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A real homesteader needs a real homestead—land that can produce and a homesteader who is physically fit and emotionally and intellectually capable of making the land produce. To work land you will need equipment, implements, and the tools to maintain and repair it all. (You cannot run a productive homestead with a garden fork, a spade, and a hoe. Your homestead will require all hands on deck in the growing season (8 to 12 weeks) and after that very little of your time. Feeding (and milking) the family milk cow, your chickens, and your workhorses just don't take that much time in the winter. Every real homesteader I know runs a local business or works off-farm during the off time of winter.) But first, you need land.

Mountains, hillsides, steep terrain, and rocky ground has no productive value.  Neither—or should I say especially?— do small, wooded lots (where all of the good timber has already been harvested). That is why it is cheap and there is always so much nonproductive land available cheap. Productive hayfields, pastures, fencing, and woodlots with a good barn are far more expensive for a reason.

To provide most, but not all, of a family's food, water, and firewood, and feed for the livestock, a homestead needs a minimum of 40 very productive acres. 40 acres—minimum. Not ten acres, and certainly not five or three. (Shoot, a single milk cow will need three acres of pasture.) 20 acres of pasture, 10 acres in hay, 5 acres in a woodlot, and the balance in a home, gardens, and outbuildings is perfect, but perfect is hard to find. Still, that is what you are looking for. Over time, you will want to acquire some more ground—but this is a good start.

A hundred or so 50 lbs square bales of hay might get a single, small, jersey milk cow through the winter if you supplement her with feed grain. Add three workhorses and a buggy/all-around horse and you will need at least 600 bales (and maybe 800). More if you live above 40 degrees north latitude (long winters).

100 square bales of hay in the field waiting to be picked up before it rains. Trees in the woodlot in the background provide firewood for the homestead.

So... not only do you need to own the land, but you need equipment to cut, ted, rake, and bale or pick up the hay and the physical fitness to get it into a hayloft. Don't be discouraged. Know that this is what you have to do to succeed at this. Know that there are thousands and thousands of families in the PA/OH/IN/KY/TN region that are thriving in this manner of living. Just know the socio-economic rules of this way of life.

Hayloft and hay elevator.

Fenced pasture-ground for your livestock is a must have.

You need equipment. Mowers, tedders, rakes, loaders/balers. Photo: Loose hay on a horse-drawn hay wagon.

You can doom your homesteading dream to failure pretty quick by making the wrong land choices or believing the things you hear on social media (those Facebook "homesteading" groups just kill me!). Don't listen. Get the book, "Prosperous Homesteading," and read it five or ten times. Then come and visit our community. If you are really serious, come and work on an Amish or Old Order Mennonite farm for a season.

#Homesteading, #Real Homesteading, #Debt Free Living, #Self-Sufficiency, #Purchasing Farm Land


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