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Looking to make the jump to a true homestead - advice please  RSS feed

 
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So we've been sort of homesteading here in CA for the last 5-6 years.

We live on 5 acres in a canyon in a fairly dense redwood forest. Lots of shade has made growing much veggies nearly impossible but we've 3 small gardens and we've done well with animals.

We raise ducks, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, dairy goats, sheep and a few pigs each year from Spring to Fall and harvest everything ourselves. The problem is that we have to bring in pretty much all of the feed for all of the animals because nothing much will grow under the redwoods that pretty well cover the property.

We're looking to buy raw land in Idaho County, Idaho (around 20 acres) with the thought that we would be able feed the animals mostly from the land and set it up in a permaculture sort of way with terraced food forest, hugalkulture beds, south facing earth sheltered building, solar power, intensive rotational grazing, stuff like that.

Ideally, this would be our "retirement farm". We have some passive income and wouldn't need to work off of the "farm" if we could get our feed costs handled. Right now it's a struggle to make ends meet. My husband is 65 and fairly limited in his abilities due to chronic vertigo from an inner ear injury. I'm almost 50 and fairly able bodied yet but have an auto immune disease that is making my joints age faster than they should. We have a very able bodied son who is 14 and helps me a lot with the current farm chores.

Our goal would be to get this set up and running pretty efficiently so that the maintenance would be doable for me alone within the next 5 years.

I have about 100K to purchase the land and another 150K that I can use to start the farm. Purchasing the land looks pretty good so far - like it will fall within our budget but I'm concerned that the 150K may not be enough to get the farm set up. I figure that we'll need a well, a septic (since my husband is pretty set against any other form of toileting), grey water line, fencing, earth works for the terracing, building site and hugalkulture beds, solar and some sort of shelter that will make it through the winter and keep our puny CA bones warm. We're looking at areas that are planting zone 6b so not terrible cold. I do want to make a rocket mass heater for our structure and it needs to be ranch style (flat) for my husband now and both of us eventually. Ponds would be a big plus but not a necessity.

Here's the question. Does this seem within the realm of possibilities?

I'd like to have the earth works done by a permaculture designer. I'm proficient enough with a tractor to be able to manage the hugalkulture beds if someone could advice on their placement but I doubt that I could handle terracing or much with making a building site.

Thanks in advance!

Penny
 
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Be careful on animal counts if you truly want to feed them from the land. It's easy to go overboard, then birthing can double (or more) the count. If the land can support 1 male and 3 female sheep, can it support another 6 when they birth? While it may not be permanent, you have to get them to slaughter size.

Thats my main problem right now.
 
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Location: Washington State near lake tapps
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Watch the climate change, stocking density in that area is lower than a lot of people expect. Plus there is the snow each winter.

It is very doable, with the right setup. We are moving to a similar climate as that. Watch the north and south face of the hills and ridges. Sometimes south facing may be too dry.

Make sure you have all of your priorities and goals set before you have a consultation.

We have been working on design for the same type of goals. Expect it will take a few years to get the productivity, to support the livestock. More types and quantity the longer it will take.

I would push for small scale. Look at simple systems that are as low maintenance as possible. This will make them more sustainable in the long run. And always keep in mind how hard will it be to complete any activity with winter snow.

Thanks
Brian
 
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