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self sufficientcy with 15 acres? – Can it be done?

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  • #252278
    virgillvirgill
    Member

    Hi all,

    Nearly 2 years ago, hubby and I bought a rundown house on 15 acres with the plan to reduce our utility bills by half and to be able to cut our grocery spending to $100 per f/night (2 adults 2 kids). And although we have not been able to achieve this as yet, I still feel its quite do-able. The ultimate dream is to only have to work PT (sigh).

    But could you be 100% self sufficient on such a small parcel of land? Now in our case as we carry a mortgage I know that we would not be able to make a living off the land, so we still need a job to pay the rates, school fee’s etc, but I was just interested on hearing on other’s experiences and if they were successful, then how did they do it. And what were the major problems along the way.

    And for those who have managed it – was there a big $$ outlay to achieve this? For example, solar energy seems such a big cost to set up – really is it worth it? And we have poured heaps of money setting up vegie patches, chooks pens, etc, and havent “broken even” so to speak.

    Thanking you in advance.

    #466350
    DB346DB346
    Member

    Not doing yet, but trying to do something extremely similar. 12 Acres, fitting out our own house. Getting there! (very slowly, but surely!) Off the Grid Stand Alone Solar, 90000 Litre Water Tank, BF6 Biological Sewerage Treatment, etc.

    Big outlay initially. Solar cost us $23K out of pocket versus $76K to connect to grid (easy choice). Water tank and BF6 were $16K. Would recommend wood heater/cooking and or hydronic heating if you can do it.

    I agree with you and believe your plan is very achievable.

    If you have not done so already, recommend you look into Permaculture. This should give you the best foundation on which to maximise use of your land in a sustainable manner.

    15 Acres is plenty, especially if you can form good relationships with neighbours (trade, barter, agist etc).

    Rough guide only and dependant on your needs, time, climate, soils, land etc, but you should be able to divi up your block to suit your needs eg: 3 acres for Trees, 1 acre for vegetable gardens/fruit and nut trees, 1/2 acre for house/shed/dam etc, 1 acre for crops/grains and the 9 acres for pasture/animals/bees or other potential income crops.

    Difficult to try and have your cake and eat it…so to speak. 15 acres is a full time job in itself, if you get everything up and running. Understand you have to pay for it and this is where it is a pain in the bum. You simply may not have time to do what you want to do, as well as what you have to do.

    Maybe tackle in bits and pieces and take smaller steps?

    Keep your costs to a minimum wherever you can. In the end I am confident it will all be worth it. May take some time to achieve your dream, but is certainly achievable. Speak to a Financial Planner, don’t buy – reuse/recycle, visit the tip, check local papers etc.

    Enjoy the journey.:D:D:D

    (Damn Typos Edit!)

    #466351
    bluezbanditbluezbandit
    Member

    I lived self sufficiently on 5 acres in Tasmania, where I produced 95% of my food and crafted to make money to pay rates and other bills. I still managed to be able to afford to take a family holiday to the Qld as well. I made and sold soap, spun and wove for Sydneyites who loved hand crafted items and would pay large money for these things in the 70’s and 80s., other items we needed were gt through the barter system.

    Deb

    #466352
    kimmysmumkimmysmum
    Member

    bluezbandit wrote:

    I lived self sufficiently on 5 acres in Tasmania, where I produced 95% of my food and crafted to make money to pay rates and other bills. I still managed to be able to afford to take a family holiday to the Qld as well. I made and sold soap, spun and wove for Sydneyites who loved hand crafted items and would pay large money for these things in the 70’s and 80s., other items we needed were gt through the barter system.

    Deb

    Well that gives me more hope for my 5. Thanks for sharing Deb

    #466353
    roogzroogz
    Member

    Very doable – but start slowly and only add in a new thing when the rest are established – that way there is less work load.

    its taken us 9 years and I’m now a stay at home mum (up untill 8 months ago I was working full time)- The farm 30ac brings in 100-400 per week after costs depending on what there is for sale – and I don’t sell veggies

    keep in mind that once the farm earns over a certain amout it needs to be declared – but then you can claim the gst on all the farm equip – so it all balances out.

    Do your research 😀

    have a look around your area and find out what the market wants and where the gap is – For us here it is Dairy goats – ( sale of in milk does and kids) Rare poultry – we have approx 120 chooks, rare breeds, sale of fertile eggs and day old chiks. Coloured sheep – sale of lambs and fleece, and hand spun yarns and knitted items.

    Alpaca’s as above and the odd herd gaurd. we also cut approx 1000 bales of pasture hay and sell about 1/2 of this and now the mini pigs – which have had quite a good reception.

    the only meat we regularly buy is Beef and pork – but we should now be sell sufficent in pork as well :tup:

    there are usually self self suffiency groups about see if you can get in touch with one in your area

    It is a bit of work – but not as much as you would think – for the most part its and hour in the morning and an hour at night, not inc shearing etc. however if you don’t love what you are doing then 2 hrs a day would be a nightmare – for me feeding tand checking the animals is like a little get away from reality:D

    working on the veggie patch but having more trouble with that then anything else – you’d think with all the manue here that it would be a sinch.:|

    Cheers

    Roogz

    #466354
    lorisloris
    Member

    Historically, small holdings in say, England were often about the four acre mark. This was considered a farm where they produced everything for themselves and some to sell to pay the rent. Of course, that was often very rich land with good water resources. Their start up costs wouldn’t have amounted to much and consider, they had to shed stock through snow in winter.

    We have found the biggest worry to be council and certifications. When we bought our land it was zoned rural and it was explained to us we could do anything on our block that was considered a traditional rural enterprise. For instance, we could not build a tavern but could have unlimited farm animals. We didn’t even have to register our dogs because they were “rural” dogs.

    With the council amalgamation they seem to have changed all their guidelines and while this has not changed us, we live with the knowledge that if we come to the attention of the council, we would probably be liable for many tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

    So if you want to put your heart and soul into your place, make sure of where you stand legally. We are wondering if we have to relook at our circumstances. Otherwise, yes – very doable.

    #466355
    virgillvirgill
    Member

    roogz wrote:

    working on the veggie patch but having more trouble with that then anything else – you’d think with all the manue here that it would be a sinch.:|

    Cheers

    Roogz

    LOL I have two vegie patches, one of which Honey (the goat)sometimes gets into and “enjoys” all my hard work.

    Thank you to all that have replied. I must admit, I am very impressed with Deb – well done to be so self sufficient on 5 acres. Yes we will keep plodding along, though the temptation to start all the projects at once is something I need to control. So we have decided to scale our to do list back and focus on getting the key items done, over the next 12 months so we can be more productive in some areas.

    But I maybe able to talk hubby into bying me a cow for my birthday LOL;)

    #466356
    RobyneRobyne
    Member

    My Mum and Dad had only 1/3 acre but managed to grow as much as he could. What he didn’t grow we used to find wild. From trees that were left from old farms. Berries were picked wild. Mushrooms in season. Mum preserved for out of season.

    I can be done on any size land depending on what your needs are.

    friends have just moved to Tassie. on 100 acres but having 3-4 families on the place it will be well used. For a faewell gifts he recieved from work mates packets of seed, books on growing.

    So far he has bought fruit trees, and has made his vegetable plots. instead of perapine logs he has used old tyres so he can plant in them as well. There was a lot of tyres on the property.

    He intends to be fully self sufficent with in 2 years.

    He has never done anything this big before it was always a plot down the back to supply them what they needed but this is to feed everyone.

    #466357
    Wingen_minerWingen_miner
    Member

    I’d like to think that a small family could become ‘self sufficent’ on 1/2 acre. But what i would consider self sufficent may differ to many others.

    There is a lot to be saved (and gained) from growing your own vegetables (those rich in those things that our bodies crave), keeping chickens for eggs, waterfowl/rabbits for meat, dwarf fruit trees & berries for a year long supply of fresh fruit, [plus other symbiotic pursuits i wont delve into]. Outside of this, we cross into the realm of the 80:20 rule.

    Why use up 80% of your space for something that may only constitute 20% of your diet (olive oil, grains, potatoes for example), when these can be purchased, in bulk, for a time-equivalent price, much less than if you were to grow/make them yourself (assuming that instead of spending the time in the garden, you ‘worked’ at a salary job). I’m not saying don’t do it; I’m that these items will taste so much better if you make/grow them yourself, but only having to pay off a smaller mortage ‘tastes’ mighty sweet as well.

    #466358
    dymonite69dymonite69
    Member

    The real population density of Australia (persons/km2 arable land) is 43/km2.

    This is 5.5 acres per person.

    The current world average is 365/km2 or 0.71 acres per person

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_real_population_density_(based_on_food_growing_capacity)

    #466359
    AdrianAdrian
    Member

    we are on 5 acres.

    THe amount of food and drink we produce is limited onlt by our time and effort rather than land. At one point we did go 4 months without buying vegies off our about 150m2 vegie garden without too much trouble.. that was with a new born baby. Fruit and meat is taking longer.

    So 15 acres most probably yes.

    #466360
    weaverweaver
    Member

    We have 20 acres and are getting pretty close to what I consider our optimum in self reliance. We have chooks for eggs, vegies, fruit, sheep for meat and still dedicate more than 2/3’s of the property to alpacas. I really believe that building a great community is a huge part of self-reliance as bartering for what you either cant or dont want to produce is wonderful. DH is allergic to bees so I get my honey from the bee man. Friends have an olive grove so DH shears their alpacas for a few litres of olive oil each year. They also grow and grind their own wheat so I often buy flour from them. I have millions of passionfruit at this time of year so I hand over bags of those in return for herbs, lemons (my tree is still tiny) oranges or whatever anyone else has excess of. I looked after a neighbours property over Christmas and harvested their ripe fruit (they were away for a few weeks) and in return for using the fruit I am pruning their trees.

    I can sew and knit but I cannot make shoes, service a car or many other things that would be necessary for true self sufficiency but we eat great food and feed lots of other people as well.

    #466361
    Pink AngelPink Angel
    Member

    I really enjoyed reading this thread as it gives me a lot of hope.

    I am just starting my journey by doing a PDC course first and learning to grow crops prior to finding our acerage. :cheer:

    #466362
    mistyhollowsmistyhollows
    Member

    We have approx 4 acres and at this stage if I had the time to put into the veg garden could be very self sufficient in vegs. The orchard is another matter and the chicken will come in the next year or so. Some trees will grow in some areas better than others. We are finding that apples and citrus do really well here as do berries. Stone fruit do not do very well. So my thought is to pull out those that are not going anywhere and I will replace them. That is our microclimate here. I don’t think I could ever grow my own meat and butcher it, I saw the inlaws do that and unless I was starving I don’t want to go there, so perhaps a pet goat or cow 🙂 for dairy but that is for another time.

    I found the New Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency by John Seymour a great resource. It gives a guide to self sufficiency on one acre or five acres and although it is written for the northern hemisphere for vegetables you simply swap them to suit your own climate. It includes so much from food gardens, food from animals, food from fields, food from the wild, dairy, the kitchen, brewing, energy and waste and crafts and skills. Definitely worth the $$ I paid for it.

    #466363
    HayleyHayley
    Member

    We’re doing similar thing too. Great to read about everyone’s adventures!

    Many years back I read a vegetarian only needs 1/3 acre to provide all the food they need.

    We’ve just moved from 1/3 acre onto 16 acres – mainly because we were so successful we just had to do it bigger scale! For a family of 4 we grew all our own vegies, eggs, and in a couple of years would have had most of our own fruit; and shortly would have been producing honey too. (the chooks and hives at least we got to take with us along with 100 odd cuttings!)

    Now on 16 acres we plan similar to what you outlined! Hoping in a couple of years for Dh to only need to work part-time; I stay at home with kids and in a couple of years hope I’ll be able to dedicate more time to production (and enjoyment!!!) on the land.

    Planning this autumn to put an orchard in – approx 1 acre in size there’s a nice patch of land for it.

    We got a small flock of sheep and 2 alpaca’s last week to add to our existing flock of chooks; also planning a small herd of cattle this year; a milking cow next year.

    I think its probably most important to keep the enjoyment into it all; take things one step at a time and see how they go. And we don’t aim to be fully self-sufficient – we’re not going to be able to grow every single thing we need (ie coffee in vic!), but certainly aim to produce as much as we can ourselves – whilst keeping the experience alive and enticing.

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