How many acres???

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by mdprepper, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

    My Husband and I have been talking/planning on moving to West Virginia for retirement. We have a long way to go before we retire. But the thought is buy the land now, use it for vacation and either slowly build a house or possibly buy a trailer to put there. (Husbands Uncle had a trailer then added rooms to it as needed)

    The real plan is that it will be our BOL, future (when we can afford to) homestead.

    The question is how much land to buy. I know the topography of the land will play in to the decision making (how rocky, hilly the land is, how much of it can be used for gardening, pasture, etc.).

    Looking to the future of SHTF, we would go from a family of 3 (2 adults and 1 child) and we know we would be taking in our families, adding another 20 (or so) people. How do you decide how much land you would need to grow enough food, have enough room for the amount of animals you need to feed everyone?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

    As much as you can! You can feed a bunch of people on surprisingly little land under the right conditions. I'd be more concerned with location and resources than the number of acres. Things to check for are availablility of water for drinking and irrigation under SHTF conditions, growing season and soil fertility, ability to provide fuel for heat and cooking, home-grown power rating (southern exposure for solar, steady winds for wind power, flowing water for hydro power).

    Are you planning on having animals and livestock? Can the land support them as well? In my experience you can support more livestock by confining them into a smaller area and growing/feeding hay than in keeping them in a large pasture. But you'll need machinery to cut/bale/haul the hay or a very strong back to do it manually.

    You can pack people in tightly to save space and in that climate probably grow all the food a group of that size would need on two acres but would you drive each other nuts in the long term?

    We have twenty acres and expect about the same number of people but in a real, long term, SHTF situation we also plan on expanding the tribe onto nearby government land.

  3. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    Your livestock and heating are going to demand the most out of your land. Heating with wood, you'll probably want about 5 acres of woods to have enough from year-to-year.

    Cows and horses need about an acre of pasture per animal. You can also throw in some sheep and goats as they eat the greens that the cows don't like. You'll also need some fields for winter hay.
  4. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    For anyone living in other parts of the country, especially the north and the west, it can take considerably more land for cows and horses. We're both north and west, and we couldn't keep a horse fed on 5 acres of pasture and had to buy supplemental hay for her by mid-summer.

    However, traveling in Mississippi and Tennessee earlier this year, I saw lush, thickly-grassed fields that would support many more animals per acre than up here. So look at the type and thickness of pasture available in your location.

    Sheep lean toward grasses, but goats will eat everything else and leave the grass for last. Goats are great brush-clearers!

    Land requirments for firewood vary regionally too. Are the trees fast-growing or slow-growing? Hardwood or softwood? Deciduous or Conifer? What's the heat-value of the particular wood? Using a poor wood can take twice as much wood for heating. Study up on the trees in your area. Find out which firewood being sold commercially is the most expensive, it probably has the most heat value. Then find those trees in your woods. Encourage the small ones and manage the bigger ones as you cut.

    Use the poorer firewood for spring and fall when you don't need as much heat. Save resources by cooking on your heating woodstove when you need to have it going to heat your home. Why waste propane or whatever other source if you have "free" heat already on your woodstove?

    mdprepper, I admire the way you're planning for the future, and covering many bases at once! Best wishes!
  5. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

    Wow, lots of things to think about.

    Our basic plan (nothing written in stone, just trying to think ahead) is to build being as off grid as possible right from the start. Most of the land we are looking at does not have electric run to it yet, so the land is lower priced then the ones that already have it. One of the properties we are looking at has a spring and a year round stream.

    The hardest part is trying to figure out the type of power to go with. We do not know anything about electricity, except to not put our fingers in the sockets!!

    Having everyone under foot is something that we have kind of thought about. Until we could build permanent accommodations the thought is to build some type of shelters for everyones pop up campers to go in to/under.

    Food wise we are planning on growing as much as we can. The usual herbs, fruits and veggies plus a few fruit trees, if we can. As far as animals, we are not sure about that, we are thinking, chickens (for eggs and meat), rabbits, a few pigs, not sure about cows (neither of us has much experience with them) but a milk cow would be great.

    And if Husband has his way, we would put in a pond to stock with fish.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  6. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

    The pond is a very good idea. It can provide fish, crayfish, turtles, bull frogs, ducks and geese.
  7. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    You made me dig real deep for a old book I have ... :D ... but when I read your post it just came to mind.

    The Have - More plan ... by Ed and Carolyn Robinson. Yes it was written more than a few years ago (1940s) but a great book, none the same.:D
    A little land - A lot of living. The use of pesticides :eek: is the only problem I have with this book. I guess back then it was the thing to do - live and learn.:flower:

    How many acres - is a question a lot of folks ask. We have 40 but started out with 10 and by luck was able to add on the other as time went on. Ask yourself (and family) what do you want to do ... critters and/or garden ... fruit trees ... berries and grapes ...

    And just so you know ... I saw what a little amish lady could do with only 1 acre, all I can say was WOW! She knew how to use ever inch of her land.
  8. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    Brrrrr. I don't live far from WV and don't know where you're looking in the State but I don't think I'd want to spend a winter in a pop-up.
  9. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

    I googled that title and found a free pdf of the book. I know what I'll be reading tonight!

    Thank you!!!:kiss:
  10. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    You are welcome ... :D ... I hope you find it helpful. You may also look in to five acres and independence (I think that is what it is called) I need to look into my books more. :)

    It will also give you a "way to think" ... All I want to do is give you a way to think ... out side the box matter how many acres you have.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  11. lotsoflead

    lotsoflead Well-Known Member

    I'd want a place with a stream running thru it or at least bordering it, eaiser to take care of animals. Also the first thing i waould want is a basement even if i put a trailer over it. It gets below 0 where i live for days at a time and some people do live in trailers, i haven't been in one, but they seem to be happy and they don't have the money tied up that we do or the high taxes.
  12. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

    Yeah, I imagine winter will be tough. One of Jerry's stories had a man with a "garage" type of building (with a wood heater in it) that he put a trailer in. So the thought was to build a storage shed that a couple of pop ups could fit in to in case we are not set up for the influx of people in time.

    We are looking in a few places. Husband and I are at odds on that one. He wants the Berkley Springs/Paw Paw areas. I want Beverly/Elkins or maybe West Union (Doddridge County) areas. The areas he wants are rather pricey 2 acres for $20-30k. The areas I'm wanting are more reasonable 10-20 acres for $20-30k.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  13. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    For me, Berkley Springs/Paw Paw is too close to the DC and Baltimore. Should there be a mass exodus from those cities for some reason, you may end up with a lot of company... West Union is nicely situated between 3 towns (Wheeling, Parkersburg and Clarksburg) that could get you the things you may need (stores, services, hospitals...). It's also centrally located to give you relatively easy access heading in any direction should you need to bug-out for any reason.

    In my experience, for the most part 2 acres almost always costs the same as 10 acres. Everyone wants/needs a "building lot". After that, acreage is cheap. Even the tax man hits you hard on the first section (the building lot) for higher taxes and then anything over that is cheap. I have 2 adjoining parcels of 5 acres each. The one that has the house, the land itself is taxed higher than the one without.
  14. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    Beverly ... or the Mill Creek area (a little south of Beverly) would be great. (IMA) but then again you have the droop mtn. area...

    Oh ... West Virginia ... I want to go home ...:cry:
  15. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    In West VA. you will need 5 to 15 acres for each person for true 'Sustainable' living.
    A lot less if you have a steady source of income, and are still working.

    Water isn't an issue, wells hit water with no effort at all, and there are TONS of springs, with most being hard rock, ponds/lakes are usually easy to keep water in all year around.

    Topography is the main concern if you are figuring on 'Retirement' land.
    Steep hills aren't good for much, and they WEAR ON OLDER FOLKS!
    Take my word for it, I'm 50, and the land we have kicks my butt, and it's ROLLING hills, not steep hills!

    Rocky terrain makes for tough fencing.
    Hogs, sheep, goats will take on about any terrain,
    Cows like it a little milder,
    And horses will break legs on steep, rocky hills.

    You can back fill with topsoil to make as large a garden as you want, and that is a one time cost.
    Contact the local excavating companies and tell them you are looking for RICH TOP SOIL, not that old rocky clay, and they just might dump for free to get rid of it...
    Since 'Wal-Mart' always moves into some fairly flat farm field and scrapes off all the top soil, you might as well sign up to get it,
    Especially if they are going to dump it for free!

    Going to get top soil from a construction site will require a fairly heavy duty truck and usually trailer, but it's worth the expense if you intend to 'Home Stead' since that truck/trailer won't sit idle!

    Don't worry about 'Level' building lots,
    There are a TON of ways to make it 'Level' without spending too much money,

    And outcropping rock I look at as 'Building Materials'...
    Retaining walls, pump houses, ect.
    Learn to mix your own cement, and you have an ENDLESS supply of raw building materials!
    It's not as hard as it looks!

    When you look at land, consider standing timber.
    You can make a VERY LARGE payment towards your home/land if there is reasonable size timber on the land.

    Running water year round is a HUGE bonus if you intend to go 'Self Sufficient',
    About any amount of falling water will pay your electric bills!
    It's called 'Micro Hydro' (Do a search) and you will be able to tell the electric company to stick their bill where the sun don't shine!

    If you have SOUTH facing property (not always available in some areas) you can put up solar energy also.
    That takes you off the electric grid, and again, gives you self sufficiency.
    High ridge lines to the south, lots of trees around your site, sight low in the hills with high hills to the south will all limit the amount of power you can make even if you do have south facing land.

    Now, Running water can make electricity, it can keep things cool cutting down on refrigeration/air conditioning,
    Solar Thermal (Heating Water) will cut down on heat bills,
    So will passive solar building/positioning the home, ect.

    I'm gardening and making money from it.
    I'm 50 and pretty busted up from hard living,
    So gardening is something I can do for years to come without tons of effort,
    And there won't be any shortage of people that want CLEAN food...

    Puttering around in the garden gets me out of the house, keeps me strong, limber, and makes money...

    Home shops, anything from 'Crafts' to herbs/flowers makes money.
    I have a welding business, and the CASH income makes for reasonable income...

    Leasing extra acres for hunting leases, horses, ect. will bring cash money income.
    Hunting leases don't require you to babysit, and you only have to put up with people 2 weeks to a month a year...
    And remember, they are ALWAYS hungry for fire wood, home cooking, ect., and all that is extra money.
    You wouldn't believe what they will pay for a 'One Pan' roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and a slab of reasonable meat (City folks don't know what 'Reasonable' meat is...)

    So, make the land work for YOU, not the other way around!

    One guy I read about actually leased out 'Garden' space for those that didn't have it, let them drag in the top soil, lay out the garden plots, ect.
    and when he moved out there full time, the irrigation, plots, top soil was already there!

    The hunting lease guys paid to build 'Cabins', (Yard Barns) with porches, ect. so he reaped all that when he moved out to his 'Retirement' land...

    Just make the land work FOR YOU, instead of you working for it!