Once you have that list then look at your existing acreage and decide if these ideas are within those boundaries. This step will involve research and running the numbers. Figure out how many animals can be successfully raised on your acreage. This is an important step to keep from overloading your land.
A good example would be if you have 2 acres you’re surely not going to be raising longhorn cows. However if you choose smaller livestock like chickens, sheep or goats there are ways that you can implement a healthy environment on a small scale.
The correct land layout is the key to your success; this step will keep you from wasting time and money but most important you won’t misuse workable space.
From the beginning we purchased our 4 acre farm and my husband had many ideas, it was difficult to even imagine where we would begin. We had some definite goals that started our journey. These goals have driven our efforts since 2010.
Goals Included – Everything would be as natural as possible and establish a move in ready small acre farm.
Because we knew this wouldn’t be our forever home our goals needed to reflect our efforts. This farm was where we decided to finish raising our kids. We wanted to offer them a country lifestyle by providing a hands on experience.
This led us to the discovery of a good work ethic and doing more for ourselves.
Homesteading is about opportunity and truly getting back to the heart of the land.
I’m going to walk you through our land layout that began over six years ago. Things have changed from those early days as new ideas transpired. The layout has been solid and a testimony to our success.
Our journey began with a good fence. Once we figured out where our pasture land would be located we began researching types of livestock.
This is normally when your acreage starts to appear much smaller.
My husband wanted cows, so we chose a small breed, Dexter’s. We implemented rotational grazing on 3 acres, allowing our animal’s access to four pastures ranging from a half acre to one acre each.
Rotational grazing offers an intense system of raising livestock on subdivided pastures referred to as paddocks. Livestock is rotated to fresh pasture at the right time to prevent overgrazing.
This system optimizes grass growth and the health of your animals.
We no longer raise cows because we had other things we wanted to learn so we continue to use this same system for our, llama, sheep and emus.
This pasture is now one large 2 acre pasture; this was a matter of recently simplifying because we’re getting ready to sell our farm. Previously it was two 1 acre paddocks.
This pasture is included in the rotation and where we also raise coturnix quail and free range chickens. There’s even a spot to gather our sheep when necessary.
When I look into our pastures and see green busy grass, I get excited! These are signs of natural techniques working.
This is where the llama and sheep have traveled or our mobile chicken coop has rested at different times.
If you plan to raise your own animals jot down how much pasture land you have available. Pasture land is fenced off specifically for grazing animals and probably the easiest part of the land layout.
This step gives you a glimpse into the future.
Our emus are currently in a half acre pasture. This time of year they enjoy grazing on spring grass and searching for bugs.
Our guard dog Dixie just loves resting where ever she can find shade.
Keep in mind though if you implement several pastures some will remain empty allowing them to rest between grazing.
These two emus are now a year old and quite a handful.
This half acre pasture is lined with our driveway which takes us to our home and front yard. When you have small acreage and big ideas the layout involves planning and making the most of all your square footage.
These pastures are not over worked and the entire farm is fertilized by our animals. There’s no reason to over crowd land, careful planning will show you that quality is better than quantity.
If you’re looking to homestead for income be realistic about what can be accomplished based on your acreage.
For example, if we wanted to supplement our income, we would need to do many different things on a large scale; this may include crops and types of poultry.
My Favorite Place on the Farm
My favorite place on the farm transpired from hard work. If you look behind the sheep there is a massive tree line. When we purchase our farm this area was thick and over grown with cedars, garbage trees and weeds.
After a couple weekends of intense family labor we cleared it leaving several trees for shade. I remember that moment crystal clear, I said to my husband, “Look at all this land!”
When the following spring arrived this space allowed us to add sheep.
A little bit of labor offered another pasture and the opportunity to learn something new.
This pasture has a bizarre shape because it forms around our fenced in backyard, closes in part of our home and goes all the way over to our garden and bobwhite quail sanctuary.
We also added several shelters that can be used when necessary. This is a neat space I enjoy sitting in the back yard watching the wildlife that comes and goes.
The bird activity is amazing!
The Garden Area
Finally we enter the garden zone. In the beginning our garden was much larger than what you see here because we grew crops.
The garden is near the home and fences off the pasture I just mentioned. If growing a garden is on your list then check out my book Startle Garden. This is a great guide with easy to follow steps.
Make sure if you’re adding a garden or orchard that it’s near a water supply; inspect those areas for hours of sunlight, shade and drainage before you choose a location.
You’re Land Layout
During this tour you’ll notice we didn’t waste space and fences offered dual purpose from one area to the next. Our outside buildings consist of a large carport and a workshop shed where we can store small equipment and feed.
Small acreage forced us to think outside the box so we could reach our goals. This farm also helped us to understand what kind of equipment was really important before making unnecessary purchases.
Our goals never changed and I’m happy to say we did meet what we set out to accomplish.
- Everything would be as natural as possible.
- Establish a move in ready small acre farm.
I also believe our goals wouldn’t have been reached without implementing our land layout from the beginning.
Now it’s your turn what do you want to do with your homestead? Once you have your ideas on paper, scope things out on graph paper. If you’re computer savoy get it up on the screen and have fun with it.
By creating a visual plan and researching your ideas there should be no difficulties towards finishing projects before new ones begin. Also understand our farm evolved over a period of 7 years.