I met some lost tourists out in the sticks this week. I couldn’t help them much, because I wasn’t in my own neck of the woods, but I noticed one thing about the property map the guy showed me.
The acreage he was interested in buying was divided by a state highway.
I suppose that some people wouldn’t be bothered by this, but I sure would—we passed up a couple sections that had this issue, including one that was split just by a common use “road.”
Here’s the thing: if you purchase property that is split by legal right-of-way or even common use, you will forfeit at least some control of your farm.
Not only will the general public be constantly driving through, but local government can fairly easily take some of your acreage for road “improvement.” When SHTF, you could not only have hordes of folks out there, but it’s much harder to secure two pieces of land.
When we were looking, we also passed up parcels that had MOST of the land on one side or the other. In fact, if all goes well this week, we’ll be purchasing another ten acres and starting the process on a few more that will be locked by ours by the road. Because most roads don’t run in straight lines out here, the original sections can be bifurcated. A neighbors across the road owns just a few of those acres.
Besides the road issue, other characteristics are important:
A water source.
Space to grow food.
Space to raise animals.
Enough brush and trees to make the place appear unappealing and hidden.
A water source can be a well, a live creek, a river, or a pond. Wells need to be tested and the others would need purifying before you drink or cook. But do keep in mind that an existing well, assuming it’s functional, can cost a minimum of $5,000 to drill—more like $10,000 or higher, depending on the terrain and water table. This is something to consider when you’re negotiating price.
If you’re homesteading or prepping, you’ll need more space than you think to grow food. Sure, Pinterest is full of ideas to grow plants in small areas, but you will need A LOT of produce to feed your family from one harvest to the next.
For example, we use about five pounds of potatoes a week, give or take, which is a grand total of 260 pounds of potatoes per year. This year, I planted four pounds of seed potatoes and harvested fifteen pounds, in two 20-foot rows.
Now, the state extension site tells me I need eight of these 20-foot rows of potato plants for two people over a year’s time, which comes to 150 pounds. See what I mean, in past posts, about adjusting for your needs? You also, of course, need to adjust for your own particular harvest.
If I plant according to guidelines, and based on this year’s harvest, I would need to put in 33 rows of potatoes . . . obviously, I need to get better at this!
Now, you might think you only need, say, four tomato plants. You like tomatoes. You eat tomatoes. But don’t you also use tomato sauce? You need to plan for extras to make that. Or ketchup. Or sauces.
You will need space for this. Plus sun, shade, drainage, and irrigation of some sort.
If you’re raising animals for food, or for other reasons, you’ll need to check the area where you plan to live and see how many cow units each acre can support; or goats, horses, llamas, whatever. Chickens can be confined and, even when not, don’t take up a lot of room. But they can be loud and smelly, so you probably wouldn’t want them too close to your house.
If you have rough land or lack of pasture, you could seed and fence, of course, or you’ll have to feed hay and/or grain, and that can add to your monthly budget.
I can’t say this part enough: you don’t want folks driving by, or walking, and thinking, wow, that place looks great—wonder what they have hidden away? Whether it’s SHTF or not, if people have a visual and easy access to your farm or homestead, they’re much more likely to stop by and help themselves.
Fencing and security are all well and good, and there is definitely a place for those things, but if they can’t see it or easily plot a route, so much the better.
A lot of security experts will tell you to clear brush and trees and landscaping away from your house so you can see someone coming. Certainly not a bad idea, but you should also build away from the road, away from the access points to your property, and have only one obvious point of entry/exit for vehicles.
People can get there, but they can’t carry out much on foot.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have a back way out, that only you know about, or that you don’t watch for intruders on all sides. The idea is to make it more difficult for strangers to snoop around, and you better be sure your property choice reflects that.
You want to be remote, but not inaccessible. And you do not want to be obvious.
Plan to spend a lot of time searching for just the right homestead.