The 5 Acres & A Dream homesteading series reveals the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty realities of working toward a simpler, sustainable, more self-reliant lifestyle on a self-sufficient homestead. Leigh and Dan Tate had a dream but very little money. This series shares how they made their dream a reality: facing the challenges, solving the problems, and sometimes changing their minds along the way.
5 Acres & A Dream The Book is the first in the series. It begins with the years leading up to the Tates' 2009 purchase of a 1920s farmhouse on five acres in the foothills of Southern Appalachia. This first book in the series shares how they defined their dream, developed property hunting criteria, faced setbacks, and finally found the right place. It describes how they set and prioritized their goals and mapped out a plan. It shares the difficulties and obstacles they faced, and what they’ve learned about energy, water, and food self-sufficiency .
About the Author
Leigh Tate is a long-time homesteader and a passionate advocate for simpler, sustainable, more self-reliant living. Through her books and blog, she shares what she and her husband Dan are learning about homesteading, permaculture design, off-grid food preservation, regenerative soil management, holistic livestock keeping, plus energy, water, and resource stewardship. She enjoys food growing, critter keeping, cheesemaking, woodstove and solar cooking, writing about homesteading, and encouraging others to make their own dreams come true.
Of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book she says, "I started blogging when an acquaintance asked to see photos of our new place. It seemed like a good way to keep a record of our progress, and that's what it's become. Little did I know so many others would be interested. In fact, folks started telling me I should write a book. In 2013, I published 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. Since then, I've written a number of books on homesteading as well as blog posts. I continue to be both thrilled and honored when they encourage others toward their own homesteading dream."
One acorn deducted for containing all black & white graphics rather than color. The printed book might have color graphics but the pdf version I read is B&W.
I truly enjoyed the book. Leigh has an enjoyable writing style. Something in the middle of the book reminded me of the Forrest Gump movie. Not the story itself but how the story was told. One could start reading anywhere & not feel lost. Reading felt like randomly meeting someone & being drawn into a fascinating journey without even realizing it. All the bits & pieces are intertwined into one larger interesting story.
The first few chapters describe the thinking process the author & her husband went through before taking the plunge into buying land & a fixer upper house. In fact, the entire book gave their thoughts behind their actions before going into more specific details. The book isn't about technical things as much as outlining their priorities & the solid reasoning behind that. I tended to agree with what was being said throughout the book. Practical & logical info based on reality instead of fantasy. Good stuff!
The house renovations & improvements were just the beginning. The book then goes into soil, garden, & animal improvements. I especially liked the annual master plan maps the author & her husband used as a guideline to keep them on track with their overall plans. As with the house they used what they had & gradually made improvements to suit their needs. I thought it was funny that they apparently enjoy eliminating traditional lawn as much as I do.
Water & energy self sufficiency were discussed in the next couple chapters. This is maybe a good time to mention the beautiful wood stoves they installed. I think the main take away from these chapters is that a big array of solar panels & large wind turbines are not suitable for everybody. The author describes several methods to reduce usage instead.
All throughout the book up until this point are references to raising animals but then it goes more in depth about building & improving animal shelters, fencing, & food supplies, etc. The following few chapters goes into overcoming obstacles & difficult things in general. It includes several animal examples as well as insurance companies, money, time, big ag, some cider press topics, & various other things in the "stuff happens" category.
I had to laugh at the next chapter. Croutons is a recipe? Then I realized that was just a sub recipe to go along with a yummy salad recipe. The book frequently mentions the importance of food preservation & shares various techniques to accomplish that. All the recipes look amazing. Seriously, sweet potato honeypie. What's not to like?
The final chapters are useful references & resources of various sorts. Books, websites, & organizations. There is a cool tool to help simplify formulating grain mixes for animals & quite a lot of detailed info about all that. Specifically as it applies to goats but easily used with any animals or grains.
Before reading the book I briefly glanced at the author's blog. Noticed some nice artwork & other interesting things. Now it's time to go back & see how this story ends. Or does it? Homesteading is full of ever changing rabbit holes & the author describes some of theirs very well.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
I love reading books about homesteading written by people living the lifestyle. This book is less of a how-to style homesteading book, but more of a documentary of a couples journey towards and starting a self reliant lifestyle by the authors point of view. The writing easily held my attention and I found the storytelling enjoyable, full of real life accounts of starting a new homestead. The challenges faced by the author and her husband are very down to earth, writing about mistakes and what they learned from particular events. Leigh and her husband have what I think of as a condensed homestead, successfully raising chickens and goats and even a llama at one point, along with a large garden, growing grains and various fruit & nut trees. I think that’s a lot to undertake, and they manage to do it on 5 acres. Delightfully warm and entertaining, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to, or already is living a more self reliant lifestyle.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
So last weekend I finally got and read Leigh Tate’s new book, 5 Acres and a Dream. I am a little late on getting this review out, but the short version is that I would recommend it.
The longer version is about the reasons why I would recommend this book. For starters, this is not a how-to book. That’s fine, as there is no shortage of those types of books. 5 Acres is more an autobiography with a philosophical approach to learning how to live a Permaculture lifestyle on a mere 5 acres of awkward shaped land.
Tate describes the evolution her life took to get to a functioning permaculture lifestyle. It was not easy, nor did it happen overnight. Tate spent a considerable portion of her life trying to get to the place she is at now, and I would say she is making a go of things better than I would. On 5 acres, she has gardens, small grain fields, timber, goats, chickens and all sorts of small farm animals. And she is doing this essentially without any outside inputs, an impressive feat considering her limited acreage.
Tate accomplishes much of these goals simply by focusing on economy—where can she get the best output for her limited time, money and acreage. She had a very nice chapter dedicated to the challenge of utilizing energy—especially electricity—into her lifestyle. I won’t give away the details, you will have to get the book for that, but it reflects some of the challenges I faced trying to do much the same. Though I will say, Tate has me beat hands down in this respect.
Ultimately, what makes this book worth buying is that it covers a many years effort to live a permaculture lifestyle, from buying the land, to planting (I like her unique approach to growing corn), raising meat and produce and generally making her small plot of land work with and for her. It was not all sunshine and roses, she had her failures along the road to her success. It is a story of how Tate ultimately succeeded and has much for the critical reader to glean.
"This is not a "how to" book. Neither is it a "why to" book. This book is about two people having a dream and taking the first step toward it, then another, and another."
Within, she describes the journey she and her husband are traveling toward self sufficiency. They began on rental properties with a large garden, dreaming of their own place. Time marched on, and they raised their family.
When at last they were ready, lists were made describing the dream farm. As they shopped around they discovered that assorted compromises were necessary. Once a property became theirs, she details the repairs and improvements they accomplished to their land and home.
Representing the need to observe and adapt, included are multiple property plans detailing the changes that were made as their objectives matured and the reality of the land itself dictated their course.
She writes how they determined what they would need to be food self sufficient, and what they are doing to get there.
They made the decision not to keep more animals than their land could support. So they are working towards supplying all the feed for their goats, and chickens. She includes their experiences of crop failures, and describes what crops can be fed to which animal without threshing. For example, wheat heads to chickens, and dried cowpeas and sunflower seeds both in the hull to the goats.
In addition, the author also covers ideas for working towards self sufficiency in energy and water sources.
I found this book particularly helpful as I live in the same USDA zone as the author. I look forward to learning more from her as she has written several additional books.
‘ if you think small things don’t matter in life ,you have never slept with a mosquito ‘
How much is enough ? We have 5 acres & to be honest I wonder how others on larger acreage manage ?
When you do you Vegas,grow some flowers, have some chickens,a couple goats,grow some mushrooms,maintain the house & sheds,slash the grass in some places,care fir your trees,compost,weed get the kids to school & read the paper or a book & of course have and make beer & reflect on it all - 5 acres plenty good for me & I feel I can concentrate more on the soil etc being smaller.
Stay well permies
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