Planning the Homestead - Achieving Our Dream on Less than an Acre
Planning the Homestead - Achieving Our Dream on Less than an Acre
Planning the Homestead - Achieving Our Dream on Less than an Acre

Digging and chopping and planting, oh my! It’s officially time to start laying out the homestead – to get out the tape measure, stakes, and hammer and start strategizing. With just under a third of an acre of usable land to work with, and a lot of projects on the list, we need to plan very carefully.

Clearing the homestead to remove the thorny bushes.

Where does the property get the most sunlight? Where are we putting the house addition? How many outbuildings are we talking about, really? Some of our projects and ideas will need to be melded to others, some will need to go above the house, or under it, and we are going to need to be very organized so that we use every available square inch in the best way possible. That being said, we also want to leave plenty of space for the kids to run and frolic, and for us to kick back at the end of a good, busy day on the homestead – one of the main reasons we moved to the country in the first place! (Click here to read about how our homestead journey started.)

Plotting the Homestead Garden

Pegging the GardenThe first order of business is pegging out the garden, a project that we started working on last week. There is a municipal reserve directly to the west of our lot, so we obtained a property survey to ensure we stay within our own boundaries. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our land extends an extra 4’ to the west than initially assumed.

The space for the garden has moved a few time now, and we think we’ve finally found the perfect spot. It may not be a great location aesthetically, but in terms of functionality, it’s ideal. The original plan was to put the garden in the northeast corner of the property. There it would receive lots of sunshine and plenty of room for possible expansions. However, for all the pros it had in terms sun and space, it lacked in access to water. (Also, by shifting the garden from the northeast corner of the lot, prime real estate would be freed up for other projects.) Thus, a move was in order, and the garden was relocated to south west corner of the property.

Making Space for Compost

Clearing BushThe next order of business on the homestead is building a structure to house our compost – a great way to reduce our food waste and to naturally add nutrients back into the garden. Gaby is currently working on clearing the some of the bush to make space for this project. (Also to make it safer for the kids – there are a lot of sharp, thorny bushes in there!)

Mechanical and Tool Shed

Every homesteader needs a place to store tools and other paraphernalia, so a shed is a must. Though there’s still a lot of things that we need, we are starting to overflow our garage space. We are hoping to start working on this project later in the summer, but a lot will depend on budget.  And, if we’re already building a shed, I would love to make it a two-story structure, and add a playhouse on top for the kids, complete with slide and swing set coming off the sides of the building.

Greenhouse (and Possible Woodworking Shop)

We love the idea of being able to grow fresh vegetables all year round, and what better way to do that than in a greenhouse? Friends of ours over at Verge Permaculture have been doing work with passive solar greenhouses, a concept that has really piqued our interest. We think that putting one of these on the property would be a terrific fit for what we’re trying to accomplish here, and are hoping to implement something similar sooner rather than later. We’d also love to add a heating source to it (maybe a rocket stove?!) so that we don’t need to worry about our veggies freezing when the southeastern Manitoba winter hits -30°C. And, if we’re planning on putting a south facing greenhouse somewhere on the property, an attached north facing woodworking shop just might be in the future as well.

Smaller Homestead Projects with a Bigger Budget

There are many other smaller projects that we’d like to accomplish on our homestead. Budget and space will have a say in what’s possible, but here is our running list as it currently stands.

  • Solar Panels

    There’s enough real estate on the garage roof to power our entire house.

  • Water Cisterns

    With almost 18,000L of potential water storage under our front porch, it’s a perfect place to install insulated water cisterns. Here we can capture run off from our sump pump for use in our garden and other projects.

  • Root Cellar

    My most wanted project, and the one that will take the most planning – a place to store all the fresh garden vegetables, canned goods, and anything else that benefit from a cool, dark, dry space. Though there is no planned space currently for this project, one possible location would be to put it under the house addition, whenever it’s built.

  • Backyard Oasis

    An idyllic spot for us to sit and relax around a crackling fire after long and fruitful days on the homestead. (I’m pretty sure we’ll need to erect a woodshed this summer to house the deadwood from our spring cleanup.)

Chopping Logs
Don’t try this at home! Not the safest way to cut logs, but it got the job done.

As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but as long as we work together as a family, budget properly, don’t spend money before we’ve earned it, and put in a lot of sweat equity, we will be able to take our little piece of land in the country and transform it to the homestead of our dreams.

What kind of projects are you guys working on? We love hearing about different ideas and goals, and who knows, maybe we can collaborate to increase the value of all our properties.

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