says 2.5 acres will feed 100 people. That's of vegetable production alone, I assume.  I'm on 1/2 acre, only a portion of which is usable.  During my first year, we easily fed ourselves fruit and veggie/potato-wise for several months and I don't anticipate any problems with being able to do so year round in the coming years.  We fish and crab/prawn, and I would like to add foraging in there down the road.  Next year we're planning for chickens and ducks; 3 of each will provide more eggs than we can eat, and they will be "farm workers" as opposed to meat.  But just down the road is a very sustainable pastured chicken operation that supplies that need as necessary.

There's only 2 of us, and we're not supplying our grain needs, nor likely all of the livestock forage, but it's amazing how productive a small space can be, especially with permaculture stacking techniques in use.

For me it's become clear that this is all the land we need if we are working outside jobs; it's also all the land we can handle as we both work full time.  The limitation in the small space is when we look at potentially producing an income, but an acre of productive land would replace one of our incomes relatively easily, I think.  We live in one of the most expensive places in the world, but also in close proximity to markets passionate about local organic food--pros and cons. 

Good luck!
 
Brice Moss
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a bit more info about the character of the land would help, I have less than two acres in the coastal range or Oregon and my 5 Nigerian dwarfs can't keep the blackberries all mowed down. but back in the north woods where I grew up with the two months of summer and 5 months of snow I would need to set aside 2-5 acres for hay to keep em fed through the winter
 
pollinator
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You might look into Biointensive  gardening, which ideally enables one to grow all the food needed on 4000 square feet per person.  This includes land needed to grow compost materials.  The book "One Circle" describes vegan diets which can be grown in as little as 1000 square feet per person.  This doesn't include land for compost materials.  Even though these are geared toward vegan diets they're a good jumping off point for omnivorous diets, I think. 

http://growbiointensive.org/
http://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BEA-0370

The Dervaes family of Pasadena CA have done an amazing job of growing much of their food on their city lot.  They even have miniature dairy goats (Nigerian dwarfs), chickens, ducks, fish, and honeybees:

http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/
 
Will Sustane
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Thank you so much folks for the input. So much good information, I will try to put it to good use, and do my best to be responsible with management of the land. I am learning a lot about that here, and my views have changed about a great many things. If we get this property, (the sale isn't final yet,) it will be a great place to grow vegetables, animals, but most importantly, our children. Permaculture practices will be the foundation from which all our future choices will be made. Things I learn will be passed on to anyone who will listen. That may or may not include my children. As you mentioned it, brice, I will provide a description, in more detail, of the property. Thanks for the great links, Ludi!

I am thinking you might be right, Frankenstoen, with regard to the room for the goats. As it stands now, there is not much in the way of forage for them to browse or graze upon. Perhaps a couple years of tending the land could change that. I'm not sure. Most of the place, with exception of the rear (eastern area) of the lot has been mowed into a rather well kept lawn. It might become ok for chickens and rabbits though, with less mowing. The parcel of land is whats left of an old homestead farm that has had all the surrounding farmland whittled off, and sold off, until all that now remains is the 100 year old farmhouse and 2 acres. The ruins of the barn is nearby, but not on the lot.

The property is atop a large hill, though the parcel itself is relatively flat. There is a gentle slope across the whole lot with the south a bit lower than the north. However, the north edge of the property has a bit steeper rise all along the edge of the lot.  Along this northern "ridge." (its not really steep or high enough to qualify, but you get the idea) is where I plan to plant vegetables, etc., since it has great exposure to the southern sun. It is almost steep enough to terrace, but, not quite. I will need to see how it seems after a season is tried without terracing. Also somewhere along this steeper slope would be a great location to build an underground greenhouse like I have learned about here. I must get that Mike Oehler book. More on that later.

Beyond, and right up against the southern property line is a mature, wild grove of tall oaks. Even though they make the southern side of the lot very shady, it shouldn't interfere with that north slope, and growing things over there. Right on the old oak treeline is one huge old gnarled apple tree, what I believe might be the lone survivor of an old homestead apple grove or orchard. There are several ancient stumps scattered around the back yard, nearby. The have long since rotted unidentifiable, to me at least. However, they are not far enough gone for my liking. I'm sure I will find one or more of those stumps inconveniently in the way someday. If I had to guess, at least some of them may have been fruit trees. There are a couple random trees on the lot, near the house, or near the edges. Most of the lot is wide open, except for the stumps. However, along the back (the eastern area) it is much more natural. Back there is a stand of poplar trees (maybe 20 yrs old) with tall grasses and weeds. This natural area is about half an acre.

The west boundary of the property is a dirt road all along the front edge. The house is quite near to the road, leaving more promising possibilities for the rest of the lot. Without digging a hole yet, I would venture to guess that the ground may be a thin layer of topsoil covering fine powder sand. I judge this by my experiences nearby in other parts of the area. It wouldn't surprise me if virgin bedrock was close to the surface under that sand, no telling how thick the sand is. However, the house does have a full basement, which I doubt would exist if the bedrock were very near the surface. There could also be deposits of glacial scree, because in some places around here the last ice age just dropped loads of small boulders and large gravel when the glaciers disappeared.

I will be out of luck when it comes to clay for any future cob structures as this area seems devoid of this handy material. This is much to my dismay really, because I did have some uses for it. Which brings me back to that earlier mention of the underground greenhouse. Tel, you mentioned ponds, I would very much like to try to create a raised fish pond with an earthen base inside the walipini. It would be the basis for an aquaponics system. I would like to run the vent from a rocket mass heater along the bottom of this earthen base. The base and the pond above could act as the mass for the heat retention. The pond could contain such critters as tilapia and crawfish and the rest of the whole thing could be a standard aquaponics set-up.

Since the place is atop a hill, and fairly wide open, I was thinking a windmill could be used to pump the water from the bottom to the top, and let gravity take the water back down through the system. Between the underground design, and use of a rocket mass heater, I should think we could grow year round even in this cold climate using some of these designs. I am some miles due north of what they call the "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" for you NFL football fans out there. For everyone else, I think it is growing zone 5.

Lots of stuff to just pour out here, and if I rambled on too much, I apologise. I guess I am really excited about the prospects of this place for our family's future. I have been dreaming of this for quite a while. We currently rent, and are not allowed to do very much here. If we are blessed enough to complete the purchase of this property, I intend to slowly introduce my family into a new way of living. What I believe is honestly a smarter, more harmonious, and in tune way to live via permaculture with a goal towards self sufficiency. Thank you everyone!

Will
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Will Sustane wrote:...the goats. As it stands now, there is not much in the way of forage for them to browse or graze upon. Perhaps a couple years of tending the land could change that.



If the climate is appropriate, some willow and/or alder might produce goat feed in relatively short order.

Even if willow seems unlikely to work, if you can find some cuttings to try, it will be worth it: the water you soak them in becomes infused with a natural rooting hormone, and cuttings of other species soaked in it afterward are more likely to sprout roots.

Plus, the twigs stripped of bark can become good rocket stove fuel. And there are benefits to having hedgerows...fringe benefits, if you forgive the pun.

The old stumps sound like they might be incorporated in to hugelkultur.

It might be worth trying to propagate that apple.

The acorns dropped from those oaks will be a great resource for feeding chickens. You might also look into leaching out the tannins to make bread from them.

If you encounter some finer glacial deposits, like loess, it might be worth playing with some of it to produce cob.
 
Brice Moss
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relatively well maintained lawns are actually a great starting place, just stop maintaining and let some "weeds" in and pretty soon you have a worthy pasture.

I will add one other thing about goats
do not under any conditions buy 1goat, a single goat is a lonely angry animal who will make you hate goats forever, most of the horror stories you hear about goats come from folks who tried to raise one is isolation. they are a herd animal and always need a buddy in the pasture.
 
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you might want to check out Sepp holzers recipe for what he called bone sauce. 
It is supposed to keep the goats from eating the tree bark, and it is said to last for ever. I dont know if it works personally but sepp holzer seems to know what he is doing.

I found it in an old post here about a year ago and thought I would share it because I have always thought it could be of good use. you might want to give it a shot on any of the trees you want to keep from being eaten. that way you could use selectively cut new growth for fodder, and save the bark of the trees.

heres the original post. http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1805_0/permaculture/sepp-holzers-recipe-to-keep-animals-off-of-trees
good luck
 
                                          
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Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
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wow!!! i just found this thread.  first off, good luck!

where in michigan is the land?  sounds like the western upper peninsula of michigan, right?

i'm estimating that i can grow about 15% of my family's food in my 1000 square foot backyard garden, maybe 20% if i really push things with a lot a luck.  i'm betting that you can really move things in a direction that you can be proud of.

one thing to keep in mind: in michigan and in the UP especially, there is not only a lot of state owned land for hunting, but also private land owners can seek a property tax discount if they allow open access to their lands.  mostly logging companies take advantage of this, but you can use that land as well for some foraging and hunting.  it may be a good idea to invest in a good high caliber revolver for bear and cougar like a ruger redhawk or something similar.  with the easy access to rivers, lakes, and public forests, your 2 acres becomes something much larger in practice.

also, if i may suggest something:  you must, must, must build a sauna.  it doesn't need to be extravagant or big.  as a matter of fact, it ought to be small so it heats up faster.  there is simply nothing better than cranking up the wood stove and heating the sauna up to 140 degrees and then jumping out into a snow bank beneath the green, pulsating aurora borealis.
 
Will Sustane
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Hi hobbssamuelj, yes, western u.p., nice job pin pointing the spot! You are right on about the sauna. It has been years since I have had the pleasure, but that changes once we get our own place.

Well, seems I fell into a case of counting my chickens before they hatched. Someone else put in a higher offer on that property, and drove the price above our doable limit. We are a bit bummed out about it. However, its time to regroup, keep looking, and find an alternative location. I really do appreciate everyone's input very much! I am certain I will be able to put the info to good use someday soon, I just am not sure exactly where yet. Thanks everyone!

Will
 
                                          
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too bad   keep looking!!! 

http://www.landsofamerica.com has listings for the whole country and is pretty easy to search.  i spent a slow afternoon at work looking through listings one day and got the impression that land was often less than a $1000 per acre.
 
Tyler Ludens
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We first looked for 5 acres closer to two metropolitan areas, but couldn't find anything we liked.  Finally found 20 acres somewhat off the beaten track that was only twice as much as the 5 acres, for four times the land!  Larger tracts are usually significantly less per acre than smaller ones and the land is often valued lower for tax purposes or gives an option for getting lower taxes by getting agricultural or forest tax status.  So your wad of money might go farther if you can look farther from town.  Your options might be wider too, because fewer people want larger tracts of land.

Don't give up! 
 
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as Joel hollingworth said you can feed a family on much less though they may be rather underfeed, all villagers used to feed their families that way in England and they worked their vegetable gardens the back garden of their cottages after a days work or in the weekend and in all Europe villagers kept a pig and so you ate vegetables and a pig a year that was made into sausages and  back fat etc that flavoured soups in the succeeding year and provided a bit of meat for the hard working head of the family. read germinal by Zola too. The great majority of humans used to be nearly vegetarians you had to be rich to eat meat. I have heard that humans are better adapted to a shortage of food than a surplus through out the centuries it is a shortage we have normally had to deal with.
    To talk about villagers in England feeding their children from a small back garden is not a good example, the villagers grew up small and undergrown and the children and old easily fell prey to illnesses. Half starved they did not have good defenses, girls went into service which means they worked as maids at fourteen and boys to went to work at that age so there were not so many children at home as their would otherwise have been. Read Akenfield a book which is probably out of print a book about village life at the turn of the century the beginning of the twentieth century.
    The prize for working was the house and garden as the wages were very low.The wealth of the rich does not just depend on what the rich have earned it depends on sharing very little with their workers.
  Jane Eyre the writer a poor vicars daughter and her sisters were all tiny, their staple diet potatoes or porridge and they all fell prey to tuberculosis, a illness that thrives were poverty exists, to give an example of the penalties of poverty  before universal suffrage.

  If you live off the beaten track you can still put up a sign people will come just for fun once they find out where you are if you are fun. If you are not fun others will come because they prefer things a bit dry. My father used to buy eggs off a farmers wife she looked like a medieval character and was very talkative she told him all about the operation on her piles so he enjoyed making the trip. We learnt all about her family. she sold ducks eggs.as well as hens eggs and gave us ducklings to look after during the summer holidays.

    Pigs used to eat the slops, which is to say  the sewage. I don't know if cottagers used this way of disposing of sewage, i know that it was used at my fathers school during the war as pig feed.
  I have seen hens make short shift of the same product in Spain in a village were the only place to go to the bathroom was the barn unless i wanted to use the pot which is the right behavior for a woman which as i had not been told where to empty it contents could then be inspected by my boyfriends mother, a prospect i did not want to face.. Horrified that i  wanted to use the great out doors instead of the pot, she chased me down the village pot in her hands. I don't know what the medical implications of using animals as a sewage system are except that you can then get tape worms from eating pork so it has to be well cooked.
   
  I saw a program about farming in Egypt and the problems they had with sewage in the water they had to water the crops with . In Greece forty years ago they used one beach as a lavatory and I knew an Italian girl who warned us not to ever eat fruit without washing it because the habit of using the country as a lavatory at least for the men meant that you never knew where you fly had sat before it sat on your bit of fruit. life was more exiting in those days in many countries . so i think the sewage problem for Egyptian farmers must be something they are used to. I was in the Mediterranean in summer when it is dry i don't know what the result of old fashioned lavatory habits was in winter, still even in winter the Mediterranean is much drier than England meaning to judge by dog mess in madrid a product that quickly dries and breaks up while in London you get a product which maintains it humid condition till trodden on three days later and never dries so a longer lasting problem
 
rose macaskie
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THe family i knew as a child who had a goat used to tether it in places that weren't their own garden so it could eat off the side of the road if there were big enough margins on the roads and they could ask people to let them feed the goat in their gardens, that is how i got to know them. There father a victim of shell shock in the war, war trauma which made it hard for him to get a job he had such bad epilectic fits so it was important to suplement the income of the family the dole social security payments weren't very good in those days. He also also kept rabbits.
      May be if a nomal cow is too big for a family as it gives much too much milk someone could go and get one of those small african or india cows and breed them for familise who wanted cows milk an dfind a normal cow too big for them. according to the book i have on manure, "Magic muck" they are more efficient at digesting grass than horses whose manure remains full of grain which is good for adob ehouses, cows have a long digestive tract and a lot of stomachs, as they are so good at digesting food maybe they are the best way of converting your grass into milk.
  Some races of sheep notable the manchego sheep, the mancha is most famouse for being where Don Quijote lived give a lot of milk. A lot of cheeses were in their origen sheeps milk cheeses and sheep are much easier to manage than goats so they could be an alternative to goats and give you wool to turn into felt as aislation and such, the use of sheeps wool for jerseys seems to be lessening. agri rose maccaskie.
 
                  
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Rosie wrote:
I think it depends on your definition of food self-sufficiency (which you did outline pretty clearly in your original post--kudos!).

I'm reading (finally!) Eliot Coleman's _New Organic Grower_, where he says 2.5 acres will feed 100 people.



Lots of mathematical statements and myths out there ....

colemans quote was .....

"2.5-acre farm suffices to provide enough produce for 100 locals for a year. "

Produce ...Not calories

Most americans get most of there calories from fat (animal and or vegetable)  check out your own diet
 
tel jetson
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jmy wrote:
Lots of mathematical statements and myths out there ....

colemans quote was .....

"2.5-acre farm suffices to provide enough produce for 100 locals for a year. "

Not calories

Most americans get most of there calories from fat (animal and or vegetable)  check out your own diet



oils are certainly an easy way to get energy.  most efficient (by far) way to produce oils on limited land is oily nuts.  a single mature walnut tree can produce an amazing amount of energy taking up a fairly small amount of land.
 
                            
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Thanks for clarifying Coleman's quote, jmy; I have wondered about the conflicting info out there, especially given Jeavon's calculations.

I have been reading the 1940s "Have-More Plan" that's available for download at the Mother Earth News site, and they really emphasize livestock, as does John Seymour in his books on a fairly traditional self-sufficient life. 

I think the dietary choices we make are really important to this whole discussion.  Jeavons is advocating a vegetarian diet, which clearly requires more space for growing the bulk calories.  As a long-time vegetarian, I'm struggling with this, because clearly eggs, chickens, rabbits, wild game are all much more efficient ways to meet those caloric goals.

The local diet craze got me thinking about this first: olive oil is a big import; the traditional diet in the PNW was all fish oils and fats.  Livestock as a major part of the diet does take more land for (healthy) grazers, but stacking wild game, fish, etc makes that space unnecessary.  For the first time in our formerly vegetarian lives, we have a freezer full of salmon, crab, and tuna that we've either caught ourselves or bought from friends who did.  With the eggs, we're eating a lot more protein, but it definitely feels more sustainable.  Counter-intuitive, though, to the usual (more superficial?) perspective on sustainable eating!

I hear a lot of advocating for nuts in permaculture: protein, calories, oils/fats, and of course all the benefits of trees and stacking.  However, we can't keep our nuts away from the squirrels! 
 
tel jetson
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Rosie wrote:
I hear a lot of advocating for nuts in permaculture: protein, calories, oils/fats, and of course all the benefits of trees and stacking.  However, we can't keep our nuts away from the squirrels! 



squirrels can be a serious challenge.  they don't seem at all interested in our walnuts, though.  those husks are pretty nasty.

making friends with the local birds of prey might be in order to protect your nuts.  or import some martens or fishers.  they'll fuck a squirrel up for sure.  other folks have placed buckets where squirrels are likely to bury things, so the squirrels do the harvesting for them.  there are probably some tricks to that, but it's a solid idea.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Eat squirrels! 
 
rose macaskie
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    I read somewhere that walnut tree leaves aren't liked by insects and that in France they plant one a field or maybe two fields, in a hedge so the tree covers two feilds, so that  live stock have a place to go were they wont be bothered by insects, which helps fatten them and or improves their quality of life.

  Also that you may place walnut leaves on your  head to keep off insects.

  I have seen enormouse amounts of chestnuts under an old chestnut tree so it seems trees an give a lot of food. Agri rose macaskie.
 
      
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You guys and gals really need to check out Steve Solomon:

Gardening When It Counts etc...  Some people don't like his style. I think he just tells it like it is. Something rare these days.

http://www.soilandhealth.org/

There can be issues with lack of minerals or unbalances that occur when intensively farming the same plot of land.

REALLY good article/interview with him. Pay close attention!
http://www.hippocratesmag.org/beyond-organic.html

"Within six months of returning to Oregon and eating the trial grounds our health was falling apart again. There was something I didn't understand, you see? I lost teeth!
I also heard of others who ate from a single organic garden and had massive deterioration in their health. I started to research, especially somebody named William Albrecht. I discovered that the nutritional quality of food coming from a piece of ground is a function of the amount and ratios of mineralization in the soil. Even when the various minerals levels are healthy, if you put the ratios too far out of balance you end up with food that's not very nutritionally valuable. "

"If you have a clay soil that won't grow vegetables, you can try to make it into something like loam soil by upping organic matter content, but this is a mistake! As you build soil organic matter to high levels it's almost inevitable that you bring in very large quantities of potassium."


He makes very good points about these topics. You have to get into the science a little to take care to properly re-mineralize your soil. It's not extremely hard. Many ancient people had habits and systems to protect against this occurring. Look into them too.

There may be some good info in this book by Michael Astera:

http://www.soilminerals.com/Ideal_Soil_Main_Page.htm

So, don't be freaked out and don't fall into the "organic" (whatever that means) /intensive mindset too easily.
Do a lot of research into the RIGHT way to go about it. There is a lot of information out there.

And ya know, there is a lot to be said for the Paleo type diet. They don't farm at all (sort of).

Think of a happy medium between all these groups.


 
                      
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look up urban homesteading i cant recall the fam name in cali but they did 6000 pounds off a urban lot what 1/2 acre? but with 2 acres look up a hoop house that will extend your season in the up  some .. but a pair small cold weather goats if you can convince your kids to drink goat milk , 2-4 layers(and rooster stud service)
 
                                    
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check out this blog post

A standard apple tree at maturity can give 300 pounds of apples per year.  Check.  That's roughly what we got this year from our mature apple tree.  A sweet cherry can also deliver 300 pounds per year, and a sour cherry, 150 pounds.  We have one sweet and one sour cherry back there which have only just begun to bear.  Four hundred and fifty pounds of fruit from them in the coming years?  Zoiks!  And then there are the pear trees.  We have one dwarf and possibly one standard.  Since the dwarfs will apparently give 120 pounds of fruit per year at maturity, we're looking at 240 pounds if they're both dwarfs, and 320 pounds if the second one is a standard.

 
                                    
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sticky_burr wrote:
look up urban homesteading i cant recall the fam name in cali but they did 6000 pounds off a urban lot what 1/2 acre?



its urbanhomestead.org btw.  and i think they have a standard .25 acre suburban lot.
 
Tyler Ludens
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"Urban Homestead at a Glance

Location: Northwest Pasadena, one mile from downtown Pasadena

Property Size: 66’ x 132’ = 8,712 sq.ft. (1/5 acre)

House: Simple, wood frame craftsman bungalow. Circa 1917.

House Size: 1,500 sq. ft.

Garden Size: ~ 1/10 acre (3,900 sq.ft. / ~ 66' x 66'

Garden Diversity: Over 350 different vegetables, herbs, fruits & berries

Productivity: Up to 6,000 lbs harvest annually on 1/10 acre"

http://urbanhomestead.org/urban-homestead

 
                      
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so 6000 on ~ 2 acres of colder climate with forage chickens and cow/goat hoop house or dual purpose south side of the house green house to help warm the house and raise some off season lettace  atleast. besides walking outside in the winter to a (relitively) warm green house and relax with your morning coffee mmmm including a rocket mass heater
 
Tyler Ludens
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If you have a greenhouse you might want to do some aquaponics!

<<<< extremely obsessed with aquaculture right now 

 
rose macaskie
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gosh sticky bur,r that sound appetising. rose
 
                                        
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Good for you. I hope it all works out. Here are some additional resources that may help out. Some are more expensive than others but still great for ideas.
1. http://www.greenhousedesigns.info/ - You can feed a family of 4 - 5 out of this little unit. The website is a good read.
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9CCxdkOng - This guy feeds a small city off of 3 acres.
3. Check out the concepts and helpful info at www.WellFedNeighbor.com

All 3 of these have been a wealth of information as well as knowledgeable people to help out.
 
                                  
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Sounds like you are gung ho about this! Good luck in your endeavor.

Just FYI tilapia aren't a good option for a pond there. They die at ~50F and only thrive when the water is above 70F. That said, it's one of the best fish for small-holding, low input aquaculture. If you end up with a heated greenhouse, you could set up an aquaponics setup to optimize nutrient use. Here's a fantastic resource for that: http://www.backyardaquaponics.com
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm going to try bluegill in my aquaponics set up.  They are hardy to both hot and cold water temperatures. 

 
                                        
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Hey Lundi, will the blue gill eat the same things as the talapia? Are they meat eaters or veggies? One nice thing about the talapia is that you can grow their food in the same system.
I like the idea of them handling the bigger temp swing. I know a lot of people are starting to add the rocket mass heaters to their green houses and regular houses as they are very efficient and retain heat for a very long time.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Bluegill are primarily carnivores, so I'll be raising black soldier fly larvae and earthworms for them. I might also look into raising freshwater shrimp or other freshwater invertebrates for them.

 
                                        
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Glad to see your on the right track. The BSFL are incredible. If you haven't done that yet, you will have lots of fun with that. I have been able to feed my birds pretty good on them. I take the bigger larve and set them aside to let them hatch out and feed the smaller ones. Absolutely incredible food source. With the worms, I would suggest the red wigglers as the reproduce the fastest and are a good size for the fish. Don't mix the two if you can help it. The BSFL can quickly populate to the point that they over take the worms. I am hoping to fill the freezer this next year to be able to just about totally supplement the birds diets in the winter with the BSFL. That and kitchen scraps. Let us all know how this goes.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks for those tips.    I've had some trouble keeping the BSFL out of the worm bin, but so far things seem to be ok.

 
rose macaskie
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foxfire, the you tube video link you gave of a man growng so much in a smal space is great, It is a bit scary, he has so much going on i feel i could never do all that, it is easier to do a lot if you work up to it by a mistake. Maybe surely he is also  very energetic and capable ,still i think that seeing those who have done a lot makes starting scarey. It also cheers you can imagien earning a lot on a little land.  sepp holzer also has got so much going on on his farm. rose macaskie.
 
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