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BOL size requirements

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What would you say is the size requirement for a decent BOL? At this point I would imagine any BO would include 4-6 30-45 year old adults, 4-6 kids, and 2-3 older adults. (local family, depending on who would be willing to face the obvious) I'm looking at sites that are at least 100 miles from the largest city, but size seems to vary from 3 acres that has been used for farming, to 40 not having been used for any farming at all. The three acre site has been used as a "hobby farm" before, so has fences and barn...but 3 acres seems small for such a large group. I know technically 1/4 an acre is supposed to be doable for a family of 4, but when you add 2 more families of 4, plus some extra, that seems like it would tax the resources. Any thoughts? I'm just so lost here...I'm planning on coming out to my husband starting in the new year, including asking him to start letting us plan to purchase a "vacation home" with some acreage. I just really need to know what to do to start.

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minimum 10 people, max 15, as far as BoL shelter it sounds like you need a full size 3 bedroom (minimum) house, 2 bath.

As for the size of garden, ill just relate it to what I know....

I grew up in a family of 5. My family maintained a large garden (roughly 30' x 300'). THis garden provided us with a variety of fresh veggys every summer, all summer, and had plenty to put away to last us all winter and beyond.

Dad did the tilling, mother did the canning while us kids did all the picking, plucking, shelling, husking, shucking and juicing... hoing, de-rocking, weeding....


Anyway, a 9000 sq'ft' garden provided plenty for a family of 5 and then some.

Uncle raised the beef cattle. grew pigs too but we didnt get any of that.

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our grounbd was mostly clay and rock, which really hindered the growth of gourds and lettuce. cauliflower and broccoli did fine though, corn had no issues. we would get good results from any kind of root veggy.


Any kind of peas and beans always produced great. even in the clay.

ANd of course more tomatos than we could give away.

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A lot depends on how permanent you intend the stay. For a few years, 5 acres is probably good; longer you need enough room to rotate crops and run some animals (other than the children, of course). You'd like a few goats for milk or meat etc. I tend to think for a group your size, a minimum of 10 acres is necessary. That gives the ability to adapt to new opportunities that you won't have if all of your land is in food production. Just a thought.

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This is what ''Started" me to prep a couple of years ago.


ten acres enough...1864..If he could do it than I can do it NOW..

Ten acres enough: a practical experience, showing how a very small farm may be made to keep a very large family. With extensive and profitable experience in the cultivation of the smaller fruits (1864)..





Its FREEE....too..

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Another consideration in on how many people you will have, you will need more leech bed for the septic system, which should be as far from your drinking water well as possible, plus keeping the animals away from your well. Even if the property has city sewage now, if an event happens, it'll be septic tanks and leech beds, so make sure you know how many feet you need for the number of people (add some for "extras") and soil type.

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don't worry the animals will crash the fence and rotate the crops into manure or a green mush


I just love people considering the farming or ranching life it's like watching someone contemplating


suicide standing on the edge of a building.


I know one thing nature is always trying to kill you by not producing when you need it either rain or drought heat or cold

lack of sun


a plague of some insect or fungus a host of animal diseases and parasites or a invasion of feral animals the fact that animals

can become sterile for numerous reasons including disease.


i would have some conversations with your county extension agent on history of farming and ranching in your area.

so you an be forewarned and forearmed to deal with any regional problem or learn to avoid them altogether some areas

are not friendly toward certain animals and require sheds & windbreaks or barns or both.


if you have grazing animals it takes 1 acre of well suited grass per animal some grasses do not have enough content

and you may need to plant feed plots or introduce a particular hay or grass if your doing this for prepping It is

unconscionable not to consider the welfare of your animals before you buy and start to rear them only to find out

it is not a workable situation or you needed to preplan your lay out.


Hogs stink it is their nature if you place them in the wrong spot you will have to smell them if the runoff goes on someone

another property you will have a lawsuit water is a big concern if you have to have power to move it to irrigate or to water

your animals and how much do you know your water table how much a day can you draw is it sweet water or does it have

some problem over abundance of minerals can cause problems.


PVC pipe is cheap but it cannot handle certain things like freezing being crushed it may crack if your soil is soft

how deep is your frost line a water line to shallow will freeze as will buckets or troughs with fluid ever try to get

molasses out of a barrel in 20 degree weather it has vital nutrients needed for animals especially in winter

I have seen that new feed has corn gluten, look at the mineral content of it and molasses quite different.


and during a financial problem where are the magic beans going to come from to pay for that feed or if you

buy molasses if you listen to the producers of today their feed out targets will not be sustainable animals grow faster

and bigger due to improved feeds mineral blocks etc. in short science.

feed is produced and trains and trucks bring it in it is mixed and bagged the thread that seals the bags comes form

somewhere else as do the bags parts for the machines are not made locally if your prepping for a disaster you may ought to consider how are you going to feed the animals if your source of food is not stable or non existent.


I hear a lot of cross talk about how we will trade what can you trade or afford to trade in a bad season farmers go out of business every day the cost of machinery and fuel and transportation is killing them you need 2x the tractor you think you do

better to have enough power than try to use a push mower in place of a brush hog

that is another sticking point implements for work and fuel to run it horses eat more than cows 5 acres wont support

2 cows and a horse or mule and you and your brood you need a minimum 1/2 acre for a house and outhouse or septic

now your down to 4.5 acres it takes an acre to have enough to sell past your own needs of a small family and your talking

seasonal farming so canning is a must each large animal takes an acre and needs supplement feed like oats barley hay needs to be stored now you need a barn 2 story or else where are you going to keep your cattle and hay you can have a separate

barn now you got to haul hay and feed you need a corn crib a small silo with venting for other grains to reduce loss from mice

mold mildew and keep dry

in south Texas some areas it takes more acreage per animal cattle do not need gran they can live on grass BUT if your milking them you need to supplement if your working them same thing grass fed animals have less fat fine also less taste and

add in the fact it takes longer to reach full size and they are not going to weight as much as a fed out cow.



peanuts sorghum corn sweet potatoes soy beans alfalfa & rye hay are very good and mix of others oat hay etc.

cows will eat many things including bread look up and know everything about the animals you intend to raise


5 acres I would raise goats have some guineas chickens rabbit hutch and a couple of donkeys miniature or not.


in this scenario you will have more animals increasing the probability of producing more off spring more milk

a cow and a bull one is sterile or dies your SOL. you can do 10 for one cows to goats

guineas for an alarm system chickens to eat and have eggs.

donkeys are great security guards and will fight predators and can be used to pack equipment and you can ride them.

rabbits are prolific and eat grass root vegetable tops and scraps you need to print the list of what they can eat.

maybe a couple of berkshire pigs a small breed but as all hogs can eat almost anything


so you have red meat pork chicken eggs and milk using 2- 1.5 acre pastures 1 acres garden and 1 acre form home barn/shop

greenhouse silo/corn crib

alternating pastures letting grass grow and feeding scraps to hogs and goats and vice versa hogs love milk sour or not


as far as chickens have at least some bantams and then any other breed you want a bantam hen will set any eggs

and they set better than any other breed and defend their chicks to the death other breeds are picky and may not set

you need a constant replenishment or you will run out of chickens quick you need some to eat some to lay and set


just like in farming its a rotation deal your animals need to be suited to your needs an average family eats 100 to200

pounds of meat a year that includes all meats if you have goats their milk is less allergenic than cows milk

you have more animals so if on has a problem you still have milk one cow and one problem you have 0 nada no milk.

you can still make cheese butter and cook with goats milk.


cows are for people with money and land and goats that get sick ensure liquid meal re placer is great stuff

unless it is not some kind of goat plague I have never heard of they will bounce back


all animals need a cover with 3 walls the main wall facing north and the wing walls pointing south unless some

abnormal land feature funnels cold north air in a radically different direction


any animal pen need to have sheet metal buried down 2 foot poles set deep 2 to 3 foot and concreted in back fill with

broken bricks sharp rocks chunks of concrete and level with dirt.


metal needs to come up 2 to 3 foot minimum reason rats and snakes coons possums feral cats bob cats lynx cougar

you name it it like penned up easy catch animals.

a single coon can kill a couple dozen chickens in 1 night . if your going to use wire Fu@k chicken wire it is worthless

get old hurricane fence and use that it is ale to stop anything short of a bear and even they need time hopefully time

for you to get your rod and get out there.


Cross bar R-panel or corrugated iron doors are the easiest and best screw or nail down one side on door post make sure

top and bottom are closed in by sheet metal plywood or boards so when the door is closed nothing can climb under or over.

I use a length of angle iron or pipe drill one hole {pivot point} use a lag bold and washer make sure it is longer

than the door is wide on the other side an L bracket made from flat bar or rebar the L wide enough to be a tight fit for

the angle iron or pipe to set in.

animals do not get the concept of raising a bar for 2 legged thieves a chain attached to the fence or eye bolt with a pad

lock but with guineas and donkeys I do not think you wont hear midnight callers.


I mention all this because too many people are posting I will just do X well that is not enough information to make a

decision that costs money and if you don't build properly predators will wipe out all your hard earned work in a few days

it takes just as much time to do it the right way as to half azz it and if you do not know like a friend he has had to restart his chicken brood 3 times because he would not listen in a survival situation this would be a starvation situation.


hogs dig very well that is why every pen I build has sheet metal 360 degrees 2 foot down and back fill with rock or it's

equivalent either it wants out or something hungry wants in .

even if the hog cannot get out the piglets can and your out feed and time time it takes to re-breed and wait with nothing

to eat because if you eat your breeding stock your a damn fool.


there ain't one damn thing easy about any of this and with out running water and power I wonder how our parents even

survived at all much less got any sleep wood sucks period it rots even treated lumber rots their lousy warranty of 40 years

is crap try finding them in 39 months and get your money back or a new post and have to redo a corner of a building

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the cross bar / bolt metal door is the best design cheapest and requires no hinges self closing and will stay closed with a

magnate and last for at least 10 years that is as long as I know because I moved but I would bet a 100 dollar bill it is still there.

corrugated or R-panel or AG panel is the best thing since sliced bread if the bottom rusts remove it cut it and or scab on a piece.

while you can buy all you can it does not go bad save it in a covered dry place it takes very little space as does hurricane fencing

and steel poles and a few rolls or barbed wire fence staples and nails and T posts.


A friend just told how hard it was to find a semi rifle and ammo now wonder how easy it will be to find building materials WTSHTF.

and money is worth nothing.


hey when it gets bad i will buy a space ship and leave that is what some of this sounds like to me not that the people posting do not know how to do what they say but the fact is no one is going to sell their animals or materials until things ease up

and if they do it will be very expensive and your choices will be limited I know a guy that sells animals he can't sell them in the same place because they all seem to be in poor condition sick old or infertile and die or are not good breeding stock.

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JCMS you covered this very hand cannot think of anything to add other than that in the horse and buggy era 40 acres was considered the standard for homesteading. This was in areas that had good land and water. The average family often consisted of the parents and 6 to 10 offspring so I think this would still be a good figure for a small group or extended family to consider as a base size BOL.

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JCMS raises good points about how having X amount of land won't necessarily save you if you don't have the knowledge and experience to actually produce crops and raise livestock on it. And even if you have the right people to get the job done, and the right supplies, you will still need to stock up on a couple of years' worth of food just to get you through rough patches/mistakes while you get your farm up and running at its full capacity, assuming that you will wait until after TSHTF before becoming fully food self-reliant. (It could be a huge help to try to get your food situation up and working NOW, while you can run out and buy groceries to cover a canning session that goes bad or a total failure of one kind of crop.)


Some things you will need to consider about the land:


What is the actual, usable area for planting and for livestock? (Wetlands/marshy areas, areas that are uneven or rocky or have poor soil, places that will be difficult or impossible to irrigate, tall trees that cast shade over potential growing areas, etc. will all cut into how much of your acreage actually can be productive.)


Will you also need to generate your own power on-site? I'm not just talking about the desire to keep the lights on at TEOTWAWKI, but how will you plant/harvest if you don't have fuel for tractors/trucks? Hopefully you aren't planning on depending on utility companies for your water, but even if you have a good well, will the pump work without power? Can you irrigate your crops without power? (Imagine a small group of people trying to keep a couple of acres of plants sufficiently hydrated in the summer while using only buckets and a hand pump.)


Are you going to try to grow year-round? And if so, will you require greenhouses to do that? They will also eat up acreage if they are going to be a big part of your plan.


Other things that will need room to roam and/or space where you can't plant crops: windmills/solar panels, non-food crops (either for livestock or for creating fuel), trees (fruit/nuts), horses (to help with plowing/transportation if there's no gas), livestock, chickens, ponds for saving water/growing fish, housing, outbuildings like barns and tool sheds, as well as root cellars or other storage areas where you will cache supplies for later use.


There are tons of resources for learning about homesteading, self-sufficiency, growing your own food, etc. Here are some links to get you started - but know there are many more out there!



Here's a great list of books that are useful to people who want to homestead:


Good luck in your endeavors! Like you, I love the idea of finding a BOL that is able to be sustainable for the long haul. The reality of what it would take to set that up is a little daunting, but will certainly be well worth the effort should the worst happen. Hope that you find your post-New Year's talk goes well and that you can come up with a great way to work on your preps together. And perhaps find others who have farming experience to share in your plans. Let us know how it goes!

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A lot depends on how permanent you intend the stay. For a few years, 5 acres is probably good; longer you need enough room to rotate crops and run some animals (other than the children, of course). You'd like a few goats for milk or meat etc. I tend to think for a group your size, a minimum of 10 acres is necessary. That gives the ability to adapt to new opportunities that you won't have if all of your land is in food production. Just a thought.


I think maybe consider 1+acre for just the 'crop rotation' items. Like Soybeans/Corn or Wheat/Soybeans, but for this id check to see what the other local farmers are doing for rotation.


Our old garden, we would run 3-4 rows of corns the full length (300'), 50/50 with yellow and sweet.

For an easy early producer maybe look into 'Purple Hull peas'. Purple Hulls are the gift that keeps giving.


just going over the math on this; at least 5 acres right ? maybe 10 if possible.

1/4 for the homeplace.(10-15 people)

(9000sq.ft' garden for 5peps) x3 = 27000sq.ft.

43560sq.ft. per acre - 27000sq.ft' = 16560sq.ft' - 1/4 acre homeplace(10890sq.ft') = 5670 remaining of 1 acre

27000sq.ft. = 62% of 1 acre. 62% garden +25% homeplace < 1 acre. (remainder 5670sq.ft' for yard I guess or a couple extra goats ?)



GOATS: Say maybe 10 goats/ per acre.


Dairy Cows: these take up ALOT of room


My idea would be allocate 2-3 acres to livestock, like 5+ goats and 1-2 dairy cows. You can collect the "Fertilizer" from the livestock, add it to a compost heep for your spring fertilizer on the garden. Or rather than collect and heep it, you can alternate your garden and pasture land. As a kid, i was assigned the chore of burying the organic waste from the dinner table in the garden, which would eventually get tilled in and turned over the next spring.


Just a few thoughts

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Wow, lots of information. I appreciate the wealth of knowledge you all have on the subject, and of course no one who is not experienced in farming is likely to succeed. If we accept that some sort of economic/societal/global breakdown is inevitable(and after all isn't that why we are all here?) then the best we can do is take the steps we can towards learning as much as we can and preparing as much as we can. I know I'm not going to be able to buy an ideal piece of property, or make it work as a farm necessarily, but with the research I've done and continue to do, and the great points all of you have raised, I hope to find something that is at least a viable alternative to what I have now. In a long term breakdown, I'm currently living in the suburbs of one of the largest cities in the country. Not looking good if people move out of the city, which will happen if the food trucks stop running.

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Wanted to add this link, which is a great firsthand account from someone who has been trying to develop all of the necessary skills to make a survival homestead work.


It's called "The Hard Truth About Starting Your Survival Homestead" and is appropriately titled. I am definitely of the camp who wants to get out of the city onto some acreage and start growing crops now, but I'll also admit that I fully expect there to be some trial and lots of error when I am able to make that a reality. I hope that you find a great place, Shea, and that you share what you learn - the good and the bad - with the rest of us!

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Great blog OC, some good things to think about. Already planning the plantings for my current place, but hoping i can talk my husband into...some additional property before planting season in a couple of months. I want to get a start on my failings :)

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Wanted to add this link, which is a great firsthand account from someone who has been trying to develop all of the necessary skills to make a survival homestead work.


It's called "The Hard Truth About Starting Your Survival Homestead" and is appropriately titled. I am definitely of the camp who wants to get out of the city onto some acreage and start growing crops now, but I'll also admit that I fully expect there to be some trial and lots of error when I am able to make that a reality. I hope that you find a great place, Shea, and that you share what you learn - the good and the bad - with the rest of us!


Thanks for sharing the blog. As one who left the city more than 12 years ago and purchased RAW land initially with no running water and electricity I can tell you that I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It takes you away from talking the talk to walking the walk. Coming from a military background there were a few things to get used to, but the transition was even more profound on my family.


Having a wife on board who was supportive and encouraging made all the difference in the world. We also have our own homestead raising and growing pretty much ALL of our food except for fish. We have brought all of the equipment for setting up an aquaponics system and have in fact made the tanks for it, but just haven't completed the project. Do your research, get out and buy some land if you have the means and resources. Do it on a small scale at first on weekends and eventually build a way to actually live the way God intended you to.

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If it comes down to a BOL location I would advise like the settlers did rock walls heavy timber roofs


and a few tunnels out it needs to be built well have escapes and short doors that enter into halls


if you have something nice others may want it.


your going to be working hard make it worth while consider security and storage as well as a loft for giving you a good vantage point and bell or triangle to warn or call and have special signals radios would be nice a straight horn like a bugle

working the land is the first thing you must do but now your separated from the group now your enemy is divide and conquer

and your doing all his work for him.

always be armed {pistol} a rifle or shotgun ain't worth a tinkers damn when a bullet whizzes by your head or strikes close

your instinct is to hit the dirt now where is that long arm.


if your lucky enough { that is debatable} to live in cooler climates sausage and cheese making wine and beer love cellars

so do apples potatoes onions cabbage melons and other produce cool and dark helps them last longer.


for every person you need an acre minimum over and above 5 acres a family of 10 members that 40 acres mentioned by Partsman

animals need hay in the winter you need space for small game and birds and hopefully deer and other game.

For grapes figs and many other fruits figure 3 years pecan trees planted today you will be dead before you get enough to

make it worth your while so research your plan.


I wanted to say that furrows in dry country plant in the bottom of the rows in wet areas plant on top of the rows.

height and width are commensurate with the plants yellow squash needs a wider space between rows and plants

and consider how and if you need to hand water how your going to get it done gravity and terracing.

and you need to find a water witch or try it yourself I have seen it done with dousing rods, well drillers get paid by the foot

so better get a good referral and know whats under your land cap rock and granite marble or blue stone is hard as hell

if you understand a tamp tool rig and a sand bail / pump you may could drill your own but it ain't easy and takes a while to build these machines best to find out about them now and sweet water is usually found past blue clay {bluish grey} surface water

can dry up quick and pumps are rated for depth a small hand pump max depth 25 to 30 foot pray for a Artesian well.

near lakes if you dig down you should be able to get ground water as long as the lake stays at a stable depth.

creeks dry up in summer and are still there but underground and know if your area has ever flooded sea level means nothing

if your on a table in a low spot in some places flooding is good as long as you build for it and it works in your favor for fishing

and crabbing or other shellfish as well as goose and duck hunting swamps are not all bad they are not all good either.


I know there some sh*t I forgot but this should get you searching and researching and knowing what materials and tools

you may want to scrounge and have on hand I have a small hardware store { look for auctions in your area} I never buy new.


best of luck your going to need it.

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As with everything it appears if it is nice enough to seem workable, it's priced that way. Who has a cool million to drop on a secondary property? There are a million websites for properties for sale in Texas; apparently it's a popular search. Everyone likes Texas I guess :)

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