Ever thought about creating your own self-sustaining homestead? There are a number of ways to do it, including these.
Using just one-acre of land, you home can provide you with most of your everyday needs, whether you decide to keep livestock like pigs, chickens, cows, goats – or, no animals at all.
Raising a Dairy Cow
A dairy cow can provide you and your family with plenty of fresh, unpasteurized dairy products as well as meat. Plus their manure makes a great natural fertilizer too.
While caring for a dairy cow does cost hundreds of dollars each year, compared with how much money you would spend on dairy products each year, the fresh milk supply – along with the increasingly better soil fertility can make it a good investment.
While it isn’t impossible to maintain a self-sustaining homestead without a cow, it can make it much easier to do so. You’ll need to milk the cow regularly, and make sure someone experienced is available to help while you’re away.
It’s not difficult to milk a cow once you learn how, and it can be done as quickly as eight minutes. Your reward is fresh cow’s milk that can be used to make everything from cream, cheese and a delicious glass of milk.
Crop Rotation and Your Pasture
If you do get a cow, half of your acre will need to be dedicated to pasture. It can be plowed every four years if you plan to rotate crops, or left as is.
Most experts recommend rotating crops in strips of one-quarter at a time, resulting in freshly sown pasture that varies with age which provides the most productive land usage.
It’s important not to allow the grass to become overgrazed. If it does, cows will need to be moved right away. Proper grazing management is essential for keeping the grass healthy. Grass needs plenty of time to fully grow before its grazed, or mowed down.
Just a half-acre of grass can keep a Jersey cow fat and happy all summer. While you probably won’t have any leftover grass at the end of the season, if you do, you can use it to make hay.
To prevent overgrazing, the cow will need a place to stay inside for the winter, while still allowing for fresh air every day.
Different animals require different living conditions, though most will need some type of indoor shelter during the colder months of the year. A movable house with a strong, movable fence around it, works well for pigs. Chickens could be kept in a permanent house in one corner of the garden, or, in mobile coops on the land.
The other half of your acre can be used for a garden. Separating it into four sections so that annual crops can grow in a strict crop rotation is ideal.
Grass (four years)
Plot 1: Potatoes
Plot 2: Legumes (pea and bean family)
Plot 3: Brassicas (cabbage family)
Plot 4:Root Vegetables (carrots, beets, etc.)
colegardens.comEven if you only have a minimal amount of space to work with, you can still develop a self-sufficient home!
This was an excerpt from The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, written by the late John Seymour, first published by Dorling Kindersley in 1976. It’s a treasured classic for those who want to get back to the land, and highly recommended.