Do you dream of Self-sufficiency? Do you desire to produce food from the land and meet your other basic needs without outside help? As your dreams become more persistent, it becomes time to begin to look for the perfect homestead. A property that fits these dreams and allows for these possibilities. What makes a homestead perfect? Of course, this answer will vary depending on how you dream of achieving self-sufficiency.
Here are a few things that I have learned through trial and error that you should consider to make the best decision and avoid common pitfalls.
POOR WATER ACCESS
Is there sufficient access to water? Water is possibly the most important thing to consider.
- If you are building a house, will your water access be coming from a spring, well, or city water? Will you need to worry about flooding?
- If you are farming, is the land sub-irrigated, dry land farmed, or does it need irrigation?
- If you are ranching, how are the animals getting water; a creek, pond, or from a pump?
Much will depend on what you decide you want to focus on growing on your homestead.
When we purchased our land we made sure it had a creek, and the creek was able to be gravity fed right into the homesite! The land was sub-irrigated. The sub-irrigation was excellent for our hay crop, but we had to be careful about where we chose to build our home for fear of flooding.
Another benefit of having a creek on the property also allows a Pelton wheel to generate electricity.
CLIMATE AND SUN EXPOSURE ISSUES
Climate will affect what you can grow and which type of livestock will thrive in your area.
It may also affect your water source and what type of energy sources you have access to – a peloton wheel, wind turbine, or solar panels.
Take notes of where the sun rises and sets as this has the potential to have an impact on your growing period.
When we moved north, we made the unfortunate mistake of buying a valley with inadequate sun exposure. As the valley went true north to south, it was shaded by the mountains and never saw the morning or evening sun. This made the valley great for root vegetables, but not as awesome for fruit trees. This also affected the snow accumulation. Our snow came earlier in the fall and stayed longer in the spring.
PROXIMITY TO PEOPLE AND ZONING ISSUES
How close or far away from others do you want to be? Is there a potential for problems with the neighbors? Is there a shared road, or easement?
You will also need to consider zoning in this. Check to see if you are in an agriculture zone, or if the zone you are in allows livestock.
You might choose to be closer to town for easy access for clients to have an on-farm experience, access to farmers markets, or stock-yards. Living further away from town would work for someone who wants fewer neighbors, less noise, and larger plots of land.
If you are farming, you will want to consider the gardening zone. Zones go from 2 to 10 and are based on the average minimum low temperatures. If you dream of being a rice farmer, you do not want to live where temperatures drop below 60. If you dream of living in the mountains, you want to search for seeds that are cold-hardy. Do not invest in tangerines.
The zone could also determine if you need a greenhouse or not. Knowing the type of soil you have is also important; this will determine whether you have an abundant vegetable crop or a rock quarry. You can also test the soil to figure out what types of nutrients need to be replenished. This will determine whether you feed your compost a high green diet or a high brown diet; shredded leaves versus manure.
NOXIOUS INDIGENOUS PLANT LIFE
When ranching you’ll want to know what type of grasses are growing in the area, as well as other flora. Some flora is poisonous to certain livestock, but will not affect other livestock. Check to make sure you know what flora causes issues with your preferred livestock and what flora is growing in your pastures. You’ll also need to take into consideration what your preferred livestock eats. If you are raising goats the heavily shrubbed mountainside is a perfect terrain, but if your dream is sheep, you may want to keep your eyes open for gently rolling grassy knolls.
INADEQUATE LOCAL WILDLIFE AND PREDATOR ISSUES
Being aware of the predators that are in the area is important. If you have an idea of what is lurking in the shadows you can determine the best way to guard your animals and family. You do not want to find yourself unable to protect both animals and children from predators.
Another thing to consider is what types of wildlife can be utilized for producing food, clothing, and other useful resources.
The homestead site can make or break your self-sufficiency dreams. Finding a suitable homestead should not be taken lightly.
Remember to consider access to water, climate, sun exposure, proximity to people, zoning regulations, and local plants and wildlife.
Hopefully, these tips will help you pinpoint exactly what your dream homestead looks like!
Do you have any other suggested considerations that should be taken when looking for that dream homestead? Please let us know in the comments below.
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