If you’ve ever wanted to build your own self-sustaining homestead, there are a few things you should know about beforehand. To start with, you’ll want at least one acre of land. This land will help provide you with everything you’ll need, from livestock to fresh produce.
#1 – Raise a Dairy Cow
Dairy cows are the perfect animal to have on your homestead for a few reasons. First, they give you access to much-needed dairy products, like milk. Second, eventually your cow will provide you with a good amount of meat. Lastly, their manure can be used to fertilize pretty much everything else on your homestead.
Raising a dairy cow might cost a bit of money each year, but it’s great investment when you factor in how much you’re saving on dairy products, as well as how much healthier your soil is because of the fertilizer.
A self-sustaining homestead is difficult to manage without a dairy cow, but it can be done. Be sure to milk the cow regularly, or have experienced people do so when you cannot.
#2 – Crop Rotation and the Pasture
Once you have a cow, you’ll want to dedicate about half of your land to pasture. This land should be plowed about every four years if you’re wanting to rotate your crops. When rotating your crops, many experts recommend doing so in strips, or about one-quarter of your crops at a time. This makes for a well-sown, varied pasture that utilizes the land to the best of its ability.
#3 – Grazing
When it comes to grazing, proper maintenance is needed to ensure a healthy pasture. The grass cannot become overgrazed, or the cows will have to be moved. Ideally, you want to give the grass enough time to grow before being fully grazed or taken down.
One half-acre is enough to keep one dairy cow fed and happy, but you likely will not have any grass leftover at season’s end.
For the winter months, you will need to house the cow inside, somewhere with fresh air. If you do not, the likelihood of overgrazing increases.
#4 – Other livestock
When bringing other animals into the equation, it’s important to note that each one has different living requirements. Most will need some form of indoor shelter for the Winter. Preferably, some type of movable house and fencing works best for pigs. Chickens can be housed permanently in mobile coops or in a section of the garden.
#5 – Gardening
Now, we have a half-acre of land left. This is to be used to grow a healthy garden. This garden thrives if we divide it into four sections, allowing for a precise crop rotation.
While you will ultimately decide what types of crops to grow, an example of the ideal garden might look like this:
- Plot 1 – Potatoes
- Plot 2 – Legumes (Pea and Bean Family)
- Plot 3 – Brassicas (Cabbage)
- Plot 4 – Root Veggies (Carrots, Beets, etc.)
Using all of these ideas, it’s very possible (and fun!) to work on building a self-sustainable homestead on even just a minimal amount of land.