People move to the country for various reasons – many move to escape something such as crime, traffic, smog or noise pollution. Others move TO something – a perceived better life where they can grow some of their own food. There are advantages and disadvantages to every lifestyle and “homesteading” is no different.
Decide how much rural you want. Not everyone REALLY wants to live with no neighbors…not everyone wants a large property to maintain. Some people a large lot in a small town is enough – while others want the whole package. For many a 2 acre yard is something of pride – for others it’s useless wasted space that could grow food.
Many have the image of an old time small farm – but not the concept of the work that goes into it. On any size – invest in good equipment that you will use. A tractor is of no use if you don’t have a garden, field to till or something to USE it for. If you have a large yard invest in a good reliable riding lawnmower. If you want a small garden consider a larger mower with the power and ability to use three point equipment like tillers, cultivators and blades. If you’re looking at tilling a larger areas, a small tractor would be a better investment. Buy quality equipment – from fencing to gates to power equipment to hand tools – quality isn’t necessarily the most expensive.
Livestock is something many want to do but aren’t prepared for…get fencing and housing ready BEFORE bringing anything home. Research, talk to breeders and find the best way to care for your animals. Having secure fencing, proper housing and equipment will make caring for them much easier and will be much less a chore. How many acres pasture animals need varies widely depending on the part of country – contact the local extension office for recommendations in your area/state.
Some basic recommendations:
POULTRY – Chickens, ducklings, goslings, turkeys and other poultry can be ordered via mail. They’ll need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week, lowering the temperature 5 degrees per week until feathered. Keep them dry and warm with plenty of food and water. Waterfowl must have fountains just deep enough to submerge their bill.
RABBITS – Need special care in hot climates – when over 85 degrees they need plenty of air circulation and cooling measures. A good quality cage with a feeder and water source that can’t be dumped over.
SHEEP – Good fences needed to keep sheep in and predators (including dogs) out. Sheep can make effective use of small amounts of land, providing grass control as well as spreading manure as they graze. A dry space for shade and staying dry and plenty of water are basics needed. Sheep need lower copper rations so watch the level of copper.
GOATS – Ditto goats except stronger…goats have a bigger tendency to stand on fences. A strand of hot wire discourages this. They are not copper sensitive like sheep. Also goats are more browsers than grazers – many are quite happy to let pastures get a foot or more high.
CATTLE – Again, pasture, a shelter and good fences are basic needs.
Gardens of vegetables, herbs and flowers are another dream for many in the country. Garden catalogs show pictures of overflowing baskets.
Remember in responsibility for your food – you’ll be growing it start to finish. That means freezing, drying, canning – learning to “put up” your own food. You’ll need room to do this, a reliable freezer, a dehydrator and/or canning supplies.