Homesteading beginner

Adamsp1989December 28, 2012

Hello all!

I'm new to this site, my mom sent me here to get great information from everyone! I am in need of information for homesteading, dipping the toes into it at first then I'd like to expand. Any tips, or things you wish someone had told you prior to diving in? I'd like to have a large garden, chickens and goats. Nothing too extreme right out of the gate but if anyone has any tips that they could share, I'd greatly appreciate it.

We are a family of 4, living in the new England area and we are looking to buy a house with some land... 2 acres??

Thanks so much!

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I'm still a newbie myself, headed for my third growing season, but here's the biggest lesson I found out the hard way: Start small! You sound like you're going about it the right way, "dipping the toes into it at first" and then expanding.

I tried to grow a little bit of everything (two-page, two-column, typed list of plants/varieties!), plus had five different species of animals on the farm from almost day one. Epic fail! I'll be starting over again from scratch this spring, with lots of lessons under my belt.

Besides starting small, here are some other lessons I've learned:

* Fencing is expensive but absolutely necessary, no way around it. Not only are you fencing your livestock IN, but you're fencing predators OUT. (And fences are never 100% effective.) Garden fences are a must or all you'll grow in your garden is venison. AND deer fences have to be 10 feet tall! This year, I'm not trying to fence the deer out at all--I'm going to simply fence a dog IN, and hope he chases the deer away without messing up my raised beds!

* Goats will eat your house. No, really--eat your house, starting with your siding and working their way up. Keep them away from anything you don't want destroyed, including small trees. (Other than that, goats are GREAT!)

* Don't skimp on the goat feed. Cattle commodity may be cheaper, but it doesn't give them the nutrition they need.

* Raised beds work infinitely better than the traditional garden rows in hard soil. We've gardened in rows, traditional raised beds, and straw bales. This year, we'll be doing straw bale gardening again, and adding keyhole gardening. (The keyhole garden method isn't necessary in New England--it was developed in Africa to garden in dry conditions.)

* Compost is vitally important.

* Don't add the first animal until ALL items necessary for its care is in place (fence, watering system, shelter, milking equipment, hoof trimmer, medicine cabinet specific to that species' common ailments, etc.)

* Free-range chickens can poop anywhere, but they really prefer your front porch. They have a sixth sense and know when to really step up the porch-pooping when you're expecting company.

* Cats are NOT effective in keeping mice, moles, and voles under control. Oh, the cat will bring you the occasional offering just to let you know they *can* catch them--they just don't *want* to. AND cats love to poop in your freshly-dug beds, especially near your front door. And cat poop is the most vile-smelling substance on the planet, making your front entrance less-than-inviting. AND cats live a long, LONG time. If they weren't so dadgum beautiful and floofy, this would be an easy problem to solve.

* Chickens eat baby snakes. Like slurping up a long piece of spaghetti. (((shudder)))

* Big snakes eat chicken eggs. LOTS of them. Catch the snakes, get more eggs.

* The reason the local feed & seed store carries *that* particular variety of seed is because it grows well in the area. While I may want a new, fancy variety with a catchy name or color, it probably won't do as well in my area as the tried-and-true varieties the local gardeners have had luck with over the years.

*Organic gardening is HARD but worth it. Some bugs and fungi are beneficial. Don't kill everything trying to create life.

*The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know much at all.

Because of the last thing listed here, I'd love to hear what others would say.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 7:17PM
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Oh, and one more thing--you can do a LOT on two acres. Here's a GREAT, easy-to-read, cheap book that every beginning homesteader should have! It gives you a quick introduction to everything you need to know in starting up your homestead:

The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre!

Being afraid to quit my job and jump into homesteading, knowing extremely little about gardening or farming, this book is the one thing that made me feel like I could actually do it, and it was right!

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre!

This post was edited by happy-camper on Tue, Jan 15, 13 at 19:38

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 7:32PM
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1.) I would honestly start off with perennial many as you can...they are reliable and you dont have to plant them every year ( asparagus, rubarb, strawberries, pawpaws,apples, persimmons, asian pear, sunchokes, nettle, etc.)
2.) Compost all your scraps...even your manure and urine can be composted....there are books on how to do it
3.) Explore alternative energy sources, solar and wind are perhaps the best right now...get off the grid and save money
4.) Build a pond...this will give you a source of water to irrigate your crops and fish to eat
5.) Build a greenhouse..this will give you a place to start seeds and grow into the winter months.

* Youtube has many videos on homesteading, off grid living and gardening...check them out

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:50AM
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