Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Creating a Homestead on Wooded Land

We have 12 beautiful acres on our new property and we went exploring this week to get to know our land better. When we found this house, the beautiful pond was the first thing that we fell in love with. 





We originally had hoped to find something with land that could be used for a very small farm and found a few homes but the layouts just didn't work. We didn't even consider the town we ended up choosing until this house became available and we fell in love with the acreage and beautiful layout. 

The idea of a traditional farm will not work for us as the majority of the acres are forest so it will be our challenge to use it wisely and mindfully. We love the idea of having our own small nature preserve to help protect the wildlife in this area which is why it was so ironic to find old hunting set-ups deep in the woods. They will not be used here again.


We also came across what we believe to be an old wellhouse which seems to have been rebuilt in the 80's. I'm not sure how, if at all, we can put it to any use but it's very cool either way.

Hunting and gathering was the very first way of surviving for humans. While we do not need to do this for survival anymore, it is a wonderful feeling to reap the benefits of an area like this and it is always good to try to keep your food source as local as possible regardless of whether you are the type to garden or homestead. So much of our food is sourced far, far away from the people who eventually eat it; causing more pollution, a disconnection to the process and cycle of our food and big money jacking up the costs at our expense. 

I was happy to find that there are many safe ways to create and enjoy a little homestead on a wooded lot. Some ways you can make the best use of your land in the forest is:
Natural Streams, Springs, Ponds
While we would not use any of these as a water source for ourselves, they are a wonderful part of the ecosystem and an important source for the wildlife. Our pond has a life of its own and it is amazing to sit, listen and watch. Frogs, dragonflies, fish and so many other insects are busy doing their thing, undisturbed by us. Other ideas we may incorporate:

Koi:
(I believe we already have at least one of these pretty fish in our pond although I've only caught a glimpse once or twice)

Honeybees:
I tried beekeeping at my old home and unfortunately they gravitated to my pool as a water source no matter what I did. Now that we have a pond far away from our pool, we may give it a try again. This is such a gift to the environment and adds honey and beeswax to your homestead.

Ducks:

Ducks love ponds! They are relatively easy to keep from what I understand and would do just fine on a wooded lot with proper food and water. They can be enjoyed as pets or sourced for their meat and eggs. (No duck meat here!)

Chickens:

I've kept chickens before and love them. They are so easy and so very intelligent. Their eggs are delicious and my children just loved having them. Sadly, a fox killed our entire flock so it is extremely important to secure their coop very well. Living in such a rural environment now will pose even more threat to them so before we get new chicks we are working hard to move and secure our coop the right way including adding chicken wire under the ground and building a more secure roof.  I let my chickens free range at times during the day and this is when they got attacked. Moving forward, they will only be outside when I am outside.



Vegetables:

I have enough cleared space to make a nice vegetable garden again and I really look forward to doing so. Sunlight is important and I really recommend keeping your garden as close to the house as you can so it gets more attention. I would like to learn how to can and have the supplies but first we will need to actually grow some things and that will have to wait until spring. I prefer raised beds as they eliminate weeding and are so easy to maintain after set up. Square Foot Gardening is a great system for anyone new to the idea.

Fruit Trees:

I planted apple and cherry trees at my last home but was not able to have much success. I hope to start again here and make sure I do it the right way. This takes time and patience as it takes a few years to see the fruit of your labor but it is another wonderful option for land with less open space.

Berries:

Since my children were little, we have LOVED harvesting berries. I plant raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and we love wineberries. Some wild berries can be poisonous so do not allow children to pick unless you've planted.  Wineberries are safe as there are no other berries that look like they do.  I hope to plant some nice berry bushes in the spring as well.

Mushrooms:

This is an area that I don't recommend you experiment with unless you have someone with you who really knows what they are doing. Many mushrooms can be poisonous and while we love looking at all of the different types, we do not touch or eat them. I do see so many amazing people in my feed and groups who are true experts in foraging mushrooms but I'll leave that to them...

 Maple Syrup:

My children and I experimented with maple syruping and it was such an amazing experience. It is, however, extremely time consuming and if you are planning on producing a lot of syrup be sure you have a lot of time, trees and patience. Our new property has so many trees that I am really excited to do this again on a larger scale. The best time to identify maples is during the fall so we hope to scout our land and mark the trees to tap early next year.

Goats and Pigs:

I've heard goats and pigs are a wonderful addition to a wooded lot but they also require a lot of work so it is not something I'm yet ready to think about. 

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I'd love to hear any feedback from those of you who live in a similar environment and how you have made your wooded homestead work best for your family. 



1 comment:

  1. We just moved from a wooded property where we homesteaded and have moved to a larger piece that is still mostly old-growth (and some new-growth) forest. I would suggest using electric net fencing for your chickens (we use Premier One) so you can move them about your property while protecting them from predators. The eggs will be superior to those of chickens kept in a static pen and your chickens are happier. Plus, your land benefits from the debugging, weeding and fertilizing the chickens will do in each area they cover. Making a mobile home for them such as a chicken tractor is not difficult especially if you do not have too large a flock. We have 30 hens and it is doable. Would also suggest looking into growing shitake or other mushrooms. They are ideally suited to wooded areas, provide great nutrition (and are a marketable crop) plus, if you grow them, you know they are safe to eat. We did this on our old farm and hope to do so again. We love keeping bees and they do well with a water source nearby but you will find they will search out little puddles rather than actually drink from your pond. We have considered ducks, as well, but not sure our pond is large enough to offer them protection from predators. Best thing is if pond is large enough to have an island or rock or some place for them to go in the middle of the pond if predators come by (the 4 legged kind, not hawks and such.) Lots of things to consider but a forested property is a blessing and offers so much for your family and the families of the forest, too. Have fun!

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