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Homestead Land & Livestock Calculator (How Much Do You Need?)

Have you ever daydreamed about your homestead and wondered how much land or livestock you would need?

Well, I’ve long wondered about these questions. While you can piece this together with enough research and practice, it’s a slow process and not that fun to do.

Let’s jump in and play around with this fun homestead calculator.

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    Can You Still Get Free Homesteading Land?

    It’s still possible to obtain free land for homesteading in the United States, with Alaska being the simplest state to get free land. However, it’s not as easy as it was in the past, and the availability of free land depends on the location and circumstances.

    One example of a program that offers free land for homesteading is the Homestead Act of 1862. This law provided settlers with up to 160 acres of public land in exchange for a small fee and a commitment to improve the land and live on it for at least five years.

    While the original Homestead Act is no longer in effect, there are still some states that offer similar programs. For example, the state of Alaska has a program that allows individuals to apply for up to 10 acres of land for free.

    a lake in alaska with mountains in the background

    Another way to obtain free land for homesteading is to look for abandoned or unclaimed property. This could include old farmhouses, barns, or other structures that are no longer being used. By fixing up the property and making improvements, you may be able to claim ownership and use it for homesteading purposes.

    Additionally, some programs and organizations provide support and resources for homesteaders, such as the Sustainable Living Project and the Homesteaders of America. These groups can offer advice on finding land, setting up a homestead, and living off the land.

    While free land for homesteading may not be as easy to come by as it once was, it is still possible with some effort and research. And even if you do not end up with free land, there are still many ways to start homesteading and living a sustainable lifestyle on a budget.

    With the right mindset and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a successful homesteader.

    How Much Land is Enough to Homestead?

    I can tell you from my own experience that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It really depends on your goals, your climate, and your dedication to the homesteading lifestyle.

    For me, I do best with a minimum of 10 acres as I’d like to provide enough food for 8 people and have around 50 sheep.

    To help with this, I’ll share a few examples of what you can do with different plot sizes.

    1/2 Acre

    a view of our backyard food forest
    Our backyard on 1/2 an acre

    Believe it or not, you can create a thriving homestead on just half an acre! I’ve seen folks work wonders with this space.

    With efficient garden planning and smart use of vertical space, you can grow plenty of fruits, veggies, and herbs to feed your family.

    You might even be able to keep a few chickens for eggs and meat, as well as bees for honey and pollination. Just be prepared for some creative problem-solving, as space can get tight!

    1 Acre

    a polyculture garden with fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs

    With a full acre, you have more room to play with. I’ve worked on projects of this size, and it’s amazing what you can achieve.

    On top of a productive garden, you can expand your animal husbandry to include small livestock like goats, pigs, or rabbits.

    You’ll also have space for outbuildings, like a greenhouse, a tool shed, or a workshop.

    This size allows for more self-sufficiency, and with proper planning, you could even produce enough to sell at local farmers’ markets.

    2 Acres

    a keyhole garden

    Now we’re talking! With two acres, you can really start to explore the full potential of homesteading. I remember helping my friend Will set up his 2-acre homestead, and he’s got it all – a large vegetable garden, a small orchard, chickens, goats, and even a couple of cows for milk and meat.

    There’s room for a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels, and a composting area. If you’re passionate about sustainability and self-reliance, this is a fantastic size to work with.

    20 Acres

    a homestead with lots of pasture

    With 20 acres, the sky’s the limit. I visited a 20-acre homestead a few years back, and it was like a self-contained ecosystem.

    There were fruit and nut trees, diverse annual and perennial gardens, and all sorts of livestock, from sheep to alpacas. There was even a small pond stocked with fish and a large woodlot for sustainable timber and firewood production.

    On a homestead this size, you could easily support multiple families or create a community-focused project with shared resources and workspaces.

    Tip: If you’re interested in silvopasture (grazing in a forest), aim for 70% pasture to 30% trees.

    Which Size is Best For You?

    Honestly, it all comes down to what you’d like to do with your site and how many people you’d like to feed.

    It’s entirely possible to feed 8 people from 1 acre of land (thanks to vertical and dense growing practices).

    However, you’d likely have an easier time growing food for those 8 people on 4 acres (allowing 1/2 an acre per person, and not including larger livestock such as cows or horses).

    The question is: Do you want a small plot to grow a few fruit trees, vegetables, and maybe a beehive? Or would you rather have a larger plot with an orchard and livestock roaming the pasture?

    Write down your goal, break down the steps it will take to get there, and with enough work and persistence, you’ll get it.

    The Top 7 Tips To Find Homesteading Land

    a plot of land with a for sale sign

    Finding homesteading land can get overwhelming. Not only can the prices be difficult to meet, but the time to search for quality land can add up.

    However, don’t lose hope. If you really want land to homestead, stay the course and you’ll find your unique plot of land. Here are some tips to help you get there.

    1. Make a List of Your Must-Haves

    Think of this like online dating for your dream homestead. You’ve got to have your non-negotiables, right?

    For me, it was access to water, good soil, and enough space for a large garden and animals such as sheep.

    Be honest with yourself about what you need versus what you want – and don’t forget to consider things like climate, local resources, and community.

    2. Get To Know The Area

    One time, I found what seemed like the perfect piece of land, only to discover it was in a flood zone.

    To avoid this kind of heartbreak, take the time to research your potential homestead location.

    Look into factors such as weather patterns, local regulations, and any potential hazards like wildfires or flooding. It’s also a great idea to connect with the locals, who can give you invaluable insights.

    3. Check Out Online Resources
    Image source:

    In the digital age, we have access to a variety of online resources to help us in our quest for homesteading land.

    Websites like LandWatch and LandAndFarm are like a garden catalog for land-seekers. Just plug in your criteria, and watch the listings roll in.

    Social media groups and forums are also great places to connect with other homesteaders who might have leads on available properties.

    4. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

    I know a few homesteaders who were lucky enough to negotiate the price down by 10% simply because they asked.

    As with any real estate transaction, there’s often wiggle room on the price. Be prepared to negotiate, and consider offering something in return, like a faster closing date or a larger down payment.

    5. Keep an Open Mind

    Sometimes the perfect homestead isn’t what we initially envision.

    While your heart might be set on a mountain view, you may stumble upon a property with gently rolling hills and lush forests.

    Be open to considering properties that don’t necessarily fit your original vision but still meet your needs.

    6. Be Patient

    Finding the perfect homesteading land is a lot like growing the perfect tomato – it takes time, care, and patience. Don’t rush into a purchase just because you’re eager to get started.

    Instead, take your time and weigh your options. Remember, this is a long-term investment, and you want to ensure you’re making the best possible choice for your future homestead.

    7. Work With a Real Estate Agent

    While it’s entirely possible to find homesteading land on your own, working with a knowledgeable real estate agent who specializes in rural properties can be a game-changer.

    They’ll have access to listings you might not find on your own, and they can help guide you through the buying process.

    For a secret tip to finding homesteading land at a great value, see this video by Red ToolHouse.

    Need More Help?

    You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.

    • Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. Check out this list to see your local services.
    • Permaculture Consultation: Need help with a bigger project? Send us a message.
    10-day food forest course