Author Topic: How much land is enough?  (Read 17678 times)

Offline ogreboy

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How much land is enough?
« on: June 25, 2009, 12:24:20 AM »
So I am looking to buy a piece of land, but I am not sure how much I really 'need'.  5 acres seems too small, but I am not sure.  I was thinking something above 20 acres would be good, but that starts to get expensive fast.  I want something with water on it, and I would like to attempt to set up some permaculture on it.  I was hoping for some privacy, and 5 acres just doesn't seem like it would cut it.  I would like it to be with in an hour, but after looking around a bit, I pushed it out to 2 hours, from Portland, OR that is.  I could get some really huge parcels if for cheap if I didn't mind driving 5-8 hours to get there.  Ultimately I would like something close enough to go on the weekend and work on it.

I was just wondering what you folks thought was 'enough' land to work on, or maybe what kind of setups you guys have on how many acres.

Thanks in advance.

Offline chris

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2009, 01:34:50 AM »
Enough for what? 5 acres is enough to support a family indefintely. With some good landscaping, you could be nearly invisible on 5 to 10 acres.

Offline BerserkerPrime

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2009, 03:48:23 AM »
No such thing as too much.  Get what you can practically use and afford.  I live on 1.25 Acres and after doing my first gardens this year can see the possiblity of producing a hell of a lot of food.  I also have five acres in the bush that is only accessible by ATV/Snowmachine that is very well hidden an Zero practical for my family to get to.  Water source and access is my chief conserns. 

BP

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2009, 07:39:03 AM »
Like beans and bullets, you can never have enough. I have 2.5 acres and now it seems small. If I could have my way right now, it would be 5 clear and 10 wooded acres. You can make a house invisible on 2 acres of wooded land.

Keep in mind you can always dig a well, dig a septic, but power is expensive. I had heard a rumor of $125 per pole installed. Off grid power is cool, but if you are concerned about the price of land you are like me and cant put an extra $25k into power and super high efficiency appliances and HVAC.

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2009, 08:15:46 AM »
For what is the question. Amish people that live the self reliant life around here have told me they see 40 acres as the min and 80 to be a good balance.
I have 20 and I am in hopes of getting more at some point.
It would take 4-5 acres maybe more just to heat a house without depleating the woods.

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2009, 08:38:52 AM »
For what is the question. Amish people that live the self reliant life around here have told me they see 40 acres as the min and 80 to be a good balance.
I have 20 and I am in hopes of getting more at some point.
It would take 4-5 acres maybe more just to heat a house without depleating the woods.
Thanks for all the quick responses.  I think the I am leaning more towards the Amish.  But it sounds like some of you are saying 5 acres in enough.

Enough for what? 5 acres is enough to support a family indefintely. With some good landscaping, you could be nearly invisible on 5 to 10 acres.
So I am looking to do some permaculture, raise some animals, like chickens and goats, and maybe sheep.  I would like to have enough water to make ponds to raise some fish.  I would also like to have enough land to legally hunt on it, so I need a fair amount of space to be conducive to attracting wild life.  I don't plan on putting a house on it yet, maybe some out buildings, and set up utility's like water and sewer, maybe minimal power.

Thanks again, great input.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2009, 09:15:14 AM »
If you want to save on your heating costs, build an earth-sheltered home. Just think of a walkout basement with a roof on it. You'll cut your heating needs in half, and thus you'll need far less forest for wood.

Also, if you are not raising large animals, I've been told 10 acres is enough, even to grow all the grains you need. It's animals that need to eat, too, that use up the space.

Offline cougar

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2009, 09:47:31 AM »
I live on about 8 acres in the middle of my family's farm that is over 1000.  You have to decide what you want to do and plan accordingly.  I will differ with some folks on here who say 'you can never have too much.'  If you are concerned about costs remember you will be paying property taxes which will probably go up over time.  Even if they are cheap, the more acres, the more it is every year so owning 500 acres for the sake of owning it with no plans for use may be silly.  Also, you have to do upkeep so if you have alot of acres that have to be mowed which means equiptment which is more money.  More acres mean more and larger equiptment.  I would like to have more than we have but 40 acres would probably do everything you are describing unless it is mountains or very steep hillsides.   But yeah, land is good to own...until the government comes and takes it all away.   ::)

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2009, 12:55:22 PM »
I think the answer would depend a lot on the climate.  Within 2 hours of Portland OR you can go from soaking wet to semi-arid.  That will affect what you can grow on the land, and also what sort of maintenance you'll need to do.  (E.g., on the dry side, you must mow a firebreak around your house, but one or two mowings in the spring might handle it for the year; on the wet side, green grass/weeds won't burn easily but they'll grow all year, along with saplings and shrubs -- good news if you're raising grazing animals, a maintenance headache otherwise.)

If you head east from Portland, we might end up as neighbors.  We're heading out this weekend to look over some spots in the Columbia Gorge.

Offline Herbalpagan

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2009, 03:34:22 PM »
You don't say where you are, but I've heard of a family in the city that grows everything they need, plus enough to sell and support themselves on about a half acre in the middle of a city. On the other hand, you can never have too much! I know plenty who are fairly self sustainable on 5 acres (need more wood or other fuel though). I have 37 and it is more than sufficient for us and our family.

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 03:52:25 PM »
So I am looking to buy a piece of land, but I am not sure how much I really 'need'.  5 acres seems too small, but I am not sure.  I was thinking something above 20 acres would be good, but that starts to get expensive fast.  I want something with water on it, and I would like to attempt to set up some permaculture on it.  I was hoping for some privacy, and 5 acres just doesn't seem like it would cut it.  I would like it to be with in an hour, but after looking around a bit, I pushed it out to 2 hours, from Portland, OR that is.  I could get some really huge parcels if for cheap if I didn't mind driving 5-8 hours to get there.  Ultimately I would like something close enough to go on the weekend and work on it.

I was just wondering what you folks thought was 'enough' land to work on, or maybe what kind of setups you guys have on how many acres.

Thanks in advance.

Hi OgreBoy

It really depends on just how independent you want to be.
For example:

According to Readers Digest "Back To Basics" (An excellent source for a LOT of stuff WE care about) it takes about 10 acres of good woodland to provide enough firewood to heat an average 3 bedroom home. As Mark mentioned, you can lower you heating needs by building below ground or adding some passive solar heating.

Also...according to "Back To Basics" it takes a garden of at least 2500 square feet (50 by 50) to provide enough food for a family of 4 for year round eating.

Add in any area you think you might want for things like solar collectors, chicken coops, or other critter space.

You could have a great homestead with 5 acres...as long as you live in an area that requires little heat (Not Oregon I think), or you can design in some below ground and/or solar features.


Offline “Mark”

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2009, 03:58:55 PM »
You could have a great homestead with 5 acres...as long as you live in an area that requires little heat (Not Oregon I think), or you can design in some below ground and/or solar features.

Instead of spending the money on more land, it might be a better financial decision to focus on heavy insulation. If you stick with a small place to start and go with R40 in the walls, you may find you need very little in the way of supplemental heat, even in the winter. That's one of the compelling arguments behind strawbale-based construction.

Offline CTF250

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2009, 04:12:32 PM »
"how much land is enough"?

So you dont have any neighbors!! ;D ;D ;D

Check into local zoning ordinances where you propose to buy.  What restrictions are on the books regarding things you want to do such as rasing animals, chickens, livestock shooting etc.

In CT, a legit farm can fit on as little as 5 acres.  Being classified as a farm also gives some you privledges such as the creation of ponds, building outbuildings etc withoout needing zoning approvals.  Do your research first.  Hate to buy a perfect piece of property only to find out local and state regulations prohibit you from doing anything!!! 

Offline Ultio1

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2009, 04:16:29 PM »
1 acre is too much if you cant meet the tax obligation indefinitely.

Offline Darkwinter

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2009, 06:57:52 PM »
What do you want to do with your land?

Horses, You would need about 2.4 acres per horse to provide full care with stalls.  You would need some extra acreage to let them run.

Hogs: You need at least 100 square feet per hog for them to live comfortably. Source: http://www.ehow.com/how_2071602_be-hog-farmer.html

Chickens: A small coop of 12FT by 12FT will house a dozen hens quite happily. As for range ground, a regular size backyard is plenty of space
Raising free range chickens means having space for them to roam. You will want to start by setting aside between 2 and 5 acres of land. This will be used for the chickens to roam on and will give them enough space to eat the bugs, plants and other things in the area. 

Sheep: 3 to 5 sheep per acre of good pasture. Different breeds of sheep produce different amounts of wool from just a couple of pounds a year from Shetlands to as much as 18# from a Corriedale or other larger animal Source: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/homest/msg1001441426672.html

Cattle: An old 'rule of thumb' was 1/2 acre per cow for spring, one acre per cow for summer and 1.5 acres per cow in the fall if stockpiling forages for after frost. Many graziers will start off with 1/2 acre per cow and then supplement with corn silage as needed to maintain adequate rest period for the pastures Source: http://www.grassfedisbest.com/frequently_asked_questions.htm

Goats: (not goatdogs) Half an acre would be very generous and would probably not keep the grass down if the land was very good. http://www.smallholder.co.uk/news/1177955.so_you_want_to_keep_a_goat/

Woodlot: a managed 10 acre woodlot would supply enough for 1-2 cords of wood per year Source: http://ask.metafilter.com/36922/How-much-forest-does-one-need-to-keep-his-home-heated

FOOD:
Corn: 1 acre of land can yield about 7,110 pounds (3,225 kg) of corn http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/alternative-fuels/question707.htm

Wheat: Typical yields of wheat in the US are about 26 bushels per acre. There are about 50 pounds of wheat per bushel or 1300 pounds per acre Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_pounds_of_flour_can_you_get_from_an_acre_of_wheat

Lettuce: A good head yield for lettuce is about 400 to 500 crates per acre and leaf types 800 to 1000 crates per acre. Source: http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:7-pW2jxoDo0J:www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-11.html+how+much+lettuce+can+you+grow+on+an+acre&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us



Offline “Mark”

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2009, 07:08:12 PM »
Very informative!!

Offline mash

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2009, 07:17:57 PM »
My $.02 -

For most of human history owning land has been viewed as wealth. We have been living for a few generations in a way that has ignored that fact but I don't think we will be able to get away with that for too much longer. Reality is catching up with us.

How many kids do you have? If you leave them a property as inheiritance how much whill they have if they split it up?

If you plan on having a wood burning stove you want enough woodlands that you can harvest from them indefinitely. 10 acres like ejsandstrom and darkwinter suggested is a good start.

You mentioned keeping livestock. Are you planning on buying feed during the winter or will you set aside a few extra acres to grow your own and save the money?

Also you need to rotate grazing animals, otherwise parasites build up in the soil. There are several ways of dealing with this, ley farming worked in Europe for hundreds of years. I don't see why it would not work in the Pacific Northwest.

If I was in your shoes I would shoot for a slightly longer drive but a larger property. I know there are downsides but the upsides outweigh them in my opinion.

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2009, 08:30:50 PM »
Wow lots of great info.  I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond, I've been working hard to get the money for this.  To start with I wasn't planing on moving onto the land, but just doing as much prep and cultivation as I can in the hope that some day I will be able to move there, or have the option of moving there in an emergency.

So I really want to be a weekend warrior for now.  Hopefully I can do enough to get some use out of it, only going on the weekends.

I was also wondering how much space I would really need to have a shooting range, or if its totally subjective.  I guess I only really need 100 yards that points at a hill, but maybe you guys know something about that.

Offline mash

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2009, 09:12:24 PM »
As Jack has mentioned in his shows about finding and setting up a homestead the most important thing is probably that your neighbors are cool with you shooting. If they are going to be calling the cops every 5 minutes you might want to rethink the location.

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2009, 08:49:52 AM »
As Jack has mentioned in his shows about finding and setting up a homestead the most important thing is probably that your neighbors are cool with you shooting. If they are going to be calling the cops every 5 minutes you might want to rethink the location.
Good point.  I guess legally it would depend on city or county laws.  I wonder how far they could actually hear the sound?

Offline “Mark”

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2009, 10:39:02 AM »
Good point.  I guess legally it would depend on city or county laws.  I wonder how far they could actually hear the sound?

It would depend on the terrain. Where I grew up, the local shooting range was up against a rock wall of a mountain (see on Google Maps). On a quiet day, you'd hear the shooting for miles.

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2009, 01:59:31 PM »
 ???

I stand on the deck and shoot. Ive only got 2.5acres. I call the county mounties and they said that "As long as I was safe" no bubbles, no troubles. I shot .22s 99% of the time, so its not a big deal.

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2009, 12:14:12 AM »
???

I stand on the deck and shoot. Ive only got 2.5acres. I call the county mounties and they said that "As long as I was safe" no bubbles, no troubles. I shot .22s 99% of the time, so its not a big deal.
That's a good point, I will just have to wait and see where I end up and then talk to the law about it.

Offline LdMorgan

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2009, 11:01:23 PM »
Land is forever--once you get it, you should hang on to it tooth and toenail.

So you're probably gonna be there a long time.

The cities are probably gonna keep on growing.

Pretty soon, what seemed far away is gonna be right downtown, and what seemed like MUCH too far away is gonna be just right.

Your neighbors will be a major factor. No one is ever really self-sufficient. You'll be bartering with your neighbors and trading favors back and forth almost from the day you meet them.

If you need a cord of wood a year, you might buy it with whatever your land produces most efficiently, and not have to have a large wood lot. That's maybe not optimum, but certainly possible.

There is a lot to be said for having a little too much land. It's certainly better than having a little too little.

If you grab all the land you can handle right now, you can always sell part of it later at a profit, or put it to work in many different ways. You could  even bring in sharecroppers to work it for you.

Just don't leave it idle and get nibbled to death by the taxes.

Become a Farm Baron. ;D

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2009, 11:17:16 PM »
I was thinking I could start with a smaller lot and get a bigger one later but I would rather not.

I am interested in renting out some of the land to be farmed, since I won't be there very often, does that really work well?

The cities are probably gonna keep on growing.

Pretty soon, what seemed far away is gonna be right downtown, and what seemed like MUCH too far away is gonna be just right.
A lot that is 2 hours away from my house will always be 2 hours away from my house even if it is only 30 minutes from 'the city'.  I am not planing on moving there, just visiting for now.  But that its a good point that you might not want to be too close because the sprawl may catch up to you, another thing to consider, thanks.

Offline chris

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2009, 11:47:04 PM »
I am interested in renting out some of the land to be farmed, since I won't be there very often, does that really work well?

Define work out well. I make about $500 a year renting 24 acres to local farmer. But it reduces my taxes from $2450 to $72 a year. Tax savings and rent are about 5 month of land payment. I still have the front 6 acres to play with, and if I need the 24, I can wait a year and skip signing a new contract.

Land rents in your area are likely much higher. In my area we have 6 months of dry dusty clay and 6 months of wet swampy clay.   

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2009, 11:54:01 PM »
$500 a year total, that seems awful low.  So how do you get a tax break for this?

I was thinking that renting, or leasing as it sounds, would get someone on my property more often, and fend off unwanted guests.

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2009, 07:10:28 AM »
Land leasing is totally AO dependent. I have a friend that leases his land to a farmer. Now he dosent have to work unless he wants fun money.

Offline ogreboy

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2009, 08:42:04 AM »
Land leasing is totally AO dependent. I have a friend that leases his land to a farmer. Now he dosen't have to work unless he wants fun money.

AO? I suppose if you could make enough it would be worth it to buy up lots of land and lease it out.

Offline chris

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Re: How much land is enough?
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2009, 10:31:53 AM »
$500 a year total, that seems awful low.  So how do you get a tax break for this?

My land is blackland prarie, unfit for anything but corn, wheat, and cotton. Land rents here are in the low $20's. Since it's being farmed, the land is taxed as agricultural rather than the higher rate.

Quote
I was thinking that renting, or leasing as it sounds, would get someone on my property more often, and fend off unwanted guests.

Anyone farming your land isn't going to spend much time there.