Is an Acre of Land Really Enough? Why YES it is!
How to homestead with only an acre of land may seem impossible but I can assure it’s not. Above, you see a little bit of a clutter (not set up for a photoshoot) kind of image. But this is us! A little chaotic, always changing our minds, constantly working and building and tilling and planting and feeding . . . but this is a homestead. It’s a small one but the size doesn’t make it any less real.
Let’s begin with what we see in the photo above. We have a 12′ x 12′ hen house with two large runs. On the left, it holds 2 roosters and 25 hens. Now that’s a lot of eggs! On the right, it currently houses five silkies and a half dozen grow outs with the rest being converted into an area to house two Nigerian Dwarf goats. Aha, goats! The area where the hoop houses are located will be converted into the goats play area with lots of things to climb on, seesaw, and who knows what all. My husband is very excited about building this area and I’m sure the grandkids are going to love it to. The hoop houses are perfect for grow out pens, to hold an extra rooster or act as a chicken hospital.
We all need joy.
The silkies in the little pen just behind the oak tree are our little pets and with five grandkids we have five Silkies. But we’ve all fallen deeply in love with them so there will be more in the near future. You have to have your entertainment and when you’re home a lot, why not make it Silkies. But let’s back up just a bit and start from the beginning.
Options for a Small Homestead
- Cornish Cross
- Nigerian Dwarf Goats
- Idaho Pasture or Kunekune pigs
You certainly don’t have to have all of these things on your homestead, but my point is that all of these things WILL FIT on an acre of land. Not just fit but have the space they need to live a healthy and happy life.
What Came First, the Chicken of the Garden?
For us it was the chicken. I was literally raising them in the spare bedroom of our rental while we were in the process of purchasing our home. Needless to say, I DON’T recommend this. When deciding on where to begin, I highly recommend the garden. Even a small garden will bring you much reward and get you started on bringing fresh food into your home.
I wish I could have titled this section in a way that you could hear my love for “the garden” when you read the words. This is my true happy place; the garden brings me peace. It always welcomes me and just lets me be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work but even then it can be so serene. Whether I’m digging in the dirt, watering my delicious vegetables or beautiful flowers . . . there is peace. To watch the water as it falls on the leaves and to watch the bees and butterflies feed and pollinate as they flit from one plant to another. To walk along and nibble on a fresh tomato, bean, broccoli, or okra. It’s just a beautiful place to be no matter the season.
But now that my soul has been fed, it’s time to get dirty and grow some amazingly delicious things to feed my family. How can we possibly have a homestead without a garden? I say you can’t. Fresh vegetables is so important to our bodies and it can provide food for our livestock. Did bugs get to that plant too much to harvest? The chickens will be very excited. Did a squash get away from you and now it’s huge? The pigs are thrilled. And you’ve always got the compost pile to feed. As long as your thrown away vegetables are bug invested and NOT diseased, they can go into the compost pile. We always burn anything we have to remove from the garden due to disease. You don’t want it to have the opportunity to spread around the homestead.
Chickens, Chickens, and More Chickens
There is just something about chickens that makes you want to have more chickens. Not only do they provide entertainment but they provide those lovely, nutritious, amazing eggs. And oh, no blue, green, or chocolate colored eggs in the nesting boxes? Gotta get more chickens. And the grandkids need pets so how about some Silkies! Okay, that really was a good idea because we have totally fallen in love them. But they are only for our enjoyment and not to support us on the homestead.
However, we do have 45 (at least) chickens that we rely on for egg production. We have culled some extra (and/or mean) roosters for the freezer when we weren’t able to find a good home for them. After all, when you’re running a homestead you can afford to keep feeding the freeloaders.
The Amazing Quail
Why pick quail? Well, they . . .
- Take up very little space
- Easy to care for
- Begin laying quickly
- Easy to process and clean
- Eggs are more nutritious and higher in protein than chicken eggs
- And oh so yummy!
Quail hatch in 17 days where chickens take 21. They begin laying eggs at 8 weeks where chickens don’t start laying until they are 18 weeks old. WOW! Ten weeks difference, that’s huge. The housing for quail shown above, is 2′ x 3′ with 3 levels which house 36 quail total (5 females and 1 male per cage). To see how to build your own quail cage, you can watch my video as I build and demonstrate just how easy it is here. You can also find a list of the supplies you’ll need and a cut list in my “Quail Cage Build Made Easy” blog post. Such a wonderful addition to a homestead with only an acre of land.
250 lbs. of Chicken in Just 8 Weeks
Cornish Cross of course! You know those hoop houses you saw in the first photo? We built those specifically for raising Cornish Cross chickens which we did last fall. We housed 25 Cornish Cross per hoop house and moved them every morning before giving them fresh water and feed. They are light weight and super easy to move. Stay tuned, because a video and blog post with plans on how to build them is coming soon.
How can you go wrong with a moveable hoop (chicken) house where you can raise 50 fast growing delicious chickens, use as a grow-out pen, house extra roosters, or serve as a chicken hospital (we’ve done that too). And it’s inexpensive to build. Wonderful addition to any homestead.
Hoop House Build coming soon! Join our email list TODAY so you won’t miss a thing.
An Acre with Big Production
Rabbits, need I say more? Now personally, this was totally on my plan of smart things to add to our homestead but I just can’t imagine processing a little bunny. And I can assure you that this is the ONLY reason I don’t have them here on our property. They take up very little space, inexpensive to feed and house, multiply quickly and you can sell the offspring or stock your freezer.
Even though we don’t personally have rabbits, this was not a good enough reason for me to not add them to the list of “Homesteading with Only an Acre of Land” because they’re just perfect. I’m not a salesman, have way too many eggs to prove it, so I just don’t trust my ability to find a home for the rabbits. Some people even sale them to zoo’s and such for them to feed the snakes and other critters. Once again, I just can’t go there. I’ve been very honest with my thoughts on rabbits and tried to give you both sides to consider. But if this stuff doesn’t bother you, rabbits is a really good way to go. I hope this has helped.
Vegetables – check, Meat – check
But dairy! Awwwww, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat. And this little girl shown in the photo above, is Fiona. She was only 1 day old here and fell asleep in my arms. That was it for me and she had to be mine. We also have another little doe coming home with her named Athena and was born just two weeks after her. My husband decided on Athena’s name and has claimed her as his own. He said that I may have a princess but he has a goddess. Yes, things are never boring. Dorky, but never boring.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are wonderful dairy goats. On average they produce 2 quarts of milk per day and their milk carries a high butter fat. Now that’s a lot of milk, cheese, ice cream, soap . . . I’m making myself hungry.
Livestock + Garden = Compost
And so the vicious cycle goes. Livestock manure to compost. Garden to compost or to livestock. Compost to garden. It all goes hand in hand and works beautifully together. I can tell you this, if at all possible place your compost close to the garden and the chickens. Of course all of the other livestock is beneficial to the compost pile as well, but having these three close to each other makes things so much easier as they contribute to each other on a regular basis.
You can see that my set up above is pretty rough, but I had someone want to help turn the compost for me and they took it upon themselves to move things about a bit differently than what I had planned. But at least from this photo you can get an idea of one way to make your compost bins. My intention was (and I believe a really good way to go) is to fill one bin to the top and then let sit for at least 6 months but close to 9 months or a year if you can. Then move on the next bin, fill it up to the top and let it be and so on. Now of course, to help your compost breakdown faster, it really helps to keep it moist and to turn on a weekly basis.
Find More Helpful Links Below:
- About Us
- How to Create a Garden AND Happy Chickens
- Quail Cage Build Made Easy
- The Best Meat Chicken to Raise
- How to Know Incubator Reads True
If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I love to hear from you!