Figuring out how to use your existing property, or a brand new piece of land, and turn it into a homestead can be a daunting task. In this post, I’m going to share with you how we planned out our homestead on five acres over the course of five years. It’s so fun to see where we started when we first purchased our land, and then five years later, how everything turned out.
We’ll go over:
If you love apple cider vinegar then I have got great news for you - this health tonic is incredibly easy to make yourself! Every September, we have a feral apple tree in the back of our farm that gives us about three bushels worth of ripe deliciousness.
Paul and I will head out back with a drop cloth, an apple picker, and a few apple boxes to harvest as many apples as we can. The first flush of fall weather gets us both so excited for crisp mornings and cinnamon spiced goodies, so apple picking is the best way to kick off the month. One of my favorite things to do with all our apples is to make homemade apple cider vinegar. Let’s dive in!
We spent our Thanksgiving clearing land and cooking, it was quite the to-do list. After we saw how much Buckthorn had taken over our property earlier this fall and subsequently removed as much of it as we could (more on that process in a later post), there was a section of land just beyond the garden on a very gentle slope that would be ideal for a fruit and nut orchard. There was a slew of dead ash trees, a rusty old fence, and what I'm sure is a hefty crop of Buckthorn berries ready to sprout given the chance on that location, so we took it upon ourselves to get started this fall in preparing the land for an orchard and future food forest. What exactly does that mean? Well read on and learn how to get yourself off on the best foot when a fruit and nut orchard is in your homesteading plan!
The last two weeks have been full of sore muscles and helping hands. It has been a marathon getting our vegetable garden finished up as well as planting our food forest in the back of the property. We couldn't have done it without frequent visits from both our parents, family rocks guys!
Paul's parents helped us finish up the electric in the workshop - now we have light! Within two weeks they installed two new workshop fans, built a big shelf for all Paul's motorcycle stuff, fenced in my garden, and built me my three garden gate doors. Work gets done so much faster when you have help!
Thanks to the amazing resources of the UW Exstension Office I was able to plant 40 baby trees for $80. We've got crab apple, sugar maple, swamp oak, and black cherry all growing nicely in the back 3 acres of our property. It took me one full day to dig and plant. Clay and I are best friends now guys! Not.
We also got our 128 native species (see the picture!) from the Mothers Day Plant Sale at the Wehr Nature Center in Franklin. I cannot stress enough how fabulous of an event this is. All of the native plants were categorized by their growing preferences and each were individually labeled with growing instructions and care. Paul and I made a day of it and planted everything in one big swoop. We decided to backfill with peat moss and composted manure to help these plants along and to make the soil more workable as we planted. Since it was Mothers Day we named all 64 strawberry plants Michelle, after my mom.
One of my favorite aspects of permaculture is food forests. What is a food forest? Imagine walking through acres of beautiful apple trees, surrounded by fruiting mulberries, ripe tomatoes, creeping clusters of mint and wild strawberries, as you walk you can pick and eat whatever your heart desires. All the plants benefit each other in a closed loop system that draws pollinators, adds minerals to the soil, fertilizes itself naturally, and mulches itself naturally. Food forest gardening and farming is a low maintenance sustainable plant-based food production system, inspired wholly by the way woodland ecosystems work without human interference.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we turn the 80 acres we call home into a farm that serves its community and a homestead that nourishes us throughout the seasons.
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Favorite Books of 2022
2. Braiding Sweetgrass
3. As Long As Grass Grows
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. The Zero Waste Solution