In 2009, Leigh and Dan Tate bought a 1920s farm house on five neglected acres in the foothills of Southern Appalachia. They had a dream but very little money. All was going well until an unfortunate accident forced them to rethink everything they were about.
5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel is the second book in Leigh Tate’s 5 Acres & A Dream Homesteading Series. It follows 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, taking a hard look at what happened to their dream. Has it changed? Are their goals and priorities the same? Leigh updates their progress toward food, energy, and water self-sufficiency, sharing how their self-reliance goals have changed. She shares how they've learned to prioritize needs in spite of distractions and discouraging times, and how they deal with feeling overwhelmed. She discusses how their relationship with their land and animals has changed how they view themselves and their homestead.
Leigh Tate is a long-time homesteader and passionate advocate for sustainable, simpler, self-reliant living. Through her books and blog, she shares what she and her husband Dan are learning about homesteading, permaculturegardening, off-grid food preservation, regenerative soil management, holistic livestock keeping, plus energy, water, and resource stewardship. She enjoys encouraging others to make their own homestead dreams come true.
This is an inspiring book to read. The dream that started “5 acres and a dream” is still very much alive, with lessons learned along the way that we can all benefit from.
Leigh and Dan’s self sufficiency is inspiring. It’s great to read a book written 10 years on, and their goals of self-reliance, simplicity, sustainability, stewardship, seasonal living, and self-supporting are still the same.
There is tons of great advice in this book, one thing that stuck out to me a lot was “bouncing randomly from one project to another tends to be neither organized nor systematic toward making progress. That’s why keeping a primary goal in mind is important. “
The section about how exactly they prioritise their project list is very helpful.
I liked the farm plans included, it gave me lots of ideas for organising the layout of my own homestead. The detailed pictures of the goat barn are especially helpful, and the sight of homegrown hay in the hayloft is so beautiful it makes me want to build a hayloft in my future goat barn.
There’s a lot of reflection and problem solving in the book, with flooding, for instance, a number of possibilities are discussed for making the land more resilient to flood, or for relocating some structures so that freak flood events don’t impact them.
There are tons of recommendations and resources for all kinds of things discussed in the book. This book is not just a book, but also a homesteader’s experience to learn from, and all they have encountered along the way.
I really liked the chapter on animal feed self sufficiency - this is something that’s often overlooked, so it was great to read about Leigh’s experiments in producing all their animal feed, which crops and varieties worked, and how they did it.
The information on high-impact grazing and their experience with it was really good to read. I’ve read about this on larger farms and wondered how to manage it on a small homestead with goats, so it was great to read about their experience with it.
The energy self sufficiency chapter is inspiring to read, it has heaps of ideas for lifestyle changes that make it possible to reduce electricity bills on a budget. Leigh is working with a standard all-electric house, and there are lots of ideas for reducing the use of the electric oven and other appliances. There’s also information here about setting up small solar electric systems to power single appliances such as a freezer, and how to convert a chest freezer into a low energy use fridge.
The water self sufficiency chapter has lots of ideas for rainwater collection, greywater, and water conservation.
The resource self sufficiency looks at all kinds of homestead resources, from tools, to soil, woods, and even their own time. It shows their journey of discovering different approaches to soil health, from a focus of remineralisation at the start, through to discovering Gabe Brown’s videos, and a focus on encouraging soil life. I really like the way they apply knowledge from large scale farms like Gabe Brown’s to their smaller homestead, and they’ve found a way to to no-till sowing of hay and grain crops without any expensive tractor implements.
The chapters on discouraging things and distractions look at the many hard lessons learned during their time homesteading. I liked that when they were faced with a big medical emergency and a lifestyle change, all their self reliance efforts over the years helped them to adapt to the change. The distractions chapter makes the point that there are many ways to go about homesteading, and that having primary goals such as self sufficiency in mind help the homesteader to find the best way to go about things - e.g. breeding goats for year-round milk production rather than for maximum profit.
Toward keeping a balance continues on from the last two chapters, and looks at how the Tate’s make homesteading decisions. There are many ideas that come up for the homestead, and their set of questions that they ask is really helpful to read, and helped me to evaluate our priorities.
The book is completed with a selection of homestead recipes, including probiotic ice cream, bone broth, DIY pectin for jam, and chévre cheesecake, along with a helpful list of further reading on the things mentioned in this book, such as converting a chest freezer into a fridge, homemade cheeses, natural beekeeping, pigs, goats, solar, and much more.
Another appendix is all about rotational grazing, and a list of useful plants is also included. I like the way that the useful plants are listed, so I can easily see which ones are nitrogen fixers or add organic matter to the soil, which ones are great of erosion control, which soil conditions they need, and so on.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I know I will be referring back to it a lot. It’s great to read stuff by people with similar aims and ideas, and I’ve learned a lot from the book and took lots of notes about stuff to apply to my own homestead.
If you want to be inspired to follow your heart and get back to the land, read this book.