Choosing Your Homestead Land

homestead with fenceChoosing Your Land

There is nothing as important to a homestead as its land. If you are shopping for that perfect homestead parcel, make sure you take the time to do your research and think about all the variables before you buy. Other than pulling up stakes and moving, you will be stuck with your land purchase.

Check the Quality

Not all land is created equal. Hard rocky soils will not yield easily to the shovel and will be much harder to make productive. Hills are fine for livestock (within reason) but are going to be an inconvenience for gardening. Try to walk over the entire parcel to see what kind of landscape you’ll be getting. A mix of open field and woods will give you some great options depending on what you want to do with the property. Open fields are more flexible, but a little bit of forest will provide you with a lot of firewood fuel.

A water source will really be a plus, even if it’s just a small seasonal pond. Creeks, streams, or a river would be even better. And speaking of water, see what the source is for the home (if you’re buying land with a house). It will almost certainly be a well, but check on the type of well (dug or drilled), what the depth is, and see what you can learn about the history.

What’s Allowed?

Never make assumptions when buying homestead land. If you have agricultural neighbors on all sides, it is safe to say they should have no trouble with gardening or livestock but ask at the local municipal office anyway. Find out the official zoning for the parcel.

If you are thinking about alternative energy, see if there are any local restrictions on adding solar panels or a wind turbine. When the zoning regulations mean you can’t do something you really intended to do, you should keep looking for a different piece of property. Technically, you can try to get zoning changed but that can be very complicated and there is no guarantee of the outcome.

Existing Buildings

Yes, the primitive homestead scenario where you live in a tent while building a perfect farmhouse with your own hands can be very seductive and it can also be the death of you if you’re not careful. Unless you already have some serious skills under your belt, try to get homestead land with a building on it. It’s also quicker to just move into an existing home. Old homes have endless charm and they always look so nice against the backdrop of open land. However, they can also be riddled with wiring, plumbing, and insulation problems.homestead

If you decide to get a fixer-upper, be prepared to spend a good amount of money on repairs in terms of supplies and labor costs. Even if you do the repairs yourself, the cost of supplies can get quite expensive. The house isn’t the only building you need to think about. Barns, garages and sheds are all part of the homestead equation, and they may need repairs as well.

How Remote

Be realistic about how far from town you want to live. Employment should be no more than an hour away, and basic supplies should be more like half an hour at the most. These are just really rough guidelines though. As you produce more and more on your homestead land, you’ll need to shop less frequently but you still don’t want to be on the road for hours every time you need something. You should also check to see where the nearest fire station and hospitals are. How far away are your nearest neighbors?

How Big

Of course, this is the biggest question that everyone considers first. How big a parcel of homestead land do you need? As we’ve discussed in other articles, you can take on different levels of homesteading regardless of how large your property is. Five acres should be a decent start, although ten acres would be a better choice as a minimum. A very general rule is “buy as much land as you can afford”. Since it’s not something you can add to later on, you are going to be limited by your property borders for some time to come. If you can swing a 25 acre spread instead of a 15, go for it.

Services

Lastly, see what services are at the property you choose to be your homestead land. Electricity and telephone are usually available but more remote spots may not have either. Are the roads plowed during the winters, is there garbage pick-up, and can you get Internet or cell phone service out there? Buying property can be one of the most fun and exciting parts of homesteading. Take your time with it so you get off on the right foot.

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Homesteading 101

Table of Contents Who Are the Homesteaders?  Perception vs Truth of Homesteading Why Homestead? Forming an Action Plan  Choosing Your Homestead Land  Sources of Water on the Homestead  Types of Energy Sources Types of Alternative Energy Food on the Homestead  How to Preserve Food Communications on a Homestead What is
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Who Are the Homesteaders?

So you might be wondering what kind of person decides to get back to the land and shoulder their own food responsibilities. In a historical sense, the term was originally used for those tough pioneers who first came to settle the western United States. They were taking advantage of the
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Perception vs.Truth of Homesteading

Because many people today live a "city" life before starting to homestead, they really don't have too much personal experience with it before they begin. That means they are making choices based on a lot of preconceived notions that may not be too accurate in reality. Hearing stories from older
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Why Homestead? Considerations for Homesteading

Making the Decision This should be your first consideration. Why are you even thinking about getting into homesteading to begin with? Be honest with yourself when figuring this out. Are you looking for a slower-paced lifestyle, a way to be more environmentally-friendly, or perhaps a way to take more control
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How to Form an Action Plan

How to Form an Action Plan So you've been doing your research and have been looking into all the areas that you think you need to know about before getting out onto your own homestead. But have you forgotten anything? Here is a summarized list of all the areas you
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Choosing Your Homestead Land

Choosing Your Land There is nothing as important to a homestead as its land. If you are shopping for that perfect homestead parcel, make sure you take the time to do your research and think about all the variables before you buy. Other than pulling up stakes and moving, you
Read More

Sources of Water on the Homestead

Water on the Homestead Land is very important for a new homestead, but so is water. You are going to need sources of water for your own family (drinking, bathing, etc.) and also to keep your garden growing and for any livestock animals. This is definitely not a minor detail
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Food on the Homestead

Food on the Homestead A huge part of homesteading is the production of your own food. There is a real primal sense of accomplishment to produce the food you eat, not to mention the fact that it is going to be healthier and tastier than anything you'll get at the
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How to Preserve Food

Preserving Your Harvest So once you've embarked on your homestead garden, you need to have some sort of plan to handle the bushels of produce you're going to have come harvest time. That's assuming your garden is large enough to produce more than your family will use up right away.
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Types of Energy Sources on a Homestead

Have Energy on Hand You're going to need energy to run your homestead, but that can come from a number of different sources. Though alternative energy sources are big with homesteaders (especially the more remote ones), this article is going to cover the more conventional types of energy sources. Most
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Types of Alternative Energy on a Homestead

Alternative Energy Sources One of the great things about launching a homestead is that you can strike out in new directions. Turning to various types of alternative energy is one area that has greatly increased in popularity. A big reason for the appeal is that these renewable energy sources fit
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Communications on a Homestead

Homestead Communications It's not talked about as often as gardening or water supplies, but managing your communications on a homestead can be a vital issue. Communications infrastructure can be poor in some rural areas so be prepared to down-grade your expectations a bit. Standard phone lines aren't usually a problem,
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