Exactly How Much Land Do You Need to Be Self-Sufficient?

a cabin on the homestead
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It is a good idea to become self-sufficient as a prepper, or at least as self-sufficient as you can be. The best holistic approach to true self-sufficiency is to build and operate your own homestead, growing your own food, and supplying most of what you and your family needs day to day.

Quite a few preppers aspire to one day live and work on their own homestead, but for the majority of these folks it remains a dream, a “someday-maybe” objective.

This is partly because so many do not know the first thing about how much room and how much work a homestead requires.

The most pertinent question regarding creating your own homestead is how much land is required to become truly self-sufficient?

The land requirements for homesteads vary depending on how many people are living on them, as well as what the land is being used for, and how it is being tended. Generally, a family of four will need anywhere from two to five acres. Larger families who are more dependent on livestock than crops will need more room, at least 10 acres, probably more.

There is much to consider when calculating how much land your homestead will require. You must keep in mind that a homestead is intended to keep you and your family sheltered and fed for the long haul.

It would not do to mess this up! Just a few of the things you’ll need to consider before pulling the trigger on a land purchase:

  • Soil type and quality
  • Climate and weather
  • Available technology for tending land
  • Your own skill level
  • Size of Family/Group
  • Number of Capable Laborers

We’ll take a look at some of these influencing factors below. They all matter when it comes to determining how much land you need.

Soil Type and Quality

Depending on what you want to grow at your homestead or what kind of animals you want to raise, you must take care that the soil is compatible with either or both. Some soils are frankly ill-suited for certain types of crops.

Other soils are much more difficult to work, which means your investment in both labor and time for the same yield and you’ll need more land to do it compared to more suitable soils. These things are always a trade-off.

If your soil quality is poor, or if you have limited room a small or medium sized garden patch might be all that you can make work through extensive soil improvement and fertilization: the yield will still likely be better compared to struggling with poor overall suitability to crops.

If you are lucky enough to get a homestead site that has rich, adaptable soil, you should rejoice: you can expect better yields of crops and a healthy herd of animals using far less room!

Climate and Weather

Your homestead’s overall climate and weather will also dictate to a degree how much land you need, since plentiful sunshine and ample rain is important for virtually every type of crop.

Additionally, fair weather more often means animals can be left out longer more of the time without fear for their safety and exposure.

Also, certain climates are plainly adverse to certain species of livestock and certain types of crops, and if you want to try and grow those crops or raise those animals in these areas that are not suited for them you should expect lower yield overall, which means, you guessed it, you will need more land.

Available Technology

If you are willing to make use of labor-saving machines like tractors or even powered irrigation systems then your work will go further as an individual; the proper machine can do the work of dozens of people in a fraction of the time.

Specialized farming implements can allow a small family to attend a comparatively large homestead with ease, so long as the machines keep running.

You should factor breakdowns of those machines or even loss of them entirely and a long-term survival situation into your plans. If you are completely unable to effectively tend to your land without those machines, you may want to start out with a smaller homestead.

Also, consider the advantages some animal species have over others: would you rather raise chickens, cows and goats that can yield multiple products (eggs and meat or milk and meat, respectively) or pigs which can only furnish meat for all the effort they require?

Your Skill Level

A skilled homesteader will be competent in a variety of cropping, farming, DIY and animal husbandry techniques, including all the latest and greatest labor-saving ones that can help you work more efficiently to produce a larger harvest.

If you are the “make it up as you go” or “learn on the job” type of prepper, you can expect to not do as well as someone who is already seasoned, meaning you may need more land to allow yourself room to make mistakes and adapt when things don’t work out.

Smaller homesteads, including the currently popular micro homesteads, are not very forgiving. If your garden takes a hit or falls victim to some kind of disaster or blight, that might completely cripple your food supply.

Size of Family/Group

A larger family or group working and depending on a homestead will require proportionally more resources to feed and keep alive.

If you have a large family or several dependents beyond your own family, you’ll need to ensure that your homestead has the production capacity to keep everyone’s bellies full and that means you will need more room for growing and pasturing animals.

Number of Capable Laborers

Homesteads are a lot of work no matter how big or small they are, and more land means even more work. You will need able hands and bodies no matter how much labor-saving technology you employ.

If your family or group consists predominantly of the very young or the very old, you probably will not have the capability to work a large tract of land effectively. There is simply too much to be done, and that is only in the planting and harvesting.

This doesn’t even take into account all the many tasks and repairs needed to keep the homestead in good repair or to preserve the fruits of your labors.

Conclusion

Depending on the approach the homesteading, a family of four should expect to need anywhere from two to five acres if everything goes according to plan.

A larger family should expect to use 10 acres, or even considerably more depending on how much cropping or livestock they intend to raise.

This is all extremely variable, and how much land do you need can only be determined after a careful analysis of all factors involved with running a homestead.


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