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How much land do you have/need/want?

Discussion in 'Where Am I - Where Are You?' started by Pogo0685, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. Aug 19, 2013
    Pogo0685

    Pogo0685 Sustainable Newbie

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    I hope this is an ok place to put this, not sure where it would go so very sorry if its in the wrong place. I am just wondering how much land everyone has or wants or needs to run a self sufficient homestead? Right now I have 45 acres with a 2100 sq ft modular home. We have no water here. We haul our own water in and I hate it. It's dry 10 months of the year, looks like a desert, hot as all get out, just not where we want to be. We want to be in the mountains. We are also very house poor. Our house payment is sucking us dry. In the future (hopefully sooner than later) I would like to be 100% debt free and not have to worry so much. Between our house payment and insurance it's about 45% of our take home pay. So we got some inheritance money and we have the opportunity to buy land in the mountains with it. We went and looked today and found out we have a few options.
    1. We can but into a subdivision of like minded people and get about 30-35 acres for between 20-22 thousand. We have at least half down for that, would need to get a well and then build on it. The realtor said wells are running between 5-10 thousand in the area. The problem with this is the location is closer to mountains with a *fantastic* view of the mountains but its on the open plains just like we are now, no trees, just open land (although it is a lot greener). This option would put me roughly 12 thousand in debt with the well and no house or place to actually live.
    2. We can but 5-12 acres, more in the mountains, most don't have open meadows or anything but I would clear the forest out a bit for fire mitigation anyway so that's not a huge problem, but they are in more populated areas because instead of 30 or more acres we are looking at a maximum of 12, probably closer to 5 though due to budget. This land also needs a well drilled and all the work that goes with vacant land. It's also in the 20-30 thousand range so again we would have about half the money down. This would start me in debt at somewhere around 30 thousand in debt with having to buy a well and that's with no house or place to live.
    3. Get very very creative with our financing and see if we could get up to say a 60-70 thousand dollar loan and get 20-50 acres up in the mountains. Some of these plots of land already have a well saving us possibly up to 10 thousand in the near future. But this means I am heading strait into debt of at least 60 thousand without even putting anything on the land.

    What we want to do with the land is get it, sell our house we are in now and move up there, live in a yurt or very very small cabin and build some sort of earth ship or similar style house. Moving up there will be me and my husband and 2 kids (possibly more kids in the future), my brother, and our best friend. They will both need their own little houses to live in or maybe just connect two little one room earth ship houses to our main one with a greenhouse??? I don't know. My mother in law is also planning on coming to live with us when her husband dies but that's another can of worms to open at another time. We want to have 2-3 cows (meat and dairy), goats (we have 5 right now) for meat and dairy, rabbits, chickens, possibly turkeys, also have 1 horse (a mustang) but would like to get a few drafts to round out my herd lol and we want to have a huge garden and a greenhouse so we can grow our own veggies. I think I covered all the bases here of what we want, there are just so many ideas I have lol. So am I crazy? Could I even do all this on 5 acres as the minimum amount of land that I am willing to buy? What would you all do? I know I am going to need to bring in extra hay for the animals because 5 acres just can not support that many animals. I am very familiar with rotational grazing and keeping the land in good condition and not letting my livestock make it a barren waste land, I am just wondering if this is possible and what my best option would be. What would you do???? Thanks!!!

    I forgot to add that we are really big into shooting sports so one of the biggest things I am worried about is right now I have a 700 yard shooting range and up there with anything less than 20 acres I will be down to at the most a 200 yard range, and that will be pushing it. Probably more like 50-100 yard range is what we will end up with.

    I don't know if this helps but right now we are just over 90 thousand in debt with our house and 1 loan we took out against both of our cars.
     
    Tirtzah likes this.
  2. Aug 19, 2013
    Britesea

    Britesea Sustainability Master

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    well the first thing I would say is that with the bad economy and probably worse in the next several years, you want to have the smallest debt possible. Won't do any good at all if your home gets foreclosed. How do you plan to make money, by the way? How secure is the job?

    We have only 1/2 acre with a small house, but then we are getting on in years and trying to run a fully self-reliant homestead is beyond us physically. With that said, we have a largish garden, some fruit trees, and we just started raising ducks. That's about the limit on our small property, but it should really go a long ways toward our needs once everything is running smoothly.

    (side note: any land you are looking at, look real hard at the tilth and fertility of the land-- our land is arid and very poor. We are building up our soil, but that is likely to take years)

    As far as buying land that doesn't have a house on it-- give some serious thought to moving an older single wide trailer onto the land to live in while you are getting things together. I can recommend the book "Trailersteading: Voluntary Simplicity in a mobile home" by Anna Hess for ideas in that direction.

    I like the first option best, myself. You would end up with less debt and more useable land. The mountains are beautiful, but it can be difficult to homestead in them. Water can sometimes be more difficult to get, and you might find that gardening and orcharding are difficult. Might be more difficult to set up pens and such for the animals as well, depending on the land.
     
  3. Aug 19, 2013
    bubba1358

    bubba1358 Enjoys Recycling

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    x2!!!

    I'm on 5.5 acres right now, and my biggest issues are threefold:

    1. My house needs new flooring.
    2. I have zero fencing on my property.
    3. I have two wells dug, but no pumps and water lines to take the water anywhere.

    But besides the mortgage (which is manageable for me), I have student loan debts for myself and my wife, credit card debts, and a personal loan I had take out to re-roof my house. All told, the non-mortgage debt takes $700 right off the top from what I bring home each month. That's money that could go to ^^, but doesn't.

    A family can be just fine on 5-10 acres. We have everything we need and then some for a family of 5 on our property. The problem is that it's all potential at the moment, because our debt is not letting us move forward like we want to.

    So I agree with Britesea: go for the smallest debt option.
     
  4. Aug 19, 2013
    so lucky

    so lucky Almost Self-Reliant

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    You don't say where you are, but I was wondering why you want to live in the mountains? Unpopulated areas are unpopulated for a reason. You may be more likely to find land with water on it in the Midwest, in the hills. Not as dramatic as the mountains, but maybe more do-able. It sounds like your objective is setting up a small commune. Think about what each person can contribute, both physically and financially. And you may find you have to give up something, such as your own shooting range, in order to make things work. I wouldn't want to attempt to do what you are describing on less than 10 acres, with the number of grazing animals you have/plan on.
    But for housing, mobile homes sounds like a good idea, for cheap housing. Just make sure you have a safe shelter to get to in case of tornados, which seem to be happening all over the US now.

    Edited to say I now see you are in southern Colorado.
     
  5. Aug 19, 2013
    k15n1

    k15n1 Almost Self-Reliant

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    All of the options sound OK with me. Personally, I'd prefer less debt but some things are worth taking a risk on.

    We've had several talks about how much land you need. I recently spoke with my wife's uncle who came up in a family that grew their own food. He described about half an acre of garden that fed 11 people. They mainly grew potatoes (high yield/area), field peas, and sweet corn, and some mellons. They also hunted deer for the majority of their meat and supplemented with fish. I'd rather have a bit more variety but it's a real-life experience and I thought it'd be apropos.

    In my own experience, a large garden (75' square) does not seem large enough for a family of 5. But this year was very wet and late, so I may be a little pessimistic in my estimation.

    Obviously meat will be an issue. My current understanding is that chickens and rabbits can be raised in sufficient numbers on a small plot to feed a family all year round. That's the direction I'm going. Fish have even better food conversion rates but I don't need another water hazard for my small children. Granted, it's more work than selecting a shrink-wrapped boneless-skinless chicken breast on a styerfoam slab in the grocery store. But I think it's worth the trouble.

    So, in the end, I concluded that 5 acres of good land is enough for my family to live on comfortably.
     
    DimondaleBergs likes this.
  6. Aug 19, 2013
    ~gd

    ~gd Lovin' The Homestead

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    iF YOU can find anyone that will lend money to you under the conditions you describe take any opition! Around here It is very hard to get a loan for land without a house or other living space.lenders want a water supply. [Wells are a hit or miss bet] If fact your present home could only be sold to someone with cash or if you were willing to hold the morgage. Markets are different i suppose. but in my area you woulld have NO CHANCE of living your dream! ~gd
     
  7. Aug 19, 2013
    Pogo0685

    Pogo0685 Sustainable Newbie

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    Britesa - I will for sure look at that book. We had even thought of moving a small older trailer up there as you can get them really cheap or even free sometimes but the few companies we talked to said insurance regulations would prevent them from hauling them. I only called a few places so this could just be a situation where we need to find someone willing to do so. We all have pretty secure jobs, I can work from home full time as long as I have the internet and satalitte internet is available where we are looking. Husband has his own business here working on computers and websites, but his full time job is maintaining a website so he can work from home 3-4 days a week for the most part, but he will have to make a 1 hour trip to Pueblo at the most 2 days a week. Our friend that is coming up to live with us brings with him a bullet business, he makes cast bullets to sell to reloaders, and also has a full time day job with a roofing company, he knows he will have to commute daily. My brother works for the bullet business right now, he does not ever plan on getting real job again but he is a great hunter, loves to fish, and can build almost anything. So he will be our resident handyman and when animals come to butchering time he will be the one to dispatch them as I do not want to do that, I will clean them and dress them out but I do not want to be the one to pull the trigger so to speak. My husband already said as long as he builds stuff and keeps meat in the freezer he can stay for free. The mother in law does not work. She married into money for the most part so she does not need to and by the time she comes to live with us she will be far past her prime in doing anything really. Her arms are shot so she can't do child care, her knees are shot so she cant do garden work, she will pretty much just be there, which is fine, in my book she will have earned her right to be taken care of.

    We have never had a successful garden, where we are now I have tried 3 out of 5 years and the land and soil is just crap. It gets 100+ 30 or more days of the summer growing season, no water its just not good for growing. Or it could just be me and that I suck at gardening things, but my houseplants do fantastic so I think its just the area and the soil here. We have a trio of rabbits right now so that we can build up the soil at the new place, and also have a horse and goats producing lots of manure for us, I just have to figure it out and see how to make it all work together. I have a lot to learn on the gardening aspect but there are some really good solid working amish farms in the area so I could buy or barter a lot of produce from them and I know how to can so I can put up food that way.

    Bubba1358 - Thank you for your input, I hate debt but I keep thinking no matter how deep I go into debt with the new place it will be a hell of a lot easier to make it work up there than it is to make it work where I presently am. We jumped into buying the house we are in as first time home buyers and it just never stops breaking. People who live here say that the area is a curse and I am really starting to think its true. It sucks you in and you can never get out. On top of the house payment we have had to put 2 new roofs on, many windows, my cistern failed last month and cost me close to $5,000 to fix, and that was because I did it myself but the trade off was we didnt have water for just over 2 weeks, and I still have one issue I need to fix but have not had the time to fix it so I have a leaking pipe right now (not exactly a good thing). The water would have got fixed much quicker but my husband was in the hospital for the entire month of july because of a Doctor error than went really really bad. So some part of me just thinks that even if we go into debt on the new place, it wont be more than we are in right now but it will be easier to manage because we will be at a place that we are happier, doing what we want to do. I do keep thinking that 5-10 acres of usable land is better than 45 of land that we can't do anything with.

    so lucky - I agree that unpopulated land is that way for a reason and where we are going is not unpopulated as much as its populated by people not afraid to work hard for the simple things in life. Most around where we are looking have self-built cabins and houses, with some farm animals, almost all are on solar power. There are county maintained roads throughout so its easy to get goods in, but if you are out there you are either very lost or you are looking for someone/ something. I am probably going to have to give up my range yes, its a sad day to think about, but in giving that up I get so much more.

    k15n1- I would give my left arm to never again eat a chicken that comes from the grocery store! Good to know that they fed 11 people off half an acre though! If I can learn to garden properly I think I will have a good chance at it. We have thought about raising fish in a aquaponics set up but I need to do much much more research into this. Chickens and ducks I have done before so I am confident in that area. This is my first year with rabbits and goats, the goats wont kid til next spring and the rabbits hopefully will be bred next weekend for babies to start ariving in a month or so.

    ~gd - my realtor is very confident that we can get a loan through a local bank or even possibly get a grant from a local company to help with the cost. She deals a lot in vacant land so we are not at all worried about it. I have a very good credit history and with my steady job and large down payment we should not have many issues, though I do expect to get the run-around because thats my luck in everything!

    I did even find a plot of land today that we really want to go look at, its only $11,500 so we could pay for the whole thing in cash, not sure if it will work for what we want though so we have to see it in person.

    Thanks for all the replies!! I love hearing other peoples ideas and thoughts on things such as this.
     
  8. Aug 19, 2013
    Hinotori

    Hinotori Super Self-Sufficient

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    Depending on where you are looking at land, you really have to look at the water rights. That's a big issue in the west. There are a lot of drought issues in many places as well. Let me tell you a story to show what can happen.




    My parents own a cabin in the very dry eastern Oregon mountains that was part of a commune in the 60s. Their cabin was the original cabin the guy built as a guest house in the early 50s (this is important). There are 20 or so cabins up there on 1 acre or more lots.

    Water is communal from 3 springs. It's for domestic use only. They just had their quarterly water board meeting and the state sent people to it this time. Not enough water is getting into the stream from the springs. Each has to have a flow of 9 gallons a minutes reaching the stream.

    The 5 or so people at the bottom of the water pipe to the cabins haven't had any water for a while now. Some jerk right below Mom and Dad has electric fenced his lot and that of two of his neighbors that he is renting the land from so he can pasture his horses. He's put in sprinklers and has been using the spring water to irrigate, otherwise there would be no grass. The water board has told him he can't do that. Individuals have told him that. He threatens people. I guess Saturday he even threatened the state people. I see him in jail soon.

    The state said the water provisions do not allow any outside watering except for the 5 original cabins that actually have water rights and they can only water a quarter acre. No one else has rights to the water at all and it can be shut off to them permanently. One of the 5 original cabins is at the bottom of the hill and hasn't had water for a while. The other four are in a semi line with my parent's cabin, and already have been using very little water and don't water outside. If the springs drop to low, water to even the 5 original cabins will be shut off based on when the land acquired water rights until enough reaches the stream.

    Now, everyone was told when they bought the cabins up there that no one had water rights. That it was a communal water supply. You can't get a mortgage on those properties because they are to far from a fire station so everyone paid cash for them. Apparently no one had done actual research into the water rights for any property. Mom and Dad were very surprised to find they actually have some.

    The small farm down near the bottom of the hill there has the state after them as well. They have no water rights. The stock pond they have been pumping water out of to irrigate has restricted rights. It's permitted for watering livestock only. Exit flow of water from the pond must equal inflow. Mom says it hasn't had any outflow for quite a while.

    The farms down the mountain who actually have water rights have had no water for months. The stream, which gets priority for a certain amount of water, has been drying and there have been red algae blooms that have killed everything in areas. The dam that supplies water for the town at the base of the mountain has record low water levels and has had some red algae issue. So the town is hurting as well.

    The state got called in to find out what is going on with the water and is going after everyone who is using water they shouldn't be. Fines are quite high and it can result in jail time if you ignore them.
     
  9. Aug 19, 2013
    bubba1358

    bubba1358 Enjoys Recycling

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    You're welcome!

    On a sidenote, consider getting yourself a donkey, a good saw, and a wood chipper to help with the garden. I used donkey manure under a 3" layer of wood chips, set on top of thick clay, and the results have been amazing. Or were, before the squash bugs ate it all. :(

    Here are some pictures and thoughts:

    http://homesteadcatholic.blogspot.com/2013/05/garden-retrospective.html
    http://homesteadcatholic.blogspot.com/2013/05/recap-of-big-gardening-weekend.html

    It sits on top of the bad land, and worms and whatnot end up quasi-tilling through the clay underneath, forcing fertility down. I'm in TN on top of a huge rock shelf, so I only have a few inches to a few feet of soil, and it's worked great this year.

    My donkey eats any type of vegetation: grass, weeds, trees, bushes, wild bamboo, etc. On lots of land of average-to-OK vegetation conditions, a donkey would be great. You just need a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow....
     
  10. Aug 19, 2013
    Pogo0685

    Pogo0685 Sustainable Newbie

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    Hinotori - water right are a HUGE concern for me here in Colorado. We are always fighting with someone over water, and most people don't know this but it is illegal to collect rainwater!! I will definately be getting all the water rights and info sorted out before we sign anything because I already haul water and it SUCKS! But I have lived with it my whole life so to me its just another day, but hauling water down a flat dirt road in a trailer is a lot different than it would be to haul water up a muddy mountain road in the dead of winter or right after a summer monsoon. Thanks for the reminder to get this info ahead of time :).

    bubba1358 - blog looks good, I will be reading more of it as time allows. I had not thought about a donkey, I was wondering though the other day if a donkey would help protect the homestead from say a mountain lion or a bear... I need to research that! I noticed about 1 out of 5 farms up there had a donkey on them.
     

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