Homesteading: Finding the Right Land

There is much chatter about “getting out of the cities” and “buying rural land.” I’m a huge advocate of these philosophies and am working on building mine even now.
So… now you’ve decided it’s for you, and you’re scratching your head, wondering, “Where do I start?”
Well… first thing is to ask yourself, “What are my reasons that I want to return to the life that those before me chose to abandon in favor of the technological, sterile world we now live in? ” Meaning, why on earth would you want to get up in the morning and clean up chicken, horse, cow, or other cute little critter poop when we can now just pop over to the grocery store and pick up our GMO, antibiotic, hormone infested food? If you’re like me, you crave the great outdoors, that sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of “real” freedom to control where you get your sustenance. Or…. you’re absolutely fed up with this technological marvel of the dis-attached society we now live in.
So now you have decided why, and you’re still gung-ho in it to win it… right?

Now what…..
Do you buy some raw land and build the farm of your dreams or find one prefab? Ok… where?
One huge mistake people make is finding something outside a realistic range of travel. If you have to travel 18 hours to get there, I think it is safe to say that is a little bit too far, but heck…what do I know? Lots of people like to take a drive in the country. Personally, though, I think about 4 hours or less should be your absolute limit. After all, unless you are independently wealthy, you (like most of us) still need to work to pay for the building of this dream of yours.

Often, you can find raw land in areas on the cheap side, but be careful….GO SEE IT! I speak from experience when I say this….having bought the side of a mountain once. Yes, go ahead and laugh now; I actually did this. Anyway, enough laughing, on to what you need in a parcel of land.

Think about this: how much garden do you want, and what animals do you intend to have in this picturesque vision of days gone by?

I mean, if you plan to be a goat herder, by all means, go ahead and buy the mountainside; it is cheaper than good bottomland, and your goats will love it. Off on a side tangent, my goats had the oddest habit of standing on almost anything: the shed’s roof, the tractor, and even the backs of the horses. I felt like I needed to build them a jungle Jim…. Wait, back to the topic at hand.

While we are at it, how much land do you think you will need? You’ve done all the research and the consensus is for a good homestead you should have at least one acre per person…Wait, what if it is only you? Can three horses, six goats, 35 chickens, and a cow share this land with you, a house, and the garden? Probably not, so you also need to know what each of these cuddly critters needs for space to be happy and healthy. Now, an example, I had three horses, four goats, and 65 chickens and ducks (somehow, the 15 I had to begin with turned into 65, go figure); add to it my family of 4 a couple of dogs and cats and the occasional returning child (and friends), I had 9 acres on this mini farm and could have used more.

Now, what do we need for geography? I think we already decided that unless you were gonna be a goat herder, you needed something other than just a mountainside. But, if you have goats, having part of your land be a mountainside might keep them off your tractor.

When I bought the land I have now, I had certain criteria. Because I know I plan to use renewable energy in my little world, it did not mean I wanted to be 200 miles from civilization (while it still drones on). So, I did want access to power and, of course, the internet.

In my land purchase I decided on a few factors, I wanted goats and did not want them on the roof of the house so parts of it should have places for them to climb (mountainside). Now I also plan to have horses (Pasture, barns). Some chickens (now they can sit almost anywhere, so we are cool with that). wait…where is my water going to come from? (springs and a creek.. good call). I plan to use a wood stove for heat (woods).
Also, do you want to relocate to an area? When I lived in Alaska… Homer, Alaska, to be exact. It was likely the most beautiful place I’d ever seen…IN THE SUMMER!!! the growing season is very short, and winter is long, but hey… people have lived there just fine. Me? I prefer a little more warmth, so I looked further south. I have lived all over this great country and found where I liked, lots of green, some mountains but not the big 14ers, enough rain and not too much snow.
Ok now these things are all good from the farm stance, but how about when the inevitable SHTF? well, now we need to think about defensibility and area this land may lie in… if you find your perfect parcel and it is 20 minutes outside of Detroit you may find yourself overrun with zombies in short order when it does (just something to ponder here).

Another thought to ponder: Do you plan to have guns and stuff like that? Well, I might avoid some areas if they want to take my trusty 12 ga away. It could be a problem I would foresee. I also checked into building and zoning laws. Did you know there are some places that will tell you that you’re not allowed to catch rainwater? Honest, there are places like that.

Will you get along with your neighbors? This is important. Go ahead, start laughing. Are you done yet? Yes, I found this out the hard way, too. So, being an ex-Yankee, I found out that in some places, you might not want to share too much of that with your new townsfolk. Imagine my indignation when Yankee was used as a term relating to, shall we say, “outsider.” This means you will fit in well in your dreamland.

When all is said and done, I do not believe any place or state is better than another for one reason or another, well, except in the middle of Yellowstone…I know, it’s never gonna happen, but for me, there is something a little eerie about having a magma chamber the size of, oh, I don’t know…. TEXAS!!!! under my butt that gives me the willies. Ultimately, you want to choose a place that suits your desires and capabilities. I don’t recommend Alaska if you’re not a snow fan. Same as if you like trees, maybe Arizona might not be your cup of tea.

Hope you find just the right place for your needs

Leave a Reply